2017 thoughts: Beating on against the current

It’s #gravyday as I write this, 2017. The night of #gravyday in Melbourne Town, from whose central business district I have left this evening, amid whispers and tweets, panicked glances and messages. A person has driven their car into pedestrians this very evening, this mild, fine, pre-Christmas Thursday evening, on Flinders Street. Just over there.




#4 Christmas song

“I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental I know – but I just really like it.”
Tim Minchin, “White wine in the sun”

And now I’m home. Safe at home.

Orange and purple –suited cricketers flash about on TV, getting in the way of footage of a glorious sunset over the Derwent estuary.  GJ Bailey stumped just now.

And I’m wondering what in the heck this is all about.

Why, with someone driving a car into a group of innocent, peaceful citizens, would I be sitting here tapping out anything? What difference does it make?


“Mother shakes her head and reads aloud from the newspaper,
While father puts another lock on the door
And reflects upon the violent times we are living in
While chatting to the wife-beater next door…”
Billy Bragg, The Home Front


And yet.
There is something.


We have Trump in the United States’ White House.
We have Dutton as Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs.
But we also have Luke Reynolds hitting the winning runs for Pomborneit CC.
We have Yvette Wroby as editor of the Women’s Footy Almanac 2017.
We have Martin Flanagan tweeting the towering work of Robert Hayden:


Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?


It’s true that Donald Trump may influence the lives of more people than does Luke Reynolds. But we can take solace that for some, the opposite is true.

Martin Flanagan, similarly. Losing weekly access to M Flanagan’s thoughts and sense was a difficult aspect of 2017. Reading his words at this site was superb.


#3 Christmas song

“And what have you done?”
John Lennon, Happy Christmas (War is over)



The #MeToo movement of the abused calling powerful abusers to account has been a powerful social theme of 2017. Stunning. Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan. And the rest. The overwhelming avalanche of the rest. The “Silence Breakers,” Time Magazine called them, in labelling their collective as “person of the year 2017.”


I am boosted by courage of these oppressed and abused people. Those who would not go quietly; those who spoke in the face of enormous risk and hurt.


Taylor Swift – sometime object of unthinking tall-poppy or ignorant ridicule – is one of the silence-breakers. “After she complained about a Denver radio DJ named David Mueller, who reached under her skirt and grabbed her rear end, Mueller was fired. He sued Swift for millions in damages. She countersued for a symbolic $1 and then testified about the incident in August. Mueller’s lawyer asked her, on the witness stand, whether she felt bad that she’d gotten him fired.

“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” she told the lawyer. “I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine.” “




This year we have seen progress.


In Australia, too, despite the pain inflicted on our community by the decision of a lame Prime Minister, clinging to power thanks only to an ongoing head-count of satisfied MPs, to hold a non-binding plebiscite into whether or not we each supported the idea of same sex marriage; we saw progress. A yes vote. Huge.


And yet – a paralysis of inaction continues to plague climate change, education, health – and thereby the chances of our species’ very survival.

All while a pop-up appears on my screen here – reporting on outcomes from the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

While I tap out an imagined conversation in the Clarke-Dawe tradition, about cricket


“…In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page…”
Crowded House, “Don’t dream it’s over.”


Consolations of philosophy.


“Under such circumstances, it’s easy to feel a sense of complete despair and powerlessness. With this powerless can come a loss of motivation. What’s the point in trying to live a good life or make a better world when your own small but committed efforts are dwarfed by the ignorance and destruction being meted out by some of those people in power?

The answer is this. The way we choose to live our own lives is now more important than ever. If we are living at a time where we can’t rely on those in power to speak and work for us, then we need to taking control in the one area where we do have choice and power – in our own lives.”

Richard Dowcra, http://richarddocwra.com/light-darkness-2018/




#2 Christmas song
“Now they’re ringing the last bell.”
Paul Kelly, “How to make gravy”



I see JD writing his novel.
I see Yvette writing her memoir.
I see Jimmy Barnes’s choices; his journey.

I see Rulebook and his energy.
I see Dave Brown and his giving.
I see mates working as school teachers; continuing, continuing.

I see Kate and her art, her shop, her generosity.
Mates as volunteer netball coaches, futsal coaches.
I see Swish and his behind-the-scenes efforts.

