Oh deary me! How things cannot change when you are a ‘pill’ testing the limits of conservatism

It’s a Friday, drizzly grey morning in the Emerald City.   I sat in the coffee shop at the knob end of Balmain with a few desperates watching the poor miserable bastards trudge into town to be disappointed.  Some wore casual clothes. This was because a decade or so ago some bright spark thought by taking the foot off the throat of workers at the end of the week was going to be great for morale.  Yet another corporate miracle baked in the camp oven of a fly doctor that was bound to end in tears.  Possibly because some plumpish males saw it as the signal to dress in tight blue pants and wear brown shoes.  Does anyone know the number of the taste police?

Anyhow I stretched one into two coffees to avoid the inevitable.  But finally headed home to count my franked dividends, scratch my nuts and look at the fields for tonight.  Nothing much to crow about in that trifecta.  However scanning the corporate announcements I found an interesting one from InvoCare (IVC.ASX).   InvoCare is fundamentally in the business of burning or interning you when you cash in your chips. It was a statement from the CEO, Martin Earp that tickled my fancy.

“Operating results for (InvoCare in) 2018 were impacted by soft market conditions, namely, a lower number of deaths. History suggests that these conditions are unlikely to be sustained and that reversion to the positive long-term trend is typical.”

The ‘market’ wasn’t concerned that death was deemed a “positive long-term trend”.  Martin Earp’s statement tickled the ‘market’s’ fancy too as the shares jumped up 7%.  Now I’m not sure whether Martin is related to the gunslinger, Wyatt Earp however I fee that Marty must be.  Like Wyatt, Marty looks death in the eye every day.  Marty knows it’s only a matter of time before a bus, stupidity or the big ‘C’ will gun us down.   Marty goes on to say that “InvoCare will be well-positioned to meet changing customer needs and grow market share.”  Those changing needs will most likely be when the plump, blue panted, brown- shoed bozos need a box to jump into surrounded by regrets including ill-chosen fashion choices.  Marty knows change is inevitable too.

Speaking of death, regrets and change, something weird just happened.  I had some random music playing via Spotify.  Mostly shit but then I was knocked over by a tune.  Vaguely familiar.  It finally came to me. It was “After the Goldrush” originally sung by Neil Young from the album of the same name.  I got up from my desk.  It takes a lot these days.  Generally a call of nature or a wine delivery will do it.  But this time it was this tune.  Not Neil Young but..well I never…it was the King’s Singers.

Now the King’s Singers were/are a British a cappella vocal ensemble founded in 1968. They are named after King’s College in Cambridge, England, where the group was formed by six choral scholars. In the United Kingdom, their popularity peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s.   They were square and squeaky.  Suits, bow-ties and clean.  Jesus were they clean.  I quote from their website;

“The superlative vocal sextet.” The Times (London). Acclaimed for their life-affirming virtuosity and irresistible charm, The King’s Singers are in global demand.”

You’d have to wonder who on the globe would be wanting to dance with these devos? But apparently tomorrow evening they are playing in Bernardsville, New Jersey.  They are up against pretty strong calendar of local events.  For one – the WML 2019 Craft Beer Fest and for two, Jackie Evancho at the Mayo Performing Arts Centre.  Now I know a bit about little Jackie – apparently she matches her extraordinary voice with one of the most exciting reemerging genres in popular music today – the New American Songbook.  Now with a local population of just 7,007 I reckon it’s going to be tough for the “superlative vocal sextet” to draw the punters.  My money is on the Craft Beer Fest.

Regardless, back to their rendition of  “After the Goldrush’.  Some of you may remember, there is a line in the song that goes, “I felt like getting high”.  Woops!  What’s happened here?  After five decades of squeak and clean the King’s Boys are getting grubby?  Can you imagine the Bernardsville Burghers wanting to hear this trippy hippy trash.  No siree Bob…I reckon the lads will be lucky to save themselves from the zimmers and canes that will be hurled at them by the good and decent folk once they break into this tune.
So how did this happen?  Well things change.  Most of us have.  However the sods and the clods that cling to the moral high ground believing that control and prohibition just seem to struggle with change as a concept of improvement.  That’s probably because of their safe position in life they never had to change.
The Injection Room and now the Pill Testing debate is just another example of social conservatives who believe not changing and holding the line on prohibition is showing strength.  In fact all it shows is that they are profoundly stupid pupils of history.  Will these people reflect when further people die at festivals?  Probably not.  Ignorance is such a saver of time.   Perhaps they should look to Portugal if in fact they truly wish to be informed about alternatives to systems of control that have failed forever.
If we look at Portugal, a country of just over 11 million people, we see a country that had to change.  Faced with an escalation of opioid addiction and related crime they couldn’t control they decriminalised all drugs in 2001.   Portugal has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime since that time.  I’ll quote a piece from an excellent article in the Guardian by

Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them.

Portugal’s remarkable recovery, and the fact that it has held steady through several changes in government – including conservative leaders who would have preferred to return to the US-style war on drugs – could not have happened without an enormous cultural shift, and a change in how the country viewed drugs, addiction – and itself. In many ways, the law was merely a reflection of transformations that were already happening in clinics, in pharmacies and around kitchen tables across the country. The official policy of decriminalisation made it far easier for a broad range of services (health, psychiatry, employment, housing etc) that had been struggling to pool their resources and expertise, to work together more effectively to serve their communities.

So if you are on the conservative spectrum of social politics can I give you a little bit of advice?  Regardless of whether you nodded your fat head or not here it is.
Man, squeeze out of those tight blue pants.  Take your stupid brown shoes off.  Get yourself into a kaftan or something that gives you plenty of wriggle room to move your fun furniture around.  Then roll yourself a nice big fat stokey of Mullumbimby Mellow and put the King’s Singers album, Lollipops on.  You’ll find “After the Goldrush” sandwiched between “Ding A Dong” and “Phil the Fluters Ball”….you’ll be Bernardsville in no time whatsoever my moon dog.  And baby it just doesn’t get any better.  No more thoughts about your franking credits, death or stopping the flow….Man when let go you just change for the better.