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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Here & Now #91: Political wind

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Image S Sorrensen
Image S Sorrensen

S Sorrensen

Broadwater. Sunday, 2.15pm

Two four-wheel drives, tinted windows up, aircon on, bounce along the beach, the smashed coffee rock beneath their tyres creating brown bruises in the white sand.

I love national parks.

Four trail bikes, their riders, corporately branded head to toe, shoot out from the heath like four pellets from a goat’s bum, skid down a dune (creating a rolling avalanche behind them), and spray sand in wide arcs as they hit the beach and turn north.

So Campbell Newman is gone. Ho hum. Time to flip the coin and let the other side have a go. That’s the game.

Below my vantage on the big dune, a bloke on the beach struggles with his paraglider. In the wind the wing is semi-inflated. He leans back against the wind’s tug, digging his heels into the sand. But the sail suddenly inflates in a gust and pulls him forward. He runs with it, stumbles and falls to his knees.

His companion lies under an umbrella. Luckily it’s a bright umbrella and nestled close to the dune, so the bikers and drivers don’t run her over. Her fluoro green bikini (also helpful) glows in the shade. She wears huge sunglasses and a trucker’s cap, her ponytail poking through the back. Engrossed in a book, she pays no attention to the obvious difficulties her paragliding mate is having. Boy stuff, I reckon she reckons.

This morning over coffee at the Lismore Car Boot Market, some people were very excited.

The Queensland premier has lost his seat! they exclaimed. And Australia won the soccer! they cheered. Abbott is done! they predicted. There was a sense that something important had happened. More lattes! they shouted.

Men are particularly loud about politics and sport, taking great pleasure in victory and great umbrage in loss. This is our way. We love a battle. We love conquest and damage done. We love noise.

Women are… well, smarter. The women more quietly sipped their coffee and talked tennis. Labor or Liberal doesn’t matter really. Life matters. All life. The planet, ultimately. The political coin may be flipped but it’s still the same old coin. The new member for Ashgrove advocated CSG mining when she was ‘minister for the environment’ a few flips of the coin ago.

The wind that drags the hapless paraglider down the beach is powering a sailing ship smoothly north as the motorbikes spurt plumes of trampled coffee rock into the same wind. They sound like mosquitoes, these bikes. Unfortunately, the wind doesn’t keep them away. And you’re not allowed to slap them.

I like the sailing boat.

For years I have watched mindless men trash this beach, adding noise, Fourex Gold cans and petrol fumes to the driftwood and plastic debris. There’s something sad about men using their macho vehicles to pulverise the soft rock. There’s something sad about the impotence of electoral change.

We so desperately want contact with the world. The real world. Not the imaginary one of air conditioned vandalism championed by business. Nor the one of grey suits, fake sincerity, and business vandalism championed by politics.

A shout carries on the wind. The woman under the umbrella turns from her book and looks seaward. I do too.

There, hanging on the wind, above the bikers and drivers, the paraglider bloke waves to her. He has a huge smile flashing like surf.

The world keeps spinning despite football games and political games. These are ephemeral distractions. Win and lose; lose and win.

We need to hold onto something more solid – like the wind.

Paraglider Bloke sways and dips in the silence, the world spinning noisily under him.

Now I’m grinning too. His smile is an infectious one.



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  1. Two four-wheel drives arrived ripping up the turf. I let my thoroughbed have his head while I saw red.
    Not quite what was in Africa where the elephant sat on the car bonnet buckling the doors and squashing the V8 engine into a V4.

  2. Good one S – I too love sailing (loathe stink boats, passionately hate surf skis) …. and don’t even get me started on 4WD’s (provokes a stream of sailor’s language – totes unprintable)


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