The day the lights went out in Overland

Gin_and_Tonic_with_ingredients – notfromUtrechtImagine my shock, horror and dismay when I went online to get my Overland fix and got absolutely, wtf, nothing. That’s if you don’t count a message, repeating ad infinitum, that my connection had timed out.

Quick to self-blame for technology stuff-ups, I gave myself over to a number of scenarios: had I clicked something accidentally with my newly acquired acrylic nail extensions (French polish, if you must know), did I have a virus (well yes, I’d had a nasty dose of summer flu but this time round it was my computer’s questionable state of immunity causing the V&Ds), or was this simply a sign my laptop was dying and the blue screen of death imminent?

All the above, and more, seemed entirely possible. Except for one thing: the only website I couldn’t access was Resisting the impulsive side of my nature, I bided my time. Five minutes later I still couldn’t connect, and five minutes after that and so on and so forth, the whole day long. Soon I was convinced there was something more serious afoot than technical problems my end. But websites, especially websites like Overland, just don’t crash – do they?

Could it be I’d tried Jacinda’s patience too often and she’d used her editorial power to shut me up once and for all? Perhaps I had been a little snippy in one of my comments (some of us don’t suffer misogynists and other fools gladly), deployed too many adjectives, adverbs and exclamation marks (see this post), littered more than one response with grammatical errors and typos, discussed Heidegger without appropriate reference to Wikipedia, or was it simply that my postings were embarrassingly atheoretical when compared to Rjurik’s (cultural studies was such a long time ago)! Still, if I was going to discover why Overland’s website went AWOL, I’d have to extend my gaze a little further than my own navel.

Once I started thinking about who had reason to shut down the website the list of suspects became as long as an Andrew Bolt rant. Could it be a despairing poet rumoured to have recently formed the Overland Dead Poet’s Society, a Luddite plot or revenge of the postmodernists? Had Mubarak been reading Overland and Boris’s article the final straw? Sounds far-fetched I know, but if Mubarak can flick the switch on Egypt… Perhaps it was a communist plot, a late-capitalist plot or even an ABC plot. I hear rumours they’re none-too-happy at the ABC that Overland do what they once did, but better.

But then an epiphany: the mastermind of Overland’s problems was as predictable as the death of the newspaper. Who else could it be but Rupert and his band of sycophants over at News Limited wanting to remind commie bastards residing under beds and online who’s boss?

Later that day, when with heavy heart I attempted to access Overland, I found myself directed to the Webmaster. I don’t know about you but the Webmaster sounds sort’ve kinky! (Is there a Webmistress? And what do these guys wear when they’re on duty?)

Following a good night’s sleep aided and abetted by Diazepam, I came to the conclusion this whole missing Overland website thing might be the result of human error. After all, the Overland folk must be a bit the worse for wear after putting together the next edition, or maybe Jacinda, Jeff and co had a couple of G&Ts and didn’t notice the website was down. Or could it be that a member of editorial staff is trying to get a PhD done in record time, and the huge pile of books, submissions, needy bloggers and editing became overwhelming? Said person needed some time out and flicked the switch. Who could therefore blame them?

But back to me, did anyone care about my withdrawal symptoms? Two days of engaging with mainstream media had brought my nether regions out in a rash. I couldn’t stop thinking about Warnie and I was worried for Liz. And I’d started watching Sunrise. Loving it that Kochie and Mel are my new best friends.

In the absence of Overland commentary to provide cerebral stimulation, I was sucked into the vortex of comments on the Age website. There was a moment when I was even tempted to post myself. Overlanders, you could learn a thing or two. For example:

The old saying “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” comes to mind! Problem is whenever one says something along these lines all the left wing looneys come out of their box and accuse us of being racist.

I just finished my first book, which has taken me well over a decade to finish – yobbo

And then just as I was beginning to think mainstream media wasn’t half bad, I was connected again. Who could hold me responsible for toasting this happy outcome by replacing my breakfast cuppa with something a little more in line with Overland philosophy?

No doubt the Webmaster will have an explanation for Overland’s disappearance from our screens on that fateful (clichéd) day. But I reckon if Assange isn’t himself shut down, he’ll eventually tell the world what was going on the day the lights went out in Overland!

Trish Bolton

Trish Bolton’s unpublished novel, Stuck, was the recipient of a 2018 Varuna PIP Fellowship and a 2015 Varuna Residential Fellowship. In 2017, Stuck was longlisted for the Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition (UK) and Flash 500 Novel Competition (UK), and in 2016, was the joint-winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Unpublished Manuscript Award. Her novel, Whenever You're Ready, will be published by Allen&Unwin in 2024.

More by Trish Bolton ›

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