It was 9.15am on Wednesday and in my Canberra study I was consulting my psychic soothsayer Supernatural Charlotte (SC to her doting clients) in a Zoom session.
Suddenly, and I have never known Him do this before, the bobble-head Jesus doll on my desk next to my desktop began to spontaneously nod His head in authoritative agreement with something SC had just not-quite-so-authoritatively predicted.
"Yes, she's got that right, that's exactly what's going to happen," Our Redeemer's nods seemed to affirm.
And his noddings were eerily accompanied (eerie, for it was a still morning with no hint of a breeze) by a musical jingle-jangle of the wind chimes dangling outside my window.
Alas, for those of us who dream of knowing another Labor federal government in our lifetimes, SC had just told me that the Morrison government will be comfortably returned at the next federal election. SC went on to say (but Jesus didn't seem moved to confirm or to deny this, and coincidentally, the wind chimes had fallen silent) that election day will be February 26 next year.
Icily rational, intellectually alienated readers will say that the nodding and jangling phenomena I've described were probably caused by Wednesday morning's earthquake. But we felt few seismic shakings in Canberra and there were none at all in my always stolid and unshakeable suburb and so I, as a typical Sagittarian, choose to believe the noddings and janglings were spiritually-supernaturally triggered.
Back to this heartbreaking political prediction in just a moment. First though to my long-standing thought that there is a melancholy similarity between being the fanatical lifelong fan of a hopelessly unsuccessful football team and being a lifelong voter for the Australian Labor Party at federal elections.
Last Saturday the English Premier League football team I am tragically committed to supporting fanatically until I die (and perhaps for long, long after that) lost its 15th straight EPL match. Norwich City, the Canaries, lost the last 10 matches of their most recent season in the elite EPL and now, recently restored by promotion to the EPL (for the Canaries this is a "promotion" in the same sense it would be a promotion for a polar bear to be promoted to life in a steamy tropical jungle), the Canaries have lost their first five matches of the season. That makes 15 consecutive first-flight defeats, an English football record.
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My devotion to the Canaries (just like my devotion to leftish politics) is sentimental, irrational, quasi-religious and ineradicable (exorcists have tried in vain to rid me of it). I grew up in Norwich's East Anglian arrondissement and began going to Canaries' matches in my impressionable, freckle-cheeked pre-pubescence. East Anglia is in my DNA, my soul. My Norwich City FC official merchandise horde includes a wardrobe of shirts and even (for my fandom has long since come out of the closet) a Canaries' official merchandise garden gnome in my front garden.
Of course relegation back to a lower, mediocre league (as natural a habitat for the Canaries as Arctic Norway is for a fulfilled polar bear, as Lake Burley Griffin is for a glad platypus) is inevitable, but that act of mercy cannot happen until late May next year when the sustained 38-game torment of the current EPL season ends.
Both commitments, one to a tragically unsuccessful footy team the other to a tragically federally unsuccessful political party, stoke a great deal of melancholy in an idealist's bosom. And yet perhaps they are in their way, quite character-building, in which case the characters of those of us who have these sorts of dual disappointments in our lives must by now be so enormous as to be, like the Great Wall of China, visible from outer space.
But there is something sensitising about these sorts of bleak devotions. The fandom of self-satisfied fans (of, say of ever-successful Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC in football, of the ever-successful Liberal Party in Australian federal politics), is somehow smug and plump and unpleasant. But those of us who know everyday tragedy in our fandoms are surely better-attuned to for example appreciate tragedy when we meet it in the arts, in Shakespeare's tragedies, say, or in those Puccini operas that end in harrowing, heart-ripping woe.
But back to mystical SC, Supernatural Charlotte, and to how, rather fancying herself as a psychic political scientist, she went on to forecast how Scott Morrison and his disciples will go about winning on February 26. She says that he won't need, this time, another of God's "miracles" he, Morrison, credited with his government's improbable victory on May 18, 2019.
No, this time, SC reports (and I use "reports" advisedly for SC has been to next February and has seen what happens) Morrison and his coalition stage a canny nuclear subs and US-military alliance focused "khaki election" campaign. It all persuades enough voters that a manly Morrison government will best protect us from China's innate malevolence. Labor by contrast, Morrison campaigns, is a party of girly, latte-sipping, camembert-nibbling, anti-nuclear, inner-city, USA-deploring surrender monkeys and if elected, will scrap the submarine project. This will leave Australia just a vulnerable lamb in an increasingly hostile world in which only armed might will save us from our lamb-eating enemies' ruthless beaks and talons.
Next February just enough nervous Australians are persuaded by this mongrel fearmongering, SC sees, to lubricate the coalition's shamefully-achieved slither back into government.
My bobble-headed companion at my elbow made no response to SC's account of what is to happen but your bobble-headed columnist nodded in anguished agreement that, yes, SC's forecasts have the ring of Australian political truth about them.
- Ian Warden is a regular columnist.