It’s a mad, mad, mad, sad world

One of the big problems with being a satirist (Latin for ‘loudmouthed smart****’) last year was that it was very difficult to make fun of the world through absurdity, because reality was so absurd satire could not out-do it.

For example, as the United States election votes were being counted you might think there was a chance that you could make a humorous observation something like, “knowing Trump, if he loses he’ll refuse to come out of his room at the White House and threaten to hold his breath until he is allowed to stay President”.

Unfortunately, before I could even type those words President Trump was more or less doing that, and now probably wishes he had thought of holding his breath. Indeed, the fear of giving him ideas cut off reams of material – who would dare make a joke about, say, Trump using his last days as President to nuke the states that didn’t vote for him, when there was a real risk of him responding with, “Good idea!”.

In truth it is a bit of a surprise Trump didn’t nuke somebody at some point, and it is hard to escape the conclusion that the only reason he didn’t do so was that nobody would show him how to use a map.

Proving that the US doesn’t have a monopoly on ‘quirky’1 politicians, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan locked up his state and probably would have tried to secede from Australia if it wasn’t for the fact that he appears to believe it has already happened. The only real surprise is that he didn’t promise to build a wall and make Tasmania pay for it.

So you can see it has been a tough time for those of us who rely largely on entirely made up stories for our material, since the real world right now couldn’t have been imagined by Lewis Carroll, no matter how much Dettol he sniffed. This year isn’t shaping up much better either, with the Indian cricket team winning the recent Test series by beating Australia at the Gabba.

Thankfully our cricket commentators and administrators stayed calm about it, reacting in basically the same way Sheldon Cooper does when he fails, and blaming everyone from the captain and the coach, to the people who serve the soggy chips and over-priced beer. Apparently the only solution yet to occur to them is that India played really well and were just better than us; thank the stars nobody sat in their spot.

This means that we need to do something to stop this year being like 2020. The Yanks held up their end of the bargain, voting out Donald Trump and not letting him change the result despite the best arguments his lawyers could muster (such as, ‘It’s not fair!’ and ‘Obama had two goes, why can’t I?’.2 He of course took this like any normal, rational person, assuming you regard John McEnroe as normal and rational.

Thus, we all need to work towards a saner year, and we could start with the little things. For example, every politician, everywhere, and of every stripe, should swear to never gain use the phrase, “I will not apologise for… (insert recent inexplicable decision/policy adopted by said politician)”. Note to politicians: we know that when you use that phrase3 what you are really saying is: “I have no idea why I did this and if I did I wouldn’t tell you.” Just be honest and admit that whatever it was seemed like a good idea at the time, it will save us all a lot of hassle.

I am going to end on a sad note with this column, because it only took three days for 2021 to become irredeemably worse than 2020 for me, with my Dad – my mentor, my friend, my hero – passing away on 3 January. He had been ill, but was only 75 and it was still pretty sudden.

Thankfully, we are a close family, and I had told my Dad many times over the years how I felt and how thankful I was. My last words to Dad were “love ya Dad, see you next time”. I was half-right, I guess.

Of course, final words aren’t really that important; my Dad and I have been talking since I started, a conversation that has gone on all my life (until now). Countless words, and now all of them final.

I am not trying to depress people, but there is a takeaway here. My last words were nice because I always said them when I said goodbye to Dad, and I say the same thing to Mum. The point is that when parting from loved ones, always do so in love; don’t leave on an argument, you might not get to patch things up – and certainly don’t wait to tell people how you feel about them. They won’t be there forever – thank your loved ones while you can.

Thanks for everything, Dad.

© Shane Budden 2021

Footnotes
1 Which is a term I use because ‘intellectually unremarkable’ may offend.
2 One good thing came of this: Every time one of my kids says ‘it’s not fair!’ I tell them to stop doing a Trump; works a treat!
3 Or the even more serious, “I refuse to apologise for…”.

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