Opinion

Word Boy

By Liam Nash

I am playing

Golf. But not as the game’s Scottish founding fathers intended for it to be played. After slating what I have referred to as a ‘pseudo sport’ for a solid five years, I recently succumbed to the plaid-panted, snail-paced hit-about which eventually claims us all in the end. After all, it is the only leisure activity coronavirus has granted us. On my first outing I shot a 72, which would be outstanding if it wasn’t achieved on the front nine. So, for those who frequent the famous Royal Mooroopna Golf Course, I apologise in advance for the wayward missiles you may be ducking from throughout the rest of the pandemic.

I am wearing

Down the soles on my shoes. By my calculations, today marks day 99 without a vehicle — and like Steve Smith at the crease last summer, I’m about to ton up. If my mechanical woes have taught me anything, it is that patience is a virtue — and I’m copping a serious lesson here. Storming Kialla Lakes after work, roaming Riverside on the weekend — there’s only so much my trainers can take. The upside, however, is I’m discovering hidden corners of Shepparton I didn’t think the city boasted. I’d label this interesting dilemma caused by a lack of transport `six of one, half a dozen of the other'.

I am listening to

The ghost of concerts past. August 2020 was supposed to be a live music treasure trove for yours truly, with two shows pencilled in the diary for the month. That was of course before our mate, the pandemic, put the kibosh on anything that even resembles fun. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ve only ever been to four concerts in my time, but I’ve left each one looking and sounding the same. Covered in floor soup, hoarse-voiced and grinning like a Cheshire cat. Now that Melbourne is a confirmed basket case when it comes to COVID-19, I’m pretty certain I won’t be emerging from a centre sweaty, voiceless and delirious for the rest of the year.

I am watching

The thrills and spills on offer during NBA finals. Although the American sport ideology has never really rubbed off on me, timeouts and debatable commentary aside, I’m hooked. Thanks to the three-point shooting frenzy modern basketball has evolved into, I’ve come to figure you’re only ever seconds away from a highlight-reel-worthy play. A trip to the loo or a coffee break and you’ve missed something magical. Watching these enormous movers and shakers tear around the court is a sight to behold; booming dunks, impeccable ball movement, triple mega super overtime — it really is a spectacle.

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu.

This tongue-twister/lung buster is the longest place name in any English-speaking country, a Maori settlement a few kilometres south of the winterless Hawkes Bay in New Zealand.

A quick plug into Google reveals the translation "the summit where the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his flute to his loved one".

It’s a hill.

But a place, nonetheless.

The reason I felt the need to chance arthritis by typing out the 92-character monstrosity and bring it to your attention is due to a photo that bounced off my screen at the weekend.

It was an image of my parents standing next to the site’s infamous sign, two blips beneath a sea of vowels and consonants.

Now bear in mind, my parents are far from rugged, intrepid souls craving massive hits of adrenaline off the coast of somewhere dangerous. They barely leave the house for a bag of milk, let alone stray 400km from home for a picture next to a hill.

So immediately, I knew something was up.

Had they contracted a new strain of travel bug, one which had become airborne and was mixing in with the other potent viruses doing the rounds at the moment? Or was it the supposed brain-melting effects of those damn 5G towers — were the phone corporations up to their meddling tricks again?

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long before the mystery was solved.

Through my grandma (our family’s resident sleuth) it was revealed my parents had finally sold their house and decided to mark the occasion with a quick tear down the country.

Fair enough, I thought.

I can remember watching that house arrive at 71e Keri Downs Road some 15 years ago, lowered off a large semi-truck in two pieces before being snapped together like an oversized toy.

Next were the rows of blueberry plants sown in to surround it.

As time went by, oranges, mandarins, raspberries, apples, plums and native plants joined the company, forming a Technicolor awning covering near-on every square metre of the undulating land.

Most of my childhood memories were locked away inside those 10 acres, but knowing my parents have grafted each day since to keep it intact, I’d say they’ve deserved a rest.

A nice long drive to kick their feet up, pop a bottle and take a picture next to a hill — quite the momentous blip on the old timeline.

However, as it turned out, August has been fairly significant for the whole Nash clan.

My eldest brother has gone corporate; he is currently perched 20 stories up in a Singaporean suite preparing to start his role at Facebook.

As for my sister, she picked up the whiteboard marker for the first time to begin a home-schooling journey for her eldest.

My twin brothers weren’t slacking either; one moved into a new flat with his girlfriend, the other saw their daughter reach the five-month mark.

So, that leaves me.

I spent a good part of Saturday morning singing 1970s hits out of tune while managing to burn sausages, eggs and bacon collectively — who said men can’t multitask?

I don’t know what is sadder; the fact this is a fairly accurate representation of my movements for the entire month, or that I actually enjoyed it.

Whichever way you look at it, this is reality.

It’s not quite shin bandages next to the cheese, or jam in the bath, but the stale blanket coronavirus has cloaked over Victoria has made it seem impossible to really achieve anything currently.

But during one of my impromptu cooking/vocal sessions (which I still believe I should pitch as a game show — think MasterChef meets The Voice), lyrics from Cat Stevens’ blockbuster hit Father and Son resonated.

“You're still young, that's your fault, there's so much you have to know.”

Thanks Yusuf, I am young, and there’s a whole lifetime of achievement ahead.

The virus is here for now, but I’ve found these sort of pithy, inspiring phrases have the power to steady us through challenging times.

Whether it be a mantra, maxim or meme which provides a surge of courage to keep on keeping on, I’d encourage everybody to grab one and hang onto it until we can at least share an unmasked smile at a distance of 1.49 metres or less.