Fine! Christ, this is too much, even for me. Here I am, lowdown and achey with nothing to my name but two guitars and a broken dream, and my editor is still at me like a priest in heat to get something on the page. At this stage, I’d like to lodge a formal protest, but the life of a writer is full of browbeating and rank abuse, and I’ve got a fine sense for where the wind is blowing. No—you’ll have no disputes from me, I’ll get you your article. But on what? Normally I’d go for bile; reach deep into those festering ducts and drizzle some sour testosterone on a vacant page, but today I just can’t seem to summon the rage. Why? How? This cannot stand! I need a solution, friends; snark and cynicism is my personal brand, and though I might not make a single shekel from this writing gig, every now and then I get some kudos, and for a certain type of person that’s almost as good. I’m sorry to do it, but there’s but one field left untilled. Saddle up and hold your breath—I’m talking politics.
Look, no need to gripe; I’m as unhappy about it as you are. But this is the situation, and we must learn to live with it. And after all, we do live in interesting times that merit serious discussion. T-Pain came charging out of the gate these last few months, and has brought a clenched fist to the national consensus in a manner not seen since the golden days of Johnny H. As the headlines rolled in and I sighted those classic hits—‘entitlement’, ‘freedom’, ‘Judeo-Christian’, ‘tough-love’—I felt an overpowering urge to buy cargo pants and feed my Digimon. These days have felt like a flashback, a slick expedition to the turn-of-the-century days when the youth were cranky and the Libs roamed free, but Dr T isn’t content with a stale rehash. Those with a nose for palmistry can read in his love-lines a fierce and overweening desire to bust heads and scorch the pavement, and the overwhelming consensus amongst the wise is that Ol’ Tone is out to make his conservative predecessors look like snivelling mongrels with flaky skin and days to live. Knights, union-corruption, lifeboats, logging and cutbacks! Our friends in the cabinet have their eyes on the history books, and when they’re through, even the trendiest Marrickville vegan will look back on Howard as a dear departed friend.
And here’s the angle – I knew I’d find one eventually. It’s a question of timing, and to hammer it home I must tell you a story. When I was a wee lad in school, I had what was at once the saddest, and most triumphant moment I’ll ever experience. I sat there at my desk one day, fresh, vital and rosy cheeked with my best chum by my side. The teacher was going on about a writing assignment, or some such nonsense, and I was in a mild daze. But then it happened. In the midst of teacher’s rambling she emphasised to her drowsy pupils that the written piece be ‘short and snappy’, and with lightning speed I turned to my chum and said ‘like a baby crocodile!’ It was short, sharp, potent and beautiful; the funniest and cleverest thing I have ever said, in any context, delivered faster than the mind could follow. It was a primal reaction, but if felt somehow spiritual—as if an ephemeral spirit had reached down from the higher plane and whistled to me a brief fragment of the great melody that runs through all life. My chum collapsed in stitches, gasping and incoherent, and I felt like a small god. But no one else heard. The class looked quizzically in our direction and I struggled through the endorphin-rush to convey the magnitude of my achievement, but no dice. The moment had come and gone, and it would not return.
So I peaked too soon. The ten years since that bold, wasted moment have been nothing but a ceaseless cavalcade of shame, fear and dank cynicism, and my accountant tells me that the worst is yet to come. So what? Don’t worry, there’s structure here. Editors may tell you otherwise, but my writing is crafted with the care and precision of a Swiss watch; I ramble with purpose. The moral is this: don’t peak too soon. Whether you’re an Abbott or an anarchist, you can learn from my mistake. All this sturm and drang from the newly-minted Knights Liberal makes for gripping theatre, and they’ve certainly made impressive headway with sheer front and brutal hubris, but you only get so many gambits. You got some good mileage with that ‘operational matters’ bit and a handsome array of ‘no-seriously-they’re-impartial’ inquiries, but if you truly want to kick out the jams and turn self-parody into reality, you could learn from the likes of our own sweet Barry O. He plays the long game of low-key chatter and soft lighting, only bringing out the bullhorn when the king-hit ruckus reaches fever pitch. After the circus antics of the Labor years, folks just wanted some peace, so canny Baz kept his head down, straightened his tie and quietly got that whole Barangaroo thing sorted out.
So wherever you sit politically, there’s a thought for you here. Timing is the thing – keep those wild melodies stored away for the winter months because too many virtuosos wind up emptying their bag of tricks after a few measly bars. Big T made a splashy entrance, but if you’re set on carving that grinning skull into the mountain of history, you’ve got to learn some endurance. Yes, you’re young, buff and vigorous, and believe me, I can hardly wait for the privatised delights you’ve got in store for Australia Ltd. But remember, Johnny was in the game for some time before he hit big with WorkChoices, so save those showstoppers for the second half.
Photo Source: News Limited