Unpredicting the future

Here is a disruptive thought to start your day. We have all been taught that mankind’s invention of the wheel propelled him to the top of the food chain and into space. It was the great leap forward. But this is not true. There is evidence to suggest that mankind invented wine before the wheel. Think about that for a minute. The wheel was an after-thought. Gronk and Gronkette needed to come up with a way to transport  their wine from A to B (I guess their children just walked). The wheel wasn’t the brainwave, it was the secondary brainwave, like the Coolgardie cooler was invented to keep beer cold. The beer came first. Therefore, it wasn’t the wheel that propelled mankind into space and to the top of the food chain, it was wine. That, to me, is the mother of all disruptive thoughts.


We live in an age of disruption. To demonstrate this, we need look no further than 2016 when the Dogs won the premiership. Or 2017 when the Tigers did (yes, that actually happened. Richmond won the flag). What’s next; St Kilda forcryingoutloud? Then a bloke with more coverage than the Sistine Chapel ceiling won the Brownlow. What’s going on? I thought Dipper winning the Brownlow was against the tide. I thought when Dane Swan won Charlie that was the moment of maximum subterfuge. But now we have a bloke who’s named after an unpaved road holding the medal. Those looking for a modern narrative are scrambling. There is no narrative, there is only perpetual disturbance.


Did I see Mitch Marsh make a century against the Poms? Really? And a big century it was too. Huge. 1.8 hundreds, to be exact. And did I see that very same Mitch bat with application to help Steve Smith save the last Test? Gone was the Watto-esque plop down the wicket with a front leg the size of Moby Dick. It was replaced with thoughtful and skilful batting. This is just absurd. What is the context here? Who selected Mitch in the first place? Someone with a sense of humour no doubt.


When did this turbulence all commence? What door into a new reality was left ajar?


In 2015 a 100 to 1 shot won the Melbourne Cup. Unbelievable. And it won with a female jockey! Who would have thought? That’s the moment when the dam wall cracked. The trojan horse burst through the gates of normalcy and the army of the great disorder was unleashed when Michelle Payne told everyone to go and get stuffed. The cloistered committee rooms of the VRC were torn open. The men in carefully crafted suits went pale and forced a smile. Straight lines vanished. You can see it in the buildings that we construct, with their Dr Seuss windows and quirky porticos. The Cat in the Hat would be right at home. Salvador Dali would be described as “meh”.


The only local team to survive this almighty upheaval was the Melbourne Storm. Their greatness is unmatched. They were the favourites and they were victorious. Not only did they defeat their worthy opponents and the rugby Gods of Sydney (who think the world is flat south of the Murray River), but they also defeated the forces of the universe; a force far greater than Luke Skywalker. The forces of the universe still reverberate long after the big bang. That’s way before Elvis Presley. The Storm is remarkable because they did what everyone expected. I’ll say that again; the Storm is remarkable because they did what was expected.


To quote some words from Pink Floyd’s brilliant track “The Worm” – this will not do.


But at what point does disruption, distortion, and disturbance become the new normal? How many flags must Richmond win before we get bored? Would we still gape in wonder if the Bulldogs have another serious tilt at the premiership? How would we feel if Mitch Marsh got his batting average up to 50 and his bowling average to 22? Would we say, “I always knew he had the talent”, or would we yell at the moon and seek a celestial answer? What would happen to real estate values in Melbourne’s leafy east if the Hawks missed the 8 for five years in a row? Will we ever be longing for Carlton to finally win a premiership to knock the powerhouse clubs like St Kilda, the Kangaroos and Gold Coast off the top of the ladder? Today’s radical idea is tomorrow’s conservative one.


But disruption is its own worst enemy. It is insatiable. Like malaria, it kills the host on which it survives. It is forever looking for a new, more outrageous version of itself lest it simply run out of puff. Consider the dog that chases its own tail. The circles become ever more frantic as the teeth close in on it, and when it chomps down on its own fur it has accomplished nothing but the perfect circle. It ends where it started, then starts again. And is the eventual biting of the tail success or failure?


We must get used to this new essence of being; this lack of a compass. We must embrace the silliness or go mad, the choice is plain. A computer has no sense of history but still we look to it for answers. And the answers my friends, to paraphrase a brilliant Bob Dylan song, “are blown to the shisen hausen”. There are no answers, there are only farcicalities. Up is the new down. Richmond is the current champion (I had to type that twice because my keyboard self-corrected to Hawthorn). For now, anyway. But the wheel (or should I say the wine) will turn.


I’m not sure what all this means for 2018. Will the world re-boot and return us to the normal footy laughing stocks? Or will the Gold Coast Suns squeal and shriek and send us all to hell when they hold the Cup aloft in September?

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Excellent Dips very thoughtful enjoyable read

  2. Jennifer Muirden says

    Ok, Dips you’ve reeled me in ….and yes, I’ll bite!

    How very dare you satirise the suggestion of the Saints successfully scoring their second Premiership to complete the trifecta of breakthrough fairytale wins?!

