The Christmas music started playing at the shops last week.
I'll spare you the faux outrage and shock, because neither of us are surprised in the slightest- as much as we muse that the Jingle Bells begin jingling earlier every year, we both know they don't. It's just better conversation than the weather.
I'm personally rather partial to Christmas music, with a soft spot for a bit of 'Do they know it's Christmas'. Although- and with Bono here it would have been a good time to ask- I've wondered for many festive seasons now if thanking god that the African children are starving "instead of you" is really the most wholesome use of prayer.
But I've missed my chance to ask Bono in person as he has moved onto the east coast of Australia now for his next show, where he will certainly be met with much conversation about the weather. Because the weather right now is 'fire'.
You see, Australia is adamant (and always has been) that it does not want to be inhabited. Not be people, not by animals, not even by plants. As Uluru closed for climbing a few weeks back, the Aboriginal custodians of the land spoke of how the big orange rock was relieved to no longer be walked over. I think that feeling extends to the whole big orange country- like a drink driving ad, it screams "get the bloody hell off me".
The animals don't want you there, and they're pretty clear about that. They bite and sting and hate. And the plants don't want the animals there, so they're toxic and devoid of nutrients- like the eucalyptus tree, which is so absent of nutritional value that the Koala has to spend its entire day eating and sleeping only, because there is no energy to do anything but try survive to eat another day.
The eucalyptus tree has no value because there is no value for it to take- it lives in dry, sandy orange ground, where if it is lucky enough to grow to maturity it will spend its days searching for trickles of water to sustain its sandpaper-like leaves. Then it will either be washed away by a flood, or it will burn in a bushfire, because (and how is this for a failure to adapt) the sap happens to be incredibly flammable. Because the land does not want the trees.
Nothing thrives, little survives. Everything lives on the border between life and death, clinging on for dear life as this barren wasteland shakes itself like a wet dog trying to rid itself of fleas. The cycle continues ad infinitum as the land insists that these foolishly persistent life forms should no longer inhabit it, and more people like me and Bono swarm into the cities.
As the land burnt again this week and the smoke drifted over my apartment (hundreds of kilometres away) so thickly it left a scratch in my throat and a coat of residue on everything outside, I was reminded of the fire scale sign down the road. The fire scale sign is of course the board with a semicircle, offering different levels and appropriately matched colours of fire dangers, and a stick which is adjusted to point whichever way is most fitting on the day.
Ferocious forecasts: Australians on notice for 'catastrophic' fire danger
Where back home we range from something like Low to Very High, the one around the corner begins at High, and ends with no less than Catastrophic.
There are also road markings for flooding. This is because there is not rain in Australia, there is only drought and floods- and sometimes both at the same time.
So on the very same street there is a 3 metre high stick on the side of the road, marked with depths, so that when the catastrophic fire is finished and several metres of torrential rain comes down to wash away the charcoal formerly known as home, you can use the markings on this stick to say "Wow- I can't believe my road is under about 2.75 metres of water! Why do I live here again?".
On a serious note, my thoughts are with all of those who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and loved ones. The damage and death toll will undoubtedly be even greater by the time this goes to print.
So maybe Bono's presence is rather fitting. I know a song he could perform.
'And there won't be snow in Australia this Christmas time. The greatest gift they'll get this year is life. Where nothing ever grows. No rain or rivers flow. Do they know it's Christmas time at all?'
Maybe that's why the Christmas music starts in November.