Our world has begun to tentatively unfold itself as COVID (sort of) recedes, much the way a spider playing dead begins to cautiously unball itself when its attacker has gone, albeit that the spider is far more likely to get vaccinated than most people and is generally better at social distancing.1
Sure, here in Queensland we fold back up faster than a politician can backflip the moment someone within a 10,000km radius sneezes (unless they play football) but things are getting better.
With this re-opening we have finally been allowed to travel for work again, and even to fly. This is a mixed blessing in my book – I quite enjoy flying, especially the beverage-service side of things, but it has its downsides, chief among them being that people other than me are allowed to do it.
Not that I dislike all other people who fly, just the ones who do not understand some of the unwritten rules of flying. For example, if you have a small bladder and also enjoy the beverage service, you have no right to book a window seat.
Window seats disappear faster than fiscal restraint in an election year, and according to Budden’s Inverse Square Law of Quantum bladder control, the probability of a person getting a window seat is inversely proportional to the size of their bladder. Thus, if someone needs to use the bathroom four times in the space of a one-hour flight, they are certain to be allocated the window seat, and have an 87% chance of being seated in my row.2
Actually, since I have quoted a scientific law there, I should digress quickly to explain my use of the word ‘quantum’. This is a word we professional writers use when we want to make the reader think that what we have stated is an incredibly clever, complex and scientifically accepted concept, rather than something we just made up.
Advertisers, peddlers of pseudoscience and sellers of alternative medicine3 now use the word ‘quantum’ to attempt to append scientific credibility to whatever snake oil they are pushing, just as in the past they have used the terms ‘technological’, ‘PH balanced’ and ‘new AND improved!’.
This isn’t always bad, and indeed can be amusing. Many years ago, sports-themed magazines carried advertisements for a bracelet which was meant, through the power of quantum physics, to improve sporting performances. Famous sportspeople provided endorsements for the bracelet, claiming improved performance via wearing the bracelet, which coincidentally was for sale.
The spectacle of footballers – many of whom would be flummoxed by the workings of a collapsible cup – trying to explain the quantum nature of a cheap bracelet is perennially amusing.
Anyway, back to bladders.4 Due to the effects of my law, when I am on a plane I rarely get the window seat and so have to put up with people from the Small Bladder Society5 forcing me to move to let them go to the toilet. This could result in tragedy, such as the plane hitting turbulence and slamming me into the ceiling, or worse yet spilling my wine.
On the rare occasion that I do get the window seat, I never have to use the bathroom except for very long flights. The quantum gods compensate for this by ensuring that the seat beside me is occupied by someone who wants to discuss the book I am reading; if the flight is one of some duration, the person will have very strong, negative views of the book.6
The reason I have developed a strong bladder is cricket. In my day, cricket was played on meticulously maintained wickets, the secrets of which were handed down reverently from father to son, and guarded jealously. Cricket clubs poured many thousands of dollars into the maintenance of their cricket pitches, and almost $5-17 per year on cleaning and maintaining their toilets.
This meant that the toilets at most clubs developed ecosystems that could give rise to anything, possibly even the forerunner to COVID,7 and also aromas that could repel even the finest chuggers. Thus, we learned to hold on until we got to a safer environment, such as a nuclear waste dump, to relieve ourselves (Lord knows what Freud would make of it).
This skill came in handy when we went into Wacol Prison to play the prisoners team. This was a scary enough prospect as it was – I have had any number of people threaten to kill me on a sporting field, but it carries more force when it comes from someone who had been incarcerated for exactly that.
Adding to the experience was the fact that the toilets were on the prison side of the field, and non-playing prisoners could come out to watch (the cricket, not people going to the toilet). They sat right next to the visitors’ toilets, thus ensuring that those toilets were very clean by cricket field standards, since I doubt anyone ever used them.
The point is, travel is back, and there are actually many good things about it, one being that I have been able to get out and connect with QLS members again. I was recently made very welcome by the North Queensland Law Association (NQLA) at their Mackay conference, and would like to thank the practitioners there for a great time. I went to the function afterwards knowing nobody, but was quickly made to feel like an old friend; may thanks for your hospitality NQLA members!
I also had the pleasure of presenting at the Gold Coast Conference, where many of the attendees did know me, but they were still nice to me anyway. Very thankful for the hospitality shown by the Gold Coast District Law Association members on this occasion. Both conferences showed me that, whatever else COVID has done, it hasn’t damaged the collegiality of our profession, which is alive, well and very much appreciated; cannot wait until the next one!
© Shane Budden 2021
1 Admittedly this is because no sane being goes anywhere near a spider if they can help it, but still.
2 This is true even if we are not travelling to the same destination.
3 That is, medicine that doesn’t work.
4 Always a comforting thought.
5 I’ll bet there is such a thing, but I am not looking it up on a work computer.
6 I was once reading The God Delusion on a plane, and quantum effects sat me next to a very vocal old man, who I now believe was former Pope Benedict. It was a fun flight!
7 What’s the bet that becomes a conspiracy theory now?