You might be familiar with the entrenched British radio stalwart entitled: “Desert Island Discs” in which prominent folk from various fields are interviewed on the hypothetical pretence that they are going to be marooned on a desert island.
On this island they are permitted 8 songs (usually music), 1 book and a single luxury item; and this is to do them till eternity isn’t eternal anymore on this desert island.
A charming concept and a wonderful way in which to see more into a person as they unveil themselves via the vital songs in of their life.
A tremendous way to sum up a lifetime, but a hard task when summing up the Earth.
What songs could sum up the Earth and all its previous? Are we stuck with 8 songs to detail our planet’s past? Do the dinosaurs get any sway in our say?
It’s probably worth explaining why I’m bringing the planet into this.
I can remember being told that one day all life in the entire universe was going to end, but not before our sun gave up the galactic ghost and Earth went bang.
I was very young and slightly shaken (almost crapped myself) until it was explained to me that the Earth was not due to explode in a whirl of mountains and continents and pets until millions of years after my own comfortable bed-bound death.
Though quelled, I still held the knowledge that all this was temporary and that there was going to be a final day.
And so, from those young days to this, I have pondered at times about which things would be a good way to kick off the final day; activities and playlists, guest lists and buffet items.
And then, as my understanding of probable alien life came into being, I realised the need to broadcast our best and brightest to the cosmos; for a whole host of reasons including but not limited to: scaring the sweet shit out of Johnny Alien and ensuring they heard the lovely melodies of tales about getting-the-girl, being-so-glad and telling-all-the-world.
And I’ve been narrowing it down.
Yes, it’s another series from me, and whilst a new one comes, please don’t assume the others are dead. Perpetually IN is not quite out of vogue, Matters That Matter still matters and Brief…Therefore Witty still has some epigrams to launch before lunch, although it has become increasingly clear as to my answer in that famed personality quiz question: “Do you find it easier to start new projects or finish up the details that’ve been passed on to you?”
Never pass things on to me.
Especially a trumpet (I hate it when a person plays a brass instrument and holds eye-contact with me. Gives me the willies. Woodwind doesn’t seem to bother me though).
Especially when you’ve just blown it at a group of post-conch-blowing Mauri in the 1600’s.
Onto the rocket goes:
Having viewed much of the world with a fairly sturdy stomach, it was not till I watched true Maori of New Zealand perform the Haka, barely a few feet from my face, with as much intensity as a human can muster and hopefully as much as an alien can bare to stand.
The tattooed face isn’t really an important factor in this, because we’re talking about a wielding of the face that is such a tradition that I truly believe that it has become a genetic blessing on the traditional Maori people.
The bulging eyes, the enormity of the limbs of the ilk that might not grace the cover of GQ but would certainly cause a fellow to quiver in recognition that this is a matter of dashing brains upon the beach, and the tongue that whips with every sincerely meant gasping inhalation of the imminence of battle in which you simply can’t wait to take part.
The slapping/clawing of the legs and chest, the slight and delicate motions between in which genuine respect is given to some hairy sun-stealing deity, the waving of weaponry and the warrior’s deep-shrieking vernacular of a people that have no issue with your puny European musket because we’re used to hunting giant 12-foot Moa birds with huge glowing green rock-clubs, so beware me as I blow my conch (put the trumpet down).
There is something so utterly awe-inspiring about the Maori Haka that I truly believe it is amongst the best of what our species has to offer, and we must look at things in terms of an entire species from now on, otherwise the aliens won’t take our rocket seriously.
I can easily believe the Haka can make you fearless. For how can an expression such as that pictured (just look at the picture…) have any concern over so fleeting a complication as a Martian death-ray?
It is, however, crucial that this Haka be performed only by Maori. Even if they’re 1/24th Maori; that’ll do just dandy too, but it’s not going to be a European guy doing it.
I’ve seen the Kiwi rugby team with their Haka, and the Maori contingent is all of what I have expressed above, but the tall blonde guys joining in too – it just doesn’t work for me. I don’t believe their Haka. It seems too ‘awfully-hope-this-isn’t-too-much-of-an-inconvenience-if-score-a-try-awfully-very-much-sorry-thanks-sorry’. I’m sure they could do a marvellous Scandinavian/Viking battle cry, standing all moody whilst the rain runs from the battle-axe, plus I’ve never seen an Asian or African guy do the Haka, but I’m going to have to choose a Maori guy (and girl, sure) for the Haka here.
I’m not saying European guys shouldn’t do it, I’m just saying it’s not getting onto my rocket.
I’m trying to make inter-galactic friends here.
