LIVE AND LEARN
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.