ONE of modern motor transport’s great negatives is the fact that it is now impossible to escape stupidity for more than a remote day or so at a time. Emerge from the trees, get off the dirt and it will not be long before the sound of bitumen under your bar treads announces the return of connectivity. It doesn’t even matter if your dongle is hooked up to Vodaf**k. Without a doubt you will be out of touch a quite a bit longer than Optus or Telstra customers, but sooner or later the signal-strength bars will register a tumescent swelling and, presto!, all the world’s follies are flowing straight into your laptop. That was what happened this morning beneath a drooping tree by a riverbank, a place that just a few years ago would have been insulated by its remote location from vexation. These days, though, such arcadian precincts are no guarantee against good humour being defiled by The Silly and the woman who exemplifies everything that is wrong with that newspaper, Betty Farrelly. She really is a remarkable specimen.
Here is Betty lamenting the sad state of architectural affairs and urban planning near her Redfern home, where official efforts to placate teenage vandals armed with spray cans draw the columnist’s ire:
We jail teenage girls on their first offence, elect premiers who promise to toughen graffiti laws further still and sanitise the art so it's nice and safe to consume. Near me, in Redfern, are specially authorised graffiti walls, where specially authorised ''youth'' can come and spray their specially authorised stuff which, being specially authorised, is almost always third rate. We even have special shows where, in a cleaned-up, ex-industrial, faux-urban landscape, we applaud celebrity imports such as Banksy for precisely the kind of art (OK, better) for which we jail our own young.
Strong stuff from Betty, who indulges a virulent arrogance in assuming her neighbours are as favourably disposed to walls and fences covered with ugly, indecipherable scrawls as is she. Well that’s the Silly for you – a critical mass of smugness spiked with barely concealed contempt for people unlike those who produce that newspaper’s daily dose of condescension.
Nevertheless, as the Silly ceaselessly parades itself as an example of that “quality journalism” we hear so much about, readers must credit its sincerity, which Sydney’s graffiti daubers might enjoy putting to the test – perhaps by adding to the paintwork of this fashionable terrace in Chalmers Street.
As an admirer of outlaw muralists, the occupant would be a hypocrite to object. Indeed, the artists may well find themselves lionised in a future newspaper column.