There is also that message of the Haka, which is the indomitable threat of an ultimate victory expressed via the eyes and lashing tongue in the Haka, but written here it is:
“The worst thing you can be is shit. And I’m going to defeat you in battle, kill you hence, I’m going to eat you, and I’m going to turn you into shit. I will turn you into shit. And I’m keeping your boat.”
A powerful message we can all relate to, especially since I’m in favour of eating some people. Not all people, but explicitly people who continue walking towards our planet once having seen the Haka (because we’d better eat them; they must be insane to keep marching after seeing that).
You might now be starting to see how Desert Island Discs and my rocket deviate from one another.
Next up, onto the rocket goes:
‘Mamma Mia’, by Abba.
Perhaps this is the battle cry the Scandinavians could be doing whilst the Haka’s happening next door?
Of course I’m referring to the single song, not the entire musical. Not the musical at all in fact, but undoubtedly that glorious piece of lyricised human condition known as ‘Mamma Mia’.
Crickey it’s a corker.
A tale known by those who have loved, lost, and rekindled, lost, loved some more, and therein having actually done loving properly; it is a shame of our childish species for which we are very happy to indulge in this equal to the many times we like to put that record on and get all excited at that opening piano staccato that is in imitation of a tick-tocking clock that only tick and tocks onwards and past you whilst you’re still standing there – very much so still fallen for that person and very much so still hopeless to do anything about it.
Mamma Mia – here we go again, a mantra for those about to whirl about in a familiar romance once more, as well as those about to put ‘Mamma Mia’ on again.
Here we go again.
Lyrically, it sums up the side of that human condition that the poets try to nail and the scholars try only to avoid, whilst musically it is simply very fucking-on-the-nose as a song everyone likes.
It could always simply be that I’m a tad of a nostalgic romantic at heart and this is sheer indulgence on behalf of myself, but I don’t see how that would matter either way as it’s my rocket and you’re all my species (I’m fairly possessive) and this is the way we’re doing it.
I just adore that moment of hushedness, in which the staccato returns and the humble “Mamma Mia, here I go again, my-my how could I resist ya” – in which the hushedness represents that intimate chat with oneself in which you’re too stupefied by love that you’re unable to answer your own internal monologue. And the culmination, the CULMINATION that …..CULMINATES to the point of saying simply: “I should not have let you go”.
I feel that “Awww” is a splendid way of summing this song up, and in doing so, goes a great length in summing us up also.
The human species: “Awww” and (Haka-induced) “Arrrggghhh!”
That’s what goes onto my rocket.
I’ve gone and gotten an urge to bulk up and bulk out lately.
Perhaps I’ve been standing too near the mountains. The show-off “look-at-my-snow-tufted-peaks” mountains. Those “ooh-I-bet-you-wish-you-were-as-riddled-with-goats-as-I-am”mountains. Mountains with an entourage of Sherpas playing fifes in their immovable wake.
Maybe I’ve been too long in the too near mountains, but that’s New Zealand for you…and for me. Still better than the old Zealand.
Perhaps it’s not ‘Zea-land’, but rather instead ‘Zeal-and…’; thereby leaving you with fact that Kiwis are espousers of zeal and…whatever else you’d like to add. It’s pleasant when national identity is a matter of, first, enthusiasm and, second, whatever else you’d like to add.
Like laziness. One could be be enthusiastic and then lazy, 100% dedicated push towards not really being bothered about it. Enthused lethargy.
Not that I’m saying Kiwis are vehement recliners, because that seems a tad racist and if I’m going to be racist I’m going to save it up for a good one (brace yourselves…Scandinavians).
Scandinavia…that’s another common hangout for mountains; the sort of mountains that once did terrible things to handmaidens or gave birth to longboats, or other ancient Scandinavian strangeness.
But to be like a mountain; I’ll give it a go.
I’m beginning with lifting some heavy shit, but not actual weights.
I’m going to improvise variously, such as by lifting a shipwreck’s timber or a conveniently proximate boulder.
However, best place to find a new heavy thing for up-and-downing is a farm. Sure, armfuls of bundled hay and discipline-inducing muck for shovelling, but mainly livestock, for the best things to lift for applicable strength are things that wiggle, and wriggle is rampant in the farmyard.
For there lay the beasts that have the ancient instinct of not-knowing what being lifted up is, but know in their gut they must not allow it to happen to them by any and all means deemed appropriate at the time of departure from the ground. It should be one of those situations in which the animal is so pissed off that the majority of noises it makes are coming out of its nose. An articulate snort of sorts.
If they don’t wiggle or kick, then it’s one of those animals that naturally climb people, like scenery.
Complimentary though it maybe to be considered vast enough to be a place to spend an afternoon (“I think I’ll have tea at Sam…perhaps the elbow region.”), it doesn’t count as lifting. Even if a horse climbs you; that’s down to the horse, not you.
