No one knows nothing anymore (getting along)


“So that’s football. Sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the tree. That’s part of the business.”
– Germany’s Mario Gotze on criticism of his performances at Euro 2016, two years after his goal won the 2014 World Cup final


Leicester, Brexit, Trump, Iceland, Turnbull.
While sport/life is chaos for many, some seem to create the illusion of order.

But there is no order. There is only getting along.

No one knows nothing anymore.


“Is that an old Fitzroy scarf?”

I’m at the GP’s reception desk. Chatting with the receptionist.

“Well, it’s a new Fitzroy scarf; they play down at Brunswick Street in the amateurs.”

And she wheels around.

“Ohh, that’s a beauty. Fitzroy. I need to get down there. My mum used to walk down to Fitzroy Oval to watch her brother play. She used to say: ‘I wasn’t allowed to go til I’d finished my chores.’ ”



“Do you think I need to cut a bit deeper?”
“Mmmm. Yes, Yes, I think so. A bit deeper.”

I’m lying flat on my stomach in the back room of a community GP surgery. It’s used as a storeroom, staff room, office, and today, as an operating theatre.

“Would you use forceps for this part? Maybe a scalpel?”
“Mmmm. Well the risk, of course, is that we puncture the sac.”

I’ve come about the removal of a growing cyst on my back. It’s been uncomfortable. And growing. Doctors at another GP wrote referrals (that consultation alone will be $78 thanks) to surgeons. But here, this morning, I have two GPs hovering over me, nurses and receptionists coming and going. A flimsy pretext of a privacy curtain held aloft; out of the way.



“This morning, guys, we have a Dad here to help us. He’s going to show us some of his writing ideas.”

That’s the classroom teacher talking. It’s a celebration of Literacy Week at our local primary school. Sessions run throughout the week on writing, stories, reading. Leigh Hobbs has been. There’s a dress-up “come as your favourite book character” scheduled for the Thursday.


“G’day everyone. Who likes reading?”

I’m lucky enough to be running a session with the Grade 456 group.


“What makes a story interesting?”

Later this afternoon I’ll do something similar with Grade 123.


“Let’s talk about memories. Put your hand up if you’ve ever been on holiday.”

There are hands up and people calling out. Ideas are flying around the tiered seating area.


“What other memories do you have?”
“The day my cat died!”
“The time I got lost!”
“When I saw a snake!”
“When I had to swim 1.5km non-stop!”



How are the young ones at Essendon going? Or at St Kilda? Or anywhere? Life lived under a microscope. Instagram accounts of teens are treacherous enough. Public opinion, public workplaces. Who is teaching them? How are they learning? How is Nathan Buckley going? Neil Balme? Who is teaching them? So much to learn.



One GP here is a young woman of Middle Eastern bearing; an arresting combination of friendliness and caution. The other is a well-experienced Anglo-Australian man, in the role of teacher. And with local anaesthetic applied, I am both audience and (willing) participant to this lesson. Front row seat.

“Perhaps I’ll start from the other side?”
“Yes, that’s a good idea. Try from this side.”

“Do you think I need to go deeper?
“Yes, yes, There’s a lot of fibrous scarring in there.”

Another woman hurriedly enters this place of communal activity, this storeroom/ surgery/ office, talking to someone else over her shoulder: “No, no. We keep all the bandages in THIS cupboard now.”

A desktop computer sits idly on a small timber desk, battered office chair has spun around to facilitate the exit of a recently departing backside.


“Do you think I should use forceps?’
“Ahh, you could.”
“But wouldn’t that lead to bruising? Oh look…”
“Yes, that area is already bruising now.”

She carries on, cautiously, delicately. I wonder for how long the anaesthetic will last. And about the observation of sterile work area practices.

“I think perhaps a scalpel.”
“Yes, yes that would certainly cut the tissue. The risk of course, is of puncturing the sac.”

Someone else bustles in; unseen.



Sporting upsets happen all the time. Election upsets happen all the time. What is the role of commentator? What unifies a group of people?



The classroom is open plan. It’s really three old-style classrooms opened up to allow team teaching and student-centred activity. Students roam around. Folders under arms. There are hardly any desks.

“Great. These are great. Let’s write down a few memories we have. Just a couple of words for each. And then we’ll think about why those things are memorable.”


They’re all writing. On their laps. Nearly all. A couple of boys over here are having a chat.
“Hey gents, how are you?”


They keep chatting away. I squat down alongside.
“Hey fellas. Do you like the beach?”

“When were you last there?”
“On the weekend.”

“Excellent. Which beach did you visit”

And they’re off.



The carpet in this back room is a dark, worn, grey.
This young GP is back facing the task. Problem-solving on the fly.

“Now, it looks as though I have to go even deeper. This is surprising.”
“Yes, that’s right. You will have to go deeper.”

“Ooops. I seem to have cut a blood vessel.”
“Yes, it looks that way.  GLENYS!”



Footsteps, unhurried; Glenys arrives, retrieves gauze from a nearby cupboard and hands it to the operating GPs.

“Thank you, Glenys. We might need a bit more than this.”
“Oooh, yes. You will.”



Chris Judd wrote a story recently loosely absolving head coaches of footy clubs of taking full responsibility for team performance. His point was that it takes many people to run a team.

In regrettably tabloid terms, he suggested a “no dickheads” policy was required on all football club appointments.


Nevertheless, the idea of energy-givers and energy-suckers is a useful one. Enablers and inhibitors. People who bring others in, are inclusive, vibrant, optimistic, supportive and interested in alternative points of view, are more likely to achieve things than those with opposing characteristics.

