Where is my smiling Shrek now?


How things change!


At the beginning of April, weeks into the coronavirus lockdown, a smiling Shrek greeted me as I strolled the streets of Albert Park, and I felt compelled to say a few words about him. https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/all-it-takes-is-a-smiling-shrek/.


Three weeks later, still inspired by events early in April, I scribbled another few words about smiling in these difficult times. https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/a-smile/


And then, a few weeks into May, more thoughts crossed my mind about positivity, and I jotted them down. https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/what-are-you-missing/


But now, on the 3rd of June, with the world in even more turmoil, I am left speechless.


Speechless to try and even comprehend what George Floyd’s family is feeling right now.


Speechless to try to even comprehend what African American people in that god-forsaken country are feeling and going through right now.


Speechless to try to even comprehend what progressive, understanding, white American people in that god-forsaken country are feeling and going through right now.


Speechless to try to even comprehend what many decent American police officers in that god-forsaken country are feeling and going through right now.


Speechless to try to even comprehend what any of us can think or do about that man called Trump.


Speechless to try to even comprehend what our own indigenous people are feeling and going through right now.


And speechless to try to even comprehend what the millions of people throughout the world suffering under brutal dictatorships and non–caring regimes and governments, are going through right now.


I feel devastated.




This morning I went for a walk. It was cold in Melbourne and the skies were grey. I was looking for solace – somehow, anywhere. Shrek came to mind, and my footsteps quickened. Maybe Shrek can bring back that smile? I thought, eagerly.


I walked down Mills Street, crossed Richardson and Neville Streets and turned into Page St. Three houses down, on the left, I stopped at Shrek’s house. His chair on the front verandah was empty. Oh no! I retraced my steps in case I’d made a mistake. No Shrek. I walked further on and looked on every verandah. The chairs were all empty.


No Shrek anywhere. No smiling, green, welcoming, beautiful, happy–making Shrek.


The devastation seemed to multiply. And I felt helpless.


I tried to remember how the fictious green character made me feel way back in early April. How he reminded me of how grateful I was to be one of the lucky ones in these coronavirus times, and how lucky I was to be able to go about my business with relatively little to worry about, compared to the many millions suffering throughout the world.


And then, the world changed. George Floyd was murdered!


His horrifying death is nothing new to black Americans. They have endured centuries of racism, and continue to do so. But to me, a privileged white woman, living in luxury in a country thousands of miles away, it brought back vivid memories. Memories of times when I lived in the UK and at times in the States – especially during the racial upheavals in the early 70s: the marches, the protests, the court appearances of those arrested, the meetings attended and the feelings of solidarity and comradeship we all shared. Memories of how we truly believed we were making a difference and memories of how changes were being made.


Alas, 50 years later, and what has changed? Absolutely bugger all!




I walked back along Page Street and turned to go home. I tried to conjure up something to divert my thoughts. Something positive.


Pop into a café, the first visit in three months. No, I simply couldn’t be bothered.


Go down to the beach and look at the sea. No, the skies were still grey and it was cold and, again, I couldn’t be bothered.


Go for a drive with Marshall. No, didn’t feel inspired.


Go for an ice cream. No, how indulgent of me to even think that!


Footy. Yes, surely footy and the Swans would get my heart racing? No, no matter how hard I tried, it just didn’t work. Football just didn’t seem important at all at the moment.


I arrived home and as I turned the key into the front door, I thought of Shrek again. I wondered whether his owners were feeling devastated about the world at the moment too, and had discarded their lovely green creature, giving up on his powers to impress and to heal.


What other answer could there possibly be?


I might walk past his house again tomorrow. And you just never know, maybe he’ll reappear and I’ll be smiling again. Somehow, I doubt it.




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016. www.myswansloveaffair.com


  1. Thank for this piece and I feel the same way at the moment Jan – it’s very emotional and I’m trying to shift the feelings towards some positive action.
    I really hope you are feeling well today and much love –

  2. hey sis Jan
    yes how harsh is the treatment of dear human beings!
    thankyou for your message of ‘keep looking for upliftment’ no matter where it comes from…’ SHRECK’. came through at the end. yeah! i looked at him and he literally pulled me up!! i smiled big time! thankyou for your story
    xxx polly

  3. Keiran Croker says

    Hi Jan, just saying hello and wishing you well. Cheer, cheer, Keiran.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Truly horrific what is happening in the US. I hope Shrek makes his way back.

  5. Thanks one and all. Footy soon. Wonder how I’ll react when the ball is bounced? Cheer cheer

  6. Julie Cattlin says

    Dear Jan,

    Another great piece, Jan! I really think you should write a book. A novel. You have so much to work from – all your experiences when you were fighting for equality in London in the late ’60s. What amazing characters you would have.
    The world is so sad. And hurt. And suffering. And this sadness and suffering extend to so many people – even before the pandemic. Yesterday, I listened to the speech Robert Kennedy gave on the night of 4 April 1968 to announce the death of Martin Luther King. He finished up quoting these words from Asechylus who was born 525 BC: “Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”

  7. Julie, many thanks. Wonderful words from 525 BC !!

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