Happy Swishmas (The Fairytale of New Work)

2017 opened with a quick trip to the ancestral home in the New Year which left me and my bank balance with a lasting reminder of that you don’t have to have an account with any of the corporate leeches to end up on the rough end of the proverbial. There is no bigger gamble to be taken than to decline car rental insurance, I’ll tell you that much.


Last year’s traditional annual inaugural seasonal greetings ended on a note of optimism as I was about to embark on a new employment challenge.


In early bad news, the bloke who kindly took a punt on me moved rapidly onto greener pastures. I festered on the bench for a couple of months before finding a spot on yet another (I’m seeing a pattern here) project from hell.


Just after I started I was struck down with a dose of the flu which prevented me from seeing the Crows AFLW team knock over Collingwood in the flesh, but we did venture out west to see them pants the Dogs in Round 2.

Where had this been all of our lives?


A few months of the daily project grind had me confirming that I was no longer capable of giving my best (or sometimes even my worst) given the way that projects seem to operate these days. Furthermore, seeing two long time work colleagues afflicted by life changing ailments had me reassessing how much of my time (and others’) I should to be wasting at 1 Spring Street. I felt pretty much cooked, so I bailed on the project  did the honourable thing and decided to see what early retirement would be like.


Fortunately, the Crows blokes were going OK to that point. The day after I finished up, Mrs Swish, the Pie-Girl and I made our annual visit to the greatest sporting stadium in the Southern Hemisphere (as recounted here) to see our season righted with a flat track thrashing resounding win over last year’s premiers.


This more than made up for the third leg of the Geelong Trilogy that ended in predictable disappointment a few weeks earlier. The Pie-Girl was doing Year 12 in 2017, so it wasn’t like we could swan over to Klosters, so visiting the home ground of Wayne Closter and then the home state of Kym Koster was always going to be the extent of our travels. That and the no income bit of course.


Looking for a simple prop to occupy my time, I did a bit of research into the fate of the 1899 Magarey Medal for the SANFL history society. I think the words “fiancée”, “melt” and “brooch” might best describe its ultimate outcome.


I upped my Almanac admin action in the latter stages of the footy season, not that this would have been discernible to anyone unless you happened to post a comment on a Wednesday afternoon and were struck by the swiftness with which it was moderated. A good word, “moderate”.


I didn’t really take to my trial retirement, but I was all but resigned to not going back to the kind of working world that my kind of specialisation had become.


I was briefly famous-ish during Grand Final week, taking to the stage at the Almanac Lunch and hogging the mic during the Coodabeens GF edition.

132 SAAFL goals between us


I thought that I’d get some September enjoyment from my footy team. Those bastard Crows have a lot to answer for. I’ve made some feeble attempts at magnamaniousity being a good sport to my legion of Richmond acquaintances, but my heart isn’t really in it. I’d use the Tigers’ Almanac if the pages were perforated, otherwise, no thanks. (*Actually, it’s really very very good, but don’t let any Crows know that I admitted it).


But by leaving the Grand Final early, I was able to scoop up a coupla thousand Knight posters real cheap, which I’ve cunningly recycled. I’m gonna make a killing next year.


No one will know the difference



On the live music front, you can tell from this list


  • Hoodoo Gurus Zoo Twilights


  • Billy Bragg / Joe Henry


  • The Aints


that I’m no Andrew Fithall or Luke Reynolds.


The year hasn’t all been doom and gloom. The middle Swishter graduated from RMIT last week, in a ceremony that made the Sydney Olympics opener look like most AFL Grand Finals. In a masterful stroke of logistical systems re-engineering, RMIT has realised that the simple act of not reading out each graduate’s name allows them to dish out 8000 gongs over 20 stages simultaneously at the same time in parallel. It was the best performance that I’ve seen at the Docklands since the Crows consigned James Hird’s coaching stats to the place where spreadsheets go to die (and I don’t mean Dean Wallis’ laptop).

You can even have a beer while your offspring gets their gong.


