AFL Round 18 – Collingwood v Adelaide: Bodies, spirits (London Town)

Distance and nearness are attributes of bodies.
The journeyings of spirits are after another sort.
You journeyed from the embryo state to rationality without footsteps or stages or change of pace.
The journey of the soul involves not time and place.
And my body learnt from the soul its mode of journeying.
Now my body has renounced the bodily mode of journeying.
It journeys secretly and without form, though under a form.

Jallaludin Rumi (1207-73) Masnavi.

I’ve read the AFL reports of others, written overseas. Sam’s backpacking adventures. Mickey and djlitsa from Singapore. And now here I am following the footy from London Town.
Buddy Oon and I are up first. We’re eating crunchy nut cornflakes outside, on the front stoop. Sunday morning. Escaping the hot close air of the holiday rental. Out here it’s cool and bright. Dog-walkers creep past.
We check the score:
COL 3.0.18
ADE 5.5.35

From this distance the colonial world and its provincial games feel like small beer. And on this scale, the global scale, they are.
I shuffle up to the Kilburn High Road for a coffee.
Yesterday, before breakfast, Nothafagus cunninghammii ran to Buckingham Palace. Later, we all caught the tube to St.Paul’s. Viewed Picasso and Dali in the Tate Modern.
In this light, it’s easy to view the petty dramas of provincial football as, well, petty dramas.
The coffee is hot.
COL 5.4.34
ADE 7.8.50

“The journey of the soul involves not time and place.”
It’s been a grand trip. But even as we embarked, we knew we were not tourists. I’ve learned now that Buddy Oon gets it. As we approached Big Ben on Thursday she had a question.
Buddy Oon: is that it?
Me: Yep. The famous Big Ben.
Buddy Oon: why are we walking towards it? Can we go up to the top?
Me: No. We can’t.
Buddy Oon: Then… what’s the point? Why are we even here?

COL 8.8.56
ADE 9.13.65

But then, it can be enough simply to encourage thought. As Rumi observed: “Distance and nearness are attributes of bodies.”
Yet Dali had his own ideas. As did some sculptors whose work we wondered at yesterday.
Buddy Oon: what’s this supposed to be?
N. cunninghammii: who knows? But these works are interesting. Because they make you think.
Buddy Yum: I’m too tired to think.

At lunchtime today we’ll be on the Eurostar to Paris. Getting into town coincidentally with Le Tour. The AFL competition again as small beer. Collingwood’s season, Adelaide’s season.

COL 12.10.82
ADE 14.14.98

We’re packing bags. I check the full time score.
Me: Look bud, Adelaide won.
Buddy Yum: never mind. It’s not about winning, Dad. It’s about having fun. You already know that.


The next renters of this holiday house are sitting on their cases, out the front. Just arrived from California. There’s something unsettling about meeting your replacements. It’s mortality.
Like Collingwood have done today.

Our bodies journey secretly and without form, though under a form.

All Australians, doing Australian things. Ever let it be so.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. 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 shares the care of two daughters and likes to walk around feeling generally amazed. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. A joy as always DW. All is impermanence. All my Eagles, Magpies, Carlton and Richmond acquaintances agree.
    Hawks and Swans fans seem so intense and self-absorbed.
    How ladder positions transform our philosophical positions.
    AE and I have booked France and Croatia for September 2015. We don’t expect any other distractions.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff OBP sounds like your having a ball ( bloody intelligent kids 2 , love the Big Ben story ! )

  3. David- Excellent to read that you’re all enjoying your European adventure. Paris should be great too. We’re heading over at Christmas and I’m especially looking forward to the Eurostar from Paris to London.

    I reckon Collingwood could use Salvador Dalí’s creativity and run off half back.

  4. Peter Flynn says


    It’s a leisurely 7 can trip.


  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Keep ’em comin’ Dave – love hearing about your girls’ view of the world.

    You reminded me that Ian Dury once fronted Kilburn & The High Roads


    Kilburn High Road, what a place it was in the 80’s in mid January, as bleak as the beer I used to drink at the Kilburn Park Pub surrounded by feral Irishers whilst trying to read the complete works of William Shakespeare. The pub was the only warm place around but a very violent place. I remember a fight breaking out around me whilst reading Othello, at the end of a Barry McGuigan world boxing tiltle fight when the manager was away in Belfast for the fight. Truly awesome fight but I didn’t spill a drop of the black stuff.

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