ONE OF the unique features of contemporary life is what I would describe as manic recreation — a good example of which was the recent episode on Mt. Everest when a succession of people plodded past an ill climber because “… he was going to die anyway.”

Sir Edmund Hillary and a couple of others were rightly and grossly offended by this callous disregard for human life but a number of contemporary climbers were quick to endorse the “die anyway” position. How did they know he would die anyway? They didn’t of course. It was simply a feeble excuse to move on and satisfy the feral lust to reach the summit. Real men stride on, egos rampant, and bugger the weak who fall by the wayside. One can only marvel at the arrogant sense of purpose, the ruthless disregard for a fellow human being, the bloodless distortion of priorities.

I think perhaps that it is time for the nations that control access to Everest to impose stringent quotas and exorbitant charges on access to the mountain. Otherwise we shall soon have a McDonalds Family Restaurant on the South Col. Indeed, if they didn’t allow access to such large numbers of human beings the Yetis would not have gone into hiding. Either that or they all choked on Mars Bar wrappers. The respective management authorities should reflect on these fundamental truths.

In fact I have an analogy for this kind of manic behaviour. Not only in Hobart but right across our nation and especially in our larger cities. I refer to joggers. When we lived briefly in the poor, southern quarter of Sandy Bay I would often ride my trusty old Malvern Star into the Sandy Bay shopping area early in the morning to buy fresh rolls or croissants for breakfast. Going and coming I was able to observe the morning parade of joggers. It reminded me of my time in Third World countries — sunken, lifeless eyes; parched skin drawn tight across jutting bones; enough flesh on any one of them to feed a tiny dog for a single day; white-as-white tombstone teeth leading the way from red-as-red gums; the flared noses; and the rhythmic thump-thump-thump of bone on bone on bitumen.

Good luck to them. I really do hope they are enjoying it and feeling all the better for it. And yet I wonder what it would be like to be in bed with one of those obsessive lady joggers. I suspect that, in a decent sized bed, it would take me half an hour to find her by which time I would be too tired to do anything about it.

Spare, tall bald chaps

There are those who wonder where these people live, what they do for a living and all those mundane queries that sticky-beaks reflect upon. I suppose it is an understandable quest and, at least for some of them — perhaps only a few — it will yield startling results. For example, I am entirely convinced that a hard core of the regular Sandy Bay joggers are in fact full-time joggers. Probably, up to half a dozen of them. One only sees them at around 6.30AM in the morning but I am also informed that there have been sightings at other times at Fern Tree, Cygnet, Lutana, Collinsvale and elsewhere. They have been known to take nourishment when passing through wooded areas, snatching a leaf here, a pine cone there, a lush thistle for some liquid. They are obviously ascetics who are showing us the way to a physical purity hitherto unknown in this peripheral corner of the planet. Well done, I say. It takes all sorts.

I hasten to add that these latter observations are in no way meant to reflect adversely upon any individual citizen of our capital city or anywhere else. True, there are spare, tall, bald chaps who thump the asphalt from time to time but the only one of that tribe whom I know is a sage at whose feet I am proud to occasionally sit. He is not a jogger but he does run from time to time and he does so only to fine tune his celebrated intellectual capacities. The running better equips him to undertake his public and private duties with appropriate verve and good humour. His running is also supplemented by the regular ingestion of nourishing liquids. Good luck to him wherever he is these days.

For my own part, I am at a stage in life when it is wise to eschew any kind of violent physical activity, like running — even slowly. However, my very first action every day, at around 6.00AM,  is to undertake physical exertion by way of ambling gently the few hundred yards to my ninety two year old neighbour’s gate, collect his paper from the ditch near the highway and then deliver it to him up a long driveway. My neighbour is ninety two years of age, tried to teach me science in the early 1950s, uses a walking frame these days but remains as intellectually alert and companionable as he was all those decades ago. After about an hour of chatting comfortably in front of his fire, in the course of which we solve the more pressing national and international problems of the day, I stroll home to have breakfast and take breakfast to my wife in bed. Over some five decades of married life we have breakfasted separately when eating at home. Had we not done so the five decades would have more likely been five months. I am not what might be described as an amiably animated breakfast companion.

I also spend the best part of an hour a day taking our two pugs for walks. At this time of year — mid-winter — we allow any frost to melt before venturing out and all three of us are usually keen enough to take a second stroll before the sun goes down. And then there is the chopping of the wood, collecting kindling, mowing lawns, tending vegies, swimming right through summer up to early April and knocking back a solid scotch as the sun goes down and a red or two with dinner. And all of this with physical capacities that are a tad impeded by two wonky shoulders courtesy of a big wave, a gammy knee, a bad back and a few other reminders of years long gone.

I have thought about jogging — back in the 1970s I think it was.

 

 

By Nick Evers

In fact I have an analogy for this kind of manic behaviour. Not only in Hobart but right across our nation and especially in our larger cities. I refer to joggers. When we lived briefly in the poor, southern quarter of Sandy Bay I would often ride my trusty old Malvern Star into the Sandy Bay shopping area early in the morning to buy fresh rolls or croissants for breakfast. Going and coming I was able to observe the morning parade of joggers. It reminded me of my time in Third World countries — sunken, lifeless eyes; parched skin drawn tight across jutting bones; enough flesh on any one of them to feed a tiny dog for a single day; white-as-white tombstone teeth leading the way from red-as-red gums; the flared noses; and the rhythmic thump-thump-thump of bone on bone on bitumen.

Good luck to them. I really do hope they are enjoying it and feeling all the better for it. And yet I wonder what it would be like to be in bed with one of those obsessive lady joggers. I suspect that, in a decent sized bed, it would take me half an hour to find her by which time I would be too tired to do anything about it.