    Fancy a mere maiden becoming Australia’s first Prime Minister or a fecund filly jockeying a meritorious Melbourne Cup winner? Shock result!

    It’s just two days into the New Year and it prompts me to mindfully pause and reflect on the ten months that lie ahead. This is paramount for fear of losing perspective around challenges we face and opportunities to well and truly grab by the balls. The mighty Saints will make it into the final eight and I believe can go all the way. One thing’s for sure, I think they will end up well above your beloved Cat Attack cadets. I’m not a betting gal, but I’m prepared to put on a quiet wager of sorts with you. What say you, Dipsy? What are you prepared to put on the table?

  3. Dips, you’ve caused my mind all manner of grief. I was happy in my own illusion until 10 minutes ago.

  4. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed Catter is King. Arise Sir Dips. Fair is foul and foul is fair, Sir Gerard another SEN mug lair?

  5. Jen – happy to take up the bet. The Cats will finish above the Saints at the end of the home and away games, largely because of our home games. And because we’re a better team.

    JTH – As Dr Harding said in “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest” – its an illusion, not an allusion. These confusing days, especially for old farts like me.

    PB – I bow to no monarch! Vive Le Republique!

  6. Happy New Year Dips!

    St Kilda have the chance to break premiership draught in 2018.

    I had never thought of playing footy and it’s the first year for me to play footy for the Osaka Dingoes.

    Then I am making the way back to Melbourne in July for two St Kilda matches.

    I am giving the power and efforts to the mighty Saints.

    It’s the year of the Saints.

    Go the mighty Saints!


  7. Magnificent Yoshi. Hope your season goes well and never underestimate the power of an elbow to your opponent’s jaw! Just kidding of course. Have three words in your head every time you take to the field – Get The Ball.

    I reckon the Saints will be OK this year. Can’t see them winning the flag, which probably means they will.

  8. Peter Warrington says


  9. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.


  10. Jennifer Muirden says

    Dips, done deal! Fixture aside, of course, you’re banking on the son of God Gary Ablett Jnr’s fairytale return to Geelong to run smoothly ie with him being injury free. Don’t underestimate the loss of Motlop also…I think he’s a significant loss to the Geelong side. Anyway, let’s see how the season unfurls, shall we?

    PB, you have a real flair for both rhetoric and verse! However, I concur with Dips, Vive la République!

    Glen, to me the Holy Grail ie the Saints second Premiership (first in my lifetime, given I was born two years later) won at the Mecca (MCG) would be anything but profane. It would be a sacred catharsis for all the long-suffering masochistic Saints tribe.

    Finally, Yoshi can you or James Demetrie or one of the clever web editors fix the orientation of Yoshi’s profile pic as it’s unsettling to see him so skew-whiff especially wearing the sensational St KFC strip!!

  11. Jennifer Muirden says

    Yoshalenko you beauty!

    Think that expression will definitely stick. I definitely pay that, ump!

  12. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for reminding me about my profile photo’s issue. I tried once but was unable to fix on my iPhone or Tablet. I would try later.


  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant Dips. Whether we are in new reality or old reality, wine before wheel is a good concept to live by. Look forward to several Shiraz’s with you at the NFA in 2018.

  14. Jennifer Muirden says

    Ditto Lukey Luke !

  15. John Butler says

    “There are no answers, there are only farcicalities.”

    Yep. Welcome to 2018.

    Happy New Year Dips.

  16. Disruptive indeed, Dips.

    First time I have seen “The Worm” referenced, I reckon.
    “Feeee-lings. Caught redhanded showing feelings of an almost human nature…”

  17. Smoke – the song is actually “The Trial” not “The Worm” (my error – I confused it with “Waiting for the Worms”) but the first line is a cracker,

    “Good morning, Worm Your Honour……….”

  18. ahh, Dips – isn’t it all down to those Brazilian butterflies?

    ninguém realmente sabe.
    (nobody really knows)

    happy 2018. A glass of red?

  19. The trial. Of course, it is.
    Followed by Outside the Wall…?

  20. Dips, great read to kick orf 2018. No-one can really say when the disruption of all disruptions first became evident. Some say it was when a blue and white hooped footy player missed a goal 1 metre from the big sticks just as half time was bearing down in the great GF of 08. But who can tell.


  21. RK – you might be onto something! And that happened way before Michelle Payne’s victory. But even bigger than that miss by Mooney was Ablett not winning the Normie that year. Hodgy, as great a Brisbane Lion that he is, was lucky.

    ER – always happy to have a red wine. Enlighten me on the Brazilian butterflies?

  22. Probably best over that red, Dips.

    But I meant Chaos theory – a very small change in initial conditions creating a much larger effect down the line. First floated in weather prediction-the classic example that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could result in a cyclone in the Coral Sea.

    Brazil is well stocked with butterflies.
    You never know what effect their flapping wings will have next.
    Joe Root’s wicket today?

  23. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Super piece of writing Dips. Coming off the front foot (or the back?) in 2018. These ‘disruptions’ have kept me engaged somewhat. Beats Hawthorn and Carlton swapping flags for two decades. Freo anyone?

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