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Going Around in Circles … ring bells, dear readers?

Date
Jim Fraser, the ACT's first federal Labor MP.

Jim Fraser, the ACT's first federal Labor MP. Photo: markus.mannheim@fairfaxmedia.com

Older readers, do you know of, did you perhaps even warble as a 1950s schoolchild, a song about Canberra and its notorious planning called Going Around in Circles Getting Nowhere? Back to this in a moment.

Meanwhile, does Robyn Archer the creative cirector, Centenary of Canberra (and ukulele virtuoso), have nightmares about things that might go wrong with our Canberra Day festivities? If so they may resemble things that really did go wrong with a Canberra Day pageant rehearsal in 1951. A reader points us to this story in The Canberra Times of March 12, 1951.

''PAGEANT REHEARSAL MEETS PROBLEMS.''

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''Approximately 800 persons watched the rehearsal of the Canberra [Day] pageant from the slopes of Capital Hill yesterday. Inexperienced walkie-talkie operators resulted in the rehearsal starting almost an hour late.''

Then, the Times reported, ''Wandering children also decreased the effect'' with, for example, many of them wandering right into a ''bushranging scene'' where, if they'd wished, they were close enough to have taken part in ''the fight'' between between bushrangers and police!

Bushrangers? Why were there bushrangers? And where did the Governor-General fit into things? Everything else went wrong too, the Times reported in dismayed detail. Let's hope it all went much better on the day.

Next day the Times reported local MP, Mr J. R. Fraser, attending a meeting of the advisory council and asking ''if it were a fact that a group of schoolchildren, representing Canberra at the commemorative pageant to be staged at Capital Hill on Sunday, would sing Going Around in Circles Getting Nowhere as part, of the commemoration?''

''What immature mind thought of that? The occasion is meant to be impressive,'' he seethed.

The Times continued that ''Mr. A. T. Shakespeare told the council it was bad enough having bushrangers, but there was no excuse for inculcating in children ridicule of everything that was attached to Canberra.''

Forward to 2013. Are Robyn Archer's walkie-talkie operators ready? Are there going to be bushrangers? Is the Canberra-mocking Going Round In Circles Getting Nowhere still etched on readers' minds? Please, please tell us if you remember the unfortunate words.

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