Roast Dog On A Spit

I wrote this in jest a couple of days ago and it is already out of date. I just can’t keep up with the turpitude of Canberra politics.

Lucy dear, breakfast this morning is blue collar rather than blue tie. I’m making scrambled eggs. It’s a working class soufflé. Goes with spinach.

Do it with kale Malcolm. They do have pretensions you know.

Yes. Well after testing their public transport system I thought a change would be nice.

You are so brave dear. Speaking of which. Don’t forget the Trumps are coming for dinner tonight. You do have something in common. I know he can be uncouth but you are both self-made you know what.

Oh damn. Perhaps we should hide the Henson. It might over-excite him.

You don’t think he’ll do a Shorten do you?

The gall of that man. I invite him in, serve him some decent wine, he admires the photo – even recognises the subtle use of light – and then walks into the press to accuse me of dishonesty. I don’t see what a photo has to do with 18C anyway.

And to think you were the doyen of free expression. What is the world coming to?

I blame Christensen. If it’s not 18C then it’s 457. He just seems to grab random numbers to disorient me. Next he’ll be dropping hints about RU 486, and of course I am so I should be invited back to the Mardi Gras. I wish somebody would just go and frack Christensen.

That would upset Barnaby. Or perhaps not.

Well frack him too. Do you know how much it is going to cost us to move Canberra? Where the hell is Kelly’s Plains anyway? They don’t even have snow fields.

At least it’s further than Warringah. Do you think Donald would give Tony a job? They are so like-minded.

I said to Tony I’d dump Joe and he could have Washington but he started talking about loyalty. With Joe! Between us dear he didn’t express the same feelings towards Alex.

And Pauline?

Business is too good for her to go anywhere. What have I done to deserve all this? We had hopes, dreams, visions and now it all lies at my feet – shattered. ‘Jobs and Growth’ – how boring. I’ve got a job. Union bashing might be necessary but it is so blasé. Besides, what do they expect? The government has no control over a deregulated and privatised economy.

Can’t you go back to innovation dear? That was so much fun. I don’t suppose Donald’s militarisation interests you does it? You might get your own new Air Force One.

Aaagghh!!! Aussie One to base – I don’t want to go down in history as the warmonger PM, although it could be a useful campaign slogan. Dutton is playing games with moderation. Doesn’t he know I’m the nice Malcolm?

Perhaps you could make him a Spanish omelette. Dear I have to go sort out that tunnel thing. A few trees go and everyone thinks Sydney’s vision is tainted. Public transport once in a while might be fun but we do need to improve private transport.

Just keep them out of our area.

Oh the western suburbs love tunnels. They think it is an achievement to come out the other end. Small things. It’s those inner west hipsters that are the problem.

Ah, the youth of today. They are impeccable dressers. I like their taste in fashion.

I’m not even sure they’re people. They talk a language I just cannot comprehend. It’s not just the young ones but also the old hippies who are chaining themselves to bulldozers. Yet again. Malcolm – the eggs!

Damn! They’ve burned.

I warned you not to cook with coal. It really isn’t your area of expertise.

But the solar cooker is broken. The thermostat has gone ballistic.

Feed it to Tony dear. He’s at the front door. He won’t know the difference.

Tony! How kind of you to visit. Share some scrambled eggs with me.

Uh, er. Morning Malcolm. Good morning Lucy. If you must know I prefer mine raw. It helps to put hairs on the chest and to see in the dark. Now Malcolm, me and the boys have a problem.

What could it possible be now? Didn’t you hear what I said about the ABC?

Well, er, yes. I do have to admit that did take us by surprise. Especially from you, he, he. But actions must follow words you know. Slash and Burn – that should be your new slogan.

I’m not like you. I don’t mean any disrespect but I can truthfully claim to have greater eloquence – Short Term Pain For Long Term Gain – that’s seven words.

We do express ourselves differently I’ll give you that. Just make sure there is no pain for us. Now did you hear what happened at Marrakech?

Nothing much at all happened at Marrakech just as we planned. I cannot possibly see what there is to complain about.

I take it that you noticed where we ranked.

Oh, fifth from the bottom. Yes, that was disappointing.

