Quite the weekend. In Melbourne, a classic AFL grand final took everybody’s mind off the unspeakably horrific murder of Jill Meagher, although in her local hood, Brunswick, they did what Brunswick people do and discussed “yarn-bombing a tree” as a tribute to her. Well played, Swans, and thank you for the distraction.
In Sydney, fuckwit shock jock Alan Jones said Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father had “died of shame” when he passed away a few weeks ago, because his daughter was such a liar. A paid-up dinner of Young Liberals chortled and applauded. Sponsors are now pulling out of his radio show but what’s the bet he isn’t even sacked?
Overseas, things were even stranger. American being America, there was a report of a man in a black ski mask being spotted near a window and so a neighbor strode out, invoking his goddamn Constitutional Right to bear arms and to defend property, and shot the intruder dead. Then took off the balaclava and found out it was his 15-year-old son. This was on the same day that Fox News America was busy following a police car chase in Arizona after some guy had carjacked a vehicle and taken off. The coverage was being enjoyed by the Fox audience right up until the bad guy stopped his car, got out and shot himself in the head, live on national TV. “We really messed up,” a Fox spokesman said. Meanwhile in Manchester, Britain, two female police – unarmed because that’s how the Brits roll – were shot down by a psycho who had phoned in his own burglary to attract them, and then turned himself into the local police station. In one report on that story, it was pointed out that five British police have been killed by gunfire in the past decade. In the same period, 544 American police have been slain. Over the weekend, of course, in Tennessee, in the USA, there was also a conference of those opposed to gun control. “In a perfect world, without carry permits, anybody ought to be able to own a gun and anybody ought to be able to carry a gun,” said enthusiast Mike Crow.
The point of all this is to provide context to my hockey battles of the weekend. I played twice and was mildly frustrated both times at how my skating is going, or not going, depending on how you look at it. In both games, I was serviceable, didn’t suck – and in the first game, on Friday night, my passing, especially to Big Cat in the forward line, was really happening.
But I still need to work on moving my feet. I still need to get those first few quick steps to put distance between me and back-checkers on a breakaway.
Even so, driving home on Sunday night, I was very aware that my world and the wider world had bigger issues than whether I can train myself to have faster wheels by the time summer league starts in a fortnight. Context can be a good thing sometimes.
On Sunday, a bunch of our new summer team, The Spitfires, took on another actual team, the TigerSharks. This was my first time playing against players I didn’t really know, against genuine opposition.
Sure, I skated onto the ice to take a face-off and said, “Oh, hi, Brendan,” to Brendan Parsons, facing me across the red dot (he duly kicked my arse in getting the puck away) and then said, “Oh hi, Georgia,” to Georgia Giblin, the TigerSharks’ other centre I faced. And said hi to Dan and Mark and others I knew on that team … but honestly, really, there were people playing who I didn’t know, and therefore it was a good test of where our team was at, and where I was at.
Short answer: still not a good enough skater to play centre now we’re playing for real. On a wing, I’m okay, and I’m getting better, but I have to get to more general sessions, just to keep my legs getting faster.
Hockey remains a lot of fun though. It was a very clean game on Sunday; hard-fought but with great spirit. Just the way it should be. I got to share a line with Liam Patrick, my friendly rival, Apollo Creed to my Rocky, who excelled by yelling the opposition team’s name instead of our own as we did a group gloves-together-inspirational-yell thing at the start of the third period. “I honestly didn’t mean that,” he said as we prepared for the face-off. I told Georgia, newly named among the Melbourne Ice women’s team and now an intimidating presence staring at me across the face-off dot. “For real?” she asked, wondering what she was up against. My distraction didn’t work; I think she won that one.
Even so, the Spitfires won the day. We somehow jumped to a three goal lead in the opening few minutes (it turned out the TigerSharks hadn’t really been together, as a team, on the ice at all since last summer season and had a lot of ring rust, as boxers call it). Once they woke up, it was a nil-all draw, but we had lots of chances and played well.
Can’t wait for the actual season to start now, in two weeks.
But in the meantime, I’ll distract myself by watching the wider world and scratching my head about bigger issues. Like how Melbourne is mourning Jill Meagher’s murder, or how Alan Jones can be such a dickhead after so many years on Earth, or even what the business plan is behind opening a Victoria’s Secret store at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium? Life is never boring.