And when the animals become willing to be lifted…rotate your sheep, sir.
Keep an unwilling yet steady procession of animals a’coming, thoroughly unprepared for being hoisted and lunged at the sky as though eager contrary proof against the cloud’s accusing suggestion that you don’t have any sheep to hand.
And the method works! My biceps nowadays…they’re why animals think of me as scenery, like a valley.
You know when the show-off body builders kiss their biceps? Well, I can’t help but do that, because mine are near my lips perpetually, being a bit of a sizeable bother to be honest.
My biceps are so large; they’re near. Near the dog, near the hat stand, near the computer, my wife complains when my biceps get in her light whilst she reads…and her soup.
More importantly…Forearms. You’ll want nice manly firearms, naturally the kind that make your daughter’s suitors know that you can…just…keep…hammering, in a rugged checkered shirt, whilst your beard looks on sternly and bushily.
How illegal is a hammer anyway?
Hammers give me confidence, less son-in-law strife and and forearms that bulge like I’ve got a problem.
Bulging is either a sign of the absurdly healthy (healthy to the point of arousal) or desperately done-for. And I’m the former.
You don’t even need nails, though some earplugs to hand and ear might be advisable. And then, thoroughly deaf, you can show the ground why you live on top of it. Make it pay for abandoning those sheep and other livestock to your lofty ambitions of cloud collisions.
Hammer, mallet, axe; all these are tremendous for the forearms and greatly decreases the proximity of those you want, increases the distance of those you don’t want, and adjusts the altitude at which you prefer your sheep to be.
I say sheep, but there’s nothing more biblical than ‘oxen’ to lift.
When you go ‘oxen’; you’re too-too-much in general terms.
Like as a wedding gift. Once an oxen would have been an ideal wedding gift, sitting patiently as a future grandchild’s inheritance, between the toasters and bed sheets. Now though, that oxen is too-too-much.
‘Biblical’ is a hell of a method of overkill though.
5000 people for dinner and serving just fish and loaves of bread? With some suspiciously watery wine? And then retaliating to a rude comment at the water-wine bar by flooding the Earth? Rounding things off by killing yourself to one of the worst torturous deaths imaginable and then saying to people as they walk back to their seats from the bar: “I’m doing this for you, y’know. How about some applause!? If it’s not to much to ask?! Can’t do its myself obviously, can I?!”
Biblical is one way, but medieval is quite another.
Like chucking down a gauntlet and expected other folk to be suitably insulted by it, thereby picking up the gauntlet prior to you both killing each other’s employees.
If you’re going to take part in that daftness, at least make it a heavy gauntlet.
That’ll do for today’s…whatever this is. I wouldn’t call it advice, as I’m more that chap your teachers and parents warned you about regarding being told to jump off a bridge.
Variety and weight. Every day. Check the farmyard.
Conditions are perfect.
To begin with, you can call Australia: ‘Oz’ (not that you needed my permission). It seems to mean a lot over there, and reading further will divulge reasons why.
In Australia there’s not much to do but be very alone in Asia, pretending that you are a continent nearer to Europe that it actually is. And since it isn’t, you have to insist that you are Australian at every turn.
I can only imagine that it is very lonely being so far from the rest of the white people, and so acting as though you are a people unto your own is possibly simply a means of coping.
Or maybe it’s the heat.
Either way- referring to this place as ‘Oz’ is smiled upon by the more-recent of the local population.
In ‘Oz’ you also have the option of insisting.
Insisting on history and insisting on identity. In my opinion, although this might seem absurd to some, in life you need more than Steve Irwin to know yourself and get ahead.
The man is idolised. His figurine is adorned in gold and made for taking the pride of place upon the mantle-piece of all those that visit the continent, because…why wouldn’t you want to have a golden Steve Irwin on your mantle-piece? I do believe that was his true message: ‘buy me’.
I feel that the people of ‘Oz’ want to be associated with the man in the same way that most British people don’t want to be associated with the Queen- in case Americans ask if you know her.
However, there’s not a lot of Australians, so in his time, you probably did know him fairly well.
Australians know how to accept company. They are a nation built for two things: tourism and trying to find the other thing. When they’ve found it, you can be sure that you’ll be able to purchase a tea-towel that sums them up perfectly.
Australia also has Aboriginal people and, as a people, those Aboriginals really could not be more fucked. Even more fucked than Native Americans, which must really sting after a while.
In terms of a national outlook they really aren’t fitting into the traditional and successful European franchise. For example, just take the previous sentence- “in terms of a national outlook”- Aboriginal ‘Ozzies’ were never a nation- they were a bunch of people that came from a place, having no idea that there were other blokes at either end of where they came from.
