Last night as I stood on the land of the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation cheering AB Original on stage as the opening act for Midnight Oil’s homecoming, I realised that we’ve come quite a way from the 1980s. I first saw Midnight Oil live when I was 16 years old and they changed the way I viewed the world.
They may be white boys from the white bread northern beaches of Sydney but in the early 80s for many of us white bread teens from the suburbs they were our introduction to what was actually happening to indigenous Australians. I learnt nothing of Aboriginal culture at school, I was only taught about the white invaders. So many of us had no idea of the atrocities and abuse committed by white governments and their White Australia policy; Midnight Oil opened our eyes to what was actually happening. The Oils were writing Australian songs and telling our stories and I’d never heard anything like it.
And those biceps. I will never forget standing near the stage at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and watching Rob Hirst drumming. Uh oh! My first musician crush, setting myself up for a lifetime of being attracted to players. Sigh.
Last night, as we waited for Midnight Oil in the shadow of the glowing Deutsche Bank sign, I thought of how the Oils have sung about many big companies that have raped our planet, and how we need protest music more than ever. When they played Blue Sky Mine I thought of the hideous she-devil Bishop defending James Hardie and making a dying Bernie Banton wait for compensation. This year she was briefly our Acting Prime Minister.
As the crowd roared from the opening bars of Armistice Day, I thought there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now. When Peter Garrett spoke of stopping the giant Carmichael mine and the carnage that Adani could bring to the Great Barrier Reef, one idiot in the crowd behind said,
“Shut up and play the music.” Only a moron comes to a Midnight Oil gig and demands that politics aren’t mentioned. Before I had a chance to tell him to go home and listen to Kylie Minogue, the band came back with more raw, punching rawk:
I see buildings, clothing the sky, in paradise
Sydney, nights are warm
Daytime telly, blue rinse dawn
Dad’s so bad he lives in the pub, it’s underarms and football clubs
Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac
And no one goes outback, that’s that
You take what you get and get what you please
It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees
I love that Midnight Oil are a band with strong political opinions, and musically, they were simply brilliant. They’ve done so many shows this year the band is tighter than ever. And they were backed by the incredible Hunters and Collectors horn section. I don’t know what painkillers the injured Jim Moginie was taking but his guitar playing was inspired. I’d forgotten how good they are live. The waves of screaming energy and excitement kept coming as my hips reminded me how their music made me feel in my teens.
Today my body aches, but my heart is filled with the thought that perhaps I’m not the only one who cares about changing our world.
Not much time, but time to try
On Tuesday Australia celebrates the festival of the spray tan, also known as Melbourne Cup Day. The entire country will be on a high over-bronzed alert as women walk around looking like they have been spattered with wooden deck stain from Bunnings. Our foreign minister has travelled far to be there, but cannot intervene when it comes to refugees suffering on Manus Island.
I won’t be baring my pale body on Tuesday, I’m not up for the scrutiny. As I watch my face age every morning in the mirror, I’ve been thinking about how my fellow middle-aged women are coping with wrinkles. And how they are so distracted by their ‘beauty’ regime that they don’t have time to call out human rights abusers.
Recently, I stumbled upon the Instagram page of a mother I used to know. Her face was stuck in a wind tunnel and her lips resembled a boxer who had been punched in the mouth, but she still looked like a female in her late 40s. They weren’t Halloween pictures. She reminded me of Nicole Kidman, the selfies showed me a featureless face, every emotion and expression the same. And I thought about a generation of little girls growing up with mothers whose faces cannot express empathy nor frown, and who all have trout pouts. They are being taught that this is the acceptable female beauty standard. Like foot binding and removing ribs in generations past. Mothers who spend more time and money in salons than on teaching their daughters to change the world. What do these girls think of the disconnect between their mothers’ words and the emotion their faces can’t convey? Do they worry when they see kids locked up in refugee camps and their mothers are too busy inhaling nail polish in salons that employ uneducated women from poor countries to care? Why do females show their sons and daughters that a wrinkle free face that doesn’t move is how women must age? Why are our looks are more important than the plight of our fellow humans?
And more and more women in their 20s have immovable faces and puffer fish lips. On my vast single mother budget I have lots of money for day spas, so occasionally I get my nails done or a facial at a student beauty clinic. Last week a woman doing my nails must have been in her early 20s but I couldn’t really tell. She could have been shocked by my visible wrinkles, as her face only showed that she was startled.
Am I jealous because I can’t afford to do this?
When I told my 15 year old that I was writing this she said,
“Mum, don’t be mean about this woman, even if she does have a frozen fish face. She already feels bad about herself, that’s why she’s done that to her body.”
On October 31st I’m going trick or treating in our PM Malcolm Turnbull’s street in Point Piper. I’m going to wear my lovely signature single mother ghoulish fashion; my statement piece is a T-shirt saying:
Liberal Government Have Ended Negative Gearing
On the back it says:
Tax Rate for BRW Rich Listers Rises to 73%
Hopefully, I will scare the sinister people in Malcolm’s neighbourhood and if the AFP let me stay, there may even be a sighting of the ghost of Turnbull’s leadership. As our Prime Minister will be in Israel, perhaps his servants will join me in the hunt for Turnbull’s spine but I may just end up with a cauldron full of broken promises.
Then on the Day of the Dead, November 1st, I’m going to hop on my broomstick and haunt the streets of Mal’s Wentworth electorate dressed as a bat in a Barnaby Joyce mask. Anyone want to help me trick some very spooky politicians?
Pollard’s perfect single mother Sunday:
Gently woken from a sleep in by difficult middle child quietly whispering,
“I’ve cleaned my room and made breakfast.”
Fresh juice on the bedside table
Someone has changed the kitty litter
Breakfast in bed
Cancer is cured, affordable health care for all is announced
Tony Abbott has been silenced
I frolic in the park with a gorgeous man, cavort with my cocker spaniel and happily play frisbee with jolly well-dressed children, after 11.30am. Kids have silently scrubbed the bathroom and I haven’t had to get out of bed to stop them fighting
Long lunch at a restaurant with loved ones
Donald Trump is impeached; he, Putin, Dutton and Kim Jong Ugh have been shipped off to a labour camp in Siberia
Afternoon nap uninterrupted by school run
Ping pong tournament with silly people ends in giggles and singalong
Dinner of nibblies and wine provided by an anonymous benefactor, while having a great chat with dear friends = perfection
Turn on news: we have a fantastic indigenous female Prime Minister. She outlaws homelessness and makes companies who profit from food and housing illegal.
After a long, lavender-scented bath, I go to sleep in a freshly made bed
I wake up on Monday morning and youngest child says,
“I’ve made my lunch and I’m getting myself to school mum, love you, I’ll make dinner tonight, bye.”
Lou Pollard you’re dreamin’
Selfless community service alert! My Pollard Parenting Method (patent pending) is now available to my adoring public. Why buy a how to raise rugrats book when Pollarding can help you with awkward mothering moments?
Public Transport + small untamed child = major public embarrassment for mother. If you are sitting on the bus with your child and he starts singing,
When you’re climbing up a ladder and you hear something splatter,
When you’re rushing to the potty and you hear something grotty
Say out loud at regular intervals,
“I wish his mother would come and get him.”
Or simply move to another seat on the bus and pretend the offending child does not belong to you. He may well pull down his pants, tug at his penis, and sing another filthy ditty you taught him, but eventually a kind old lady will give him lollies to shut him up. She will glare at you when she gets off the bus. Pretend not to notice.