From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 29 October

October 29, 2023 BY

Bring on the heat: Moggy is my first cat - ever. She spent the whole winter sitting atop the sitting room heater. Photo: SUPPLIED

It was epiphanic! A commonplace comment of such profundity, I saw the reality, with clarity. I have no-one in my life to whom I matter!


THAT is not meant to be highfalutin; nor is it meant to garner your sympathy.

It is, frankly, the truth; the reality of my life – and millions of other people.

I live alone – except for Moggy, the cat. She was dumped, clapped her eyes on me, and moved in. I am not certain she even likes me, but that is irrelevant. We have an amicable arrangement – a mutual need. Moggy has won Cattslotto!

Like many, I come from a dysfunctional family. I have no relatives with whom I maintain a close contact. I have two living sisters, neither of whom has any interest in a familial attachment with me, or each other, as it happens. The feeling is mutual. I understand their choice. Simply because they are consanguineal, it does not follow, ipso facto, they are people with whom you would choose to establish a close bond; or spend a deal of time. Life is too short to waste it with people whom you hold in scant regard.

The word friend should be used more sparingly. It is applied, frivolously, to the most casual of associations, and has no real foundation. I refer to many as ‘familiars’; they are those whom I know, and with whom I share a particular familiarity. Meetings with them are always enjoyable, but do not necessarily precipitate a ‘front-of-mind’ connection. We are tribal by nature, and they represent the important ebb-and-flow – the flotsam and jetsam of humanity which modulates our lives, and controls our perspective on the world. They are essential, but they are not friends!

Conversely, friends are those about whom one cares, deeply, and are those to whom one can turn in a time of crisis. I am most fortunate in numbering about half-a-dozen. Regrettably, several have fallen by the wayside over the years – one after 58 years. It was sad; it was done; the moment had passed. It is like fairy dust: it disappears at the touch of human hands.

Collectively, we talk much in Australia of being a multicultural society; an international beacon of tolerance and affability.

Given the erstwhile ‘populate or perish’ immigration program, there are those who would disagree, vehemently; the argument being there is only one culture, and given our diaspora, we are, more correctly, a multiethnic population. The difference is subtle, but important.

In the aftermath of the 1999 Australia republic referendum, there was philosophical debate of a divided nation: one part was cosmopolitan, confident, and progressive; the other, provincial, apprehensive, and increasingly conservative.

A quarter-of-a-century later, the result of the 2023 voice referendum would suggest the divide has not healed; arguably, it has become more adversely marked. We have become less tolerant, and more hard-hearted.

While Crocodile Dundee and Neighbours is the face we present to the world, it is, in essence, a ruse; a Panglossian fabrication to make us feel good about ourselves. While we are quick to take the more high-ground, and prone to talking-the-talk, we do not always walk-the-walk. We are a complex nation of contradictions.

Scratch the dark underbelly and you discover an unpalatable groundswell of white supremacy; bigotry; overt and reverse racism; insularity, and isolationism. We are unwelcoming and judgemental. Worst of all, we are incapable of embracing the thorny aspects of white-settlement history.

We need, all of us, to take a long, hard look!

Roland can be contacted via [email protected].