By Mike Welsh
Talking about the weather, as we all mostly seem to do, the drought has finally broken and it was an elderly (is there any other?) Alan Jones listener who predicted it. Not only did she comprehensively and succinctly “call it” she did so with nothing more than the aid of a simple and totally unscientific method. Ants.
Many people, myself included myself, believed Irish smart arse Oscar Wilde had uttered the durable and useful phrase “everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it”. While Wilde is responsible for the cynical and snobbish “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative”, American wise guy Mark Twain gets credit for a clever take on the topic about which everyone talks but does nothing.
It turns out Twain often “banged on” about the weather, including an unkind comment about spending a “cold winter San Francisco in the summer”. But even from when the dawning of the age of Aquarius in that cold “Summer in the City” first “let the Sunshine in”, motivating creative folk the world over to have “thunder in their hearts”, “walk on sunshine”, “chase” and “catch the wind”, stand, sing, cry, dance and even get naked in the rain which was sometimes “hard” and at least once, “purple”, no one has topped Twain’s astute observation of humanity’s apathy to all things meteorological. That is until Alan Jones’ listener, Thelma last week.
Not CSIRO boffins nor the raft (a pet Alan phrase) of climate experts and scientists who’ve conscientiously mulled over data the divisive debate has coughed up for decades had come within a bull’s roar of predicting the end of our crippling drought.
But there it was, live on my AM radio ( I know, it’s a dirty and unsociable habit like nose picking) at 6.52 on Tuesday morning. Alan shared the profound thoughts of listener Thelma who wrote.. “all this climate change guff” was just that. And if only someone had “bothered to ask me I’d have been able to tell them”,Thel offered and explained…..”ants have returned to my pantry and that means the drought is broken”. And right on cue it began to piss down biblical all the way down from Queensland to southern NSW and into Victoria and is still coming down five days later.
Yet just a few hours after Thel’s BOM beating bombshell, hoards of angry people began descending on the lawns of our Federal Parliament armed with placards saying nasty and hurtful things about good ole ScoMo who was leading his embattled LNP troops back into battle for a new year just a few hundred metres up the hill. If only the protesters had tuned into Alan Jones show that day they’d be much wiser and less confused and conflicted about the climate. And less ignorant when talking about the weather.
And a tip for new Q & A man Hamish McDonald. If you desire the dizzyingly high rating numbers and frenzied Tuesday water cooler post mortems the other ‘Jones Boy (with the occasional assistance of the real ‘Jones boy) incited, put Thel up against palaeontologist and environmentalist Prof Tim Flannery and allow her to unleash her undoubtedly extensive list of tried and true methods of predicting weather patterns. Thel may even also have a few other gems up her gnarly old hand knitted beige cardigan sleeves. Such as a nifty but non surgical method of ridding oneself of warts ***. Champagne television guaranteed.
I’ve attempted to remain faithful to my mother’s considered rebuke of my bagging of humans quoting Max Ehrmann of Desiderata fame …“and listen to others. Even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story”. But there is a limit.
Back in the day (before climate change) I once made the rookie mistake of sitting too close to a barfly in a city hotel one quiet afternoon. Though mercifully a man of few words the barfly was generous enough to share with me his breathtaking and dangerously sweeping conspiracy theory that “the pill has made women savage” .
A Q & A topic for another day. Bettina Arndt?
*** Take a dead cat to a cemetery at midnight and just like magic your warts are dust.