I am heading to Aldi1 at Bay Village2 for supplies. It’s fucking freezing. I have no qualms wearing the tracky dacks, ugg boots, beanie, scarf, and curry-stained sloppy joe3 which I put on when I got up at 4:22am4. In the car, I flip the radio back and forth between ABC 702, for updates on the political situation, and Radio Five-O-Plus 93.3, for those songs I remember as a kid. My parents’ music; I love it. They don’t make music like that anymore.
Turn back the clock 40 years: I am waiting outside the Neapolitan Patisserie in Avalon5 for a fresh-out-of-the-oven sausage roll. It’s not 4.22am but it’s not far off. Myself and other punters have been kicked out of Bip’s6 at 3am. I’m wearing jeans, a pair of Docs, and a way cool, carefully selected paisley skivvy, which I bought from the local Red Cross op-shop. It’s fucking freezing, but I don’t care. In the car, my radio is rusted onto 2JJJ7.
Once, I was cool.
I can’t listen toTriple J anymore. I don’t get it. They don’t even play songs. Seriously, have a listen, but don’t expect to hear anything resembling a chorus, let alone a well crafted middle eight. And whatever happened to bands? Nowadays, it’s artists featuring other artists. Even DJs are artists now. In my day, a DJ was the chap who turned up when you hired Moby Disc for a 21st birthday party, because you couldn’t find a band as they were all booked-out on the once-vibrant live music circuit. Remember bands in pubs?
Somewhere, somehow, at some point I lost touch, Man.
Driving home from Aldi, James Valentine reports how this is the coldest start to winter in thirty years8. James was once a very hip saxophone player for the very hip 80s band, The Models – RIP James Freud9 – who now does the morning show on 702. I feel in good company. But he has just fed ammunition, in the form of statistics10, to the crazy climate change deniers. I can just hear them saying: ‘So much for global warming, eh!’ so, I switch to 93.3 to hear Nancy Sinatra singing ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’, followed by Otis Redding, ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle eight, verse, chorus, outro.
Thank you, community radio, thank you.
I pull into my street in Long Jetty, the new hipster hotspot on the Central Coast. Hirsute young men sporting man-buns and beards, perambulate the main strip with their pram-pushing Boho-themed women11 from café to café,12 while deciding whether to purchase a cactus or a variegated Monstero deliciosa to funk up their pads. Long gone is the Jewel supermarket and roller skating rink. Long gone are the junkies and methadone clinic. The Jetty is being gentrified, or is it hipsterfied? All over the joint, classic old fibro shacks are being bulldozed to make way for multiple occupancy monstrosities. The pot-holed roads don’t stand a chance.
I’m a cranky old man. Out of touch. And fucking freezing.
Inside, I turn on the gas heater. I ignore the soaring cost of gas, due to the war in Ukraine, which I also ignore because I just can’t watch, or read, or hear of such atrocities anymore. Confession — and I may need to see a counsellor about this: I’m just as upset about the wrecked buildings as I am about the wrecked humans. Why don’t I get solar? As I’ve told the dodgy doorknocking salespeople who turn up at the worst of times, ‘My roof is in full shade, courtesy of those street trees there.’ I point to the trees. They ignore me and push on with a script they have rehearsed for this exact objection.
Yes, this morning I burn fossil fuel, despite being taught about the greenhouse effect in science13 at school in the 1970s14. We knew stuff back then. It’s just that we15 didn’t do anything about it.
As I unpack the shopping in my half renovated kitchen, the tranny16 on the fridge, announces that the brand spanking new federal Labor government has allowed the Nadesalingam family17 to return home to Biloela, and has also struck a unanimous agreement with the state energy ministers to actually do something about climate change!
How warm is hope? Especially after nine cold years of despair. Who’d have thunk a Pentecostal PM could have been so heartless?
My mobile phone goes ding. It’s a Messenger ding18. It’s my daughter, Bethany: Hey Dad! Is there any chance you and Linda can watch Birdie on Saturday? All good if you can’t! Love you x!
How warm are children and grandchildren? How cool is it to help out?
Sure, I message in reply.
I’m still in my daggy dad gear, but I’m back. Back in touch. In touch with what’s important.
1 A German supermarket company founded in 1961, which came to Australia in 2001 and broke the Coles/Woolworths duopoly.
2 Now officially called Bateau Bay Square, but still Bay Village to us locals.
3 Clothing names may vary outside of Australia.
4 An uncannily regular phenomenon.
5 Once an affordable location on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Now? Don’t get me started.
6 A nightclub upstairs at the Barefoot Boulevard, later to become PC’s, now a dance studio.
7 The ABC national youth broadcaster started on the AM band as 2JJ in 1975 and became 2JJJ (triple j) when it switched to FM in 1980.
9 James Freud played bass for The Model’s and in 2010 suicided after many years of alcoholism.
10 Statistics taken out of context can prove anything. Not to be confused with raw data.
11 They may be hip and woke, but the women still push the prams.
12 Apparently, there is no limit to the number of cafés a village will support.
13 A system of observation, experimentation and rigorous scrutiny which informs us about the nature of the universe, and, which is in decline thanks to the rise of fundamental religion, New Age goobledygook, pseudo science and conspiracy theories.
14 A decade of hope ruined in the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
15 I use the term ‘we’ very generously in this case. It’s the inaction of right winged political parties bankrolled by large corporations such as Chevron and NewsCorp who have done nothing about climate change.
16 Slang for transistor radio, not to be confused with transexual.
17 A Sri Lankan couple with two Australian born daughters seeking asylum, seeking humanity.
18 The human ear can distinguish between at least half a dozen dings made by their mobile phones.