The Voice and Other Matters

Well, the Voice referendum was – as predicted – a total shit show. I’m a big fan of democracy and so should support the will of the people and all, but I can’t help but feel that the vote was affected by huge amounts of people simply not understanding what we were voting about.

I disagree with the opinion of No voters who understood the proposal and rejected it, but I respect their right to have their say. And if their view was that of the majority of Australians then it’s democratically correct for the referendum to have failed. But how many voters said No because they thought the Voice would result in them having to pay rent to local indigenous bodies? Or that they’d have to hand over their house to the first indigenous person who called dibs? Or even that the entire thing was a nefarious scheme by the United Nations to destroy the white race? All of that bullshit was circulating (and being actively spread by bad actors) and all of it would have distorted the vote to some extent.

The Yes campaign seemed to have been blinded by their own comprehension of the proposal and concentrated on aspiration rather than the much more needed education. A goddam one minute explainer video on what the Voice is and what it could and couldn’t do would have been worth a thousand ads with an indigenous kid dreaming about a brighter future.

Anyway, it’s done, and now we have to live with the consequences. I can at least take some small comfort that my electorate voted Yes, and that Western Australia did not turn out to have the lowest Yes vote – the ever reliable Queensland hitting the bottom of that particular barrel.

But on to other matters.

The Saturday of the referendum also turned out to be the day of my 30th Anniversary High School Reunion at the Breakwater at Hillarys. I was not intending to go, but got badgered into it by a couple of friends. Overall… it was alright. I didn’t recognise half the people there but had a few decent catch ups. I also got a hug from the second-prettiest girl in our entire year, and the prettiest refused to let me leave before we’d had a quick chat – both very gratifying to the shy, damaged nerd that still lurks in the back of my brain. I did bail a bit early though as I felt myself starting to get a bit maudlin – which is the reason I wasn’t inclined to go in the first place. I am far too prone to maudlin nostalgia and if not controlled it can wipe me out for days. I got out before it got too bad and merely lost Sunday brooding on lost opportunities and the merciless passage of time.

(On the subject of the merciless passage of time, one of my classmates could have passed for 60. I don’t know what he’s spent the last 30 years doing, but it definitely hasn’t been kind to him…)

On Sunday, just to make my crappy weekend complete, I ran out of money. Which is not to say I had no money, I just found myself completely unable to access any of it. I misplaced the debit card for my standard bank account a few weeks back and was holding out on reporting it lost in the hopes it would turn up, living in the meantime on the hardly-ever-touched card for my savings account. As I was already feeling crap on Sunday morning I decided to bite the bullet and report it lost. With that done I decided to ease my troubled mind by downloading some truly embarrassing music from iTunes, for which I had to set up and use the savings account card.

It was in the midst of purchasing music that I got an SMS from the bank telling me that said card had been blocked because of “suspicious online transactions” and that I needed to call them right away (in hindsight I suspect that Erasure’s Blue Savanah was too much for the bank computer to handle). I did call them right away (after checking that the number in the SMS was in fact their real number and not that of a Belarusian scam artist) and was immediately connected to a recorded voice that told me I’d called them outside of business hours, then hung up on me.

(Why didn’t I log on to my account online? Because I’ve deliberately avoided setting up online access to my savings account to make it harder for me to spend it all.)

So until I was able to get them on the phone this morning and explain that no scammer would pay $2.99 for a digital copy of the 12 Inch ‘Summer’ remix of Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy I was entirely unable to pay for anything – including any more atrocious music.

Anyway, it’s all sorted now and I should soon be back on an even keel, financially if not psychologically.

So, how was your weekend?

A New England

People ask me when will you grow up to be a man? But all the girls I loved at school are already pushing prams.

So, on Saturday night it was my 20 year high school reunion.

I didn’t go to the 10th year reunion. I was – as blog entries from that far off era will attest – still bitter and twisted out of shape about the less enjoyable aspects of my high school career. But I’ve mellowed out over the last decade and decided to put in an appearance at the Rose and Crown in Guildford at 7:00 in the evening to see what could be seen.

