Bang! Crash! Wallop! Throbbing music and flashing lights. People stomping, clapping and shouting.
That was me last Friday night.
I wasn’t at the movies. Not at a concert. No, not even a nightclub.
I was at the cricket. The T20 womens’ cricket game between Australia and England. To decide the Ashes! Which we won.
Heat, light and smoke! And the cricket! Balls hit at speed. Stumps scattered. Wickets falling. Fours and sixes! Catches held and spilled.
For me, everything was happening too quickly. I was losing sight of the real game being played.
As marketed and frequently played, cricket, especially in the shorter formats appears to be a game of total firepower.
Bang! Crash! Wallop!
Any finesse and timing is rarely shown. Such attributes surely belong to a more sedate sport. Perhaps Olympic Curling.
Or the Australia versus England Women’s Test the previous weekend.
The wicket was a friendly featherbed. No bounce, swing or turn on show here. As a result the cricket displayed was defensive. As was the result itself. After four days play, a draw.
Bang! Fizzle?! Kapow! Pfft?!
Despite the non-spectacle, I counted myself perfectly fortunate. For I was witness to another game being played.
Yes there was physical strength and skill shown, Amanda Jade Wellington spinning the ball like a washing machine for one. Brilliant athletic fielding. Even some big hitting.
Finesse and timing too. Actually seeing real late cuts elegantly played.
The other game, one where Ellyse Perry scored 213 and never ever looked like getting out. Or the two English batters who didn’t even reach Australia’s score until late in the day.
For me that’s where the real game of cricket showed up. Bang! Crash! Wallop! Nope. No heat, light and smoke.
For this other game is the one played above the neck. The real game of cricket where resilience, determination and persistence prevail. Continue reading
I knew Mark Colvin (and his kidney!) purely through Twitter! And sad at his loss.
I did read some of his interview transcripts: a gentle questioner able to get a better answer! But in the maelstrom that is Twitter, he came across as funny, intelligent, curious, never ever patronising, clever and subtle, a joy to read.
And his last tweet!!
I think every one failed social media except for Mark Colvin.
Was this the last one? I went to the surgery door and called his name.
He looked up at once. And his eyes twinkled at me. And he smiled as if he had been in last week!
He walked in arms swinging by his sides as if it was too easy. Tall, thin and vaguely familiar. But he wasn’t on my books at all. He couldn’t be. He was a walk-in as far as I was concerned.
I didn’t know him from elsewhere in this town. Today was just my second day. I still was remembering more important matters. Such as which room was mine, the name of the receptionists, where the autoclave was, in case my assistant forgot to bring in the instrument tray. Which saving my anxiety, she did.
But this guy! He swings into the chair like a test pilot promoted to astronaut! And I think to myself, is he another one too? Another professional? If he is he’s pretty confident in what we all do!
Unlike me. I make a bad patient. And I’m even worse, now that I lecture. And worst of all, provide expert advice when things go badly. If it was me, I’d be jelly.
And I ask,”What can I do for you?”
He says, “Just a check-up, ma’am.”
And I laugh, and ask, “ma’am. No one says that anymore!”
He says as unbidden, he swallows, swishes and spits, “The school librarian made us say it.“
And while he’s drawling, he puts on a posh accent, “Don’t call wimmen Miss, Ms, Mrs unless you know if they’re married or not. And she said never call them Madame. And never said why. Reckoned I worked out that one! But our French teacher wouldn’t answer to anything else! Reckoned ma’am is the least worst thing to say. Yeah. no. It’s okay most times except when I say it to the really young girls. They hate it. They scowl at me and swear under their breath while they’re texting!!”
Between us the ice is broken. And it seems familiar somehow. I laugh, and ask, “What do you do?”
He said leaning back and opening wide, still talking like a Northern Texan, “Professional bludger. Tell people stuff they don’t need.Write documents no one ever reads. Better get started, eh?”
And that’s the giveaway. He’s from the deep north of Queensland like me. Even with his mouth wide open, he still makes each word twice as long like a native. And that “eh!” That’s a deadset giveaway right there! And then I laugh to myself. Sometimes I still lapse back, I think. Just because I shifted states. Another lapse now too.
Meantime, the work begins. I peer into his mouth with my mirror and sickle probe. I check and call the numbers and state to my assistant who scribbles dutifully. He’s as patient as Job. Except a lot more silent!
