I should begin by apologising for anyone who has bumped into me recently, and thought that I looked and acted like a person who habitually indulges in certain controlled substances one more normally associates with criminals, addicts and professional footballers.

The reason I look this way, genetics aside, is that I have been through a very taxing experience, which I have survived and therefore now feel that I can survive anything.

Armageddon, a second Trump presidency, England’s whinging about their latest test series loss (they haven’t won a series since 2022, just thought I’d point that out); I am prepared even for doomsday.

Not that I have become a Doomsday Prepper, although I am now a bit of an expert on Doomsday Preppers because I saw about five minutes of a show called, appropriately enough, Doomsday Preppers. These are Americans (of course) who describe themselves as ‘prepared Americans’ and are training for the struggles that will beset the world when Doomsday happens.

You may laugh now (you sure as hell will if you ever see the show) but these are the people who can be counted on – when the revolution starts and the Commies take over and the Mexicans invade – to step up, meet the challenge, and, courageously, blow off their own feet with powerful automatic weapons. At least, that is how I see it playing out.

This is because of what I saw in the show. At one point, the Prepared Americans were simulating an attack through poison gas; the part of the poison gas was played by a smoke grenade, which are available at most petrol stations in the US. The first Prepared American pulled on his gas mask, picked up his gun and ran bravely towards the smoke for about three steps, before succumbing to an attack of claustrophobia and collapsing. Apparently the one thing he had not prepared for was wearing a gas mask.


They also practised repelling an attack with small arms fire, where the simulated attackers were represented by watermelons, bottles and light bulbs set up on a wall about 20 metres from the Preppers. They blazed away for about five minutes, and hit maybe three watermelons and a half-dozen bottles; I doubt the watermelons are particularly concerned, let alone the Mexicans.

No, it is not through slaughtering the odd watermelon and suffocating in my own gas mask that I have become prepared for anything; I am prepared because I have survived Kid the First attending a Taylor Swift concert.

Don’t get me wrong – I like Taylor Swift, and am very happy my child listens to actual music, as opposed to rap or Meat Loaf. I just wasn’t really prepared for how much of our lives would be consumed by the concert.

First, there was obtaining tickets, which my kid and friends went about similar to the way NASA goes about launching rockets, but with much more planning, and spending way more money. One of my friends speculated that the concert tour may have given a new meaning to the term ‘pulling a swiftie’. Having footed the bill for tickets, airfares and accommodation, I am pretty sure my kid understands the traditional meaning all too well.

The time, effort and resources poured into this endeavour is unprecedented in my experience of my child and teenagers in general. If scientists really want to find a Theory of Everything, I advise telling a group of Swifties that there is a free ticket in it if they find one; it’ll be done in an afternoon. Would that Kid the First could apply that effort into cleaning their room.

The Taylor Swift Factor also led to an odd experience at Brisbane airport, in that it was absolutely chockers on a Sunday morning. I have travelled for work on a Sunday morning in the past, and it is usually just me, a couple of cleaners and people who flew in the night before and are still trying to start their hire cars, no two of which – by law – ever start the same way. It is usually so bereft of other people that I half-expect the pilot to tap me on the shoulder and ask how comfortable I would be delivering the safety demonstration.


This time, however, the place was flooded with Swifties, identifiable by the fact that most of them were wearing Kansas City Chiefs jerseys, because Swift dates one of the Chiefs. If Swift dumps him, I suspect the resultant bonfire as Swifties burn those jerseys in solidarity with their deity will create sufficient CO2 emissions to push the Earth into a runaway greenhouse effect; so let’s hope those two can make it work.

In any event, Kid the First enjoyed the concert (although ‘enjoyed’ seems a bit inadequate here, sort of like noting that Anthony Albanese is ‘partial’ to overseas travel) and we survived the experience (just). That said, there is another reason I look a bit frazzled in that I write this in the throes of Febfast, my annual month of sobriety.

This isn’t normally too hard, but it was exacerbated this year by a poorly thought-out event that will shock you with its outrageousness; you will be so shocked at this that you won’t even care whether outrageousness is actually a word. Indeed, you will be astonished – admittedly, probably astonished that I can care so much about it, but I’ll take astonishment where I find it.

You see, two journalists decided, without consulting an appropriately qualified solicitor (i.e., me) that the last Saturday in February would be ‘Open That Bottle Night’, a night to celebrate fine wine. Worse, two of my friends decided to observe this celebration, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I was on Febfast.

I know what you are thinking (apart from the fact that I could probably find better friends by randomly walking into people in the mall): wouldn’t the first weekend of March, when we celebrate the end of Febfast, be more appropriate for a wine-based celebration?

Yes, it would, and we cannot let this injustice stand; write to your local member, to your local councillor, and to whichever country our PM is currently visiting, and demand ‘Open That Bottle’ night be moved to March. The madness must end!

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