There is no question about the pleasure. I am writing this overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it’s 6 in the morning and I am wearing a T shirt and a pair of Thai fisherman’s wrap around trouser things.
Yes, picture the scene, balding, slightly overweight middle aged white bloke in Thai fisherman’s wrap around trouser things. It’s not a good picture is it.
Now wash your brain, forget that, and just think about how warm it is.
Relax, feel the soft breeze, ahhh, lovely.
There is a gentle breeze blowing down from the North, where I normally live, you would never describe a Northerly breeze as lovely, it would cut you in half with bitter cold. But here, a Northerly is warm and soft, traveling in from the tropics.
23 years ago when I met an Australian woman in Edinburgh I had no idea what I was in for. Then, 21 years ago I first came to Australia with her and it blew my English socks off. Not an unusual experience, it’s a country which has drawn many 100’s of thousands of British people to it’s exquisite shores over the last few centuries.
Since then we have been here many times, sometimes for a few weeks but when my children were very young, often for 4 or 5 months. I wrote a lot of my books here, we would stay either in Brisbane, or on the Gold Coast or up near Noosa, which is a small town about 100 miles North of Brisbane on the pacific coast.
In 2001 we lived in Balmoral in Sydney and my kids went to school there. They both hold Australian passports and because my daughter learned to talk when she lived here, she has a very good Australian accent which she uses to great effect when the need arises.
This year I’m spending Christmas with my wife’s family, in all a fairly large collection of people, I heard yesterday that there will be 25 people at Christmas lunch, me and the Mrs are doing the cooking, I’ll love it although there may be some stress. Well, 23 years, there’s bound to be a bit.
So that’s the pleasure, what’s all the guilt about? I think it may be the wrong word, maybe deep anxiety inducing concern is the more accurate term. I know we are incredibly lucky to be able to do this, I am an optimist, I believe the human race is essentially slightly more good than bad, but I can’t help feeling this kind of indulgence will be short lived.
I don’t mean personally, obviously anything one individual does is short lived by definition. I mean the ability for a fairly average family to be able to travel from one side of the planet to the other for a brief 3 week holiday may be a short lived concept.
It’s not even to do with having the spare cash to be able to pay for it, and I’m particularly enjoying this trip because I didn’t pay for it, the Mrs did. And she organised the whole thing, the flights, the apartment rentals, the cars, the transfer gubbins, she’s done a top notch job.
No, it’s to do with the sustainability of the whole set up. The incredible infrastructure we’ve developed which makes it not only possible, but relatively simple to fly from England to Australia with nothing more than a heightened risk of DVT and a stiff back by the time you get here.
We stopped in Singapore for a couple of days on the way, breaks down the jet lag a little bit.
Our transport is so reliant on fossil fuels, I know I drone on about it, but it is fairly obvious that we should have some concern. We aren’t producing any new fossils, well not for about 30 million years anyway. We are using an unsustainable amount and all I know for certain is, the gap between demand and supply is widening by the minute.
I went down to the little grocery shop last night and two young lads were walking by, one heavily tattooed. I overhead this brief moment of conversation.
‘’This whole global warming thing is bullshit mate.”
There it is, summed up in one simple phrase. ‘I’m not going to worry about it, it’s bullshit anyway, all the scientists are lying.’
You know what, he might be right, the global warming thing might be a massive load of bullshit, I truly don’t know but on the whole I tend to side with 75,000 scientists who seem to agree something is changing, with some fairly big indicators that we may be having something to do with it.
However, as far as I’m concerned the whole ‘global warming’ thing is irrelevant. We have to change our technology anyway, even if it turns out the whole world is about to enter another ice age.
We can’t go on relying on a fuel source that is going to run out eventually, okay, not next week or next year, but certainly in the next 100 years. So there’s the OZ as boy with the tats stomping along in his thongs (flip flops, not the other things that ride up your bottom) would say ‘who gives a stuff about 100 years mate, I won’t be around to worry about it.’
Very true, neither will I, but my grandchildren might.
I don’t now about you, but I don’t often look back to my great grand parents and think, ‘those Victorians, weren’t they a forward thinking group, always taking the long view.’
I do think they were innovative and clever with their steam power and exploitative colonialism, but so much of what they did has come back to haunt us, their descendants.
Imagine a teenager in 2111 walking down the street with his mate. ‘Thank God those Obamarians made a bit of an effort mate, otherwise we’d be living in the bloody dark ages now, mind that flying hydrogen car.’