LAST LOOK

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View - JANE FRASER

IHAD a let­ter from a kind and alert reader who, as do I, reads death no­tices, mainly to see how many of those who have fallen off their prover­bial perches have gone fish­ing; an alarm­ing num­ber, ap­par­ently. She en­closed a no­tice from the hatched, matched and dis­patched col­umns of the news­pa­per this month, re­gard­ing a wo­man named Ethel Guy. ‘‘ She will be sadly missed now that she has gone to a bet­ter place where she can ar­gue with He who must be obeyed. From her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.’’

‘‘ Ex­cel­lent!’’ said my daugh­ter, who had re­cently told me that not only does my oneyear- old grand­son look ex­actly like me ( the old, young me, not the me of now) but he has also in­her­ited my tem­per. If thwarted, he goes pur­ple in the face and makes a noise like a crow squawk­ing. Such was my sur­prise, I had to lie down with my head in the pil­low for five min­utes; I would like to have thought I had dis­guised my in­ner witch more suc­cess­fully.

So this is pos­si­bly some­thing to fo­cus on in the new year, turn­ing into a dear lit­tle old lady who smiles be­nignly at roller bladers and those who shriek into mo­bile tele­phones at the drop of a hat.

Ac­tu­ally, I have al­ready mel­lowed to­wards th­ese blither­ing id­iots; there’s a new kid on the block in terms of who is and who isn’t be­hav­ing in a ter­mi­nally ir­ri­tat­ing man­ner.

You will have no­ticed them throng­ing around the CBD. They have es­chewed the brief­case for suit­cases the size of houses that they wheel with life- threat­en­ing speed along the foot­path. No, they are not on their way to the air­port with enough lug­gage to last them a year abroad; they’re on the way to the of­fice or re­turn­ing home from work. It’s the new sta­tus sym­bol; let­ting ev­ery­one and their aunt know how much work they have up their sleeves. I don’t care how oner­ous their darg is; that trundling noise be­hind you, the way in which at any mo­ment they will crash into your an­kles, is what makes you want to bite their heads off.

I’m cer­tain there are pills you can take to calm you down, but I’m not very good at drugs. Yes, I did in­hale at an early age. The 1960s were not a pretty sight; sit­ting in a cir­cle on the floor in flow­ing frocks em­bel­lished with tiny mir­rors, pass­ing around funny cig­a­rettes with fag- ends the tex­ture of a soggy wet towel didn’t do much to en­hance the decade.

It has been sug­gested I take up yoga to van­quish the hid­den vi­rago; well, for­get it, the last time I did down­ward dog, I fell flat on my face, which didn’t im­prove my mood one iota. I’m knit­ting my brows in search of tem­per ther­apy, and it’s no good my join­ing a choir and mer­rily thump­ing out com­mu­nity tunes; I am about as tune­ful as the squawk­ing crow. So un­til I find the magic elixir that will turn me into in­stant sun­shine and bon­homie, I’ll just put a sock in it.

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