Let’s Not Get Real Then

Reality is such a bastard. You get off your little sail boat to find that the share market has tanked like a kamakazi fighter plane and you can’t even pretend to be worried because you have never owned any shares. Unfortunately your job is still there waiting for you so you can’t pretend to be young and disaffected so that you can go on a brick and Molotov cocktail spending spree round the neighbourhood either. The news tells you that Libya and London are burning and you wonder how this happened in 3 weeks and what Libyan or London youth have in common apart from one being very heavily armed and fairly keen on setting fire to posters of Gadafi. Why would you bother to keep stuff around that you only intend to burn? Would London youth even recognise a poster of Cameron? You note that there are not many Libyans setting fire to stuff in order to get some brand name shoes.

In the same time a head of broccoli took the same trajectory (but in reverse) as the kamakazi pilot and hit a new high of about 4 bucks a head making it slightly more expensive than either gold or rhinoceros horns. You hear on the unofficial jungle drums that there will be unrest on the streets of Northland because there is no weed to be had because all astute dealers are saving it for the world cup. Nice to know that Northland is not a basket case abandoned by all political interest or leadership and is in fact a kohanga (nest) of entrepreneurial genius. You alight from the little bubble that is a sailboat to discover the Aussies complaining about having our apples over there. They’ve managed to keep them out since early colonisation and their banana growers are madly screaming “Yes! We have no bananas!" after Cylcone Yasi, which means the three that they raided from their Aunty’s garden will now cost you about $15 a kilo. Really. They’ve managed to deflect not only our apples but Ecuador’s banana imports as well in order to protect their growers. What have they got that we don’t? Why don’t we look after our own tomato growers who would need to sell their product at about $15 a kilo on the fringes of the season to make any money when our happy isles are awash with cheap Aussie imports? When does a free market just become a dumb one?

Alighting from the alien craft you wonder why everyone still cares what Standard and Poors has to say about anything at all. What does it matter if the States is no longer a triple A rated country when the really interesting thing is that the President gets a ‘please explain and see me in my office’ note from China? And he went.

Could the image of the United States as a symbol of everything wrong with rampant capitalism be any more tarnished than it already is? Why yes. Obama could always get Saatchi and Saatchi to do an ad campaign for him. As living proof that Telecom CEO and corporate honchos in general as well as advertising people also live on alien craft that hover slightly over the surface of earth without ever alighting: we have the Abstain for the Games idea.

I applaud the effort to improve the gene pool in New Zealand but what I really love is Sean Fitzpatrick driving round in a creepy pink hand.

Bizarre, slightly porno and yet so KRoad on a Friday night.

This is what happens when rugby goes corporate. The world is mad. STAY ON YOUR BOATS.

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Secret Love Affair

Go on shoot me. It has been going on for quite awhile now. We can’t meet as often as I’d like and we go for long periods where absence only increases my illicit desire. It started when I was 19 and having had a row with my father declared that I would be leaving his house and going over to the other side. I swore I knew what I was doing, a point not underlined when my army surplus backpack, having seen better days in ‘nam, fell to pieces at the airport. He fixed it up with the electrical tape he always carries for such emergencies while my mother worried quietly in the background. Inexplicably he bought her a duty free Lladro polar bear and then made me carry it on my travels. Perhaps he thought if I could keep a piece of fragile china safe he may, by some parallel universe magical thinking, increase the chances of my coming home in one piece too. And so I left.

To my other great, secret love: Australia. I know. I have complained about the constant migratory trail of our young and ambitious to her arms. I have worried that the massive muscle of her mining power could easily sell the ambiguous advantages of becoming our own ‘dig it up, ship it out’ mini state. I know I have been shocked that a country so close to us in so many ways has had such a different relationship with her indigenous people, or by her big ballsy brassiness. And yet I can’t help myself. From that first trip where I hopped on a train in Sydney in the late hot afternoon and thought I could be in Rockhampton by midnight, I have been awed by her vast beauty. And equally enchanted by her rich kaleidoscopic biological diversity. Climbing out of the rut and taking the small person, I’ve gone to find fragments of an earlier life and see some old friends, on a boat in the Coral Sea.

The small person says that her Mum has two versions – the work one and this one, the one who can spend a couple of weeks beach-combing and fossicking for treasure, she says she likes this one better. We are off Orpheus Island where my friends ran a research station for years and so this is their backyard and our kids go feral, playing at being rock wallabies on golden granite boulders that surround a crystal bay. Rainbow bee-eaters come to feed in the mangroves and rays glide around the boat, vigilant marine intelligence operators. Clicking shrimps, the cicadas of the marine world, deafen and the eerie cry of curlew can still spook even the rational among us. Everywhere the high tide mark of Cyclone Yasi, that stripped vegetation and picked up handfuls of boats and threw them with the petulant ferocity of a child throwing a tantrum. 8 metre waves in some places causing huge tidal surges, ripping up marinas and seaside villages before the Japanese tsunami and our own earthquake eclipsed Yasi in the news. Bananas at 15 dollars a kilo is one lingering consequence. We find a dead dugong and wonder if the sea grass is damaged and they are going hungry. The girls snorkel in clouds of damsel fish. A leopard shark, dressed and moving like a westie girl out for a night on the pull. Mudskippers; emissaries from the Ministry of Silly Walks. Dolphins catching fish under a porch light at the bottom of the garden and a wild koala at the front door, a million gar fish jumping in unison under the torchlight.

Travelling with the eight year old reminds me what I often forget. That it’s never about the work or the money or the goals. It is always about the people and the places and being enamoured and enchanted by them both. Read this carefully for I shall write this only once. After finishing the last sentence, fold the paper and eat it. My guilty secret is out, it’s true. I really do love Australia, and some of the special people who inhabit her.

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