And since you asked, the Pie-Girl got through VCE OK and will have a vast array of tertiary institutions clamouring to help her accumulate whatever a HECS debt is called these days.


Speaking of which, I’ve ended up back at the institution that gave me the flick almost two years ago. I’ve found a reliable, even tempered boss who shares my outlook on the world, is highly sceptical of authority, consumerism, organised religion, the cult of real estate and Tex Walker’s captaincy. That’s right, I’m back working, for myself, for less than the regulation five days a week, but enough to assuage any guilt that may pang* when I slip in that $12 eBay bid for a Footy Budget from the days when Saturdays ruled my life. Bonus points for me being able to do this at a client that values my contributions without frazzling my outlook on life. (*not a reference to John Lennon’s mistress)


As Lene Lovich warbled on her Stateless album, home is where the heart is, even though I haven’t attended to any of the household deficiencies that I noted last year. As JTH proposed last year, maybe this missive could be the receptacle for our collective “Unachievements” for 2017. And if anyone can recommend a good handyman, I’m both serious and all ears.


And the tree has been up for a week and a bit. It still proudly points upwards, as a tribute to that cheeky lady from the Naked Vicar Show (if only her last name was Green). The ham’s been bought, I’ve left myself a reminder to air dry the crackle (and to also prepare the pork), the turkey breast thingo better not let me down and I’ve even gone all out with the expensive Connoisseur ice cream – you only live once, although we did umm and ahh about the crackers.


So, to repeat last year’s signoff, hug those that are close to you, and regardless of your spiritual preferences, think about what’s important to you and cherish it. Our family’s best wishes to you all. Even Richmond supporters.


And remember, when in doubt, back yourself.


About Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt

Saw my first SANFL game in 1967 - Dogs v Peckers. Have only ever seen the Dogs win 1 final in the flesh (1972 1st Semi) Mediocre forward pocket for the AUFC Blacks (1982-89) Life member - Ormond Netball Club -That's me on the right


  1. Hey Swish, good writing and no need to send your friends a Christmas Card, just send them the link to this page

  2. Just write a W on ’em, Swish. They’re still valid. Merry Xmas to you and yours.

  3. Superb Swish. Happy Christmas to you and yours too. Or as Dave Allen used to say, “May your God go with you”.

    I’ll be happy to see the back of 2017. Its been a year of disruption and interruption on many fronts. There have been many bright spots too – like a visit to the red centre to wonder at Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Extraordinary places. But, as usual, I look forward to the next year with optimism and hope. I especially like the young lad Tim Kelly who the Cats have picked up!

  4. Swish, you are an ornament to the game.

    Very entertaining, and in the tone I love.

    Thanks for all in 2017 – especially your writing which adds much to the Almanac world. But I am also grateful for your unfailingly conscientious help with backroom Almanac stuff.


  5. PS. The Almanac is taking credit for Pie Girl’s magnificent VCE result. She literally has all options open to her. It was that week of work experience here at the Almanac. Congrats from all of us.

  6. Love it, Swish.
    Wonderful performance across a range of disciplines, I reckon.
    Creativity, humour, IT, editing, research…
    Like the post-modern modern pentathlon. Only more esoteric. Less easily understood (except by those close to it).

    What a great boss you’ve found.
    Congrats to Pie Girl and Best wishes to the Swishters.

  7. From one myopic, misanthropic, malingering, middle-aged (anything less than aged pension eligibility) Croweater expat to another – brilliant. Happy Festivus to you and yours.
    Have you rung Premier in Waiting Xenophon to suggest “The Festivus State” for all number plates?
    A music list where I have heard – let alone enjoyed – all the nominees. My list – Paul McCartney; Paul Kelly (twice); and Dirty Dancing in Spanish (colour and movement).
    Go the handyman option. The backyard is a picture. Retic, lighting, decking and pergola all personally upgraded (sport on the radio is always better – imagination trumps reality on many middle aged fronts – greetings from AE). But the orthopaedic surgeon is holidaying at Klosters on the proceeds. Still he says my ACL Is in much better shape than NicNait’s.
    Much to look forward to in Perth in 2018. Selling the “investment” property and finally leaving employment for the PGA Senior tour. Finishing ahead of the Dockers. New stadium with comfy seats; adjacent toilets and the most expensive drinks in the known universe. Never mind the midfield; feel the LED lighting.
    Regards to you and all the Swisholettes.

