As well as the Canberra Bubble being the standard general carapace that encloses all Canberrans (beneath a dome of First World luck and privilege) each of us lives in his or her own individual bubble.
I was reminded of this when last week's edition of the Sunday Canberra Times brandished a story based on an Australia Institute opinion poll showing that 38.2 per cent of the polled expect to vote Liberal in this October's ACT election.
This astonished me because, I realised, I have somehow built for myself a bubble in which I think I don't know and never seem to meet a single professing Liberal voter.
By habit, time and stealth surrounds us with people like ourselves until, suddenly, people like your Labor/Green-voting columnist find themselves unhealthily isolated from the stimulus aliens can give.
One forgets how very many Liberal voters there are out there, how many of them one must see (at the shops, at the footy, at the off-leash dog park, everywhere).
Voting Liberal seems to me (in my leftishness) such a peculiar thing to do that, somehow, one half imagines there should be something distinctive and telltale about Liberal voters' appearances when we see them out and about. It is not, quite, that one expects them to have two heads. But there's hardly anything.
Perhaps the closest one can come to recognising a Liberal voter when one sees one is that they may very well be gnarled. The aforementioned poll found "the Liberals were clearly favoured by those aged over 65". Meanwhile, this columnist, at 74, finds himself in the post-pubescent political company of the 18-to-34-year-olds with whom Labor is the most popular and with the 35-to-50-year-olds for whom the Greens are the bees' knees.
MORE IAN WARDEN:
What is it that makes most people more and more politically conservative as they get older? Is it despair? Is it a weary and cynical abandonment of all hope the world can be made a better place?
If I found myself becoming more and more politically conservative with age (in my case the very opposite has happened and I become more politically elfin every day) I hope I would ask the wisened old gargoyle in the mirror why he is letting this tragedy happen to him. I would sing him the wise old popular song (perhaps rewriting the lyrics a little to say something unkind about the Liberals) that beginneth:
Fairy tales can come true
It can happen to you if you're young at heart
For it's hard, you will find
To be narrow of mind if you're young at heart.
Spending a lot of time lately in the Woden Cemetery (as explained in a previous column I find it the perfect place for safe, solitary pandemic walking) I have been giving some thought to what might be engraved on my own headstone.
As it happens, coincidentally I have been reading reviews of a new collection of the writings of the witty London Review of Books columnist Jenny Diski, and found her asking that her headstone say: ''Jenny Diski lies here. But tells the truth over there."
In life I have never, ever plagiarised another's writings, and so mustn't do it in death. And so, wistfully, I have decided against a headstone saying "Ian Warden lies here. But tells the truth over there", even though in a sense it would be an act of homage to dear, late Jenny, a writer I admired for yonks.
One of Jenny Diski's greatest LRB hits in the new collection is her exquisitely blasphemous piece: "Did Jesus Walk on Water Because He Couldn't Swim?"
The piece is her review of a book about Jewish seafaring in ancient times. Jewish herself, she remembers being brought up to avoid going in the sea and wonders if Jesus was similarly raised.
Spot on, doc
In a new biographical book*about the toweringly important American poet Emily Dickinson, (1830-1886) one finds her in 1884 enfeebled and unwell in a time of great unhappiness.
The doctor's diagnosis is she is suffering from "revenge of the nerves".
It is a diagnosis one never gets from today's GPs but one so many of us, enfeebled by today's anxieties, will think puts its finger on what's often wrong.
One day last week I found myself offering a heartfelt apology to a kangaroo.
All's well that ends well, and somehow neither creature was lastingly physically hurt, but my leashed dog, breaking away from us, rushed at a giant kangaroo we hadn't even seen.
The melee was indescribable, and every time I think of it, trembling, I suffer a revenge of the nerves.
Later, mortified, I went cap-in-hand to see the kangaroo (dignified, venerable and eccentric, it is always at the same patch near our home) and from the heart apologised, almost tearfully, for the terrible fright our brute had given him.
I thought later it was a mark of how sincere my apology was that it hadn't even occurred to me to make it one of those politicians' or sexual harassers' apologies that, always beginning with a qualifying "If", is never a real apology at all.
As a politician, I might have said to the kangaroo: "Look, if you were at all disturbed by my 30-kilo thunderbolt of a mongrel hurling himself at you, then, even though no offence was intended, of course I unreservedly apologise."
*It is These Fevered Days - Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson, by Martha Ackmann.
- Ian Warden is a regular columnist.