I can understand it is difficult scoring lower than Saudi Arabia or Kazakhstan, but sure we can beat Japan and even South Korea.

So what do you suggest?

Well, er, Gina has actually been on the phone.

I thought you said just the boys.

And Barnaby. We think you need to open a few more coalmines. Abolish the assistance package to those Hazelwood workers and redirect it into subsidies for Twiggy’s fracking interests, or should I say, er, his exploration for new energy sources.

Tony. I do have my limits you know. Nothing to Twiggy until he can prove there is gas in commercially exploitable quantities. Don’t you worry about the Carmichael because Labor will get that over the line. I will get the legislation preventing the greenie legal appeals through. I am the Prime Minister need I remind you.

And it is a grand title to have Malcolm.

In cabinet yesterday, yes I know you are not there, and no you will gain a return, I cannot trust you that much. But I will being you in on the joke. We played a little game yesterday where I asked each member to complete the sentence ‘there has never been a greater time to be Australian …’. Do you know what Julie answered? It was about you. Guess.

Tony?

Tony! Are you there?

Tony! Don’t give me that glazed look. You’ll never match Julie’s death stare.

All right Tony. You can have a turn. Give me the answer. There has never been a better time to be an Australian ….

Er, well, um, because I can pull the strings on the Puppet Master.

One last beer at the Black and White

ABC Open has published a short story I wrote about an encounter with a ‘small-small’ brigade at the start of the Sierra Leonean war: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/159059

child-soldiers

The tropics in the build-up to seasonal rains. Dust swirls between mud brick buildings, children kick a dud football, a pile of burning rubbish sends off an acrid stench.

In evenings we would sit on the veranda of the local pub, the Black and White, savouring cold beer and cool breezes, appeasing our conscience by throwing coins to the polio-crippled beggars. Father Bob’s whisky odours, engineer Johnny’s beery breath, and the vinegar taste of cheap wine gone warm.

Bo, Sierra Leone, and now I am the last expat in town. Across the border a brutal civil war. Rebels announced that this weekend they will take Bo. Government forces, aid organisations and the expatriate community have fled, leaving the local population to hastily construct rudimentary defences.

I’d been asked to provide logistic support to the aid organisations till management sent an instruction to cease operations and relocate all vehicles to the national capital. By midday Saturday the instruction is clear – “Drive directly to Freetown. Do not divert or stop for any reason.” They might be the but I think one last beer at the Black and White can’t hurt.

As I swing round the corner, my throat dry for a beer rasps with fear. Heads wrapped in bandanas, chests encircled by bullet belts. Goggle eyes, hysteric laughs and the reek of marijuana. A group as big as the guns and machetes they bear surrounds me. They are the feared ‘small-small’ brigade and the leader, almost to shaving age, shouts, “Now what for you do here?”

A heartbeat, or two, then, “Hey white man, come and have a beer.” The Commander, alone at the bar, seeks a drinking companion. I do the gunslingers walk. The pub seems different – the raw timber floors more splintered, the tears in the laminated tabletops more pronounced, the depth of the bar has turned into a shadowy tunnel, while the Commander, standing, towers over me.

A former General in the Liberian army, he has been operating in the refugee camps, recruiting retreating soldiers and others, to try and create a new invasion force. He mocks rumours of an imminent attack. “Now what for they do that? They don’t want big fights that go kill ‘em. They do what they always do – cut off the entrances so no one gets out or comes in, and then they strangle slow-slow, like the python.”

He orders a beer, which I eagerly grasp. At least the fridges are working. We discuss whether the forthcoming rains will halt the rebel advance. “A big rain ‘e go wash them scum into the sea,” the Commander asserts. We talk about ex-Liberian President, Samuel Doe being tortured to death to prove he was not protected by black magic. Captured on film (which I refused to see) the Commander reflects prevailing opinion, “He die like a man,” then switches to English football, “MU, this year they going to win the FA cup again.”

When I say I need to go, he orders another beer, and then he says, “Now you go look-look big time. That road’s not safe no’more.”

The road to Freetown is crammed with hundreds, possibly thousands, of walking refugees and mine is the only vehicle. People charge at the speeding car begging a lift. The rules say, “No passengers”, but then rules are made to be broken.