As I painstakingly sculpt this column there is the pulse-quickening possibility that Nick Kyrgios, the most famous Canberran of them all, will win Wimbledon's men's singles title.
Sports mad, I admire Kyrgios immensely but among my several reasons for hoping he does win the title (if not this time then perhaps another year) is my perverse interest in seeing how his very own city marks or fails to mark his triumph.
Almost any other city marking one of its son's or daughter's grand triumphs on a world stage would pull out all the stops and turn on ticker-tape displays and other extravaganzas of adoration.
But Nick Kyrgios' on-court behaviours stoke conflicting passions in Canberra fogey-bosoms.
In my own informal polling in the places where I mingle I have yet to meet anyone who shares my wholehearted admiration of him.
Canberrans would like to bask in the reflected glory of his tennis successes and to imagine it is somehow to our city's credit (the air? the water? the mystical federal capital city ambience?) that he is so wonderful an athlete.
But because there is a fogey expectation that tennis matches should somehow be genteel, Church-of-England sorts of occasions, Canberrans get their knickers into righteous knots over his on-court tempestuousness.
So what will an ACT government do when and if this tempestuous Canberran wins Wimbledon?
Will it fear that to fete him, to give him the freedom of the city, to celebrate him with parades and fireworks just won't do?
Will it fear that perhaps the renaming of a suburb or of Lake Burley Griffin' Queen Elizabeth II Island after him, a commitment to erecting a giant, floodlit-at-night statue of him in a prominent place, etc will be to somehow endorse his on-court frenzies and thus infuriate Canberra's easily outraged letters-to-the-editor classes (for in recent days the letters pages have been ringing with the gnashing of anti-Kyrgios dentures)?
So I do hope Kyrgios wins Wimbledon not only because his talent merits it but also because I want to see our city put to these aforementioned sorts of searching tests.
My own view (and I have yet to meet a Canberran who shares it) is that what matters here is merit and talent. Kyrgios is a kind of temperamental genius and a truly brilliant genius's flaws are always to be excused since they are probably a necessary part of that genius's whole package of gifts to his or her society. One sees it again and again in the arts that the composer of the most sublime works of music literature or painting is, personally, a challenge for others to have to get along with.
My attitude to Kyrgios is well expressed by ABC Radio National Breakfast show sports guru Warwick Hadfield OAM. He's been fond of saying during this Wimbledon and as Kyrgios' on-court eruptions upset people, "yes, he's Satan - but he's our [Australia's] Satan."
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Of course if only Canberra had the kind of city poet or poet laureate I never tire of campaigning for then Kyrgios and his Wimbledon win would be just the sort of thing the city poet would leap to write about and sing the praises of.
Meanwhile, in the absence of a city poet to carol about Kyrgios and in an eerily appropriate coincidence, up pops just what we need.
Last week saw the anniversary of the day in 1855 of the first publication of poet Walt Whitman's toweringly wonderful Leaves of Grass. To mark the day the daily literary website Lit Hub has just posted some Whitman excerpts including this one about manliness.
How uncannily well it describes Canberra's Nick Kyrgios, and perhaps, insofar as he is shaped by this city's unique forces, it is descriptive of many manly Canberra men. Certainly (for I have lived in and been shaped by Canberra for 50 years) I see something of myself in Whitman's description of the ideal man.
"Manly health! Is there not a kind of charm-a fascinating magic in the words?" Whitman rejoices.
"We fancy we see the look with which the phrase is met by many a man, strong, alert, vigorous, whose mind has always felt, but never formed in words, the ambition to attain to the perfection of his bodily powers - has realised to himself that all other goods of existence would hardly be goods, in comparison with a perfect body, perfect blood - no morbid humors, no weakness, no impotency or deficiency or bad stuff in him; but all running over with animation and ardour, all marked by herculean strength, suppleness, a clear complexion, and the rich results (which follow such causes) of a laughing voice, a merry song morn and night, a sparkling eye, and an ever-happy soul!"
A professor of English at the University of Iowa, points out: "One of Whitman's core beliefs was that the body was the basis of democracy."
"[So that] Whitman's hymn to the male body is as well a guide to taking care of what he saw as the most vital unit of democratic living."
Yes, Whitman's ideas about the essential importance of the herculean male body to democracy may sound a little ideologically unsound today. And so the sooner Canberra creates the vital position of city poet (every self-respecting city in the UK and in the USA has such a laureate) the better, so that he or she can celebrate the stellar achievements of noble Canberrans in words that as well as being stirring are inclusive, politically correct and acceptable to all.
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Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
Ian Warden is a Canberra Times columnist
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