October the 5th is my mother’s birthday. We go over to Montmorency to have a beer or a glass of wine and some of Mum’s home cooking. There is nothing like warm biscuits out of the maternal oven. There is no strict recipe. Each batch has its own mothering nuance; its own unique feel and touch and aroma. Scientists should search for the “God particle” in a tray of Mum’s strawberry jam shortbread slice, rather than the depths of space.
We gathered on the weekend; my family, my brothers, their wives and Mum’s grandchildren. Mum, rather surprisingly (she’s not a huge football person), was disgruntled that her Swans are likely to recruit Buddy. She doesn’t believe that he fits in with the culture of the Bloods. Her boys are lovely. She’s not sure Buddy is lovely. The prospect of Buddy at the Swans has thrown her out of balance.
It doesn’t feel right to me either. Putting Buddy into the Swans is like having Eddie Obeid as a guest on Playschool. But maybe the trade month says more about us than it does about football. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said:
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force.”
The trade period challenges us. We question loyalty. It brings change. It’s unsettling and unnerving. It’s just plain weird. Some of our boys, the boys we’ve loved and defended in the face of outrageous opposition judgement, are simply put up for trade. What does that mean, “put up for trade”? It means some players are discarded; beheaded, gutted, and tossed aside like a fisherman heaves carp carcasses up the bank of the Murray.
There is a finality to it; a brutality. Someone we were attached to we simply detach from.
Worse than that, it means that players are taken out of their guernsey. Take a player out of a particular guernsey and he’s no longer that player. Did Dermie look the same in a Collingwood jumper? Will Chappy be Chappy in a Richmond sash? Would Uluru still be special if it were shifted to Parramatta? Would Mum’s ANZAC cookies be the same if she didn’t bake them?
Trade period sits in a perplexing month. And it belongs there, as do all things mystifying, baffling and troubling. October is a month of absurd contrast; of frivolity and immense consequence. It triggers beauty and bastardry, turmoil and peace. Things happen. Green Turtles go in search of the perfect beach on which to nest their eggs, landslides take out whole villages in rural China, cheery people in Melbourne gather around race tracks, stock markets traditionally crash, mock oranges exude their enchanting perfume, lunatics commence their “killing season”, and Franklins go to Sydney. Madness and splendour. Greed and grace. Life and death.
There is something more to Mum’s birthday. Something that dwells within us. A piece of all of us died on the 12th of October 2002 in Bali when the Sari Club became the target of crazed minds. It was merely a week after we had gathered in Montmorency; a week after we had all laughed and drank and sang. And it stays with us. As we joyfully sing Happy Birthday to Mum every year we also mourn. The colour of Spring battles with the blackness in our hearts. October confounds us.
We remember Jessica; daughter, sister, niece, cousin. Forever 21.