2019 footy preview

The 2019 AFL footy season kicks off tonight after much anticipation. We’ve had practice matches and JLT since February, but that’s pretend football and does nothing but pique the appetite for the authentic and rip-roaring real thing. There’s a number of notable rule changes this year which may have a profound effect on the game. They were trialled through the pre-season and looked good, but most teams will have held back revealing their tactics until the season proper begins, particularly in regards to kick-ins. It could make for some exciting footy this year, and will suit some teams more than others.

Last year I gave a preview of the season and I’ve been asked to do so again. I think I know who the top teams will be, but every season there is a surprise. I expect there will be this year too, though I haven’t forecast it. My smoky is Brisbane for what it’s worth. They’re coming together nicely and have a good squad of talented players. I don’t think they’ll make the finals this year, but will present a real danger. In years to come I’m certain they’ll be a contender.

So who have I picked for the finals?

The popular pick right now is Richmond, deemed to be the best team over the last two years but who were eliminated last year in the prelim in what was a surprise result.

It’s hard to look past Richmond. They’re a proven lineup and they’ve added Tom Lynch to the run on team. If they had one weakness previously it was that they had but the one reliable tall up forward in Jack Riewoldt. Lynch takes a lot of the pressure off and is a serious player in his own right. I think they’ll be top 4, but I’m not as bullish as some. They’ve had an excellent run with injuries the last couple of years, and they have less depth this year than previously. And I wonder whether they might have been worked out a little bit, though the new rules muddy that. Certainly I reckon Martin will be a great beneficiary either in midfield or up forward.

My pick is Melbourne. They were patchy last year, but when they were good they were very good, and were impressive in the finals. Their one great weakness was the lack of a big defender, but the recruitment of May is a big win, and the loss of Hogan is well covered up forward. They’re close to the complete team, their only minor deficiency is the lack of outside pace. I think quick teams will be suited by the rule changes, but they move the ball quickly so likely offset. I think some of the constraints of the new rules may also benefit Melbourne by reining in some of Goodwin’s preferred tactics, which I don’t think have always benefiited the team. I think he’s a excellent coach otherwise, and I’m tipping Melbourne for the grand final.

Adelaide could be the other grand finalist, though I’m not sold yet. They have the talent and, on their day, can be irresistible. Last year was poor, but then they had a shitload of important players injured. The jury is out for me, but I’m wary.

Last year’s grand finalists will be thereabouts. The winners, WCE, will have a stronger team going into the season with the return of Gaff and Shepherd, and Naitanui further down the track. I don’t think they’re the best team in the comp, but they’re canny and professional and I think they’ll be thereabouts.

It might be my innate anti-Collingwood bias, but I think they over-achieved last year. There’s a part of me that thinks they won’t be so prominent this year, but then they have good players either returning or being added to the squad. And sometimes teams just click, and what was over-achievement last year becomes the new norm. Jamie Elliott will be great addition, assuming he stays fit, and I’m a fan of Beams – though given their midfield depth believe the benefit will be only incremental. They’d have been better of recruiting a tall forward IMO. I rank them somewhere in the 4-6 range.

My team is somewhere about there, Essendon. We’re close to being the complete team also with no obvious weaknesses. There’s pace aplenty, a lot of flair, and attacking half-back line and a dangerous forward line. Add to that Dylan Shiel and the Bombers are a contender. We go into the season without Hooker and Daniher but, both very good players. We can cover Daniher – he was absent most of last season – but Hooker leaves a bigger hole. He’s important to structure and a fine player to boot. There might be a slow start to the season, but the team will be flying at some point.

I think the premiership team will be one of those. GWS are always about, but they’ve lost good players, including important structural players. Not a fan of their coach either. They’ll make a run at some point, but will fade. Geelong are perennial finalists but I was prepared to write them off – they’re an aging team. They’ve recruited well though, and I think Ratogolea will be important for them.

