It is census night and what a controversial thing this census is turning out to be. The twitter feed is going nuts. We have Senators boycotting the census and risking jail in the process – can one really be sent to jail for not filling out a form? Other Senators are urging us to do the right thing; there is no point worrying, we are all on social media so much that ‘big brother’ can find out anything they want to know anyway. Our neighbour told me yesterday she knows ‘for sure’ that the government is reading all our emails. Actually, I couldn’t care less if the government are reading all my emails; hopefully they will start writing them as well. If I am really lucky, my columns might be written and filed on time by them, too.
Malcolm Turnbull just tweeted ‘We filled in the @ABSCensus tonight online – v easy to do. And so important for planning better Govt services & investment for the future.’ He sounds like a child reporting to the teacher that his homework is complete. Good boy, Prime Minister, a gold star for you today. Is it just me or is the world going mad?
Speaking of mad, two months ago, a joyous realisation occurred, closely followed by a fabulous plan.
The realisation: it is best to hold no opinion on who might be the better American presidential candidate. For the vast majority of Australians, anyway, it is too hard to arrive at a well informed and carefully considered opinion. Therefore, the position of not taking a position is a luxury, particularly considering we have enough anxiety to deal with, brought about by our own political ‘fustercluck’.
One who takes the position of no position has no skin in the game. Having no skin in the game means one can sticky beak, rubber neck and be wildly entertained by everyone else’s misery. One can sit in front of the television, popcorn in one hand, a drink in the other, and view the whole disaster/triumph as a spectacle purely for entertainment value. This election is going to be hilarious!
The plan: if one were to travel to the United States, and be there when the election happens, think of the fun to be had. Imagine the meltdowns on CNN, the spontaneous parties with strangers and the tacky souvenirs. And above all, think of the giant platters of ribs, slathered in sweet, sticky sauce, the chilli cornbread with honeyed whipped butter and the generous mugs of cold, American beer.
The justification: we are due for a holiday anyway. Where better to go than to Washington, to stay opposite the White House, on the night before the election? It would be just for a few days. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, we cannot miss it. We could call it ‘the 2016 Trumpageddon Extravaganza, with beer, juicy ribs and Hillary pantsuit on the side’. Seriously, what more could anyone want?
That was the sales pitch devised two months ago, for my husband, Peter. I am happy to report he fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Our travel agent though, didn’t share our gleeful enthusiasm. He is American, and expressed grave concern about the future of his homeland. When the itinerary arrived, it was headed ‘Trumpageddon tour – trip for you to laugh at the end of the known world’. Ever the sensitive type, I emailed back, ‘OMG thanks – I can’t wait, PMSL already, will bring you back a Trump novelty wig!’
Speaking of mad again, this week, I lunched with an old friend. He looked particularly glum. His eldest daughter, 19, is about to make him a grandfather. This was how the news was broken: ‘Dad, I’m pregnant and I’m keeping the baby. Don’t ask who the father is because it’s like this; there were nine boys, six girls and a big bag of ecstasy pills, and before you say anything to me, I know you’ve done worse’. As I sat speechless, he said ‘the worst bit of it is, it is true, I have done worse, much worse, so what can I say?’ and laughed sadly before cradling his head in his hands and groaning. Much worse? What could be much worse than that? Then again, how did his daughter know this about him, and is the world going mad because nearly everyone is on drugs?
The Olympics aren’t going very well either, it seems. If contestants aren’t swimming in faeces-ridden water, getting sick, mugged or nearly shot, they are complaining about competing against drug takers. The French swimmer Camille Lacourt, who finished fifth in the 100m backstroke final, said swimming was becoming like athletics ‘with two or three doped in each final’. ‘Sun Yang, he pisses purple,’ Lacourt said of a Chinese athlete, who is accused of being a drug cheat.
In news just to hand, on Paul Murray Live they are confirming what Peter has been yelling about all night; the census website has crashed. Too many people are trying to do the right thing and avoid jail, all at the same time. Perhaps the world actually has gone mad, and nearly everyone is on drugs, with the purple urine to prove it, but our Trumpageddon tour will be wonderful and I am eagerly looking forward to it. I doubt the government will write my columns for me, but my friend will make a great grandfather, despite his – cough – colourful history. The baby will be dearly loved, and if in this mad world there is nothing else, there is always that.
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