For my wife’s birthday recently, my daughter bought a custom hand-chiselled sign on a little wooden stake for the garden which says, “Thrive or die”. It reflects a ruthlessness which nobody would believe my wife could possess. In reality, each time she steps outside the trees dump a few leaves in fear. Every spring the secateurs appear and there’s bloodletting on a grand scale. I can hear them at night, screaming. Woe betide the creeping boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium) that fails to creep or isn’t, um, booby enough. Off with its head, or heads as the case may be.

In one spot alone, she terminated three grevilleas because they failed to thrive. Later, we discovered a layer of clay one spade deeper than the hole we’d been digging for the poor things. Imagine the neighbouring plants whispering, “Hurry the fuck up! Put down some roots! She’s coming!” But they couldn’t of course, and each was terminated with extreme prejudice. That clay has now been laboriously breached, and I’m glad to say that the next plant to face the music — Calliandra surinamensis — has survived into its fifth winter. But nothing in our garden is complacent, plus there’s now a sign to remind them. I’m just glad my wife didn’t become a school teacher…

Thrive or die has been the first rule of humankind since Thylarctos plummetus (dropbears) made life difficult for Australia’s First Nation people. In the age of COVID-19 it’s never been more apt: The meek shall not inherit the Earth. The meek will be ploughed into the civil war battlefields like fertilizer, the soylent green of 2021. It’s already happening. If you haven’t noticed, we’re at a pivot point. The virus is winning. So go wave your rainbow flag and abase your guilty white ass in public if you like, but don’t be surprised if a big guy with an uncompromising attitude hustles you into the back of a van. I don’t know if 72 hours of unofficial detention by federal agents qualifies as erotic humiliation, but you’ll only have yourselves to blame. There’s a bigger game at play.

Why are people being snatched off the streets of Portland? Because Trump understands thrive or die, is why. You tipped the first domino when when you neutered the police. Agent Orange is planning to steal the next election. He hinted at it this week. Like his idols Putin and Xi, Trump wants to be president for life. Because the world’s biggest infant stands to be humiliated if democratic processes don’t give him what he wants, he will trigger enough trouble (because millenials are so easily triggered) to veto the election and declare martial law. Widespread civil outrage will prompt the mobilisation of pro-Trump militias into the streets, and when Congress finally wake up they’ll move the US Army against Trump. Then you’ll have militiamen fighting soldiers in the street, with you guys in the middle. Fiction? There may not be a novel in it, but I suspect you’ll be reading a number of short-stories soon on the same theme.

But maybe the US and it’s sister-nations worldwide deserve it. You just shat in your own nest. I live in Australia. The worst thing that might happen to me is that the state borders remain closed, and I don’t get to chase my wife around the pool at the Sofitel Noosa Pacific in November. Instead, we’ll spend our holiday money renovating the kitchen, and the biggest decision for me in 2020 will be whether to craft a classic look pairing neutrals in tonal combinations, or to go for contrast with soft whites. This is especially important (I am told) given how rich neutrals add depth and mood to traditional spaces whereas lighter neutrals create a comforting home full of character! Because I can’t tell the difference between ‘cotton sheets white’ and ‘ornamental pearl white’ I really shouldn’t be involved in any significant decision-making. But I’m scared to tell my wife that, because, you know, those secateurs…

At least I won’t be burying my children in a ditch on the outskirts of São Paulo. America doesn’t have a monopoly on presidential idiocy, and Trump is definitely not the only ‘leader’ more concerned by the next election than he is about saving lives. Poisoned chalice, I’m happy for our current (conservative) Australian government to hang on to power until this is fixed. Credit where it’s due, they’ve mostly done a good job. Most of us still have jobs and can go about our lives relatively unfettered. I know there are hipsters in Melbourne moaning in their loft apartments because mandatory facemasks have given them a beard-dent no amount of ethically-sourced organic balm can correct. Unfortunately, as the news tells us daily, Victorians don’t get it yet. But they will. Because even hipsters must thrive or die.

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