The Meaning of AFL*

I must go away more often. I’m gone for 11 days and when I come back, the country has a new Prime Minister and the UK Labour Party has a brand ‘new’ leader. NT News reported Mr Turnbull’s triumph as ‘Rich Dude Becomes PM’. The UK press has been less generous. Jeremy Corbyn’s hobbies are listed in the Financial Times as ‘a non-drinker, he likes to tend his allotment, make jam, eat cheese, and read about railways. He does not drive, rides a bicycle and is a keen photographer of manhole covers.’ You couldn’t make it up. And he has a full beard. The last Labour leader with facial hair was Clement Atlee, and he only had a (rather fine) moustache.

As a pleasant diversion from such fripperies, I proudly wore the silver-embroidered ‘onesie’ and the floppy hat in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur last week to celebrate a suite of offshore graduation ceremonies for RMIT. These were truly spectacular occasions, in vast ballrooms, with glittering chandeliers lit up like the Starship Enterprise. The parents oozed pride, the graduands beamed radiantly, and I looked, well, like a trainee ambassador from a Hans Holbein group portrait, circa 1530. After the expertly planned and carefully choreographed ceremony, the Engineering graduates were a tad boisterous, which I’m told is unusual for engineers, but it was a joy to behold and a pleasure to be a part of.

So, back to city campus. 10th floor office and wall-to-wall one-to-ones (not one-to-onesies). Grappling with the August forecast, weather forecast, and an ABC broadcast of me rattling on about camouflage, of all things. Meanwhile, the 2020 Strategy is almost there. We’re getting near the pointy end and the scaffolding is going up. You can sense that things are intensifying here in Melbourne, as the VC exudes extraordinary energy, setting a terrific pace. We’re all getting swept along in this new dawn of new leaders, manhole covers and the new beat of a bountiful spring.

*And finally, a thank you to the reader who took me by the arm and veritably (nice word) gushed about the stories on this blog. ‘Is there anything you’d like me to write about?’ I asked innocently. ‘Oh, anything, just make sure you mention the AFL.’ So, still being new to this fine country, I checked the acronym, but all I could find was ‘Alcohol-Free Lager’. Surely not?

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