I see Peter_B and his positivity.
Mates as parents – ferrying kids to life experiences, providing opportunity.
Citrus Bob and his sense of community, of reason, of integrity.

I see JTH supporting so many, so many, producing The Women’s Footy Almanac 2017, The Tigers’ Almanac 2017, building an us.


I read today, #gravyday, about Tony Wilson’s emotional annual recognition of his friend Chris Daffey’s suicide – on this day. His eulogy years ago now, but every year very raw.

I read about former North and Sydney footballer Wayne Schwass and his suicide prevention message.

And I’m reminded of our struggles.
That we all carry something.

Rose McGowan, Taylor Swift, Jimmy Barnes.
George Bailey, Petter Dutton, Richard Dowcra.
School teachers, coaches, parents.


Pinning our hopes on our footy team winning ain’t gonna get us far.
At least in 17 out of 18 years (on average).
Pinning our hopes on anything external probably ain’t gonna get us far.


“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


May we all keep beating on.
Finding ourselves and each other.
Winning in our own way.
Drinking white wine in the sun.
For Happy Christmas (war is over).
No matter How to make gravy.
We’re already in our Fairytale of New York; or anywhere.



#1 Christmas song

“-I could have been someone…
-Well so could anyone…”
The Pogues, “Fairytale of New York”



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Good on ya David

    All the awful stuff in the world … they’re just antonyms to all the great stuff. The great stuff prevails and will always prevail

  2. G’day ER,

    I admire your bravery delivering a positive story after the terrible incident on Flinders Street (I am sorry for victims and Melburnians), and organising the Almanac writing competition.

    And Tony Wilson takes bravery telling the story of his mate. I enjoyed the footy debate at the Sports Writers Festival where he was a panel. It was a great debate and he is a good man.



  3. Thought provoking as ever, ER.

  4. ER – it was very strange that as we laughed and talked last night, and enjoyed a cold beer and Christmas friendship there was, just down the road, mayhem and lunacy unfolding. Like you, I feel that this year has strained my understanding of things to the extreme. It has been unsettling and confusing. Perhaps I’m the one who needs to change?

    I think its unfair to single out Donald Trump and Peter Dutton for special mention here. The truth of the matter is that last night was another manifestation of a struggle that has been going on for centuries. Whether we agree with Trump and Dutton or not (and I am certainly not leaping to their rescue) there are forces at play that run far deeper than left V right arguments in a shallow political debate.

    I disagree with the modern notion that the personal is political. To me this argument is entirely unsustainable and runs contrary to the notion of building strong communities. But if I am wrong (again), and if the personal is political, then last night was very political for me, because in 2002 when a group of lunatics set off a bomb and killed 202 people in the name of a prophet, they took with them an O’Donnell. Given that this still burns deep, it is probably not prudent for me to even take up the pen in this discussion, as it has a very personal element. However, I truly hope that we can have solidarity in defeating this evil and not reduce the discussion to who is right or wrong in the modern day. The modern day political scene is but a speck of time. And largely inconsequential.

    We’ll battle on, you and me. And we’ll find a way because we are lucky. Born in a beautiful country. So long as we continue to believe in ourselves as a people, so long as we continue to admire our achievements and not belittle our history, so long as we give our democracy a chance to thrive, we are a chance to thrive too.

    Happy Christmas ER, it was nice seeing you last night. Pity we didn’t have more time to smile and chat.

  5. Many questions, but the answers lie in our own actions – as you say ER. Trauma begets drug taking begets mental illness. Or should that be trauma begets mental illness begets drug taking? Or just trauma always begets greater trauma in the end? Is mental illness a reason or an excuse?
    Most can change if the have the will and support. But some are too badly damaged by others and the consequences of their own misguided attempts to escape.
    The unholy alliance of civil liberties and small government have closed the institutions that kept dangerously psychotic people safe from harming themselves and others.
    Phone tapping and capital punishment for major drug dealers? Gets my vote. Indonesia got it right.
    I appreciate your “positive” comment David, but have seen too much to be Pollyanna.

  6. It’s highly possible that I missed it in previous years, but I loved discovering that yesterday was widely celebrated as #gravyday. Catching the odd internet squizz at how it connects to and across people was great. I reckon it’s a grandstand Cox Plate finish between it and “Fairytale.”