I’m tipping Sydney and Hawthorn to both miss the finals, but North Melbourne could be thereabouts. Port Adelaide are rebuilding, but have recruited well and, other than the Lions, the rest are nowhere. GCS to win the wooden spoon – no surprises there – and Carlton to improve before fading as the season goes on, winning 4-6 games.

Let’s see how I go – like I said, something will jump up, and all predictions are contingent on variables such as injuries.

Can’t wait.


Burning outrage

One of the problems today is the polarisation of society and the dogmatic nature of the extremes. This is never more evident on social media, especially so in the wake of events such as the shooting in Christchurch on Friday.

I follow twitter pretty avidly, and though I sometimes wonder why it’s because I’ll occasionally come across a piece of news or information, or a perspective, unavailable elsewhere. Our news services are anodyne these days and the reality is if you really want the full scope of news around the world you have to go underground. For me that’s the great value of twitter – it’s a way in to news you wouldn’t otherwise see. Unfortunately you need to deal with the ratbag views and general shoutiness.

It’s never more shouty – or feral or rabid – than after some event of consequence. As I generally follow those I’m more sympathetic with much of what I see generally accords with my politics, though I’m exposed to the other side to. Even though most of the views expressed are in the same neighbourhood as mine oftentimes I am left bemused by the tone and the violence with which those views are held. This is a problem.

I’m known as a man who knows his own mind and who has some strong opinions, but I also hope that I’m a reasonable man. By reasonable I mean I’m willing to listen and consider alternative views and will discourse absent of anger. That doesn’t mean I won’t express the occasional scathing opinion, but I’m well aware that I’m not going to change anyone’s opinion by getting shouty and aggressive.

This is the issue, however. There’s a lot of shouty and aggressive language. It’s clear that people don’t care what others think. They’re not interested in understanding the broader picture, and certainly not in debating an issue. The person they take issue with is an enemy they despise. The point is shouting louder than the person opposed to you.

I find this deeply dismaying. It’s dispiriting to read these exchanges because nothing is ever advanced. That’s the dogmatic nature of the views. If you don’t agree with me then you’re the enemy. Lost in this is any sophistication or nuance, and with that any possibility of coming to terms with a person or situation. Nothing can be achieved unless we seek understanding, and nothing resolved until we find an answer that doesn’t involve belligerence or abuse.

You might say to me, but how can you be balanced when it comes to events like in Christchurch? Naturally, I’m like most people, I’m horrified and angry and – of course – there can be no defence of what happened. It happened though, it’s a fact, and I’m interested in why it happened. My views are polarised on this too, but my ears are open to understand better. It’s easy to vilify these terrorists as some kind of cypher, but the fact of the matter is until last week they were a just another person. I can heap scorn and abuse upon his head, and on those sympathetic to his views – and I do – but to reduce them to mere symbols undermines our capacity to decipher motive and cause.

In this battle between there’s a lot of collateral damage. More moderate voices are caught in the crossfire. There have been several instances of this over the last few days, but one particularly is instructive.

By and large most people supported eggboy’s actions in smashing the egg against Anning’s skull. I’m one of them. In fact, I reckon it’s one of the best forms civil disobedience/protest I’ve seen for many a day. There were some though who questioned the act. These were moderate, generally reasonable people as horrified as the rest of us by what happened in Christchurch. Their opinion was that we shouldn’t be encouraging ‘violence’ on public officials, no matter how deserved. Now it’s ridiculous to suggest any equivalence between acts, and I would argue that the alleged violence of the eggboy was anything but. I understand their point, however, even if I strongly disagree with it.

I’m happy for them to have their opinion. I don’t demand agreement. I don’t expect everyone to believe as I do. Democracy, after all, is about the right to have different opinions – and the difference in their opinions really is pretty innocuous. Or so you would think. And yet any who ventured to share this opinion were buried beneath an avalanche of abuse and ridicule way out of proportion to the act. Their words were twisted into a kind of apologia for Anning and, worse still, as some kind of support. It was totally unreasonable, but that sums up a lot of twitter at least – generally unreasoning.

