One of the signature colours of this Australian summer is turning out to be an especially crazy hue: we will call it flaming tangerine.
Suddenly this flaming tangerine is everywhere in the clothing of professional tennis players. For example the Nike company (sponsors of today's column, hence this gratuitous reference to that sports gear behemoth) offers a particularly alluring range of flaming tangerine tennis shoes. There are many glimpses of flaming tangerine to be had in the ensembles of the young Nike-wearing men playing now in the $75,000 ATP Challenger event at the Canberra Tennis Centre.
It is such an improbable colour that one never expects to see it anywhere but at the tennis. And yet, lo and behold, as you can see from the picture accompanying today's column's, there is a tree with flaming orange blossoms in flower now at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. This columnist stopped to ogle the tree (it is Corymbia 'Orange Dwarf') on Tuesday on the way to that morning's launch of the ANBG's Summer Sounds concert series. The zany flowers lifted spirits begloomed by David Bowie's death.
Pausing at the flamboyant tree, we wondered if its flowers might be the inspiration for Nike's exciting, must-have new range of tennis clothing? And what if this Corymbia was the Beatles' inspiration for the otherwise inexplicable passage of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds that invites us to picture "tangerine trees and marmalade skies"?
Wrenching ourselves away from the blossoms, we went on to the launch where, ahead of speeches, the Lulu Swing ensemble was playing. They were giving us the philosophical and melancholy Boulevard of Broken Dreams. You could tell from the feeling the songstress invested in the song, which she sang beautifully, that she (like this columnist) has been in the gutters of that heartbreaking boulevard. She sang:
The joy that you find here, you borrow,
You cannot keep it long it seems.
You laugh tonight and cry tomorrow
When you behold your shattered schemes.
And gigolo and gigolette
Wake up to find their eyes are wet
With tears that tell of broken dreams.
"How true, how true of everything in life," this columnist sighed.
Minutes later there was some more deep thought, even some theology in the speech of the official launcher, Sally Barnes, director of Parks Australia.
"We're launching a summer series," she mused, "but really what we're doing here today is giving Canberra it's best dose of well-being.
"Because if you think about it, putting music together with nature is probably the best medicine we can offer anybody. And if you think about what music does to the soul, then when you couple that with nature and with beautiful places, really this is better than any prescription any doctor can write for us.
"So music is good for the soul, but lots of research is telling us that contact with nature, putting us in a relaxing mood, has many health benefits. It can reduce blood pressure. So this is a great compound, a medicinal compound – this music and nature coming together."
If I had stayed afterwards to natter with Sally Barnes (instead I went for a short walk in some of the Gardens' hot, still, bushy places where the only sounds were of little lizards scuttling among brittle fallen leaves), I might have made the point that, yes, we do have souls, but not all music is good for them. Some music, for example God-awful Australian country music, actually bruises the souls of sensitive Australians.
One thing I would not have raised in that imagined conversation with her – I have my English language pedant firmly on the leash now – was that in her speech she made the increasingly common mistake of using "underestimated" when she meant "overestimated". She rejoiced at the beauty, the wonder of the Gardens, saying that in this achievement the work of Gardens' staff and of Friends of the Gardens "can't be underestimated".
My English language pedant, an ugly mongrel, growled at this. He bristled, and strained at his leash. But I snapped, "Heel!"
It is not only that pedants are bores but also that this is one of those warps of today's English usage that is too far gone now for there to be any hope of correcting it. Journalists and the people they interview, even ostensibly learned people such as cricketers, footballers and politicians, all use "underestimated" all the time when what they mean is "overestimated". This is a lost cause.
And it is so lonely being right about this that henceforth I shall find companionship by joining the rest of Australia in getting it wrong! Here I go.
It is impossible to underestimate the popularity of these Summer Sounds concerts, now a feature of the Gardens' summers for 20 years. It is impossible to underestimate the joy that this Summer's series will give when they are held held each Saturday and Sunday evening from 16 January to 7 February from 5.30 pm until 7.30 pm. It is impossible to underestimate how cheap they are, at just $5 per adult, $2 concession and with children 12 years and under free. Visitors can bring a picnic or enjoy on-site catering.
Nor can we underestimate the vital part that presenting partners for 2016, lawyers Maliganis Edwards Johnson (MEJ), have played in getting this this Summer Season up and running. Indeed, the only disappointment of Tuesday's occasion was that Mal Meninga himself was not there. It is impossible to underestimate how his starring, celebrity role in MEJ's TV ads (liberally sprinkled across Big Bash coverage) has lifted that company's profile.