Real Life

Retro Tuesday, In Times Of Great Change

AS ANOTHER MONTH passes, and Christmas becomes a matter of just another few weeks, 2015 draws toward its conclusion after the world has witnessed tumultuous upheaval and change; in fact, change seems to be everywhere you look, and from where I stand an awful lot more seems likely to follow in 2016. Today’s musical flashback continues the theme.

First, a piece of good news: readers of this (and my other) column will be pleased to know that late last night, I finished off work on one of the big drains on my time that has hampered the time I have for posting comment; publishing content in these sites must come second to those commitments that generate revenue (for these do not) or are otherwise critical for whatever reason, but the upshot is that I’ll have quite a bit more time for writing articles than I have had for most of the year.

For the next three months, that is — until what I finished last night recommences for another year.

Yet even this is a pointer to the theme of Retro Tuesday today, for change is everywhere; the extra commitment (beyond a job, a business, my established political commentary column and this new one) has been the resumption of a long-ago abandoned degree that I left somewhere between half and two-thirds complete back in the 1990s, and which I have now locked away the first tranche of work to finish.

Contemplating a sometime move from one branch of the behemoth that is the media industry to another, I suddenly need the degree I stomped out of the university 20 years ago without finishing because doing so was the only way to avoid certain careers.

I left it so long that the only institution that recognises the 15 (of 24) subjects I did back then is the one I studied them at: the University of Queensland, and in practical terms this has meant weekly day trips to Brisbane to go to the university, which despite the cost of the airfares and factoring in fees still works out four years faster and about $4,000 cheaper than starting something from scratch, studying part-time, here in Melbourne.

I had a little mishap — something hit me on the flight home one night that looked suspiciously like a stroke — and I was responsible for diverting a plane full of people to Sydney so I could be rushed off to hospital: but never fear, the “stroke” turned out to be a perfectly harmless ear problem that is very rare, but when subjected to altitude pressure causes half your face to collapse. (If any readers have been ignoring mildly sore ears that won’t completely unblock as I did for months, go and have them looked at if you’re thinking of flying anywhere, especially long haul — there are some parts of the world you don’t want to be hospitalised in, believe me).

But harking back to the early 1990s — when I was “really” a university student — provides a great segue to our blast from the past today.

Let me assure readers that it is purely by accidental coincidence that I’m featuring a West German band in consecutive weeks, and the first two weeks of publishing this segment at that, but have a listen to this.

There seems to be change everywhere right now; some of it — like the reordering of things I’m doing personally, and finishing something I should have completed decades ago — are good; yet in the bigger scheme of things, the world is changing too, and not necessarily for the better.

Climate change, whether you believe in or not (or whether you believe it’s man-made or, as I do, think it’s part of an eternal natural process that’s been going on for millennia). The rise of Islamofascism, and the threat it most immediately poses to Europe. The rise of a belligerent, militaristic Russia, bristling with modernised weaponry even as its people starve, capable of obliterating anything it wants to. The world is growing less certain, and in some ways less secure, although this just makes the idea of living every day to the full that much more important.

Ironically, some of the changes in today’s world are a mirror image of the “winds of change” that blew across it 25 years ago, when Winds of Change was released; the collapse of the Soviet Union, the removal of the Iron Curtain across Europe, and — particularly salient where the Scorpions, the West German band I’m highlighting today, is concerned — the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, in a sequence of events that brought so much hope and freedom to people who had been tyrannised and repressed for so long.

I’ve got a friend getting married to a nice girl in a few weeks; that event will close the circle on one of the most vicious marital break-ups I have ever witnessed, and the only person unhappy about it will be the seething bubble of hatred who walked out on him in the first place.

I know people who are headed in the opposite direction — right into trouble and the divorce court — and some of them are the last people you would ever expect to see there. Yet such is life.

I’ve shared a few bits and bobs from my own story at what I sense is a time of great change; and change isn’t something we should fear. The key thing is to make sure it’s the right kind of change, although — as a favourite TV character once proclaimed in exasperation, you can plan until you’re blue in the face and things just happen: it isn’t possible to control everything, nor avoid the bumps that come with the highs.

And rather than talk about myself or my mates until the cows come home, I’d just ask every reader to pause for a moment and look around their own little worlds: a lot is changing, isn’t it? Perhaps not everything, and not all at once, but nothing lasts forever. Right now, I see change everywhere I look. It seems to be one of those phases.

Enjoy the track from the Scorpions; and as music worth listening to is only worth listening to loud, crank it up. The double shot today comes not from the Scorpions themselves, but from a British band that had a hit with the same name as another song recorded by the Scorpions, and if this doesn’t evoke embarrassing 1980s-era memories, I don’t know what will.

I’ll be back with something else in the next couple of days; Retro Tuesday will return again next week. Seven days closer to Christmas, will the rapidly approaching festive season influence my choice of entertainment?

Come back on Tuesday and find out.