There is one person I follow with whom I exchanged some friendly opinions and byplay early days. In more recent times I can’t bring myself to interact with her. This is an intelligent and otherwise compassionate person but, one could argue, over-engaged and rigid with dogma. There’s not an issue she won’t comment on serially. She must post hundreds of tweets every day. When things are normal so is she, but then there are issues that trigger her, and events which lay bare the raw anger inside, for that is what it is. It’s ugly to watch, like a bully who won’t stop teasing and harassing and abusing. This is what it’s like, a feral pile-in whenever someone holds an opposing view.

This is someone I liked, but this is way unhealthy. Let it go, take a breath, think twice. There’s probably some impulsion to express those red hot opinions, but ask yourself why. The world isn’t about to be changed by you ridiculing someone.

This is how it is though for many – the burning need to express outrage. Was it ever so, or has social media enabled this? There’s no scale, it’s either zero or 100kmh. I may be old school, but I can’t understand, and can’t believe we can ever become an integrated society until we begin to come together.

Oscar worthy?

I haven’t watched all the Oscar nominated movies from this year, but I’ve seen a few now, including the movie that won it for best picture. The movies I’ve missed are probably those I’m less interested in watching to start with, and while it’s hard to be categorical without seeing them all, it seems a pretty ordinary batch of movies.

Pretty ordinary is a relative term in these circumstances. You expect best picture nominees to be of a different class, though sometimes I wonder what makes a best picture winner. Comedies, for example, are rarely, if ever, nominated for the best picture, and to my knowledge none have ever won. Best movie winners generally have some technical excellence, and be of more sober temperament. Many fall into the category of worthy. In my view, some could also be called dull – even as they have the patina of an Oscar worthy film. To my memory few winners have been daring or progressive – the academy is too conservative for that, and winners could mostly be called safe, even if eminently deserving. There’s few winning movies I’ve felt the need to rush out and see, but there have been some ripping winners.

I commented on Bohemian Rhapsody when I watched it – fun to watch without reaching any great artistic heights.

A few weeks back I watched The Favourite, which for me falls into the category of clever but unengaging. I watched it over a couple of sittings, so uninspired was I. It looks very nice and has some good performances and the script is clever and often witty and sometimes outrageous, but the package as a whole fell flat for me. It felt episodic, and it was hard to feel any great sympathy for any of the characters. Partly that was because they weren’t particularly attractive, but otherwise it was because they weren’t really taken seriously. It felt like a dilettantes movie, an interesting after dinner story without much substance. I was very disappointed.

On the weekend I watched Green Book, which actually won the best picture Oscar in a bit of an upset. For a start I have to say this was the most enjoyable of these movies to watch. It was an engaging story about interesting characters you came to feel a genuine affection for. It’s very formulaic and predictable, but it’s a classic trope that people never seem to grow tired of – the odd couple thrown together who endure travails and misunderstandings and ultimately grow into friends. Of course, each learns from the other and it’s all happy families. In this case there was the race angle, definitely worthy, but simplistic verging on the cutesie.

I seem to be damning it with faint praise, but I enjoyed it, and the performances by the two leading characters was fantastic (Mahershala Ali is one of those actors I watch perform in anything). It’s just that I don’t see this as anything more than a good, ordinary film. The sort of film that leaves you feeling good for a while before fading from memory. Great that it was made – and based on a legitimate true story – but it was absent the gravity you expect from a best picture winner.

It could be that this was just an ordinary year – but then I haven’t seen Roma, the pre-ceremony favourite all the critics raved about (the word on the street being it’s boring).

The question is: how much do the so-called best movies actually align with the movies the average punter enjoyed most? And, should they align?

