Proctor : May 2018
59 PROCTOR | May 2018 A threat to my ethical purity But my commitment to exercise remains One of the few joys of growing old is the tacit permission you have to become overly upset about decisions which barely affect you and in which you have little, if any, stake (to be clear, when I say ‘you’ I mean me; if you want this to be about you I suggest you get a column of your own). The most recent manifestation of this in my life is the fact that my gym, without reference to me, has decided to upgrade the cardio equipment which, photographic evidence to the contrary, I actually do use. In case you have actually seen me in real life and have come to the conclusion that I have not used cardio equipment since oxygen was invented, I should perhaps explain. You see, we ethics solicitors give off a glow of ethical purity, which we attempt to conceal with our shirts; this results in a bulge around the middle which can look – to the untrained eye – like a middle-age spread. I can assure you that this is not the case, and we ethics solicitors are all remarkably fit, and far too youthful to be considered middle-aged. Anyway, the difficulty with the new cardio machines is that I will have to learn how to operate them. This is a problem because people my age (which I remind you is very youthful) are surrounded by a quantum field which causes electronic devices to operate in a way that is utterly alien to any form of intelligence ever detected on Earth (the IT industry term for this is ‘user friendly’). This will not be helped by virtue of the fact that no new cardio machine operates anything like the one it replaces, an effect known as the Jobs Co-efficient. It is similar to the way no two Apple products will accept the same charger or sync with each other, any rival devices or the computer system used by the aliens in the movie Independence Day, which Jeff Goldblum was amazingly able to infect with a virus. I suspect his experience as a chaos theoretician (it is so a word) in Jurassic Park helped. I have maintained my commitment to exercise in spite of these challenges, however, because I feel it is very important for parents to set a good example for their children, and without exercise the example I set is that the most important things in life are wine, Manchester Uniter and Vegemite toast, although not necessarily in that order (if that sounds familiar, it is what leading parent scientists call ‘the holy trinity of great parenting’). As a dedicated parent, however, I should warn any other dedicated parents reading this (although if you have time to read this your dedication to anything of importance is probably up for debate) that once you set an example for a child, there is some chance – assuming they are not teenagers, who are guided by a higher power, specifically Instagram – that they will follow it, significantly reducing your opportunities to consume wine and eat toast. At least, that is what happened to me, as following my example my daughter has shown interest in sports. She has taken up soccer, which we now call football based on the novel acceptance of the fact that it is the only major sport where the ball is regularly kicked by the foot (NB to people from Melbourne: Australian Rules is not a sport – any activity in which you get a point for missing is merely something deigned to allow less-gifted people to feel they are capable of athletic achievement). Don’t get me wrong, I am glad my daughter has picked up a sport, and even happier that it is soccer, not just because I also used to play it, but because it is much shorter than the competitions for her other sporting love, gymnastics. Gymnastics contests are measured in days (sometimes even parsecs). The daughter of a friend of mine did gymnastics about five years ago, and some of the competitions she entered are still going; she is hopeful that the results will be announced at her 30th birthday. So soccer is much better duration-wise, but also aesthetically. The simple rules of the game mean that even a bunch of beginners can produce a reasonably watchable game, as long as there is alcohol available to the spectators; other sports do not transition well at the junior level. Junior rugby, for example, generally resembles a group of colour-blind kids playing Twister, with reports of seeing the actual ball being up there with Elvis sightings (actually, come to think of it, that is what adult rugby looks like as well). Junior league is basically one very large kid running around knocking the others over like ninepins, which is very amusing for the parents of that one kid, but a health insurance nightmare for everyone else. My daughter is also playing at the right time. When I played, back in the ’70s and ’80s, announcing that you played soccer was similar to announcing that you thought everyone should walk around wearing nothing but a bowler hat. That is, it would cause most people to edge away from you whispering about which way they would run if you followed them. Nowadays parents have worked out that other codes of football largely involve watching your children beat each other up, soccer is quite acceptable; I suspect the fact that your average professional soccer player earns as much during the time it takes them to shower, as professionals in other codes earn in a decade, has also increased parental acceptance (in fairness, I note that some professional soccer players – and I am thinking here of Maradona – can take close on a decade to take a shower, but I digress). Of course, nature abhors a win-win situation, so there is a downside: soccer is played at 8AM on a Sunday morning. This is a time I usually reserve for trying to sleep. Still, it will be fun to watch my daughter out there enjoying herself, and it may even inspire my son to consider there is more to life than writing songs on his iPad. Plus, walking down to the field will make up for the time I waste arguing with the AI in the cardio machine about whether or not my running shirt makes my ethical purity look big. Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2018. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.