But there’s a too-clever hindsight at play here, too. We see A Clarkson, L Beveridge, B Bolton as somehow possessing the horse whisperer gene.

Chaos reigns, there is no control; there is only getting along.
No one knows nothing anymore.



Signs on the election day community centre lawn say: “Political correctness is wrong” and “Save our democracy from Islam.”



Student work is attached to walls all around the room.
Everyone in the group has listed at least one memory.

“Alright, everyone. We have about 20 minutes together now. In that time, I’d like you to have a go at writing a very short story that describes one of your chosen memories. Give it a beginning, a middle and an end. At the end of the session, I’ll take them with me and pop them on the Junior Almanac for you to see tomorrow.”
Eyes are open; shining. There are nods. I’ve already shown the Junior Almanac site on the projected screen. They’ve read about Kaisha Thompson’s trip to the MCG. And Charlie Dillow’s trip to Jump and Climb. We’ve discussed writing from the perspective of (i) a participant; (ii) an interested observer; (iii) a reporter.

And away they go.

A few need no further instruction. A few need a nudge along. And that’s fine. That’s as it should be.

At the end of the session, I collect the stories.



“Oooh, we’re getting close now. I can see that its ready.”
“Tell me when you want me to push.”

I’m performing comedy 35 minutes into a piece of minor surgery.


And it’s out.

“It’s out.”
“Well done.”

But the learning and teaching exercise continues.

“With the stitching, because it’s so deep, do you think I should use the mattress stich?”
“Hmmm. You could.”
“Yes. I’ll start deep, then shallow, then deep.”
“And which thickness do you think we need?”
“Ohh, probably the 03.”
“The 03? Sure. That will be good.”


And now the young GP is stitching me up. Fixing the wound.

In 15 minutes from now I’ll be ordering a coffee, back in society.



The message says: “it is what it is.”
But it never “is what it is.”
It is only ever what you make it; the meaning you make from it.



“What was your uncle’s name?”

“That’s Jack MacGregor. We lived in the country and we’d come down to stay in the school holidays. Jack would take me out in the car for his morning deliveries. I was sure there was something fishy going on. But each place Jack would stop the car, he would say: ‘you just sit here; I’ll be back in a minute.’ He was up to something. I could tell.

“He’ll be on the internet. Look under “S” for scoundrel.

“He played at Fitzroy. He played down here at Pearson Street, Brunswick. And at Greensborough.

“It was great to watch him play for Fitzroy. One job he was given, when they played against Carlton, was to upset John Nicholls. You know; running into him, whacking him. It was a tricky job.”



Both GPs leave the room; it’s now 9:45am and they are already half an hour behind on their appointment listings for the day.

Glenys is filling out some forms at the PC.

“You’re very lucky, you know. Most GPs would refer that procedure to a specialist. But this is a training practice. You’re very lucky.”

I’m at the receptionist’s desk.

“That will be $25”



Rich and powerful people run rich and powerful clubs that fail, year after year, to win premierships.

It will ever be thus.



That night I type the stories and pop them online.
Something for the students to see. Their stories.



No one knows nothing any more.


FAlmanac banner sq

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. Cyst?
    Hope it all went well, mate

  2. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Much to ponder here, as always ER.
    The kids wrote their stories and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, their generation will learn to collaborate and coexist a little better than their predecessors. Teach ’em well. Cheers.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Giving kids the gift of writing, well done.

  4. E.regnans says

    G’day all,

    It seems there were no dramas Smokie. Thanks. But the scenario was certainly one to get me thinking.

    Yep Phil, everyone had a crack, which was the highlight for me.
    Encouraging. Sharing themselves; being a part of something bigger.

    Thanks Swish. The Junior Almanac idea of JTH’s is a beauty. Enormous value in it for writers and readers, alike.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    You deserve a pat on the back for this piece, but I’m sure you’re avoiding them for a bit!
    Love the operating table humour.
    Great work with the kids, like all teams the Almanac needs youngsters coming up through the ranks.

  6. Well done Dave. You’ve expertly done what many of us attempt which is to simply make sense of the weeks as they bombard us. But within this you’ve popped by the school, and offered a leg-up.


  7. E.regnans says

    G’day Luke, Mickey.
    Thanks for taking the time.

    Luke – your lead with the kids is a tough act to follow. We chip away, do what we can.
    Mickey – at times the whole bombarding arsenal can feel a bit overwhelming. But then a connection over a Fitzroy scarf or the story of a 9-year-old brings it all back.

    I was flicking through School of Life the other day and was reminded of Plato’s views on a Republic. Ideas of philosophy and of democracy. Check out here. (the democracy part from about 5:30).

  8. hey Dave let your boys know Billy Williams passed on to the afterlife this morning 7.7.716

    tim Veal

    My uncle Peter (John’s brother) married his Billy’s sister Elwyn

  9. E.regnans says

    Thanks TV. Go well.

    Back at work after time away today – news of deaths, relationship breakdowns, births, new love…

    Life. On we go.
    No one knows nothing anymore.

  10. ER you lucky bastard. I had one of those cysts on my right cheek. And I’m not talking about my face! Couldn’t sit down for three days.

    We must always remember that disruptive political forces are a reaction to the current order of things. The emergence of Trump should cause Obama to reflect. We have our own disruptive forces in Australia following the election. Those in power and seeking power need to understand why.

    Great that you are getting kids to write down their own thoughts. Hopefully we can get back to what really matters.

  11. Adelaide Dupont says

    Thank you for letting us know about the late Billy Williams and his significance.

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