The virtuous and the vicious

On Friday all over the world children skipped school to rally against the politics that have led to careening climate change. For many this was controversial. Politicians on the wrong side of that argument warned they should be kept at school. They were ridiculed as being too young to really understand, or as being puppets of the left. In truth, these accusers are the people the children are rallying against – the blind, the conservative, the corrupt and the inept. It’s come to the point that our children are protesting at what their parent’s generation failed to do.

It may be too late, but now there is such momentum that the naysayers are losing their influence. The organiser of this event, Greta Thunberg, is a formidable schoolgirl from Norway. She has managed to do what so many others well intended have not: she has electrified an issue and given it into the hands of those who will be most affected by its evil.

The tide has turned, I think, and it’s heartening to see such passion and commitment in those so young. There was a time when kids of that age would engage in the playful, mindless fun that comes easy when life is good. What need of passion or ideals if life is served warm to you on a plate? Times have changed and become more immediate. The pendulum returns, as it always must, having reached one extreme – the extreme being an era of poor, weak or corrupt leadership. It has led to the situation we find ourselves in now and our children roused, won’t have it anymore. If they survive the climate coming at least we can begin to hope our world might be in better hands.

For me, this was reason for hope and inspiration. But then came the other side of that.

I was at work Friday afternoon when the first reports of a shooting in Christchurch came through. Anyone who’s been in this situation knows how odd it seems. At first, you tend to think it’s probably nothing much. We have become inured to everyday violence, and there are so many nutters out there it comes as no great surprise. But then updated reports come through. Up to nine dead, you read. People begin to turn to each other. Have you heard what’s happening in Christchurch? And you go back, seeking more news, and it comes. It was a mosque that was attacked. Hospitals preparing for forty or fifty casualties, you read. Wow, you think. You catch eyes with someone. You start to feel it in your stomach: something awful is happening.

You go about your work nonetheless. Computers hum, phones ring, emails come and go, meetings are called. On Friday we had a late function. Going into it I saw the latest update – 29 confirmed dead, dozens feared to be. And you think: dozens?!

Finally, when I got home, I saw – 49 dead – and as I watched the full story unfolded, about how the gunman live-streamed his rampage to Facebook, about the garbled, racist manifesto he wrote, finally, that he was an Australian.

Such terrible events are hard to comprehend, but it was the news that the killer was an Australian from Grafton that gave it another edge. I felt fear and shame as well as sorrow and anger. I didn’t feel the surprise knowing he was an Australian that I did at the event itself.

Naturally, there’s an upwelling of grief and compassion across the globe at what has happened, mixed in with anger and despair. That’s been the case here too in Oz. New Zealand is our closest neighbour. We are cousins to each other. We know each other well, like family. But then one of ours has gone there and murdered so many of them and, unfortunately, it’s easy to see why.

This is a problem all over the world, divisive extremities, not just in Oz. Here though, as in some places, it has been leveraged for political purposes. It started with John Howard here, may he burn in hell, the first man to politicise asylum seekers and turn it into an election issue. He changed the conversation, and in so doing changed Australia. We went from being an open, warm society to a society protective of its good fortune and closed to the sorrows of others. That’s been exploited since by Abbott and Morrison, and throughout, by Dutton, aided and abetted by a media either complicit to the point of cheerleading (Murdoch) or being too weak or cowardly to properly stand up against the cold-hearted values being espoused.

When that becomes the language, when human life has been devalued to that of a statistic, when those poor folk caught in the crossfire and seeking a better life are demonised as either terrorists or opportunists, then it is easy to dismiss the woes of others. In a world where everything has become polarised everyone who is perceived as being not ‘us’ must, therefore, be against us. Multicultural as we are in Australia, in the eyes of the bigoted it means every one of colour, everyone not Christian, becomes suspect at least. And so in the demented minds of a few the events on Friday loom as a crusade against so-called enemies.

There’s no point saying not all Australians, just as there was no point proclaiming not all men. Most Australians aren’t like that, are horrified by what happened – but this lives within our society, and has been encouraged and been allowed to thrive when it should have been stillborn. We all have to take responsibility for that.

