Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I caught up with a poet mate the other day at a pub performance. He’d just come off stage to a patter of bitter applause after reading a new poem, something along the lines of “the streets are full of bloody Cadels, hell’s bells budding Cadels, packs of peddlers going pell mell, hell’s bell’s bloody Cadels …”. I said “mate, I know Cadel’s got a Welsh name and a weird head, but we’re all Australians now. Isn’t it a bit petty and mean-spirited to begrudge the man his glorious page in history? To have a go at him is as cowardly and un-Australian as it is to attack pokies and smokes”.
He said it wasn’t Cadel himself, but the legions of lycra loonies he’s inspired, and that on a recent drive to Wollongong he’d had to duck and weave through about 6000 of the bastards. “They’re in plague proportions”, he whined, before going into his pet rant about sport-versus-art in this country, blah, blah. He said something about Margaret Olley winning the Tour De France, but I’d switched off by then. I let him froth away for a while, then tried to hose down the hoary old sport/art furphy, and lay to rest the idea of our supposed national obsession with footballer’s gammy groins.
I said “mate, at the end of the day we’re not in the same ballpark. I’m trying to keep the ball in your court but you won’t do the hard yards and stick to the gameplan like a good team-player. You’re always wanting time-out for a spell on the bench when I’m trying to step up to the plate, raise the bar and tee-up a hole in one. I mean, here’s me giving a hundred-and-ten percent, jumping hurdles to make every post a winner, and you won’t run with the ball. You’re always dropping the pass when I’m trying to kick a goal. I mean, I’m not playing hard-ball or calling time out for a line-ball but it’s not a level playing field. If I’m first past the post you have me side-lined in the sin-bin for foul play. I mean to say, everyone gets stumped on a sticky wicket occasionally, but you can’t just throw in the towel when the chips are down. If you win by a nose an inch is as good as a mile in this game, know what I mean?” But I don’t think he did. In fact he was crying. I said “sorry mate, but in my book sooks don’t get a guernsey”.