And the hits keep coming...
After the self-serving outpourings of Harry and Meghan and Novak Djokovic’s demonstrative implosion after the Australian Open Men’s final, one may have been forgiven to think that we were owed some moments spare from drama and emotional turmoil.
The chance would be a fine thing! Harry has started speaking again. Although his consultation with his psychologist was meant to be private, the world now knows that Harry has been diagnosed with a range of conditions including Attention Deficit Disorder. Sadly, the surplus attention that his every oral and written utterance has been given seems to be at the heart of his malaise. If there only was a deficit. And there are still two months until the coronation. Who needs EastEnders when we can have the WestEnder Windsors unscripted?
As we steel ourselves for what will probably be Rafael Nadal’s final Grand Slam appearance at Roland Garros at the end of May, much has occurred to stir the emotions since Sabalenka and Djokovic triumphed in Melbourne:
-an earthquake that affected Syria and Turkey caused the death of close to 50,000 and reminded us of the ongoing civil turmoil in Syria that prevents effective delivery of vital aid;
-Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its second year;
-Tensions between China and America became more than hot air when America shot down a Chinese ‘weather balloon’ off the Florida coast. This action set off a flurry of airborne strikes on not so much unidentified flying objects, but undesired flying objects;
-New Zealanders have had to confront weather crises of their own: first a monsoonal drenching of Auckland and then an encore cyclone that savaged the Hawkes Bay area of the North Island. These events provided New Zealand’s new Prime Minister with a political baptism not of fire, but of water;
-The political waters became too hot for Scotland’s Chief Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Her dream of an independent Scotland appears to be fading as she exits Edinburgh left. A convicted male rapist, who identifying as a woman was placed, under Sturgeon’s new gender recognition laws, in a woman’s prison, may well be remembered as the unexpected catalyst for her departure;
-Israel’s new coalition government having been democratically elected, seems hellbent on sabotaging the nation’s Separation of Powers doctrine leading to some of the largest protests the nation has seen;
-Protests against the Iranian government’s treatment of dissenters continue as concern grows about how close the theocracy is to developing nuclear weapons;
-South Africa has continued its slide into economic and social chaos with power outages now averaging 11.5 hours a day. The irony of the slogan of South Africa’s latest tourism campaign, “Live Again” cannot be ignored! Living well tends only to be possible when power is guaranteed. Not forgetting that the country’s combined annual murder and road toll nudges 40,000. Just living is a challenge for too many of its citizens; and
-France has become disrupted by protests against attempts by the Macron government to reform the nation’s pension and retirement system.
In Australia, decisions by the Labor Federal government to increase taxation on those holding more than $3,000,000 in their superannuation funds ignited the retirement class wars, forcing the Prime Minister to declare once again, unlike his equivocal Treasurer, that the family home of Australians will never be subject to capital gains tax.
Successive rises in Australia’s interest rates and a surge in inflation have ended the Australian Labor government’s political honeymoon. For the millennials and Generation Z and probably many of Generation Y their concern is not about paying capital gains tax on the family home, but being able to afford to buy their first family home. Whatever the tax regimen on superannuation funds, it is inevitable that more and more nest eggs will be required to pay out mortgages at the time of retirement.
Anecdotal evidence of the housing crisis in Australia is irrefutable. As housing prices fall, there has been no boon for willing homebuyers as the purchasing power of their wages has fallen. Demand for rental properties has grown. What’s that queue down the road? It’s not for the latest mobile phone, but a stream of people seeking to rent a property. The static supply of rental properties has seen grotesque rental increases, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. More people are working second jobs than ever before. Everyone’s budget, especially the Federal Government’s, is taking a hit.
Support for the proposed constitutional amendment to give indigenous Australians a recognised constitutional “voice” to the parliament is also waning. My advice to the Federal government is simple: in a nation where voting is compulsory, and most Australians are unaware about their Constitution, success will not be achieved through providing inadequate detail about what is proposed. Referendums are different from elections. Regrettably, ‘small target’ electoral strategies have been rewarded; however, the government needs to promote a strong, large vision of its wish for constitutional change to engage a diffident electorate. Don’t allow the ‘No’ case to take free hits!
Sadly, there will be no more hits from the legendary songwriter, Burt Bacharach who passed away aged 94 leaving a legacy of classic baby boomer songs: I Say a Little prayer, What the World needs now is love, I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, Walk on By and Anyone Who Had a Heart, to name but a few.
The hearts of male baby boomers would have skipped a beat in the 1960s and 1970s when Raquel Welch appeared on the screen. Described in the late 1960s by the New York Times as “the perfect example of womanhood”- would such a description be allowed today?-she recently passed away aged 84. Ms. Welch always maintained that her poster image beauty prevented her from being considered as a serious actress.
The hits have kept coming on tennis courts all around the world.
Cameron Norrie and Carlos Alcaraz have shared South American titles in Buenos Aries and Rio de Janeiro after facing each other in both finals.
Australia’s most determined and well respected male player, Alex de Minaur, has won his first ATP 500 title, beating America’s Taylor Paul in the final. Great win, shame about the trophy and headgear!
When Daniil Medvedev was ranked the world’s No.1 player he struggled to win a tournament. No longer wearing the burdensome crown, Medvedev has just completed a hat-trick of title successes, with the latest in Dubai seeing him beat Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, ending the Serbian’s unbeaten start to the year.
Speaking of Djokovic, he has been busy hitting the keystrokes to petition the American government to allow him to play in the Indian Wells and Miami Masters tournaments. Stand by for a decision!
If unsuccessful, Djokovic will have to take comfort from hitting another record in the game’s history. He has now passed Steffi Graff’s record run of 378 weeks as the world’s No.1 ranked player. Both are the winners of 22 Grand Slam titles, although Roger Federer retains the record for the most consecutive weeks at No.1 at 237, with Serena Williams and Steffi Graf tied at 186.
The current Women’s No.1 ranked player, Iga Swiatek, will be hoping for a repeat of her supreme 2022 string of victories in America’s spring season in the “sunshine States”. Neither Nadal nor Kyrgios will be joining her in Indian Wells or Miami as their respective injuries continue to thwart their 2023 campaigns.
Another of Burt Bacharach’s greatest hits is Alfie, made famous by the eponymous movie starring Michael Caine. The memorable refrain from the song is “what’s it all about, Alfie?”
Yesterday was the fortieth anniversary of my first vote in a Federal election. Democracy remains a priceless asset.
Many would be forgiven for asking “what’s democracy and politics” all about as the world seems to be anxiously marooned in problematic political and economic waters. Good God, one fears that Boris Johnson believes a comeback is on the cards. America could have a Presidential election between two deeply flawed octogenarians.
From the ridiculous to the sublime: as Nadal contemplates his likely Parisian farewell it is another reminder that greatness in all things is to be treasured, if it is to be remembered and emulated.
Sadly, whilst many can readily recall the deeds of the greats of the court, fewer and fewer seem able to identify recent political leaders that have been as compelling and enduring.