When the news came out Friday the deplorable Fraser Anning came out effectively blaming the victims for being Muslim, guilty of their own murder. Yesterday he attended a right-wing function only a few kilometres from where I live. Famously – now – a 17-year-old kid smashed a raw egg into the back of his head. It’s a moment that will go down in folklore, and ‘eggboy’ has been hailed since all over the world.

It’s an instructive moment. Here was Anning with his white supremacist cronies, swathed in swastikas, swaggering and pitched towards violence. These are dysfunctional, damaged members of society, drawn towards a toxic ideology because of a lack in themselves (if only being intelligence). They’re the sort of men who commit violence against women and others weaker than themselves. That’s the disaffected breeding ground for those who one day will resort to violence on a broader scale.

Then there’s the kid, perhaps a kid who marched on Friday, a kid who believes in an inclusive world and better selves, a kid engaged in what it means to be a part of a true society. Some of decried what he did as some sort of violence, but what I see is a kid who has made a mockery of Anning in this silly act, and revealed Anning for what he truly is. Anning turned and attacked the kid before his cronies piled on top of him and got him in a choker hold. The kid lost consciousness – he’s okay – and what the world saw was the gleeful violence so easily adopted.

We saw it too, in Australia. I’m always hopeful, even after such a terrible thing. This is our moment to be properly ‘woke’. They’re not just a ratbag few. They’re among us, and can’t be tolerated any longer. I reckon fully 95% of Australians are horrified by these people and are now just waking up to the danger they represent. It’s a harsh lesson, but the actions on Friday I think will rebound on the supremacists. We want to say, as the Kiwis have, this is not who we are.

I should add that I think it’s pulled the teeth from the government ahead of the election as well. Before this – sad to say – they’d have sought to exploit the divisions between us and them, lead by those good Christians Morrison and Dutton. They can’t do that now. Hopefully, no-one ever can again.

It’s a hard thing to say after fifty people are dead, but I think the pendulum is shifting back. I think the act on Friday was a sign of that, evil as it was. That’s poor comfort for the families of those murdered, but a small thing the rest of us can hold onto and hope is true. Better times will come.

The Aussies are coming

I have a friend, an Australian cricket fan, who’s become so depressed about the state of the game here that he won’t read anything I write about it. I’m ever more optimistic, but I understand. We’ve been spoilt for a long time and the recent ruin and disgrace is hard to stomach. Man, I’m telling you, it has to turn though, and maybe it’s starting, and maybe enough that my friend feels positive enough to read this.

Australia has been in the doldrums for the last year, most of it self-inflicted. Used to winning more often than not in recent times the losing has been more common, and there’s been some ugly stuff in there. Every now and then there’s a patch of promising form and little green shoots of improvement and you think, hang on a sec, but generally there’s not been too much to get excited about. The rest of the cricket world has been pretty much in accord. The demise of Australia is the cause for much schadenfreude across the cricket playing community. They’ve been quick and very keen to write us off as a serious contender for the World Cup in a couple of months’ time but, sort of, fair enough. I don’t mind being hated. I sort of like it in a way. But then there’s been justified writing us off – until now.

Australia’s just finished playing India over there. Back in Oz in summer they beat us 2-1 in the one day tournament. Playing them on their home patch they went into the series slightly strengthened and, on paper, ours slightly weakened. They were strong favourites across the board, but in the T20 series we unexpectedly beat them 2-0. Normal service returned in the one day series that followed after we lost the first two games. I was watching the games here. I hoped for a win, but mostly I wanted brave performances. I’d cop that. But then we lifted from what had been a narrow loss to post a succession of right from the top drawer – most notably chasing down 359 with a couple of overs to spare to level the series 2-2. The decider was overnight yesterday and, you guessed it, Australia won it. From being 0-2 down we came back to take the series 3-2 against one of the best teams in the world playing at home.

