Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Saturn Return

He's a young, handsome sort with good parents. He went to the right school, grew up in the right suburb. Six months ago I said to him, "So Matty, you're twenty eight. Must be about time for your Saturn return, hey?."
He looked at me.
"You know, when you decide whether to get your shit together or not. You've got about four years to get it sorted."

Tonight he told me: "Well when you saw me last I was still blasted from that trip. I'd gotten some ice in Bali and by the time I flew home, well I took some Xanax to help me settle but I couldn't. Then we got into customs and they found the steroids on me, well ... I hadn't slept. I couldn't sleep. I was wired. Wired. So I punched on with the customs guys at the airport. Then they raided my house, which was fine. They can raid my house. That's fine. But they raided my parent's house too. They can't do that. So I found out the phone number of the customs officer who'd authorised my parent's raid and gave him a serve."

"On the phone? You threatened him at his home?"
"Yeah. Well, no. Yeah. I gave him a serve for frightening my Mum and Dad."
"You can't do that! He'd go home at the end of the day to his wife and babies and not want to get phone calls from guys like you."
"Yeah, yeah," he nodded. "Yeah. That was wrong. But I felt like my family was under threat, y'know?"
"What about his family?"
"It was the wrong thing to do, I know. Anyway, it's a crime, actually several crimes, against a public officer. That's what I'm looking at."
"Anything else?"
"Oh, yes, charges are banking up. But you know, since I turned twenty eight and you told me that shit, I haven't done anything else bad, Sarah."
"So it's just the overlap."
"But you're going to gaol next week, for a year minimum?"

It's funny when you meet people who you can feel in your water to be good souls - and then hear a backdrop like that one. My feelings about imprisonment still stands. It does no justice to anyone. I cannot see him coming out a better man, or that he will have bettered his or anyone else's life in any way.

Ahh well. Let him and all the other infidels breathe in a city's idiot wind.
I'm leaving in the morning for the green paddocks, karri trees, cows and white beaches of the south, as soon as I can fuel myself and my car.


  1. Unfortunately somebody somewhere has to say: 'Enough. That's the line, that's your limit. Take responsibility for your actions'. In the absence of traditional cultural checks and balances it becomes the responsibility of the state. I'm off to the Big House myself today actually - as an observer, not an inmate!

  2. The problem with sending people to prison, is that long after they have served their punishment it continues, for the stigma remains and sometimes newspapers dredge it up at will. Whereas when the court uses a fine or community service then afterwards all seems well.

    There has to be another way and I suggest that a study of the way in which the Brehon Laws was administered could be adapted?

  3. I've had two young ones like that in the past three years. One went inside for 18 months - it was his wake up call and he doesn't want to go back. The other had no conviction recorded but a community service order imposed. He shat himself and maybe also needed the stop sign in his face. I don't like prison but an encounter with the full force of the system can have a positive outcome. They were both young and arrogant and thought they knew betteer than the system. They found out that the world isn't as simple and forgiving as they imagined and that they weren't teflon coated.

  4. Michelle's comments about cultural checks and balances rings true to me. If only we had that kind of social censure. I guess societies would have to be smaller, a neater nucleus, and it's another good reason I was so glad to get out of the city.

  5. Maybe that's one of the reasons there is a contstant exodus from the cities. Living in a town of about 5000 permanent residents I have to say that most of the teenage kids will talk to a fossil like me. I know there are ratbags, but the majority are polite and used to interacting with all sorts of people. It's really nice. We jealously guard that sort of communal spirit and it's why the locals are quite hostile towards any hint of progress - the hordes who want to come and live here will inevitably destroy it.