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DK Lillee, the Jumbo Prince, and that Young Mum at the Checkout

abba

This boy bought some fried chicken. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

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Ten ways Internet cat videos are making you a zombie!

We know social media can be a torrent of infantile noise. But I recently found a quiet raindrop in the form of a story.

The author was at a supermarket checkout, harassed by shopping and kids. Suburban drudgery. The English poet Philip Larkin might’ve been right in “Dockery and Son”

Life is first boredom, then fear.
Whether or not we use it, it goes

An elderly woman saw her frustration, and offered support before saying, “You know what? I loved being a mother, and enjoyed every minute.”

Enjoyed every minute? Really? Utter rubbish, the writer barked. Dwelling upon her experiences, she knew, of course, that parenting could be dreadful. Excruciating. But, in those reflective moments after the kids were asleep, she loved having parented.

Is this the defining distillation of adulthood? That life becomes gratifying only in retrospect. That we find our satisfaction in the past tense, in having transacted, having accomplished? For kids life is mostly present tense, as it should be. But moving from present to past is hard.

I remind myself to splash about in the moment.

*

My first SANFL game. I was at a friend’s when Dad picked me up late morning, and we went to the 1976 Grand Final at Footy Park between hot fancy Port and Sturt. The attendance was 66,897, but anecdotally, closer to eighty.

I was among the hundreds sitting on the grass, between the fence and the boundary. It was three and four deep, and arguably like sticking your kids on the roof of the XY Falcon while you drove interstate. But it wasn’t frightening; it was a Match Day Experience.

Sturt ruckman Rick Davies hypnotised me. The Jumbo Prince. He defeated Port and his performance yielded statistics that, forty years on, in this era of high disposals, are astonishing

21 kicks, 21 handballs, 15 marks and 21 hitouts.

At the siren, I scampered onto the ground, and patted Davies, a gigantic double-blue fridge. It was an IMAX moment alongside the coat-hanger-as-antennae B&W footage of my childhood.

The afternoon gave me much: league football, a big event, and the irresistible rush of crowds. In taking me from our little home, it painted a vivid vista of possibility.

Thanks, Dad.

*

On a searing Singaporean day, we watched the 2014 AFL Grand Final, and our seven year-old Alex is now on the Hawks. The Crows have plummeted to number two, and are mostly forgotten like all those number two songs on Countdown when Abba’s “Fernando” was top of the pops for fourteen weeks.

Do you remember, in the latter epoch of its reign when Molly decided to not show the whole video clip because the entire country was ill of its Eurovision-inspired confectionary and communicable melodies? “Fernando” had, in a Sunday night televisual sense, finally faced its Waterloo.

If Tex’s Crows are good enough they’ll give him some moments, and win him back. While Hawthorn keeps winning flags, Alex might never return. Happy with the Happy Team, he could be an Abba fan forever.

As a young fella, the boys’ cousin Dylan changed the team he supported three times in three seasons, until with wardrobe space, cash and patience running out, his mum threatened that she’d never buy him another footy jumper. He’s finally a loyal supporter. Mums have this power. And now he has the Power.

*

We’re at the scoreboard end. Like an Arctic ice floe, there’s foam eskies everywhere. I doubt any sunscreen was applied. Those droopy white hats, worn by Arthur Dunger on the Paul Hogan Show, flopped all about on that sloping hill.

My first Adelaide Oval experience was with Dad at an Ashes Test. It was Australia Day, 1975, after the first day washout. Our captain, Ian Chappell, was caught behind for a third-ball duck. His brother scraped to five. But feisty swinging from Jenner, Walker, Lillee and Mallett got us to three hundred, just shy of stumps.

It was nearly six, and the ground announcer confirmed the English openers Amiss and Lloyd would face two overs.

The first from DK Lillee.

The second from JR Thompson.

A pyroclastic flow of noise instantly buried the outer and the ancient grandstands named for Sir Edwin Smith and George Giffen. I was happily pulverised, and it was apocalyptic and baptismal.

With only eight deliveries each, Chappell unleashed both. Lillee, with his Hellenistic menace, and then Thompson’s Wild West gun slinging. Majesty and volatility, both presenting as terror.

The crowd commotion was now medieval village riot, the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, and a rapidly unhinging Neapolitan wedding.

How could this not shape a small country boy? Thanks for this too, Dad.

That the batsmen survived mattered little. The next day Lillee took a wicket with the morning’s third ball, as he and Thompson seized seven victims. England was done.

*

These were my introductions to widescreen sport. How could I have had better? I can’t wait to offer Alex and Max this gift; this tormenting, ageless, rewarding gift.

It’s time for them to catch some moments of their own.

DK

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To Alex, in October 2008

Dearest Alex

Today is the anniversary of that wonderful day when Mummy and I were married in 2002. Since then there’s been much excitement in our lives! We moved to England to experience living in another country and learn more about Europe. Later in 2003 your cousin Lachlan was born and around Easter of the next year Mitchell arrived. Wow! We had a brilliant time in St Albans but both knew when it was time to come home. 2006 was busy as we bought a car, a house and started new jobs.

All of this was really terrific but we got amazing news on Daddy’s birthday in 2007. Do you know what it was? This was the magical day when we discovered that Mummy was pregnant! It was so fantastic that Daddy almost forgot it was his birthday! Can you believe this? We spent all of that day walking around grinning like monkeys at each other and everyone, even people in Rundle Mall who we did not know! Then on February 9th in 2008 we welcomed you into our world and are still astonished at how perfect you are.

You have grown every day these eight months. You’re strong and energetic and have a robust and playful spirit. I love your face lighting up when Roxy trots into the room, you giggling whenever we play music and you chuckling like a pirate when I blow bubbles on your belly. You make us laugh and cry and smile and stare at you in awe. You’ve inherited many of Mummy’s features- her determination, ready humour and utterly gorgeous gift for losing herself totally in the moment. These are some of the reasons that six years ago today, I married Mummy.

We are so lucky that your Mummy is the remarkable person she is. Since you’ve been born she has cared for you every day and for a lot of every night too! It has been tiring but we are deeply grateful that she is devoted to you. She’s a wonderful Mummy and continues to give you the best possible beginning.

Daddy has loved watching you become beautifully curious as you learn more about your world! One night when you were small we were on the lounge and you were sitting on my knee. And then it happened! For the first time ever, you smiled at me. It made me instantly cry and shudder and laugh all at once. I’ll never forget it.

On Sundays you and Mummy and I now go to the swimming pool. You are a water baby and have fun playing games while we sing songs. It is fantastic! Despite the pool swirling with splashing, squealing kids I love how in the water it is just you and me. Going through the foam tunnel together, you jumping in from the edge and learning to kick your legs are now my favourite moments in the week.

So it’s Mummy and Daddy’s sixth wedding anniversary and I wanted to tell you about why you’ve made it so special. I can remember the first one in England when we visited the Cotswolds and stayed in a famous village called Stow-on-the-Wold. Don’t you think that’s a funny name? We were on a holiday there and spent our days exploring the green hills and patchwork fields and walking in the bright sunshine. It was great but also a bit sad because our family was home in Australia. One morning we had champagne and sparkling ale! We laughed when the champagne frothed up and spilled over the dining table in front of people we didn’t know.

As we head into your second summer with its endless days of shimmering skies your Mummy and I are happier than ever because you’re with us! You’re amazing and beautiful. We love you.

Daddy