No point getting hyperbolic, but what we saw in this series was a return to the clinical performance we were renowned for. The team has bonded through the dark times and begun to click as a unit. They’re playing with great spirit. When it’s got tough they’ve doubled down throughout, in the same way as the Australian teams of the past – the teams that have won five World Cups in 30 years.

A few months ago I boasted to an Indian at work – getting cocky with his team’s success – that Australia would knock-out India in the semi-final of the world cup. I’m always bullish about Australian prospects – they’ve always found a way – but some of this was bravado. You believe it in a way though, you don’t rule it out no matter how hard others disbelieve, and their opposition only serves to stiffen your resolve. I’m not playing, but my proxies will be. Making the statement I did was a way of defending territory, but it’s also the sort of arrogance that supporters of other teams have grown to hate about Australia. Come the world cup and if I’m wrong I’ll shrug my shoulders and cop it sweet, fair play. You’ve got to believe it first though and it’s that historical belief that leads you to make such statements in the first place, and the sort of belief that becomes self-fulfilling. You’ve got to be bold enough to believe though, to challenge it by putting it out there, and through the years I reckon that’s given us a big edge.

I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself. We go to the UAE to play Pakistan now and could be whitewashed there. Regardless, we’re now a serious contender for the world cup, and doubly so when you consider that Warner, Smith and Starc need to be squeezed into a team already good enough to beat the best in the world. That’s the message to the world: be afraid.

I’ll cack myself if we get up to win after being pronounced so profoundly and gleefully dead by the pundits. Hope my mate does too. And if we don’t you know where to find me.

The people you dream of

I had an interesting dream last night. In it were a couple of my friends from primary school, Lindsay and Lincoln.

L1 was always a lovely kid. He was sweet natured and generous. He was a good looking kid with a mop of Beatle-esque hair and a strong physical presence. I remember him as a gentle but robust soul who would do anything to help you out.

L2 was good looking too, blonde instead of brown-haired, but he was crazy as well. He was one of those willful, hard to control kids who marched to beat of his own private drum. I remember him once swallowing a goldfish, and another time a girl called Merryn complaining because he’d flopped out his old fella sitting there looking at her in class.

So in the dream – which is vague – we’re all somewhere down by the seaside when we’re dared to do something we’re not supposed to. There’s a bunch of us, not just L1 and L2, but other kids too and we’re all about 8-9. I seem to be taking the lead and the mission we’re on feels like an adventure, like something we’re supposed to do even if it’s not allowed, as if we need to do this as an expression of the individuals we’re becoming, like one of those things you do in all defiance of instruction because it feels the right thing to do.

So we progress. We travel along the coastline, which is beautiful, to a point where we’ve been expressly forbidden, though we’re still short of our destination. One of the boys is quivering. “My daddy told me not to come here,” he says. But then there’s a beckoning voice, a woman’s voice, alluring at any age, but particularly to an adventurous eight year old determined to prove himself. She’s teasing, recognising our doubts and our fears, and gently playing on them like a siren, “don’t you want too…”, daring us to overcome our reservations. And, at my insistence, we do.

That’s pretty much the dream, but throughout it felt a positive dream, like a movie in a way, like something we’re supposed to do that will make a big difference to the people we become. This is our coming of age moment, and I sense it. And for some reason, out of all the people I went to school with, L1 and L2 are there with me.

Out of curiosity I googled them this morning. I haven’t seen L1 since I was about 20. He was still a lovely kid then, still good looking, though he’d levelled out at about 5’8”, but built square with huge shoulders. I wasn’t sure searching for him, but I found someone with the same name who looks little like the L1 I knew but is in the same area we grew up in. This one is a priest too, or a minister, and though that may seem unusual I remember had become spiritual and was heavily involved in the church. He’d been nothing like that at 10. On the balance of probability, I think it’s probably him – there’s only a head-shot to go by, and the pic I saw was of an ascetic-looking man with close shaved hair. And – looking at the pic again – I realise he’s the spitting image of his dad.

