Between remembering and forgetting: an update on the baristas

Last Saturday morning, the Cob, the Cygnet and I were discussing the state of affairs, in particular the method by which Collingwood slaughtered the Tigers the night before.

‘They were so neat,’ I proffered. ‘I’m very attracted to tidy football this year. They were so tidy.’

‘A lot like their coach,’ added the Cob.

‘What?’ piped the Cygnet.

‘Their coach, what’s his name Buckley. He was a very meticulous player in his time.’

‘Nathan,’ I finished.

‘You know,’ confessed the Cygnet. ‘I was having trouble remembering his name last night too. I had the Buckley bit, but not the Nathan bit.’

I imagined the most unlikely scenario of the Cygnet, prone before sleep in the dark of his bedroom, trawling for the pit bull’s name.

‘You know …’ offered the Cob. ‘You know what you have to do to remember something.’ He followed it with the perfect pause, long enough for a moment’s thought, but not for any kind of answer.

‘You have to forget.’


When the Swans lost on Sunday I was at work. Not privy to the apparent mess they were making out on the field. I had an eye on the score. Down at the quarter, down at the half, but by just a single kick. And then it unravelled. Heath Grundy kicked a goal! Richards a behind?! And then more and more numbers on the other side of the margin. We only kicked seven for the game??

A topsy-turvy feeling overtook my afternoon and as I climbed on my homebound bus in the new early dark of daylight spendings, I thought of the Cob and the Cygnet heading home from the ground together and hoped that a similar sweet philosophy was being passed back and forth between them, something to save our souls.

‘You know what you have to do,’ the Cob would assure the Cygnet. ‘If you want to win, you’ve got to lose. Only when you start losing again, can you go on and play better and win.’

To hell and high water with consistent Geelong and ruthless Hawthorn. To hell with North Melbourne’s pre-game huddle, which must have gone something along the lines of … if you want to score, you have to defend first. Would the Cygnet buy it? I had my wallet out and the change in my hand.

And then, could this infinity loop of an equation be expanded a bit more? Now that the boys remembered what it was like to lose, could they forget and get on and win. And when they remembered what it was to win again, could we be done with all this losing. But the demonic opposite of all this lurks. Are we supporters embarking on a process of forgetting the wins in order to remember them again one day? Is it just a long losing streak ahead? Janus-faced all of us, glancing between backwards and forwards, and Round 4 remembered as the threshold?

Monday came. Lunchtime came. I thought of heading in the opposite direction to ‘the Baristas’. There’s a guy at a place in the bottom of a corporate tower, brews a superb single origin bean from a new developing nation each day, looks like Marty Mattner and is just about as reliable. But if I want to win with pride, I’d better lose with grace. I headed to the Pâtisserie. Standing in line, Barista #1 – North Melbourne supporter – appeared at the top of the stairs. He pointed a double barrel salute my way and mouthed, ‘I was hoping you’d come in today.’ I paid. ‘Come on up,’ he motioned. We’re on first name terms since then. And I climbed the couple of stairs to the back of the place and the bar in front of the machine. We picked it apart with the usual tools. He with his grace, me with mine. He with his diagnosis. Me and mine. Me with my pre-emptive comments about our very expensive forward line. He with his about midfielders kicking goals. Me with my flattery of his boys. He with his encouragement for mine. Those North supporters they know about loss. They are finding out about winning.


We headed down the coast on Tuesday for an early Easter with the olds. A most divine bucolic setting: vulgar green hills spotted with Friesian cows; an Edo mist falling off the escarpment and down the rainforest to the back courtyard; the Frenchman and his excellent pinot and cheese; my mother’s roast chook.

We still have her mother – my grandmother – 95 years old and going strong. Despite her increased physical incapacity – the Frenchman drives her illegally on the seat of her walker as soon as they are out of view of the nursing home staff – we pride her on her razor sharp mind. The Frenchman collects her for weekly lunch and rolls her in for a G & T, some iPad Solitaire and a good feed. I sat with her today, tucked up tight so she could hear me. And after some discussion about Barry O’Farrell’s shock resignation and my sister’s new baby in Berlin, she turned to me and asked under her breath, ‘Darling, tell me. I can’t recall for the life of me, I’ve been wracking my brain and I simply cannot remember.’ I was all ears. ‘What on earth is it that we celebrate at Easter?’

I am the most ill equipped person for the job, but I didn’t dare laugh and I didn’t dare defer and break our code.

‘Well, on the Friday, Jesus was killed … on the cross. Crucified. And then …’ I would take the purely chronological route. ‘Saturday he lay in the tomb and then on Sunday, when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, the stone had been removed from the door and he had resurrected.’ I waited to see if any penny was dropping.

‘Yes, that’s right,’ she giggled as she slapped my knee.

My mother had overheard my description of the Passion and was suddenly enquiring of us as she shoved the lemon and tarragon up the bird. My grandmother was laughing now and with her full public confession came all the mirth and warmth of the family.

‘I couldn’t for the life of me remember,’ she said. ‘And for days I’ve been trying to think who I could call who wouldn’t think I was round the corner.’

She may have meant ‘the bend.’

And with that, the Champagne was popped, the eggs were hidden in the wilds of the outside world, the Cygnet was off and the chook was cooked. And now that we had remembered what she had forgotten, we could get on with forgetting it and simply serving up Wednesday lunch. Oh Lord, let the Swans please serve up Saturday supper.

About Mathilde de Hauteclocque

Swans member since 2000, Mathilde likes to wile away her winters in the O'Reilly stand with 'the boys', flicking through the Record and waiting to see the half backs drive an explosive forward movement. She lives in Sydney and raises a thirteen year old Cygnet.


  1. Simply exquisite Mathilde.
    Your pieces are like Russian babushka nesting dolls, they are more wonderful as they unfold.
    The older I get the more I am sure that the ability to keep asking stupid questions is the key to wisdom.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Mathilde very philosophical , brilliant read , Thank you !

  3. I love how your pieces are about footy, but are somehow above footy, are immune to footy.
    They are a highlight. Thanks very much.

  4. ned_wilson says

    Beautifully written.

  5. daniel flesch says

    Merveilleux , Mathilde . Merci beaucoup.

  6. matt watson says

    I’m nowhere near 95 and I’ve doing all I can to forget those premierships in 1996 and 99, in the hope I am remembering the next one this year – or next…

  7. I hope the Blues can forget about the first 4 games and get back to remembering how to win.

    I am really enjoying your pieces and look forward to the next.

  8. E.regnans says

    Hi Mathilde, I’ll echo these points above (especially Mickey there).
    Really wonderful reading. Like paddling in the surf and being washed and pulled unexpectedly in new directions with each new break.

  9. Another absolute pearler.

    When the recruiters come knocking, please tell them you’ve always wanted to be a one club player.


    PS love the daylight spendings

  10. Thanks for reminding me about Easter. There I was thinking it was about trying not to consume too many cheap & sickly chocolate eggs when in fact it is about family. Oh yes, and remembering forgetting.

  11. Keiran Croker says

    Lovely Mathilde! I’m currently experiencing a father descending into dementia. It is a wonder what we remember and what we forget.

  12. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Thanks for kind words. And a platform, JTH + readers, on which writing and life and footy can sit together in subtleness and be appreciated.

  13. Thanks Mathilde, wonderful.

    As a very ex-Mic, I love the idea of forgetting what Easter is for.

    Your reflections reminded me of the Elvis song, ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’. Good luck to your Swannies.


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