  8. Best teeth outside of Elizabeth West Primary. A band that provides their own smoke machine. And the glorious Kirsty McColl. What a loss.

  9. Indeed, what a loss.
    And what a song.
    Thirty years after its release, as in most years, “Fairytale of New York” is again in the Billboard UK Top 10 charts this December.

  10. Excellent Swish entertaining and thanks for your help as always

  11. Mark Duffett says

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Swish. Following the career of both you and Pie Girl presently feels more enjoyable and filled with vistas of sunlit uplands than following the Crows at the conclusion of 2017 (but good call, Dave).

  12. Merry Christmas, Swishter. Most enjoyable.
    All the best for 2018. Onwards and upwards.

    Fairytale of New York. THE greatest Christmas song.

  13. Merry Christmas Swish and family and other Almanackers! Nice read and recap of your year. Have you had a squizz at the 2018 SANFL fixture? Looks good, for mine. Hope to cross paths next year, either in Adelaide or Melbourne.

    PB- I heard rumours a while back, and saw a Guardian article too which suggests that Shane McGowan had his teeth fixed. Indeed, one headline claimed the work represented the “Everest of Dentistry.”

  14. Swish, you might have tell the insurance story. There’s a few desperate punters wanting to see if it was a reasonable bet.

  15. Luke Reynolds says

    Enjoyed this Swish, as I have enjoyed all your pieces this year.
    Was hoping the Crows would get up for you, Dave B, Mickey and Rulebook but sadly not the case. Maybe they played their GF in the second half of that Round 19 clash against very good opponents at the ‘G?
    Congratulations to the middle Swishter and Pie Girl on their fine efforts. Hopefully Swishter the eldest is also doing well and doesn’t notice her omission from this piece.
    In the style I’ve heard you use many times this year, Cherry Mristmas to the Schwerdt’s!

  16. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Terrific piece Swish. Congrats to Pie Girl on completing VCE. Coming up for my Pie in 2018. How do you cope? Thanks for the editing and support with the Numbers’ Series. Will continue on in the new year.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to you, your family and Almanackers far and wide.
    A little mirth and mischief from the Dropkick Murphy’s:

  17. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks for your kind reciprocity Knackers.

    Before I proceed, it was very remiss of me to omit our eldest’s win in the GESAC Wednesday night Summer netball season (Section 2); another highlight that I would have really enjoyed had I taken the time to travel the 3ks down McKinnon Rd to have a look.

    6% – that’s the general idea

    Dave – Centrals v Norwood in 2018? How many days to AFLW Round 1?

    Dips – Geez Dave Allen was good, wasn’t he. Is Kelly training the house down? How was his time trial?

    JTH – I’m more the tarnished bauble at the back of the tree rather than the angel at the apex, but I’ll take ornament every day. Thanks for your continued encouragement and spiritual leadership.

    E.r – I’ll have to start taking more instant coffee, Alex Watson style.

    PB – That would make me Disco-Swish. May Bobby Gibson be with you.

    Rulebook – No, thank you. I hope to get to the Norwood Blow-Ins before the next Olympics.

    Mark D – Wanna buy a poster?

    Smokie – Agreed. Are you going to see the Sunnyboys at the Zoo next year (with the Painters and Dockers)?

    Mickey – I went to school with some kids whose parents had teeth like Shane McGowan, with their dentures in.

    Luke – Omission corrected at the beginning of these comments. You might be correct about Round 19 too, it was probably the high point.

    Phil – Keep those numbers coming cobber. That’s a cracker.

    The insurance story might have to wait until tomorrow – my lift to the RSL has arrived.

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