The Big Issue : Edition 452
THEBIGISSUE21FEB–6MAR2014 21 on a freeway. You heard right: a s.p.e.e.d.i.n.g. ticket. In a Bug. Most drivers, when stopped by police, react badly to news of a ticket. Not me. My reaction was along the lines of: “Really? How much? Wow! I didn’t think that was possible.” Not to suggest for a minute, of course, that The Big Issue condones speeding. That was the first of many adventures in that car. I also had my first accident in it. My fault entirely. The car took a hammering and, for a while, I wasn’t certain if it could pull through. But it did, and seemed to bear no grudges. I regarded any extra scars as marks of character. We went to Sydney and back several times, in those carefree days when all my possessions (including two large speakers) could fit into a Beetle. Couldn’t be done today. Life gets complicated. And that was one of the wonderful things about the Beetle: its simplicity. There wasn’t a whole lot that could go wrong. True, I read a comment once that likened changing gears in a Beetle to “stirring porridge”. Perhaps it helps that I love porridge. The radio (AM only) had an interesting quirk. Wires must have got tangled up the back; when the windscreen wipers were turned on, the radio console wiggled up and down, occasionally in time to the music. I loved watching a passenger’s face when it did that. What happened? I went overseas. Left it behind. But there were no painful final scenes. I bequeathed Kermit the Beetle to my sister. So I knew it was going to a good home. Must ask her one day what she liked to put in that rear luggage pit. Nature, unlike the writer, is not sentimental. She wishes species to survive. She loves us all equally. So fondly does nature love the plasmodium (I refer to the parasite responsible for malaria, still the greatest killer of humans), that she raises the temperature of the infected human to a maximum in the evening – the time mosquitoes take their evening meal. The mosquito drinks the infected blood that superheats the human skin. The infected person frequently expires, but by the grace of nature the plasmodium species survives such deaths and is transmitted by the mozzie into the next human. (If you read any of the works of Plasmodial Theology, you will understand that their god created humans and mosquitoes alike as expendable vectors for the plasmodium, which was created in the image of that god.) It is possible that nature – implacably fair, resolutely unsentimental, big-picture-regarding nature – having observed that humans have bred so successfully they overrun the earth, has decided she must reduce our numbers. Perhaps we humans are done for because we are too many. Sorry. » Dr Howard Goldenberg writes about Indigenous life, asylum seekers, health and the sad hilarity of living. His most recent article for The Big Issue was ‘The Old Man’ (Ed#448). Also see howardgoldenberg.com. Meanwhile, bacteria are doing better. Go to hospital nowadays for surgery and there is a good chance you’ll emerge with a resistant staph. All the antibiotics of Big Pharma and all the perfumes of Arabia won’t touch those staph. Should you contract an STD overseas, chances are the bugs you bring back will resist all our antibiotics. We have had our successes. We have seen off smallpox. The only copies of this germ live in research and germ-warfare labs. Humans have it in our power to extinguish the smallpox germ utterly – the germ that, between 1780 and 1870, killed many more Indigenous Australians than shooting and starving. Whenever we change one thing we affect another. Take antibiotics for your sore sinuses today and ‘somewhere else’ catches fire with thrush tomorrow. I happen to be a human. I am on the side of humans in this epochal struggle. But nature does not seem to take sides: she seems to love the earthworm, the spider and the king brown snake just as much as she loves the species that gave rise to Moses, Jesus, Martin Luther King and Marie Curie.