My place. Wednesday, 10.50pm
I can’t move. I’m paralysed.
Every time I try to get up, or even roll over, a sharp pain races from my spine and shoots around my ribs. This is not good.
I’m stuck; stuck in bed in my shack under the cliffs at the end of the world. And I’m alone in this sheety world, real companionship replaced by a tinny radio.
I reckon that this has come about from my doing work on my caravan. Oh dear, I’ve reached an age when physical activity can render me bedridden. I’ve reached an age when I dig caravans. What next? Lawn bowls? A Subaru Forester?
Yes, Saturn has returned – for the second time.
It takes Saturn about 28 years to circle the sun. When it returns to the astronomical position it occupied at your birth, you’re about 28 years old. Astrologically, this is significant. It marks your transition into maturity. It’s life-changing. And, sure, change can be tough.
My son was born when I was 28. I had a young family, responsibilities. I was involved in the formation of the community where I still live. I started building my shack under the cliffs. I had a haircut.
Yes, it can be difficult and confronting, that first Saturn return, but when Saturn returns for the second time, after another 28 years, it’s just awful. Once again, things change. Knees rust up. Paunches grow. You can hear a fat lady singing, see credits rolling. You get stuck in bed, anchored by your weight, moored by old muscles, marooned by your lack of future.
So, don’t whinge to me about the first Saturn return. You’re 28, for God’s sake. You can squat. You can make love without an oxygen break. You have a future that’s big enough to fit your dreams.
Saturn re-returns and it comes to this: I’ll probably starve to death, right here in my bed. By myself. Except for Radio National.
At least I won’t have to witness the fall of the western empire, witness the terrible consequences of resource depletion and climate change, witness episodes of The Voice Kids. I’ll just waste away to the sounds of Philip Adams interrupting interesting people, and scrub turkeys ripping up the garden.
I look down (with a flash of pain) at my stomach and realise that, actually, given the huge reserves of fat I’m carrying, and given how quickly those dreadful consequences are befalling us, I may very well live long enough to experience them all.
I’ll be lying here, unable to move, and the sea levels will rise into the valley and the water will wash into my house, littered with all the detritus of the modern age, and lift me from this bed. I’ll float through the curtain doors and bob about the dead sea with the iPhones, shopping bags, water bottles, Macdonald’s packaging, BTEX chemicals and angry refugee boats like a fleshy iceberg until some tired, depressed, homeless polar bear clambers aboard and lives on me.
I need to turn the radio off.
It’s on the bed beside me, next to my phone and wine guide. There is only one thing worse than being flushed away by future flooding, and that is having to listen to the news. Fat lady singing is one thing; politicians strangling language is another.
I can’t reach the radio. I can however touch my phone. I press speed dial 2 – my ex.
She answers. I tell her my situation: I can’t move. I’m scared I’ll die. I’m scared I’ll live. I can’t turn off the radio.
She listens. She sighs. She says, ’You need to rest’.