Opinion

From little things big stings grow

By John Lewis

While big things are happening all around us all the time like Megxit and climate change and dust storms, it’s actually the tiny little things that make the biggest difference.

I woke up yesterday morning and suddenly I was back in the 1970s because everything had turned orangey brown. The car, the verandah, the pool and even the red waste bin were the colour of my first pair of Loon pants.

I wasn’t entirely unhappy. The 1970s were sometimes good fun with cheese fondues and Led Zeppelin and Mork and Mindy shows. But mostly it was a dull little decade after the giant incandescent halo of the sixties.

Anyway, tiny bits of the Mallee arrived for a giant family holiday in my backyard yesterday.

This is a good example of little things making big trouble. Like happy little sports grants that come back to slap you in the face, or a tiny screen-grab pulled from the big picture that goes ballistic on social media and destroys your reputation as a decent, knockabout sort of bloke – like an unwanted handshake in a fire-ravaged town.

Or microscopic bits of carbon clogging up the skies to make a blanket for the Earth, split the planet into scientists and flat-earthers, and cause a right old hoo-hah for the suits in cars and planes.

The biggest example of tiny things making the biggest difference in my little life came just before Christmas when Prince Finski the royal Belgian fur jacket started licking his paw. It was just a little lick at first. Then it developed into a full-blown hair-removing frenzy.

We had a look, uncovered a bright red sore and we pulled out a grass seed. This is not unusual. His royal canine-ness gets a few of the little blighters every year after a romp in the bush.

We thought it was all over and the licking would stop - but no. This was just the beginning.

Four weeks of vet visits, four surgeries, five bandages, one giant red plastic cone on the head to prevent more licking, a daily double dose of antibiotics involving fingers rammed down the throat, head shaking, drool slaver and gritted teeth, one X-ray and $2500 later, there it was - a tiny black arrow which the vet kindly kept for me as evidence of the power of small things to bring down the mightiest of creatures.

I am going to frame it and put it on the wall as a reminder that terror has tiny roots.

This one-centimetre long piece of Themeda Triandra found lodged between two toe-bones would have eventually killed Finski if he was left to himself without the benefits of science.

Thank goodness for the persistence of vets, a nimble pair of tweezers and the science of understanding the power of the tiny things we cannot see.

The message of Ozymandias is true – nothing lasts forever and little things have big power.

Even the mightiest of our works will be brought down to the lone and level sands if we think ourselves invincible in the face of the invisible.