I haven’t seen L2 since we were about 12. Not surprisingly he left school under a shadow. A lot can happen in that time. He was taller than most then, but there’s a lot of growing for all of us after that age, and it’s different for everyone. This L2 I found is a notable architect these days and is about the right age – and the only person I found with his name in Melbourne. He looks roughly like the L2 I knew, older, more lived in. I always figured that part of his problem was he was smarter – more aware – than most, and it’s no surprise if he has in fact made something decent of his life.

I hope so for both of them. Strange to remember them now. Sort of nice though, too.

Unfunny comedies

I was in a meeting yesterday which sums up much of my disdain for this place.

Including me, there were seven of us in the meeting. The meeting was called by someone else but supposedly was my meeting, though I get nothing out of it and generally feel as if I’m reporting to the headmaster.

In the meeting yesterday there were three people who didn’t say a word over the 35 minutes we were in the room. Two of them were the initial reason for the meeting. I was looking for assistance to help me manage the back-end of the chatbot and they were the best options – I didn’t need or want the others, but then mediocrity needs a quorum. That they said nothing surprised me not at all because that’s what they’ve done – nothing. That’s despite repeated requests and offers to sit with them, etc. They’re busy, I get that, but if they don’t come to the party then basically the whole point of it is moot to me. So they just sat there like stunned mullets.

The other silent visitor was someone who I don’t even know why she was there. Probably invited herself.

Then there were the two Ops managers, including my direct manager. They’ve shown no interest otherwise but put them in a meeting like this and they’re like a couple of government back-benchers sniffing a photo opportunity and willing to shoulder the other out of the way. They’re all smiles in front of the camera, but once it’s gone they couldn’t give a shit. It’s probably more acute in this industry, but they epitomise much of my experience with middle managers – mediocrities who think they’re more important than they are and always trying to prove it. They lack all self-awareness.

Give them a platform like this and they visibly inflate, but it’s all about them. They’re trying to sketch out their angle whilst seeming managerial.

There was another manager dialling in from Brisbane, but for him, the focus was on the work. He gave no thought to how he looked or how he might be able to leverage the situation. He’s a smart guy who feels no need to prove it. He’s solutions focussed, and though we sometimes disagree on what the best solution looks like I respect him. Furthermore, I can work with him because he doesn’t go away when the cameras do.

Then there was the digital manager, the guy I have a dotted line into for this project, basically there at my behest. I wanted him there because he could say things I couldn’t, and reinforce some key points. I’m junior to everyone at that meeting bar the silent ones, but he’s senior to all of them.

I’ve had my occasional issues with him – I don’t trust him altogether and think he’s manipulative with a good portion of wide boy in him, but he’s smart, smarter than most of them there, and though he’s running a strong agenda as well, his agenda boils down to getting the best result.

Finally, there’s me. You know how I feel, but I contain it pretty well. I’m very to the point. I’m always all about the work, though naturally, I have my own opinion of how that work should go. I’ve been trying to push that awhile, but against vested interests. I don’t bother with any fripperies because I don’t want to have that relationship with most of these people. I butt up against a few of them regularly and they generally know that I see things differently to what they do.

There’s one who has a smug manner and a permanent sneer. He likes brow-beat others to his way of thinking and is not above being sneaky and trying to arrange things to his advantage behind the back of others. Anyway, I refuse to submit to this character and so he knows we’re in opposite camps.

All of this explains a lot of what I feel here. I hate this rubbish, I hate how it makes me think these things, and I hate how it makes me feel. I’m a simple character these days. All I want to do is do the job to the best of my ability, but I’m unwilling to step aside from it. I don’t want anything to do with politics or petty ambitions but I have to deal with those things. I’m sick of the abject mediocrity and I’m all too aware of the absurdity of it all.

Half of me is utterly dismayed, and the other half laughing at the human comedy. It’s a bitter laugh though because it’s a dark comedy.