The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - OPENERS - SHEL­LEY GARE

COME CHRIST­MAS, THE du­ti­ful per­son looks back on the year and con­tem­plates their list of achieve­ments. Try­ing to be du­ti­ful, I started do­ing this decades ago. I wish now I’d writ­ten down all the an­nual tot­tings-up. I’ve slowly re­alised, as do we all, that the achieve­ments list sub­tly changes. You stop be­ing alarmed that your Christ­mas ac­count­ing doesn’t record you were made youngest CEO or that you found a cure for can­cer. Small ad­vances give sat­is­fac­tion in­stead. This year, I have stuck so doggedly to my swim­ming that I can now do con­sec­u­tive laps of freestyle without peo­ple think­ing I’m drown­ing. It’s all part of life’s joy­ous cy­cle. In your late teens and 20s, each year is full of such step­ping stones you could be wear­ing seven league boots. The next sev­eral decades are more like the cu­rate’s egg. No one has it all one way. Even Rhodes scholar, rich-as-Croe­sus, hap­pily mar­ried Malcolm Turn­bull, is now as glum as a hound dog.

Achieve­ments even­tu­ally be­come less worldly, more philo­soph­i­cal. You re­alise – too late! – why peo­ple write those ar­ti­cles about what they wished they’d known at 16. Or 40. You ac­quire house­hold lore. This is what I learned in 2009.

My sis­ter is right. The Prime Min­is­ter may be amaz­ingly pop­u­lar but he does lick his lips too of­ten.

No one ever steps out of a lap pool without feel­ing bet­ter than they did when they got into it.

We are not in the mid­dle of a youth revo­lu­tion and the un­der-25s are not a breed of freshly minted no­bil­ity, able to un­der­stand truths and wis­doms de­nied to us clod­ding Luddite el­ders. In­stead, it’s the big­gest mar­ket­ing con in his­tory as cun­ning firms de­velop un­nec­es­sary tech­nol­ogy that costs plenty, wastes re­sources and specif­i­cally tar­gets youth. Then they put it around that the rest of us are id­iots be­cause we pre­fer books to e-books and phones that last 10 years. The best piece of wis­dom I heard this year was a man on ra­dio who pon­dered how well de­signed a prod­uct could be if 90 per cent of its users only use 10 per cent of its func­tions. Pre­cisely.

In a sim­i­lar vein – it is not eas­ier to get your news on-line. Do you know how long it takes to prop­erly read a news­pa­per like that? No one in the world has that much time, not even the Queen. Click, open, dis­card; click, open, read; click, open, damn – wrong story; click, open, oh, for­get it.

At least half of com­plaints man­agers think their job is be­ing able to tell man­age­ment that cus­tomers are toe­ing the line.

Stilet­tos are age­ing. No 20-year-old on stilt heels looks as fresh and young as her age. They make young women – and any­one else – look like wor­ried old ladies gin­gerly pick­ing their way around on Zim­mer frames.

There must be some­thing wrong with women’s mag­a­zines that they haven’t told their read­ers this yet.

I now know, cour­tesy of a re­cent col­umn on funer­als, that every­one has the cas­ket night­mare. Every­one is scared of wak­ing up in­side a cof­fin and hav­ing to scrab­ble at the lid with their fin­ger­nails. My aunt who used to work in a fu­neral par­lour in Ade­laide tells me her bosses al­ways hated that story. (But just to be safe: I’d still plump for em­balm­ing be­fore they close the lid.)

If you’re plan­ning to stick around though, add a pinch of turmeric – which ap­par­ently re­pels ev­ery­thing from can­cer to Alzheimer’s (and ants) – to your din­ner each night.

The jour­nal­ist’s mantra – it’s not the orig­i­nal mis­take that causes the hoo-hah but the cover-up af­ter­wards – con­tin­ues to hold true. So what does it mean that so many of the il­lus­tri­ous, here and ev­ery­where, still clearly be­lieve cover-up is the best de­fence first-up? That cover-up usu­ally works?

Have a happy and safe Christ­mas.

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