There will be (there already is) stiff competition for the title of Most Grotesque Item of Gallipoli Centenary Merchandise but at the time of writing this ANZAC Pin-Up Girl T-Shirt ($37.95) leads the pack.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to counter the T-shirt's malignant impact on our page, here is Julian Robinson's fine, charm-packed courtship photograph of a male Gang-gang cockatoo showing off to a female in the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
And yet, to take you behind the scenes of the often agonising production of a family column in a major metropolitan newspaper, I own up that Julian Robinson has sent me a picture of the same Gang-gang couple having sexual intercourse and that I somehow haven't dared to publish it.
Readers will know of this column's occasional series of Canberrans' contributed pictures of wild birds being truly wild in matters of sex and violence (the latter usually to do with hunting and killing). Last year we published a startling photograph (some sensitive readers swooned) of two Wedge-tailed eagles copulating. I'm disappointed in myself that I haven't dared publish here a picture of copulating Gang-gangs but somehow, such is the place of the species in our hearts, such is its status as the city's faunal emblem, such is the charm of the species' soft-toy-lookalike looks that we have refrained.
But the courtship pic is wonderful fun. Robinson reports that "Some years ago I posted an annotated photo sequence on Flickr of the most astonishing bird copulation I've witnessed, of a pair of Gang-gangs in the ANBG that seemed to be doing a master class in advanced, human-like sex.
"There was obvious foreplay including games [as in our picture] and getting cleaned up beforehand, a very long (for birds) actual copulation, and a considerable time in afterglow that included the male putting his wing around the female in an apparent protective embrace while kissing."
Of course the offending T-shirt (note the semi-sacred Rising Sun General Service badge against which the pneumatic brazen hussy is posed) is much more obscene than anything going on in Nature.It gets a mention in a sceptical, contrarily anti-jingoistic essay by Carolyn Holbrook (her speech to January's History Teachers Summer School in Canberra) just made available to us all online at the admirable Honest History website honesthistory.net.au
Honest History is a coalition of historians and others supporting the balanced and honest presentation and use of Australian history during the centenary of World War, a time when balance and honesty (especially from those Boys Own boys in public life) will be in scant supply.
Holbrook looks at some of the commercial exploitations of the Gallipoli commemoration. They include (unless she has made this up, because it sounds almost too ghastly to be true) for people with vastly more money than taste, the Gallipoli Cruise hosted by Bert Newton.
Meanwhile, back on land, we rejoice that this is a pluralist column. No narcissistic "captain's picks" here. And so we're pleased to pass on that not all readers share the rapt admiration of Canberra's iconic bush shelters. They have been much warbled about here.
"All this sentimental clap-trap about our 'dear old bus stops' must be written by someone who never uses one – and who isn't 75 years old!" a Monash reader seethes.
"Our local one is especially located so that the two round windows line up to allow the Tuggers wind from the snow to blow through in winter, and in summer catches all the sun from the front and cooks like an oven - one has to stand in the shade of a nearby tree!"
"The wind also ensures it becomes a great rubbish catcher – and of course the mechanical street sweeper cannot reach into it – so the dirt remains forever!
"I'm tall, but my feet don't comfortably reach the ground from the uncomfortable plank seat.
"Get real man and get out more – by bus!"
Yes, we have had several contrary bus shelter opinions of this ilk. Some of them seem, really, while blaming things on the bus shelters, to be describing some of the inevitable character-building elements of waiting for a bus (in any kind of shelter known to man) in a climate as character-building as ours. But, yes, Seething of Monash is probably right when she says that some of the champions of the shelters are people who never travel by bus and who only ever think of the shelters as works of art, as sculpted installations. This columnist pleads guilty to that and artist Trevor Dickinson who has done so much to champion the bus shelters (his bus shelter mug is his latest creation) is famous for exploring Canberra not by bus but by velocipede.
But perhaps the old shelters have yet another virtue not yet warbled about by their admirers. Perhaps, as bus shelters go, they are bird-friendly or at least bird-harmless.
A Fisher reader tells us "The new ACTION glass-sided bus shelters are having an unforeseen effect on the bird population. Over the last couple of months here in Fisher we have found a honeyeater and a king parrot dead at our local bus stop through flying into the glass of the bus shelter. They obviously did not notice the presence of the shelter because they could not detect the [transparent] glass. I do not know how this could be overcome. I would not be surprised if this was happening elsewhere in Canberra."