Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Follow The Bouncing (Foot)Ball

The Monday morning post mortems have recommenced.
Immediately following the weekend, the great game of Australian Rules football is layed on the autopsy table and groups of experts gather round. Each match is minutely examined, every umpiring decision dissected, the performance of each player put under the microscope. Coaching attributes are the subject of intense scrutiny, and then set aside for still further analysis. All around the country, the corpse of the previous weekend's round is sliced open and scrutinised.
These post mortems are performed anywhere there is enough space for two or more experts; on public transport, in staff toilets, the local milkbar, even in the rarified atmosphere of the country's most influential boardrooms. Traditionally though, the most thorough examinations are held in work place staff rooms, if for no other reason than the venue is large enough for greater numbers of professionals to congregate. Technical phrases such as "He was robbed!", "What do you expect when half the team is injured?", and "They're only young, still got some experience to get yet." are proffered as possible diagnoses for a particular team's lack of performance, while other technical terms such as "I reckon we'll win the premiership this year!", "I don't know about the premiership, but we'll definitely be in the top eight", and "The rate they're going, they'll end up with the wooden spoon." are put forth as prognoses. By far the most common diagnosis made is "The umpires were bloody useless."
The practitioners who carry out these examinations are collectively known as The Monday Morning Experts. They are an amazing creature. In little more than a century, from their beginnings in normal society, they have evolved into a most remarkable sub-species known as the Footy Supporter. This feisty animal hibernates during the Summer, but with just the slightest drop in temperature, it re-emerges and once again the countryside resounds with its' raucous calls of "Not long 'til the footy starts". With the commencement of the football season proper, the Footy Supporter population explodes and they can be found in every strata of society.
Footy Supporters are characteristically loud, obsessive, arrogant, extremely territorial and, at times obnoxious, but none more so than the Monday Morning Experts. The inherent traits of the Footy Supporter have somehow mutated in this variety of the species to such a degree that, immediately following the weekend, even other Footy Supporters will try and avoid them. Every Monday they descend upon the staff room, vehemently proclaiming their right to anatomise, analyse and theorise. Their objective, to trap and detain.
Spotting its' prey the Expert moves in, skillfully manoeuvring to place itself between the unfortunate creature and the only exit. In a shameless display of self-preservation, others in the vicinity will flee, leaving the victim to its' fate. Occasionally the prey, particularly if it's another Footy Supporter, fights back, but mostly it gives up without a whimper. Long experience has taught them that the most expedient method of dealing with a Monday Morning Expert is passive resistance. Eventually the Expert will tire, and leave in search of other prey.
This pattern of behaviour continues for most of the week until Friday, when the Expert can be heard issuing the traditional challenge to other Footy Supporters; "Our lot'll flog your mob!" If this doesn't come to pass however, the Monday Morning Expert, on the day it is named after, will be able to tell you why. Whether you want to hear it or not.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Perfect Cup Of Tea

I made one yesterday.
I know it's not world shattering news, but anyone who drinks tea will recognise the event for the small miracle it is. It doesn't happen very often, you see.
On occasion, a cup of tea can be pretty awful; I've made some shockers in my time.* Most of the time however, a cup of tea is a cup of tea. Nothing spectacular, tastes okay, satisfies the thirst, and the teaspoon doesn't dance around the cup and saucer (ala Gene Kelly) singing some catchy tune about the glory of tea. But every once in a while, when the planets are aligned in the right sequence, you produce a masterpiece. Everything about it is perfection. The colour, the taste, the temperature, all blended just the right way to make the mundane fantastic.
I can't say how this marvel comes about. Maybe it's in the way you hold your tongue, the length of time the water boils, how long the tea is left to draw, how the cup was last washed, the way you stir it, perhaps the cow produced a particulary fine blend of milk. Who can say? All I know is that, every now and then, it all comes together for a brief moment of bliss. One of those moments we always cherish, until the next time.
The perfect cup of tea.
Did I mention I made one yesterday? Just thought you'd like to know.
* Interestingly, even though some cups of tea I've created have been absolutely awful, not once have I entertained the notion of throwing the offending substance out and starting again. For some reason, which no doubt Freud would somehow manage to blame on my mother, I accept my failure and suffer the process of drinking it anyway. Weird, huh?


George & Johnny