Over to our chat director, Bobi, with thanks…
Bear with me. I’m feeling maudlin this week.
It’s that Christmas week where you start getting nostalgic for Christmas past: all of those
lovely and real Christmas trees, snow when I was much younger, carol singers, Santa Claus, wrapping home-made presents in newspaper, and a huge amount of excitement and anticipation.
There’s not much to look forward to this year: bushfires, heat, it is my second Christmas without my mother, her dog is showing signs that the end is nigh (he is 17 so it is not unexpected but still sad) and I bought a jar of Vegimite that is too large for the space in the cupboard.
It’s funny, isn’t it. When I mention that my aunt died (3 days before her 99th birthday and a little bit by choice), people take a step back and awkwardly pat me on my shoulder. And yet when I mention that the dog has a cough, they throw themselves into my arms sobbing with empathy and sympathy.
He is a beautiful boy and my heart will be broken when he’s gone but I won’t miss the vet bills. He has a pill-pie for dinner every night and I reckon that I have paid for an entire new west wing on the vet clinic.
I tend to think of both my mother and aunt as remarkable people but they were probably just typical of their time. They had to leave school at 14 because there were no other options, and my aunt never moved more than 50 ks from where she was born. And yet they were both more than capable of respecting and having compassion for those that thought fundamentally differently from them. The world doesn’t need to be so polarised. Still, I never actually asked if they voted for Pauline Hanson – that would be a step too far.
So feeling overly sentimental, I mired myself in sad movies about death and destruction. Mainly children’s movies. Tell me, why do all children’s stories kill off one or both of the parents? Why do authors want to make children cry? But also biographies of people long dead and some uplifting stories. The story about the rescue of the Thai boys in the cave is pretty amazing. I hope that Elon Musk has to pay millions of dollars in damages.
I was sad to hear that Clive James died. He wrote one of my favourite books – An Unreliable Memoir. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it. He has a wonderful turn of phrase without it feeling contrived or forced. My favourite is “ A sense of humour is just common sense, dancing”. Okay, there are lots of favourites but that is my favourite favourite.
I watched both the tributes to Clive on the ABC. Clive James: A Tribute was fairly ordinary but Clive James: The Kid from Kogarah was worth 50 minutes of my time – more of his life in his own words. It suspect that it was a difficult interview for him because he knew he was dying and his life was falling apart.
I don’t want to end on a really sad note, and I promise to be more cheerful next week, so I will end with a link to one of his poems, The Book of my Enemy has just been Remaindered. https://web.cs.dal.ca/~johnston/poetry/bookofmyenemy.html