Our admirable Ashleigh Barty has won the French Open! The luminescent Ludwig van Beethoven has been voted Australia's favourite composer!
Slowly, therapeutically, after the surreal insanity of the 18 May election result, some important Australian things (and especially Ashleigh's and Beethoven's triumphs) begin to be decided on merit. National sanity shows some signs of recovery.
Last Saturday's unforgettable column looked, trembling, at that weekend's looming ABC Classic radio's Classic 100: Composer poll. ABC Classic asked the nation to vote for its favourite composer. Last Saturday and Sunday ABC Classic suspensefully winnowed it all down until, late on Sunday afternoon, we found Mozart in third place, J.S. Bach in second and Beethoven the nation's discerning choice as the one composer it, the nation, could not live without.
My worst fears (exaggerated, for theatrical effect, in my aforementioned column) had the moody nation that had just shown such ghastly taste in governments and parliamentarians showing a similarly bogan ignorance and conservatism in its classical music tastes. In my nightmares I imagined the greats being nudged aside at the top of the composer pops by the worst of the inexplicably popular fake cowboy and cowgal singer-songwriters of Australian country music. But the Australian people, coming back to their senses now after May 18's madness, did better than I'd feared.
Just to appear to digress for a moment, the prime minister's famous admission that he believes in miracles (no doubt he believes his government's God-choreographed re-election is right up there with some of the ripper miracles of the New Testament) is no surprise given that he is such a credulous Christian.
But your columnist, an atheist, can think of an everyday miracle of Australian life that eclipses almost all of the New Testament miracles. We will come to it in a moment.
First, though, I do confess to a grudging atheistic admiration of some of the biblical miracles (Our Redeemer's raising of the already decomposing Lazarus from the dead is especially impressive) while sometimes wondering if they may only have been the works of gifted illusionists, of the Holy Land's artful Penns & Tellers, of contemporary Galilee's equivalents of today's Dynamo the Magician. Just a handful of fishermen seem to have watched Jesus bustle across the surface of Lake Galilee (see Matthew 14:22-33) but in 2011 thousands of amazed Londoners saw Dynamo appear to walk on The Thames.
But I have double-digressed when I am trying to say that the survival of the ABC as we know it is a minor miracle while the existence and survival of the ABC's ABC Classic station is a major miracle on a par with some of the Bible's best.
Australia's soulless conservative governments and similarly malignant conservative forces (like Murdoch and his bogan-serving News Corp) hate the ABC and would fain starve it to death. That, within the fragile and endangered ABC there should be, in this culturally desertified Australia, a boutique radio station catering for the cultured, boutique tastes of classical music lovers, seems strange and wondrous and utterly improbable.
As I write this sentence the wireless at my elbow, tuned to ABC Classic, is trilling Mozart's uplifting third Horn Concerto while in the rest of Australia the bulk of the radio-tuned nation is surely listening to Alan Jones or to some of the other 50 shades of popular dross the proletarian ear prefers to munch on.
Every morning I turn to ABC Classic fearing it will no longer be there. For, in these Married-At-First-Sight-besotted times, it (ABC Classic) feels like a remnant fragment of pristine culture-bushland in which we exquisite, endangered species (lovers of fine music) survive against all the odds, always half expecting our society's terrible beancounting bulldozers to rattle up and clear away our freaky and unproductive habitat, making way for useful infrastructures, casinos, say, or new coal-fired power stations.
Yes, ABC Classic's continued existence seems no less miraculous than Lazarus' continued live existence (plausibly described at John 11:1-44) four days after his clinical death and deep burial.
Lazarus' wife's surely mixed feelings about suddenly having her husband back, and in such a distressing state, are not reported in the Bible, where, alas (as in our misogynist Liberal Party), so few women are ever given a voice.
But using another contemporary miracle, YouTube, sensitive readers can look up just-retired UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy's poem Mrs Lazarus in which she, the feminist Duffy, enables Mrs Lazarus to speak up about her ordeal.