Aussie Life

Aussie Life

27 March 2021

9:00 AM

27 March 2021

9:00 AM

I’m back from Sydney and just coming out of my drunken stupor – a 12-hour bender at a resuscitated Qantas lounge full of lantern-jawed business people who all got there on talent except for the one over there being diagnosed by Kevin Rudd for Imposter Syndrome.

It’s Friday evening and we’ve all knocked off early because of the Alcohol Understanding and debating where to fly with the complimentary half-price government vouchers Alan Joyce has given us and how to best avoid the other 799,999 drones who earn less than us who got one too. Will it be Burnie, Tasmania’s own Sunshine Coast? Or maybe Barangaroo, Sydney’s equally very own Las Vegas if only it had a gambling licence to go with its 1.3 million dollar lap pool, fly-in-fly-out Chinese billionaires, Tom Jones impersonators and vacuum-wrapped roulette wheels.

Personally with my ticket stash, I’m drying out, getting the Covid double jab and going the Cussons Imperial Leather option: ‘Tahiti looks nice.’ Tahiti being the name of a cloned sheep I used to date on a farm just north of Avalon Airport for scientific research purposes.

Alan Joyce looks relaxed in his Hawaiian shirt. He’s making all the right sounds to a herd of intoxicated chartered accountants about a Gold Coast AquaDuck-led recovery while swaying under the existential limbo pole of his capitalist existence. He’s telling anyone who will listen but mainly the politicians who are still coherent – ‘no, I’m not giving any of it back, so piss off’. Then again it may have been Gerry Harvey as I often get these two confused during national crises due to my undiagnosed personal issues and the existential limbo pole of where I’m getting my next discounted washing machine from.

But in amongst the haze of booze and cobwebbed aviation fuel I’m feeling oddly patriotic in a Dr Strangelove-kind of way. I’ve just finished reading another insightful, impartial academic piece in the Conversation about why Scott Morrison is evil and now turning to a story about our world-class Monash University scientists making embryos out of the skin cells on your arm. Cool, as we say in Australia to anyone wearing a white lab coat. Or as the Herr Doctor said: ‘Mein Führer, I can walk.’

All at once, I’m thinking ‘how good is science’ and ‘cheers, science’ and ‘believe the science’ and ‘I wonder if they are Chinese spies’. It’s just like when Dan Andrews set up that Hotel Quarantine Inquiry for specifically scientific reasons or when Tim Flannery said it wouldn’t rain in NSW anymore though clearly he didn’t actually mean last weekend.

But none of this makes any sense to me and may just be the Bob Hawke commemorative yard glass of beer Alan has poured down my throat talking. It’s then I realise that this is why we need Voluntary Assisted Death legislation so we can have scientists make these decisions for us and if anyone is going to put me down I want it to be Peter Singer. Or maybe Jack Kevorkian if Pete is away in Broome using his half-price discount tickets. Because everyone needs a holiday and as Jack once said to me after connecting me to his short-circuiting suicide machine, ‘Life is too short.’

Call me a science nerd but I really started believing in science as a force for good when they grew an ear on the back of that mouse at Harvard. I was thinking how great is this and who doesn’t want an ear on their back so that you can listen to the people standing behind you at parties? It’s just like those X-ray glasses they used to advertise on the back of the Superman comics alongside the sea monkeys. And by the way, weren’t sea monkeys a great scientific innovation too?

If only Malcolm Turnbull had had an ear on his back while prime minister (maybe transplanting one of Tony Abbott’s giant petri dish-evolved elephant ones), he would never have had to write that 3,000-page book about Imposter Syndrome or start his new career as a political mystery pundit speculating on television who the real killer is.

Like everyone else I have ever known – except Steve the anti-vaxxer who lived next door and had a sea monkey petting zoo – producing a baby from my bicep has always been a dream of mine. I used to want flippers for feet too, and maybe a fin on my back like Aqua Boy and his oxy-gum.

Science is all about giving it a whirl. Isn’t that why we all get into it – that and the lab coat, the Bunsen burners and the sex? Remember, when you’re twelve and you first work out how to make that flatulence sound by squeezing your two hands together when the teacher walks past your desk? It’s science. Or when my research friend once said to me while toying with the idea of a gender-neutral space hula hoop: ‘hey let’s cut the family labrador in half, surgically attach an antenna to his head and see what happens.’

Hopefully our Aussie scientists will take up the lead from the UK where they no longer refer to mothers but ‘birthing parents’ and breast-feeding as ‘chest feeding’ which finally recognises the biological reality that breasts aren’t the only part of the body that can lactate. Certainly, ‘Birthingf-cker’ has a ring to it that won’t be out of place on the next Cardi B or Snoop Dogg rap about defunding the police.

Good science is good politics as they say. Like a socialist Six Million Dollar Man our scientists are busy rebuilding Victorian Ring-of-Steel Premier Dan Andrews after he damaged his back falling down the stairs at his Mornington holiday house. If this is his political Kennedy Compound does that make Frankston Chappaquiddick and who is Ted Kennedy in all this? Maybe our scientists can create one.

Dan will be off duty for a few months as the people with white lab coats and great sex lives rebuild him with giant claws and titanium wings and maybe a new robot head with North Face branding that says ‘we don’t know who is responsible’ and ‘this isn’t me saying this, this is the science’ as he waves through another Extinction Rebellion protest.

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Michael Scammell wears a white lab coat to counter his imposter syndrome.

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