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Sneezing, coughing and questionable appendages. Its “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE.

SO, I’m sitting in the opticians when the young man measuring the distance that separates my eyeballs publicly performed what is fast becoming an unnatural act. 

Ian Meikle.

He sneezed. He sniffled and then, cognisant of my withholding an inhalation and the clock ticking against me, he quickly apologised.

“Hay fever” was the explanation and the exhalation of relief not a second too soon. 

In these covid-conscious times it’s electrifying to watch how people fall silent, frozen at the sound of a cough or a tissue-deprived sneeze.

The twitching pandemic nerve is never far from the surface, especially given the cluster-burst and lockdown in Adelaide this past week followed by the local revelation that another diplomat got off a plane in Sydney, motored with impunity to Canberra and turned out to be covid positive. He was the second dipo in three weeks. No medi-hotel quarantine for them. 

But back to my dispensing optician and his in-shop indiscretion. Little wonder he’s suffering. As many as one in three people suffer from hay fever during the spring grass pollen season. 

“It’s been five years since we had a big hay fever season in Canberra and we predict that this year is likely to see the return of a bumper grass pollen season,” was the ANU’s Canberra Pollen project’s sage advice on October 1.

Throw in a big cloudburst of La Niña and they got that totally right. So right that these past seven days the Canberra Hospital set records for the number of patients crowding the emergency department with respiratory problems. 

But what’s a bumper grass-pollen season without a bumper grass-mowing season? A bloody great headache for Minister Chris Steel and his City Services crew. 

This past week he’s had to stump up more than $6 million in “surge funding” to stay on top of the city’s prolific grass and weed growth, caused by recent record rainfall conditions, and also repair damaged roads.

While there wouldn’t be an unhappy mowing contractor in Canberra right now, pity the City Services manager on the TV news the other night bemoaning that the city has been mown not once, not twice but three times. 

That’s something not to be sneezed at!

PERVERSELY, given the surfeit of grass beleaguering our lives, the Canberra Museum and Gallery has just opened its latest exhibition – “The Blade: Australia’s love affair with lawn”. 

Running until February, the travelling exhibition features stuff such as a Hills Hoist, lawn mowers and gardening tools, and covers the invention of the mower, lawn sports and looks at the future of mowing (attention City Services). 

There’s also a “Canberra module” that delves into the history of lawn in Canberra (there’s a history?), the development and growth of the suburbs to some local iconic lawns. 

The Spit Shacks al fresco dining contribution to Mitchell.

THE Australian War Memorial Annex in Mitchell was designed by the acclaimed Enrico Taglietti. It sits on Lysaght Street, a little careworn these days, but still a work of architectural celebration. A few doors down on the other side of the grand boulevard is this latest, striking addition to the industrial suburb’s pavement dining offerings. Spit Shack, apparently inspired by the flavours of Croatia, appears to have had planning approval to build a wooden deck, a lean-to roof and some sort of cooking oven over the Lysaght Street pavement. One can but wonder what the late Enrico would have made of it. 

CANBERRA Avenue through Fyshwick is the ACT’s top car-crash spot, according to an analysis of insurance claims. 

Inexplicably, peak-hour traffic between 1.30pm and 4.30pm on Monday afternoon is not the time to be there with nose-to-tail collisions accounting for 67 per cent of crashes. Could it be the pressure of people commuting to Queanbeyan, your columnist unkindly posited.

Among six new entries to make AAMI’s top 10 list this year are arterial roads such as Drakeford Drive in Kambah and the Federal Highway at Watson. 

DINNER at the writing Overalls’ must be a barrel of laughs if this week’s “CityNews” is any guide. Leafing through the pre-printed pages, I fell upon two headings – “Dead women: Someone out there knows the truth” and “Stories of terrible murders took 40 years to tell”. 

The first opus is by historian-cum-author-cum-journalist Nichole Overall, a depressing tale of more unsolved murders of young women in the ACT. The second is by our streaming columnist and her son Nick Overall, who is previewing a drama series looking at how a mass murderer in Perth was finally caught.

Nichole’s been knee-deep in murders for months as she finalises a podcast about a series of unsolved, shocking deaths of young women in the Canberra region. A “Podcast Prelude” will be live from December 2, with the first episodes on Keren Rowland, a 20-year-old receptionist who didn’t make a meeting with her friends 50 years ago open to public access on December 9 (at capitalcrimefiles.podbean.com)

“These unexplained mysteries continue to weigh heavily on the Canberra region. Someone out there knows the truth. This is the chance to discover it,” she says. 

Ian Meikle is the editor of “CityNews” and can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast”, 2CC, weekly 9am-noon.  





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Ian Meikle
Ian Meikle is the owner and editor of "CityNews".

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