I have to start by apologising for this column (about time – ed). I have been travelling a lot lately, different daylight saving time, different election cycles, different eras (at one point I believe I was in the Mesozoic).

So I am a bit discombobulated – not sure if this column is making sense, not sure if it is actually coherent, and especially not sure if you would notice.

The thing is, it is CPD season so I am doing a lot of presentations, all around the place. These travels are good though – I get to meet the profession and indeed have new experiences and learn new things.

For example, I recently did a presentation in Ipswich, the place where I cut my teeth as a lawyer, the place where I did my articles, the place where I was personally responsible for a number of miscreants going to jail who otherwise would be roaming the streets right now. Of course, that would be a more impressive achievement had I been a prosecutor rather than a defence lawyer, but a result is a result (just ask Steven Miles).

The point is that this presentation took place at the Ipswich Jets Leagues Club, which is now a very sophisticated establishment, with all the mod cons, such as a whole room full of pokies, and – just around the corner – another room full of pokies. I would not be surprised if there were a third room also full of pokies, but I didn’t have the time to check it out.

However, the Jets Leagues Club used to be, back in my day, the Cecil Hotel, official watering hole of my cricket team, the mighty Western Suburbs Roosters. The Cecil was a very different place. It did not have pokies; it was more the sort of place that, instead of having a ‘thank you for not smoking’ sign, it had a ‘thank you for wearing shoes’ sign. That sign also had an asterisk, which noted that ‘one thong = shoes’. That rule allowed for those guys who had unfortunately lost a thong (and indeed, for those who had fortuitously found one).


Of course, it was a slightly strange experience – which is feedback I often get on my presentations – as while the place has changed, my memories of it, such as they are, have not. For example, it is a somewhat surreal experience to give an ethics presentation in pretty much the same spot that a certain fast bowler (not from my team) put to the test his claim that he could do a standing-start jump over the entire bar.

He was partly right, in that he made it partly over the bar but mostly into it; the accident ended his career as a bowler only slightly before his talent naturally would have, but it seemed to increase his drinking capacity so it all worked out. Full disclosure, on the same night I performed what scientists have determined to be the worst rendition of ‘Surfin’ USA in the history of karaoke. Giving an ethics lecture on pretty much the same spot was somewhat disturbing, but no doubt the karaoke gave the audience nightmares for years so I shouldn’t complain.

Not long after that, I presented at the Sunshine Coast, where I learned – from the person who presented before me, and who shall (for reasons that are about to become obvious) remain nameless – that as soon as I turned the key on my new car, I consented to the manufacturers recording anything that goes on in it, up to and including sexual relations (no, I don’t know where he was going with it).

That didn’t worry me much though, because the car starts with a push of a button, not the turn of a key, which may be why more cars get stolen these days. Also, if the voyeurs at the car company have recorded anything when I was in it, it will be just me belting out David Bowie songs in the sort of dulcet tones that would give my Surfin’ USA a run for its money (so serves them right).

Most of that recording would have been done on my way up the coast, because the trip took about four weeks.

OK, that is an exaggeration, it just seemed like four weeks because – prepare to be shocked – there was a traffic jam in the Bruce Highway. Of course, you aren’t shocked, because the Bruce Highway has more traffic jams than Scott Morrison had ministerial portfolios, albeit without doing as much damage.


I figure what happened is some thoughtless driver activated their indicator before changing lanes, and this alarmed the regular users of the Bruce Highway because they had no idea what an indicator was, having never once seen one used (or indeed used one themselves).

No doubt this caused a chain reaction of confused lane changes, breaking, accelerating and hurriedly phoning radio stations to report the situation and complain about it. Soon enough the Bruce Highway looked like a scene from ‘Mad Max 12: Max Meets the Dukes of Hazard’, or as locals call it, ‘normal’. Traffic naturally slowed to the point where you could actually watch continental drift in action. 

Eventually, whatever the problem was went away, and cars started moving again, which is one of the most frustrating things about traffic jams: you almost never find out what caused them. You drive along waiting to see some cause, all the while wondering whether all traffic jams are ultimately caused by the fact that nobody (apart from you) knows how to merge into moving traffic.

Just once it would be good to get to the point of the problem, and find out it is just due to the fact that Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen have landed their respective jets on the highway to have quick chat about the need to reduce CO2 emissions. It never is, which is surprising given how often that must happen.

I’ll end on a serious note. As I type this, Anzac Day is approaching, a day when we honour the fallen, and those who still serve. Given the state of the world right now the members of the ADF are no doubt working hard to keep our nation secure, so let’s all give thanks to their efforts. By their blood and sacrifice are our lands kept safe.

Lest we forget.


© Shane Budden 2024

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