"Oh, Canberra!" I sighed (my concerned dog, alert to the despair in my voice, came over and licked my face) as I read the dispiriting Canberra Times story 'Had enough of roadside corflutes? There are calls to ban them' (October 28).
It emerges that the underemployed ACT Greens in the underworked ACT Assembly, perhaps acting on their Amish sincerity but perhaps cannily appealing to the fogey voters from the complaining classes, want election corflutes banned. The ACT Greens' Caroline Le Couteur is seething that corflutes of the kind that decorated Canberra roadsides ahead of the late federal election cause visual pollution and clutter up public spaces.
"For many Canberrans," she moans, Amishly, "roadside electoral signs are supremely annoying, and distracting."
"If you're driving along and there are dozens of election signs along the roads, it's both annoying and distracting for drivers."
Predictably, Ms Le Couteur's call has since been endorsed by miserabilists in their letters to The Canberra Times.
My own view is that the corflutes in their all-too-brief appearances impart a temporary gaiety, sweet chaos and eventfulness to roadsides that for 99.9 per cent of the time are drearily dull and numbingly tidy.
There is a tyranny of severe puritanical tidiness about our city. Planned to death, its grassy places manicured and mowed to within an inch of their lives, its graffiti (already shy and pale and inhibited by comparison with the street art of more exuberant cities) scrubbed off before it can work its jolly and mood-lifting magic. In this sterile context Canberra's brief spells of stimulating corflutedness to impart a welcome metropolitan frivolity.
The argument that roadside corflutes are a distraction to motorists is ludicrous. If visually eventful, visually lively, advertising-packed roadsides are a hazard how do citizen-motorists of lively and visually chaotic cities cope?
I am just home after a few delirious days in and around Melbourne's Fitzroy where, especially along characterful Brunswick Street there is an exciting visual liveliness imparted by a miscellany of buildings ancient and modern, by picturesque shopfronts and advertising materials and of course by the sorts of picturesque people that Canberra so tragically lacks. Canberrans, what can we do to make dreary Canberra more excitingly Fitzroyesque?
Instead of banning election corflutes I would look at ways of making them even more pleasing and engaging to look at.
Why not offer prizes in various categories for, say, the funniest corflute, for the most inventive, for the most aesthetically pleasing? Why not, to give Canberra's corflutes a special, unique-to-Canberra flair, insist that every candidate portrait (for overwhelmingly election corflutes are photographic portraits) must be a painted or drawn portrait (perhaps the candidate's self-portrait in the great unflinching traditions of Van Gogh and Rembrandt who painted their every wart and wrinkle), perhaps sometimes a caricature?
This first-in-the-world innovation, a celebration of the wit and virility of Australian democracy, would give a roadside festooned with corflutes a kind of art gallery, indeed portrait gallery quality.
Art connoisseurs and/or cartoonists of international renown could be brought here to judge them.
The world would hear all about it, Canberra would enjoy oodles of admiring international limelight and the hitherto snail-paced process of our city's intoxicating Fitzroyisation would surely break into a gladsome gallop.
During the unseemly flurry of the last days of permitted clambering on Uluru an angry Professor Marcia Langton placed a curse on everyone who, in those last days, clambered over the rock even though they knew they were giving deep offence to Aboriginals.
Langton, the chair of Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, responded to a video of hordes of people lining up to climb the sacred rock by tweeting "a curse will fall on all of them".
"They will remember how they defiled this sacred place until they die ..." her tweet growled.
I love a good curse (the best of operas and the best of Shakespeare's tragedies bristle with them) and thought Langton's curse of these spiritually numb bogans not only utterly appropriate but really rather exciting.
One does hope that the appropriate research academics, in fields like sociology and demography and health, keep tabs on this cursed cohort in order to make longitudinal studies of what becomes of them. These sorts of studies would show whether or not a curse, imposed by someone with enough supernatural oomph (like Marcia Langton in this case, like the terrifying Queen of the Night in Mozart's opera the Magic Flute, and especially like the understandably vengeful Queen Margaret in Shakespeare's Richard III) really do have the power to forever after gnaw at the lives of the accursed.
Why not offer prizes in various categories for, say, the funniest corflute, for the most inventive, for the most aesthetically pleasing?
What if, in the fullness of time, it emerges that from October of 2019 onwards nothing has ever gone right for the unhappy members of the Uluru Cursed?
What if, eerily, their football teams never win premierships, the political candidates they vote for never get elected (somehow one knew during the bleak Howard Years that his prime ministerships were a curse somehow malignantly inflicted on all of us who were progressive and idealistic)? What if, coming all the way to Canberra to visit Floriade they find that festival abruptly closed because of a mysterious malignant fungal disease that has killed every tulip? What if, passionate republicans, they inexplicably never see the demeaning shackles of monarchism cast off in their lifetimes and what if their sex lives are forever uncannily unfulfilling?
Yes, they, the Uluru Cursed, must be deeply, truly, forensically, longitudinally studied in the service of a better understanding of mankind.