by Damian O’Donnell

I hate winter. It’s cold and dark and depressing. Everyone goes a little bit pale and adults get a little bit fatter. To make things worse, the fat bits that accumulate around your midriff in winter look whiter than your summer skin so there is no doubt that its winter fat. Winter fat is bad fat, the sort of fat that they expose on the current affairs shows when discussing obesity.  Whereas summer fat is good fat; it’s happy fat; the sort of fat that the stone garden ornaments of a smiling Bhudda always carry.

When I get into my garden in winter all I get are cold fingers and a sore back and the plants refuse to react to my encouragement; they’ve gone into hibernation and refuse to budge. I’m tempted to inundate them in fertilizers and blood and bone to encourage growth so they can prove to me that they’re still alive. How can you tell if a deciduous plant is still alive? But I read the instructions on the bottle and it always says “don’t fertilize in winter”.

A lot of bad things happen in winter. Pets tend to die in winter, cars break down, roof leaks become apparent, and the long, horrible, tedious kids’ basketball season gets into full swing, meaning I’ve got to tolerate being frozen to death in airy, hollow, lifeless stadiums every weekend for 3 months. 

I’ve got to hold my tongue whilst kids (usually the size of lamp posts) with sloping pimply shoulders and shapeless arms and legs, dressed slovenly in their super sized basketball trunks and oversized, lace less shoes slouch about the edge of the basketball court bouncing and bouncing and bouncing and bouncing their bloody basketball whilst they’re waiting for their game to start. Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce. God it’s annoying.

And their mums and dads, who are the size of a small mountain, unfold themselves out of monster 4 wheel drives that could easily be used in the open cut coal mines, and as they unfold themselves they let the door of their truck belt against the door of my poor little Astra and they glance at me (glance down at me) with a look on their face as empty as an old saucepan on an opp shop shelf. And when their kid scores a goal they applaud and scream like he’s done something remarkable when all he has really done is be tall, and when their kids inevitably give our kids a hiding they look across at our motley crew of balding short arses and they mock us with their eyes.

I suppose good things happen in winter also. Dead pets get replaced with fresh new ones and you promise yourself that you won’t let the kids feed them hard boiled eggs (especially if it’s a fish), the car gets a new battery that should last about ten years (but won’t), and you put off fixing the leak in the roof by reasoning that when it’s raining you can’t get on the roof because it’s dangerous, and when it’s not raining there’s no point getting on the roof because you can no longer trace the leak.

In winter the camellias flower in all their glory, the footy season moves into over drive, and it becomes apparent that Collingwood won’t win the flag. That’s probably the best bit. In Autumn the Pies are 6 and 1 and the fans are talking up Dids and Leon and Thomas and Meds, and their ruckmen are winning and Mick is being profound in issuing riddles about the patient earth and the slow ox. In Autumn Mick is Grand Master Yoda, in winter he becomes Darth Vader. 

The newspapers are full of footy news, some of it formula driven drivel, some of it nondescript match reports, and some of it magnificent, insightful and intriguing. I love the footy news because it keeps me inside and away from the winter outside. I love reading the crap bits and the good bits. I study the pictures accompanying the match reports especially those showing a close up of a player’s contorted face in the middle of a pack or screaming as he kicks the winning goal. These photos are the contest frozen at a moment in time. A good footy snap really does tell a thousand words.

I am enthralled by articles about my team’s victories, reading every word and even between every word, and I’m equally captured by articles on the defeats. I regard a defeat as the footy god’s way of testing my resolve, so I suck it up, read all about it and conclude at the end that I still love my team (with the proviso that a few blokes get dropped for next week). It’s empowering. It’s like taking a positive out of a thrashing.

But I hate winter. It’s so nothing. It’s so uninteresting. The trees are brown, the ground is brown, the only birds in the sky are the little brown ones, and basketball courts are brown. I hate basketball.

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. David Downer says

    Lovely work Dips, descriptive gold – and, may I call you Dips?

    If I was a likely recruit back in the day, my AFL Draft guide summary would read “…from a basketball background”. But in Winter, I too actually hated it. Maybe your kids dont like it either?? I wished I was at the footy, or playing footy – but alas I was also restricted by “sloping pimply shoulders and shapeless arms and legs” – therefore basketball was the much safer bet. I figured it was better to be o.k at something you don’t like than utterly crap at something you do!

    Back in those “halcyon days” of the late 80’s, just before B’ball became an “outrageously” popular junior sport, the 4WD was also just becoming the di-rigueur vehicle of choice to park at the stadium – most of which used to house 3 or 4 courts …and I assume now play host to a soul-destroying 15 or 20.

    And it was never referred to as “Hoops” back then either. I hate “Hoops”.

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    You make me laugh Dips.

    I like my seasons/ Summer sport in summer. Winter sport in winter

    When I played basketball it was a summer game. Alas, sporting lines are blurred these days.

    I love the observation about the overly excited parents of the tall kids -classic.

  3. DD – of course you can call me Dips. If its good enough for the Pope its good enough for you.

    I probably don’t really hate basketball, I probably just hate “tall”. Anything over about 5’10” is a waste I reckon.


  4. Dips,

    you missed one winter certainty.

    Brad Ottens always gets an injury in winter.


  5. Phantom – yeah what is it with Otto? He trips over a tram ticket and misses 8 weeks??

  6. Phantom says


    There may be a pattern.

    My young bloke missed some early games this season with a lacerated foot. To bad to go to work, too bad to play, but not too bad to go around the State surfing, which was how he got it in the first place.

    Ottens doesn’t surf by any chance?

    Inspector Phantom.

  7. Jonathan says

    Those overly tall halfwitted basketball parents are probably the same 4wd driving morons that (probably) sideswiped my car on my narrow (to a 4wd driving moron) Mount Lawley St. I say probably because the aforementioned morons didn’t leave any details, despite wrecking my wing mirror and taking a large gouge of my car.

    As mentioned, I’ve got no idea who it was but your description of their empty yet condescending gaze is soooo perfect that I’m thinking it must be them. I’m off to the local courts with my magnifying glass and a cricket bat. I bet the car has an Eagles sticker on it too.

  8. Ripsnorter says


    Enjoyed this article alot but winter is like losing, if it never occured you would never appreciate summer or winning as much. Also by enduring watching basketball you can appreciate watching the football even more.

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