    Thanks ER for this probing piece. Merry Christmas, and I hope to see you at the NFA in 2018 on a languid Friday!

  7. G’day all – many thanks for your considered comments.
    The great risk in naming influential people (above) is that I would necessarily leave out many more. And I have.
    Thanks all.

    Dips – maybe it was unfair to single out those two named, but they were two that a struck me from the year just gone, who played big parts.
    I agree with the ideal of personal/political separation.
    It seems like the best (only?) way to live harmoniously alongside others.
    Accept differences, act with kindness, on we go.
    It feels like we’re moving away from that model rather than towards it – but I hope I’m wrong.
    Thanks again all. Take care.

  8. Greetings Dave
    Another Xmas, another year, another new start around the corner, albeit closer to the eternal deadline.
    Unfortunately I suspect the only way to process these events is to draw up some sort of personal barrier. We can only ever have some control that which is within our most immediate space and even then it can be limited.
    My highlight yesterday was listening to Paul Kelly sing his Gravy song on radio, and in listening to the background behind its conception. He spoke too of writing…Longer form letters, postcards and in lyrics for his music.
    Much to think on


  9. OBP as always a hell of a lot to ponder and while I sympathise and understand the direction,Dips is heading I reckon the world would be a far better place if Luke Reynolds had more influence and direction than those named,Merry X Mas OBP

  10. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Luke for PM or Collingwood President at the very least !!
    Merry Christmas ER and family. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

  11. Colin Ritchie says

    Boy, do I feel priviliged to read the outstanding writing we have here at the Footy Almanac. Where else can you find such thought provoking, articulate and intellectually stimulating writing and comments that come “write from the heart”.
    Really enjoyed your thoughts Dave, they continue to highlight your exceptional writing ability and I find great joy in reading them. Cheers and all the best.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Dave, magnificent piece.
    These lines particularly resonate
    “May we all keep beating on.
    Finding ourselves and each other.
    Winning in our own way.”
    It is as much as we can do.
    I’m constantly inspired by your writing. By the writing of others on this wonderful website. This wonderful community.
    We do our best. Whether that is influential to 30 people or 300 Million. Doesn’t matter.
    Keep doing your best ER. Merry Christmas to the Wilson’s. Look forward to your words in 2018.

  13. Yvette Wroby says

    Love, respect, admiration and friendship . Otherwise known as the Almanac community and it’s heart, John Harms. We are connected through this gifted man. Beautiful piece . Love from Japan and seasons greetings to u all. Be well and safe

    Feel very honoured too x

  14. Merry Christmas to you and yours, e.r.
    And thanks.

  15. Punxsa – thanks. It’s a comforting thought to maintain.

    Yoshi – thanks. I don’t see it as bravery. But that is for others to judge. I see it as just another perspective in a community these days crying out with perspectives. It’s just one perspective.

    JBanister – hopefully not too late in the year.

    Dips – a smile and a chat is a good call. Indeed we are lucky.

    Peter_B – thanks again for providing characteristic insight. We are all responsible for ourselves, ultimately. But no two childhoods are the same. No two circumstances are the same.

    Mickey – some mates with young kids (9? and 6?) have lived the expat life in Singapore and Hong Kong for 10 years or so. Last time they were at our house, our mate proudly encouraged their 10-year-old to sing – unaccompanied, without lyrics – the song “How to make gravy.” A nod to Australian roots over there in Singapore.

    Kate – tick tock. Love your ideas. And yes, much to think on.

    OBP – love it. President Reynolds.

    Phil – not a crazy idea. All the best to you & yours.

    Col – Thank you very much. That’s very kind. Merry Christmas.

    Luke – Thanks for taking this article in the spirit it was intended. The world is made up of all of us. A tweet today from the Dalai Lama’s account:
    “Within each of us exists the potential to contribute positively to society. Although one individual among so many on this planet may seem too insignificant, it is our personal efforts that will determine the direction our society is heading.”
    I hope festivities go well for the Reynolds clan.

    Yvette – spot on. We’re all lucky.

    Smokie – go well. Mighty year from you. Thanks to you.

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