Poor buggers. They just don’t fit there anymore, and regrettably, they have to, and…currently…they never will.
This is extremely similar to the First Nation people of the US- everyone but them assumes that they aren’t around anymore.
So here’s an evil truth- the Aboriginal should be dead for the ease of the actual Australian people (Aboriginals are NOT Australian in the same way that the French are not German- they are simply near one another).
The injustice should have finished by now, the lingering of the race is against the benefit of the Australian progression and that progression is to sell, sell, sell the national identity. It would be much easier to sell some of that identity if the Aboriginals were all gone so that (1.) they could indulge much more heavily in the bullshit that equates to a paying audience and (2.) people wouldn’t see how poorly the Native people are currently handling themselves.
This is common knowledge- if the native people weren’t around- it would be much easier to get along with them. Aside from what is listed above, you have to consider that if the True Locals were already dead and gone, the white people wouldn’t feel so guilty, and they could make up some mysterious shit about who they were and how their souls are still ‘blood in the land’, ‘voices on the wind’ or ‘semen in the billabong’. You can make what you want of the dead. They’re dead- fighting back is a little beyond them.
As for the actual Aboriginal folks, I think they may be even a little more doomed than they were prior to the recognition of their ‘cultural contribution’. Before the assimilation of their art and history in the European selling machine- they were seen as a sub-race requiring decimation on the grounds of there not being enough room…in Australia. Following this process, the True Locals are now seen as a people…well…not quite a people- more of a ‘cultural aspect’ that offers the chance to demonstrate aspects of modernity, such as political correctness, and flogging didgeridoos.
Ultimately, the Aboriginal Natives of this continent are a property of the Australian nation. Not slaves, but their image is owned as much, and used in the Australian identity to suggest that there is more to it than is really there. Aboriginals are their own, and are much left to their own historically crippled devises, whilst their history and culture are assimilated into the Australian output that can be snuggly fitted onto that afore-mentioned tea-towel.
The insects are also really something else on that continent.
They regard you.
When I was out walking one day, a bug paused to let me pass before it went off on its way. I’m not saying that this beetle-like little boulder of a bug was being polite, but it had the worldly know-how keeping out of the way of the bigger guy.
Not that it would have been squished if I’d have trodden on it. It would probably have made a rude gesture and walked away from me, swaggering as it actually seemed to. That’s the kind of intelligence that comes with size, normally because the brain just follows along in the fashion of the rest of the body. This is in the same way that elephants and dolphins are witty- owing mostly to the rest of them being fairly large.
Humans, however, are ahead of the fashion curve in terms of brain size- clever enough to presume a beetle might have good manners.
It is undeniably odd that to reach this country, you have to cross many social, cultural, political, religious, geographical and actual borders- the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
It is strange to pass through a country that forbids music and dancing, to then arrive in a nation extremely similar to your own, just…as it is…on the ‘other side’.
I think that the problem might be that Australia doesn’t contain enough Australians. Perhaps if there were more people, and perhaps if there was therefore more history- there might be a little more of everything that I’m looking for here: The Confidence of Culture. The balls of history being in your favour and fearing no future that could be worse than the worst that most societies have already suffered.
Australia has strived through colonisation, exploration, immigration, racial injustice, ethnic cleansing, two world wars, yet throughout all this the overwhelming suggestion from the national Australian demeanour is the insistence on their being something in the culture worth your time and money of visiting and, once again, that bloody tea-towel. As opposed to their being able to relax to the degree of self-assuredness that comes with having a hell of a past that has a ‘you’ve probably heard of me’ attitude (e.g. the entirety of Europe), Australia has an attitude of swelling itself up to appear storied and historical, therefore bringing about a means by which actual stories and history do not happen.
Aside from this one.
Imagine if there’d never been Steve Irwin or Crocodile Dundee movies.
Maybe you’d be thinking that Australia was that country near where ‘Lord Of The Rings’ was filmed.
So, I guess entirely, what I’m saying is…watch out ‘Oz’…New Zealand is coming.
But, if I were to permit this nation of good, bright and adventurous people one reason as to why this is how they are, it would be TIME. Or rather the lack of it.
TIME is the thing that made Britain a little country that was known simply for being a place that Julius Caesar wanted to have for himself.
So, after only a few hundred years of colonised history, when ‘Oz’ has a couple hundred more- it will be a place that no longer feels such a desperate need to ask you to visit.
I truly hope that one day I shall hear a recent-local of Australia utter the words: “Yeah it’s a kangaroo. So fucking what?!”
P.S. You are a beautiful country, filled with fun, clever, hard-working and exciting people. Keep it up and you’ll rule your world, like the Aboriginals one did.