As it turned out, what could be seen was a really good turn out, including in particular my old friend Mark who hasn’t been in Perth for a good five years. Justin also turned up (after I phoned him on the Friday to remind him it was on) and I divided the evening between lurking with them and wandering out to inveigle my way into various conversations and catch ups.

It was a really good night. Our principal Mr Mulchay turned up for a while, as did chemistry teacher Mr Sorge. About half the people looked the same – with some extra weight, a few wrinkles round the eyes and (for the guys) less hair (apart from Daniel who had a beard Ned Kelly would be proud of). The rest looked like complete strangers, but a good half of those were identifiable after comparing nametags (I had no idea who the hell the remaining 25% were, but that’s the way it goes I guess ;))

Particularly gratifying from my viewpoint was catching up with Renee, who’d been one of the main organisers of the event. She was a major part of my high school experience in that she was the most popular and beautiful girl in the year to pay me any attention at all. I was constantly half in love with her and remember being more or less struck dumb in her presence, but she apparently remembers me as being really smart and funny, and us sitting together at the back of the room in English with me continually making her laugh. So that’s nice to get another perspective on đŸ™‚

She’d also read the Tales of the Geek Underclass at some point (I suspect due to Ryan’s pimping it on Facebook), thought they were great and demanded that I write more. As my old PCG associate Lincoln also complemented them I probably shall.

It was also nice when later in the night she wandered over to the table I’d sat down at (my feet were killing me at that point – one of the perils of letting yourself age for twenty years) put her arm around me and repeatedly told everyone “I love this guy!”. I must admit she was a bit worse the wear for drink at that point, but it still had the tiny ghost of 17 year old me doing cartwheels somewhere deep in my soul ;). As one of the major social hubs of the event her presence summoned a wide variety of people to the table and that same tiny ghost was overawed at hanging with all the cool kids for a while – including Sherri and Rebecca which along with Renee made up a two thirds reunion of my year 10 English table.

I caught up with plenty of other people too. One person I was particularly happy to see was the girl (I suppose I should really say woman shouldn’t I?) I had a major crush on all through year 12. In contrast to most of the rest of the attendees she hadn’t changed a bit – I recognised her immediately, and was surprised to find my heart briefly skipping a beat when I did so.

She also had exactly the same laugh, which – again to my surprise – made me come over all… well I can’t think of a suitable adjective, but you know how it feels when you hear someone you’re crazy about laugh. It took me back for a moment to when I was an awkward, nerdy 17 year old still trying to figure out the world – as opposed to an awkward nerdy 37 year old beaten down by it. That alone was worth the admission cost.

(Of course, even if I were to mistake those emotional echoes for anything real, she – like most of my former classmates – is married with a couple of kids. She seems to be doing really well for herself, which is the best you can really wish for anyone.)

The evening went on, with the crowd thinning out, until midnight, when the Rose and Crown staff explained that they’d really prefer to close. Someone who I recognised and had spoken to earlier in the night but whose name has escaped me took it on himself to climb up on a table and draw the night to a conclusion with three cheers for the organisers, and a call for those who wanted to keep partying to reconvene at the Casino. I was so tired by that point that I was becoming positively gregarious, so after some goodbyes (including hugs from Renee and Rayanne who… well, any guy who was there would agree that she certainly changed… I mean, wow!) got a lift home with Justin, with a stop off at Alfred’s kitchen on the way.

It was a great night, but in the end there was a little touch of melancholy. For one evening we were again those bright, brilliant, amazing kids of twenty years ago with our whole lives ahead of us. I think that’s why the night went on so long – if our 37 year old bodies would have held out and the Rose and Crown stayed open I think we would have stayed till the sun came up, just to try and hold on to who we used to be. But reality calls and we had to go back to our lives and on our separate ways. I suppose that’s always the way it is with reunions. You can’t go back, and – in the clear light of day – would you really want to? One night is enough.

That said, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Roll on 2023!

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