Thursday, January 18, 2007

The West Australian, Saturday, Weekend, page 2

On this day, the first column written by Jon Doust appeared in the This Life section of the Weekend insert in The West.
You can read it in full here and now:

Good morning.

This is the first time I have been in this position.

Normally at this time on a Saturday morning I’m lying flat out in my own house minding my own business, but, suddenly, I’m scattered right around this vast state.

If you don’t believe me, go next door, you’ll find I’m there too. And down the street. And at your mum’s place in Mandurah.

Scary for you, sure, but how do you think it is for me: doesn’t matter where I go, there I am.

It’s not easy, writing a column.

For a start, you have to find all these words, then put them in an order so they make sense, or approach sense, or look like they might make sense if only you had finished high school.

Which I did, but only just and not successfully, because I don’t think an average final score of 24% could be considered a pass.

To be fair, I did notch up 50% for history, my favourite subject, and 45% for English, my next favourite.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, that’s an average of 47.5, so how come he averaged 24?

Well, when you add 3, 7, and 15 to the 45 and 50, then divide by 5, you get 24.

Not bad, hey?

Who would have thought that a boy who got 7% for maths A and 15% for maths B, would finish up a man who could add all those numbers together and then divide them by the total number of numbers?

My mother did. She believed in me.

Mum always said: “You could do anything you wanted, my darling.”

And I did, but I don’t think that’s what she meant.

It was hard, back then, being a baby boomer in a family dominated by a generation of people with no name.

They had individual names, of course, but no generational name, no name to mark their culture, their attitude, their reason for being.

When I was a boy if your parents’ generation had anything important to say they asked you to leave the room and this, naturally enough, left a gap in our learning.

These days Generation Gap is a hip recycled-clothing shop in Hamilton Hill.

The first lot to get a name were the silent generation, the mob that got born just before the war and spent their childhood in a place so noisy with battle that they couldn’t hear themselves speak and so never got used to the sound of their own voices.

The strange thing is that most of the rabid revolutionaries who led the baby boomers in their mad charges on parliament houses, multi-national corporations and cheese cloth retail outlets, were silent generation folk.

And most of the musicians singing songs of protest, yes, you guessed it, silent gens.

My guess is, my mob, the baby boomers, excited them with our openness, our enthusiasm and our loose fitting cheese cloth and they could see we were just kids ripe for strong leadership.

They stepped in. We followed.

Eventually most of them took sensible jobs in marketing, real estate, stock brokering and cheese cloth manufacturing and we followed, again.

It all came to a head in the 1980s, when most of us moved to Denmark, which was then just a hamlet.

These days, of course, Denmark is a thriving metropolis full of four-wheel drives, vignerons and hemp cloth manufacturers and if you drive down there this morning you’ll find me there too.

Before you get carried away, I should point out that I don’t actually deliver this massive lump to your front door, no, that’s Tom, he has a license to operate the crane.

And when I say front door, I use that in the metaphoric sense, because one folk’s front door is another person’s back step.

But let none of us, this fresh January morning of a new year, see this new column as anything remotely resembling a back step.

Let us see it rather as a door opening into a bold new world, heralding a new era for this great State of Western Australia, an era when all generations will be named, appropriately and in keeping with their time, place and group culture.

Apart from that, just know one thing, this is my column and I’m here to stay. Baby boomers don’t give up easily.

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