A father’s advice to his sons
I once wrote and directed a play (yes, a real play – in a theatre, in front of an audience) in which one character gives his son some life advice along the lines of: “Try to live life the way that old Keith Miller played cricket. Dashing. Brylcreamed. Individual. Larger than life! Not giving a damn for what anyone else thinks.”.
So for no good reason, here are 49 pieces of gratuitous advice for my two sons Charlie and Sam on this, my 49th birthday.
1. Never raise your hand to a woman.
2. Never get in a fight unless all possible other options have been exhausted. Option 1 should always be ironic detachment.
3. The vast majority of people have no idea what the word “ironic” means.
4. By the way, once and for all, Donald Horne was using the term “The Lucky Country”, ironically. What he really meant is that we are a cocky, immature, unimaginative country, in love with our own mediocrity. He might be wrong, but this is what he meant.
5. The only jewellery a man should ever wear is his watch and his wedding ring. (Maybe on a beach holiday you can get away with a leather necklace – but that’s it).
6. Girls can do anything boys can do. Yeah, I know, it’s a playground heresy. Just get used to it.
7. Don’t smoke.
8. Don’t gamble.
9. A lie that heals is better than a truth that wounds.
10. Tattoos. Once they were uncool. Then they were cool for about 17 minutes on a July afternoon in 2004. They then became uncool again.
11. Baby boomer. Gen X. Gen Y. Gen Z. These are meaningless terms used in the most part by lazy journalists. Yes, adults can be lazy. Just get used to it.
12. Politicians promise great stuff. They then let you down. That’s the game. Some call it democracy. Just get used to it.
13. Never listen to people who use the term “un-Australian”.
14. Is this the most exciting time to be alive in the history of mankind, or what? Technology is making kids today more brilliant than any generation ever.
15. Your father and your mother love you unconditionally. Nothing will ever change that.
16. There are some great books and movies for a young man – Great Expectations by Charles Dickens…The Magus by John Fowles…The Pope of Greenwich Village…Entourage…
17. And of course, perhaps the greatest work of art of the late 20th Century – The Simpsons.
18. People are always running around, throwing their hands up in the air saying we’re all doomed because of one thing or the other - sex education in schools or the Internet, or Ricky Ponting never retiring, or reality TV, or gay marriage or Paris Hilton. They’re wrong. Actually, they’re right about Ricky Ponting; wrong about everything else.
19. Communism was a beautiful dream. It didn’t work in reality.
20. Capitalism doesn’t really work either. But it has one great advantage – it allows individual liberty. Sort of.
21. The coolest man who ever lived was probably Dean Martin. Or else Sinatra.
22. Barack Obama is a close second.
23. Justin Beiber is not cool. In fact, he is the evil opposite of cool. But you know that already.
24. Golf is a good sport to learn – you can play till the day you’re so old you drop dead after putting out on the 18th green – just like Bing Crosby.
25. The smartest person in the room is probably the one who has the most doubt about what they’re saying, not the least.
26. Conversely, most blowhards in newspapers, on TV and on the radio are pontificating about things they know nothing about.
27. Most angry people are secretly and desperately insecure.
28. Live in Paris or New York for a year or two.
29. Shopping? Buy one really good thing – not five mediocre ones.
30. If you meet a belligerent drunk, walk quietly and quickly away. Your courage need not be tested every time you meet some dickhead.
31. Gay? Straight? Who cares?
32. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld – sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.
33. Religious convictions are fine, I suppose. Just don’t let zealots tell you or anyone else how to think or how to behave.
34. You came last in the race? Failed the test? So what? Shakespeare wrote a couple of lousy plays too. Come on, have you ever sat through Timon of Athens or Henry VIII?
35. Melbourne is the world’s biggest small country town
36. I can’t quite believe I’m 49. You won’t believe it, but one day you’ll be 49 too. Get cracking.
37. People will storm the barricades about Bill Henson’s photos of teenage girls but won’t even shrug their shoulders about the fact that 5,000 kids die every day worldwide because they can’t get a glass of clean water. It’s called hypocrisy. Get used to it.
38. Don’t despair about hypocrisy – make fun of it.
39. Oscar Wilde was right – beauty is a form of genius.
40. Everybody over-uses the word “genius” these days. The way they talk, every second person on the planet is now a genius. The only people I’ve ever met who were even remotely close to being a genius are Tony Lockett and Robert Hughes.
41. Those who suspect vice in others are usually highly suspect themselves.
42. There’s more wisdom already in your fingernail than many adults will ever have.
43. If you ever get invited to the Playboy Mansion, make sure I get on the VIP list.
43. Unless Charlie Sheen and Ricky Nixon are invited too. Then I might stay home.
44. If you notice that all the ads on TV are for either fast food or rapid weight loss, it’s officially time to turn off the TV and go to the park.
45. People say “you’re daydreaming” like there’s something wrong with that. There isn’t.
46. If the car breaks down, we don’t go to an alternative mechanic. So reject all alternative medicine. As Tim Minchin says: You know what they call ‘alternative medicine’ that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”
47. Charlie Brown was right – happiness is a warm puppy.
48. Just after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, Bill Clinton gave a speech that concluded with these words. It’s about the smartest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.
It’s great that your kids will live to be ninety years old but I don’t want it to be behind barbed wire. It’s great that we’re gonna have all these benefits of the modern world, but I don’t want you to feel like you’re emotional prisoners. And I don’t want you to look at people who look different from you and see a potential enemy instead of a fellow traveller. We can make the world of our dreams for our children, but since it’s a world without walls, it will have to be a home for all our children.
49. Feel free to disregard the previous 48. I may well be full of crap.
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