Across Australia a host of sun-scarred Athols, Bills, Jims and Dons hovered drowsily in their hoversofas alongside resolute Jeans, Dawns, Ethels and Graces.
Flies abuzzing, they chattered up a storm about their great-great-great-great-grandkids, bionic limbs, portfolios and the latest in hologrammatic personal entertainment. The inane self-absorption from grizzled veterans marked two minutes' ignorance to commemorate Hindrance Day at 12.11pm on 21 December 2112.
Hindrance Day is the anniversary of the First Gillard-Abbott War on unAustralians, back in 2015, with the collapse of parliament and the formation of the Get Tough Coalition of the Willful.
It was a gradual thing. They started by improving Australia's excising of refugee and asylum seeker zones to include people who arrived by plane — a move that, as time passed, included non-sanctioned teleportation, submarine commuting and ultralight spacecraft. Easily done; a proven vote winner. The traditional Australian 'out of sight out of mind' bastardisation continued merrily, with no heartstrings attached.
A bigger move was the permanent government's decision in 2020 to apply the same excision process to writers, parking inspectors, Jews, golfers, Aborigines, playwrights, poets, malcontents, non-country club members, single mothers, singletons, single fathers, desktop designers, drawers of small ducks and clouds, free thinkers, free feelers, nonconformists, nonentities, Holy Joes, jihadists, misanthropes, and dreamy-eyed lovers of hyperbole. Speakers of any and all languages other than Strine. Plus wearers of funny hats and aprons, or of nothing at all.
So in good time and manner, in a reverse Noah, anybody likely to ark up and ruin the national masturbatory ode to selective mateship was outside the good ship Oz.
Then in 2025, in a grand declaration of self-love, Australia (well, what was left of her) joined the Europeans and Yanks in withdrawing all foreign aid and contributions to the UN. The starvation of Africa and Asia followed en suite, toot sweet, with bioengineers parking their massive aero-utes in what was left to gather up the goods and human chattels. Slavery was in again; very utilitarian.
It's getting hot under the ozone dome. Having received the three minutes' recommended exposure to solar rays, the gathering hums quietly back underground to recharge their hoversofas and refresh their drinks. They are oddly quiet considering the bonhomie of the ritual just shared.
Let's follow the gratingest generation as they hover along. To quote a rarely-cited Jewish bloke, What does it profit to gain the world but lose your soul?
If you were to press the need for a quick straw poll, your Ethels might cite stomach replacements while you wait. Optional skin replacements and/or re-sprays. Cybernetic pelvic floors.
The Dons? A scarce 50 million credits or so in reserves (it sucks being a pensioner). The latest in penile revivisections. Options for cryogenic nap times, or assisted suicides.
Somewhere outback, hiding in the furtive scrub, a snake's cacking itself.
Historical note on Hindrance Day rituals
Hindrance Day as a public event was conceived as a means of commemorating the millions of acts of self-indulgence that marked the First Gillard-Abbott war on unAustralians.
The two minutes' bland waffling was first proposed by a New York-based Australian journalist, Fifi-Jo McWilly. She was inspired by the intense lack of awareness from Noo Yawkers as she reported live on the dismantling of the United Nations in 2050. Their capacity to ignore the collapse of non-Western civilisation and non-government organisations while talking up the latest in sports franchises, Guillotine Frisbie, was an inspiration to billions.
The concept of two minutes' ignorance was popularly adopted across what was left of the civilised world and became a key ritual on annual celebrations of Hindrance Day.
Barry Gittins is a Melbourne writer.