Friends, there was nothing whatsoever Good about last Friday. Not only was virtually everything closed, but those measly few pubs that were open were forced by a backwards law to close their doors at ten. That’s right, ten. On a Friday night. Ridiculous. Now, Lord, I know You didn’t have a particularly Good Friday yourself, what with that whole crucifixion and all, but that’s no reason for the rest of us to suffer, is it? And, besides – for those who do believe in Jesus, what better way to say goodbye than a wake?
I thought we were supposed to be a secular society. I thought that, slowly but surely, we’d stripped back virtually all of those mawkish old-style laws that forced religious tokenism on everyone. But no. Every Easter, whether we like it or not, we New South Welsh have the best long weekend of the year, that lone double in our public holiday calendar, ruined by religion. Well, religion and shopowners wanting to go on holiday.
I’ve spent the last few Easters out of NSW, what with the Melbourne Comedy Festival and suchlike, so I hadn’t realised the extent of the problem. Our supposedly global city becomes a ghost town between Thursday night and Monday night. A Holy Ghost town, even. Most of my favourite cafes and restaurants shut their doors for the duration. My family were pretty much all out of town, and most of my friends seemed to either be away or at the very least actively avoiding inviting me to anything interesting. In short, bugger all happened.
And yet did not Jesus die that the rest of us might live? Well? And you call the excruciating dullness that constitutes a Sydney Easter ‘living’?
So I had to make do. I chose to spend much of Easter at home, playing soccer on my PlayStation and watching The West Wing, itself a quasi-religious experience. So it was not without its pleasures, I guess. But your young(ish) man-about-town likes having stuff to do as well. And the rest of the world was apparently either nesting, or at church. So I wandered in the wilderness for – well, not forty, but four days and nights. But the Devil didn’t come to tempt me. In fact, temptation would have been most welcome. Particularly in the form of Easter Eggs.
Oh, there was one moment of temptation – in a moment of extreme boredom I fed thirty pieces of silver into a pokie, and got nothing in return. Yea, verily, it was a dull long weekend.
And then I came down with a cold. Which made me exceptionally grumpy. Can you tell?
No-one pierced my side, admittedly, but my nose is runny, and I’m sneezing a lot. We all have our crosses to bear.
Well, I’ve learned my lesson. As God hath forsaken Jesus on the Cross that day, so shall I forsake Sydney next Easter. I shall take myself off to somewhere pagan and tropical, to lie on a beach far from the maddening uncrowdedness of this city. And I shall return after some little time, visibly restored by my break. I think that’s what Jesus would have done.