smell blossoms and the trees are bare
I hear singing and there's no one there
All day long I seem to walk on air
I wonder why? I wonder why?
Stars that used to twinkle in the skies
Are twinkling in my eyes. I wonder why? I wonder why?
- Famous Irving Berlin song I Wonder Why/You're Just In Love helping to explain why so many Australians feel strangely blissful about our change of government.
In the places public and online where I mingle and natter there is an unusual euphoria among folk in the wake of the election. Some struggle to put it into words. Instead they hum merry melodies, display a cheerful body language and have a smile on their face for the whole human race. Meanwhile others I know are even writing poems about how enraptured they feel.
One person in my online orbit has even posted that she feels, with the Morrison government kicked out, as if she has at last been rescued from an abusive relationship.
Perhaps it is a measure of how limited and curated my circles are (for I count no openly liberal Liberals among my friends and playmates) that the whole of society seems elated and stoked.
No doubt there are heartbroken Liberals out there, left ashen-faced and bitter and perhaps speaking harshly to their dogs and cats, but living in my left-of-centre bubble I never meet them.
It is a proof of how offensive so many of us found the Morrison prime ministership and his government's cynical and callous conservatism that this change of government is stoking such joy.
It is not only that we have seen an unbearable prime minister replaced by a bearable one but that now lots of us with causes dear to our hearts (for example climate causes, the Uluru Statement From The Heart) can at last see some light at the ends of some hitherto black and bat-infested tunnels.
Then, for those of us who are tragic, can't-help-ourselves consumers of news and current affairs there is the promise that far fewer of the new government's news-dominating movers and shakers will be Morrisonesque and Michaelia Cashlike people who make our flesh creep.
The euphoria of those of us who feel euphoric is quite hard to define and explain but perhaps it is best compared to being in love.
I am not so nave as to be in love with Anthony Albanese and his Labor Party (although for the moment I have great affection for them). But perhaps, if what we are feeling is rather like being in love, we are in love with Australian democracy and the way in which its free and fair elections sometimes enable us to dump unpleasant and soul-destroying governments and individuals and replace them with pleasant and soul-buoying ones.
Perhaps at the moment (and I am not saying this is a rational emotion, for love's irrationality is what makes it possible and so intoxicating) we love the Australian people for having so discerningly shared our dislike of Scott Morrison.
There are times when the majority of the Australian people let the rest of us down very badly (who can forgive them for at the 1999 referendum rejecting an Australian Republic, or for their wickedly daft choice of a Morrison government in 2019?). But when they corporately get things right, as they just have, the Australian people are extremely lovable.
Perhaps what I am trying so fumblingly to say (fumbling because the balance of my mind is disturbed by my being so euphorically in love) is that the love we are feeling at the moment may be love of Australia.
Meanwhile, because love (of a person, of democracy, of Australia, of anything) is so hard to express in words one feels grateful to the great songwriters who have done it with aplomb.
In Irving Berlin's ripper song quoted at the head of this essay one singer, a bewildered swain, wonders (fearing he may be sick) what on earth is happening to him. God help him, he's smelling blossoms when the trees are bare. He all day long seems to be walking on air! What's wrong with him?
But then his female and older and wiser companion counsels and reassures him that "You're not sick you're just in love."
The classic rendition of this, with Donald O'Connor as the bewildered swain and the trombone-voiced Ethel Merman as his older and wiser counsellor is a thing of joy and waits for you on YouTube. Too much Ethel Merman, like too much democracy, is never enough.
Then perhaps, if late on election night with Morrison's eclipse and Albo's success confirmed you found yourself rejoicing "What a day this has been, what a rare mood I'm in. Why it's almost like being in love!" you were subconsciously channelling Lerner and Loewe's effervescent ditty Almost Like Being In Love.
And have you found ever since election night there's been a smile on your face for the whole human race? Has it seemed to you that all the music of life seems to be like a bell that is ringing for thee? Does it seem to you that from the way that you feel when that bell starts to peal you could swear you were falling in love?
Well, if you've ticked YES to all those questions then Lerner and Loewe's song has beautifully expressed your post-election euphoria.
YouTube's many versions include Gene Kelly's sung and (superbly) danced original, which is just the thing for those of us who, ever since election night, feel our feet spontaneously breaking into dance.
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.