The Dark Months


by Jamie Simmons

Is it March 24th yet? Anyone? No! How about now? Forgive me Almanackers if the largely incoherent ramblings that follow appear to mark my early descent into madness. I am normally a proud man (well, as proud as a man who walks to the shop in Star Wars themed slippers can claim to be anyway) but I am forced to admit that I am at a low ebb. I’ve hit a lull, an interactive doldrum, a difficult to navigate patch of tedium and I’m hurting, bad. This is the first summer in recent memory that I have had to endure without Foxtel. At Geelong’s triumphant raising of the cup last year I undertook this bold experiment in entertainment deprivation and it’s fair to say, I haven’t coped.

The Dark Ages were so named for a lack of intellectual stimulus that abounded at the time. Centuries passed without civilization taking any significant steps forward. Not so much as an Iphone or Internet in sight. From this you’ll note I am something of the keen, amateur historian. For one thing, I totally love old people and revel in the sort of activities they enjoy. I go to libraries, Col Joye concerts and I have the entire Murder She Wrote boxset on DVD. I know about old stuff and, in conjunction with my recent experiences, I feel it more than qualifies me to comment on what it must have been like in those dank, primitive times. A time, no doubt, of top loading VCRs and Sony Walkmen.

Plutarch once said “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled”. And as profound in nature as this statement might be, not least of all because I had no idea that Mickey Mouse’s dog could even speak, but I’ve tried, lord knows I’ve tried. The reasons for such a foolhardy undertaking do not warrant more in depth discussion. Dwelling further upon my rapidly declining position of authority within the household, will offer no real value here. What I am willing to share with you though, are my varied attempts at illuminating these dark months with other intermittent activities.

Where in summers past I would be content to cover up the mirrors, retire to a consistently horizontal position and drift blissfully into the port of an imaginary little seaside village I like to call Catatonia, this summer I had the plug pulled (literally) on such a journey. Forced, I was, to dig deep and explore new ways to expand my mind and entertain ones’ self all at once. First up, I decided to seize upon the opportunity to focus firmly on interacting socially with my wife. It truly is amazing how much you can learn about someone when you just take the time to really listen to them. Eleven years together and it turns out, she doesn’t even speak English! All that time, I just thought she was shy.

A friend assured me that a new sport would help fill the void and after some prompting I reluctantly agreed and followed him to his local watering hole to share his love for UFC.This was a bold move for a self-confessed pacifist, given my unnatural fear of clenched fists. Just the sight of Rock in a game of Paper, Rock, Scissors sends me into fits of high pitched hysteria. I used to boast that I won my last fight by 50 metres but even that’s not strictly true. Truth is, even in heels she was able to run me down quite easily. So, a strange choice for a proudly non-violent man but I decided to put this one down to experience. I even had a system. I would barrack for the toughest nickname and it would serve me well. Not that anybody really expected a boil over when Brian “Hit him with a sack full of doorknobs” Malone faced off with Simon “Stop or I’m telling” O’Shea. Three brutal encounters later and I found myself forced to reveal to my colleague, that I quite simply did not belong here among he and all his fellow inhabitants of The Land that Personal Hygiene Forgot. He accepted and graciously waved me off before returning to designing his next tattoo on a serviette.

Cricket has been a summer safety net for me in the past. Test cricket at least. Forgive my puritan ways but I am yet to be swept up by the hype of 20/20 cricket. For me it’s cricket set to the closing credits of The Benny Hill Show. Everything and everyone moving at breakneck speed. Still not fast enough for you? No problem! Next year the fielding side will be on horseback and the bowler is fired from a canon!

Tennis anyone? Such a pity really that even the epic Djokovic vs. Nadal encounter could not successfully bring me back to the fold. Sorry but not after 2 non-stop weeks of Channel 7’s shameless cross promotion:

“Chance for a service break Jim.”

“That’s right Tony, but let’s hope there’s no break in service 7:30 on Tuesday nights, when 6 overweight couples have to present entree and main before finding out which strumpet their deadbeat son is going to marry on 7’s exciting new show ‘You People will watch Anything’.

Game’s over Jim, who won?”

“Who cares Tony, let’s go buy Porsches.”

And the less said about the Women’s Final (you remember, “Duelling Orgasms”?), the better.

Truth is, I need AFL football. It’s my haemoglobin. It enables me to function on a semi-coherent level. The NAB cup has reached its conclusion as I write this and I’m thankful for every tiny morsel of AFL news I receive (which are few and far between in Qld I’m afraid). I even streamed the November Draft online. Taking notes, all the while feigning excitement at 4th Round draft picks, that nobody’s heard of, like it were a major coup:

“Humphrey Marmaduke, with pick number 3,012! How on earth did HE slip through the cracks? Don’t be fooled by the cracked bi-foculs and pronounced limp, this kid could be ANYTHING!”

I even took time off work to watch my beloved Lions train over summer but it’s not quite the same. When it’s a collective symphony of 20,000 disgruntled fans bellowing their disapproval, it can sometimes lift a team. I’ve noted a more sensitive side to the players though, when it’s just me screaming abuse from the sidelines.

I’m hitting “send” on this to the Almanac with only 4 days to the start of the season but I’m not sure I’m going to make it. I’m fading fast. If there are no further transmissions from me, it is safe to assume I have perished. If so:

To my wife I bequeath my Sony Walkman and all my Gordon Lightfoot cassettes. Everything in fact, except the Murder She Wrote boxset. She wouldn’t know how to switch the language setting from English anyway. Go Lions.

About Jamie Simmons

Born in Melbourne, a third generation Fitzroy supporter, in 1972 before emigrating to Tasmania during The Great Broccoli Famine of 86. Leaving my island lodgings, largely at the request of locals, to settle once more on the mainland in 1997. These days living out a peaceful existance on the outskirts of Brisbane, where I spend most of my time serving as a fashion warning to others.


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    Jamie – I have been waiting for a commentary on your article to commence, but it hasn’t happened. Let me begin it by saying this is one of the funniest things I have read for a long time. Well done.

  2. Champagne comedy

  3. “7?s exciting new show ‘You People will watch Anything’.”

    Classic. Funny. Made me laugh. And then I thought about it a bit, and you know what. It’s not a bad concept for a TV show. Sad isn’t it?

  4. John Butler says

    Easy on that enter button Pete. :)

  5. John Butler says

    Jamie. Hilarious. In a good way.

    Good luck with the wife’s English lessons. Or the aftermath of her reading this piece.

    Whichever comes first.

  6. Igor, you are so full of gold I cannot believe you aren’t in the 100 kilo club.

  7. Oh yes and by the way I have a mate interested in the Gordon Lightfoot tapes if you ever tire of them.

  8. “Made me laugh more than anything I’d seen since the Melbourne midfield” – M Neeld
    “Notice you haven’t posted for a few days. Sorry you didn’t make it to Saturday. Your reward will be in heaven. I’ll leave my DVD of the game for you at reception.” – J Stynes
    “We’re learning with all this as we go along” – C Schwab
    “Is there an opening in the coaching box?” – C Connolly

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