Tim Mallon | A taste of how life used to be

And the way we encounter things dear reader: people, places, ideas.

And how sometimes, when we least expect it, into our orbits they come, into their spheres we stumble …

And the chance meetings of our days arrive in many ways; be them by providence or splendid serendipity; or with the blank pitiless stare of misfortune and woe.

The way we meet things for the first time, for the tenth time, for the last time. And all this started when I was swaying in my Sunday swing chair …

Barefoot and autumn-sun warm. Below a strong growing Maitland tree. Unanchored from the obligations of the working week, a cup of tea and biscuit at my knee. Thus it was that I encountered once more, the lessons of economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

And a happy reunion it was. And it’s a grand thing to meet anew the voice of the good teacher.

Galbraith’s treatise reacquainted me with the notion that you and I should be sovereign when it comes to choosing what we need and want from the big market. He points to the idea that the market is not satisfied with responding to us, rather, the market shapes our desires.

Beneath the tree he nudged me to consider how the mass persuasion of television in particular, reaches into our lounge-rooms, massages our wayworn evening minds, and tells us gently, beautifully, that we need purer skin, better faster cars, more luxuriant hair, snazzier appliances, sweeter views …

And the euphonic jingles and pretty, funny actors manipulate us to do more and more gambling, more and more drinking, more and more junk-food-munching while we watch the cricket. The same machine desensitises us to the reality of the world, the reality of what we really need.

And I’m glad I met old John Kenneth again dear reader. Glad he smacked me around the head with the gentle good sense of his well considered arguments.

And thus, I was able to go walking more freely, with a less tampered mind.

Went walking in the old river town, beside the stream, down the street of all streets. Saw good commerce down at the festival of tasting, met the organic growers, the little operators, met the ones who don’t own a monopoly, the ones who just do their bit - and glad was I to have intersected with them again.

Down there I fell into the orbit of friends, talked and listened and discovered new things. Saw them truly for the first time, met their good hearts on the High Street.

Down there I fell into the orbit of friends, talked and listened and discovered new things. Saw them truly for the first time.

And so it goes. Goodnight.