I say, “There’s a small hole in your back molar. We could leave it for another appointment. Or we could whiz through it now. It will only take another half hour.”
It didn’t matter, I thought. He was my last patient for the day and I was running half an hour early. My husband still had his lectures tonight so time didn’t matter.
He nods me through.
Drill, chip, wash, clamp, check, double check, tighten the clamp, fill, let set, wash and clean. It’s like doing dentistry on the Dalai Lama, I suppose. He’s so composed and relaxed. Simple and straightforward. By the book, I thought, the textbook. Which made a refreshing change from the day I had.
And then a memory returns to me. “Didn’t I do a root canal on you?”
He just laughs, “Yep you sure did, wasn’t the once-off either, took a couple of goes, if I rightly reckon.”
And I remember, he didn’t flinch an inch that time either. That’s why I know him but he’s not on my books.
I say, “You would have been my easiest patient.”
As the filling sets, he laughs and tells me why (out of the corner of his mouth of course).
“It was easy,” he says, “I had the full metal jacket as a kid, a couple of teeth removed, wired up, that mouth guard thing and braces. Thought it would never end. Always knew this would!”
You know I'm staring at you Though you won't look at me Your head is bowed low Over Candy Crush or TV I can wait with my empty cup You'll remember, you'll see You'll bob your head up And stare full back at me And when our eyes meet yet again We'll create our own serenity Only for another three seconds That last another eternity Never unknown again.
Mine is a lost soul that swims in a bitter sea
Overlayed and swamped by waves of jealousy
Caught and held under by a rising tide of night
At the mercy of winds of animosity
Until I lose my strength and drown ashore
Foundered now ocean’s false martyr
Suns may rise, storms may fall
A light shower washes my tears away
I grew up a newspaperman. My dad was the editor of the Canowindra Star, the local paper in Canowindra New South Wales. He wasn’t the grizzled editor from central casting : think of Perry White in Superman or Benjamin Bradlee in All the Presidents Men. No, he was my Dad (Kevin Whalan) : as he describes he was subeditor, editor, journalist, photographer, advertiser and publisher as well.
He would take the photos with a Brownie box camera. He would then put the paper together in his office during the week. I can recall visiting him after school as the office was next to the local barber (the one that wasn’t cranky). Later when he worked from home, I saw him write, rewrite, subedit and then dictate copy over the phone.
On Tuesdays, Dad would drive to Cowra where the paper was printed at the Cowra Guardian for distribution on Wednesdays. He would take my brother and I (as far as I can recall) with him and we would go into the printery.
We’d first enter the linotype room. It was a confusion of activity. Men were running everywhere. Linotypes are smelly, loud and dirty. And overwhelming at first. And messy. I still can see in my mind’s eye the texture of metal filings in oil on the floor. Much like shiny black sandpaper. Men would sit on a steel chair and type at a keyboard with copy clipped to the machine. I could hear the roar of the motors and the clatter and rattle of the typing. Every so often metal would issue forth and be added to a metal square (the form).
It obviously was not a safe environment for children. Especially as one of the children (me!) was somewhat accident-prone. But nothing happened to me at all.
Then later in the day, almost as a separate process, we’d see the printing press in action. It too was loud but fast. It would produce the papers as one and then deposit them to be retrieved. It was then we saw the paper come together and quickly!
Then Dad would load up the car and take the early editions back home to Canowindra. The rest of the issues were distributed the following day. He would take a rather circuitous route dropping issues off as twos or threes or sometimes half a dozen at some of the small stops. I can recall too that the papers were never ever bound together : they were loose.
And that detail stayed with me. And was recalled by a conversation with a friend who was working for one of the local Melbourne papers. She was saying how she delivered the papers to the shops all bound and tied. And sometimes they would stay that way. And in the middle of that conversation, I nearly said, “Untie them when you deliver them!” I didn’t realise why until later.
Even, in the workforce, I didn’t realise how much Dad’s work had stayed with me. As a software developer and system manager, I would often rewrite procedures, correspondence and emails as they were unreadable. What I found was that I could summarise quite complex writing briefly and succinctly. But all I was doing was what Dad did : sub editing his own copy. Perhaps somehow I had learned his art by osmosis. Ultimately I ended up writing training and technical documentation.