Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, anything.....

Australia is in the middle of a new resources boom; only it's a rather sticky resource that we don't know what to do with.
We appear to have accidentally stockpiled way too many former Prime Ministers.

While we used to get through them at a normal rate of one every few years, those that have come off the shelf recently just seem to have worn out - or perhaps more accurately, worn thin - much more rapidly.
Europe has had its wine lakes and butter mountains. Unfortunately, Amnesty International would probably get all whiney if Australia started storing its past political leaders within geographical features, even though we've got an awful lot of desert that's not currently being used, even for nuclear testing.

We've learned from bitter experience though, that ex-PMs have a half-life greater than plutonium with much more serious toxic effects, capable of inflicting collateral damage on a Government from a distance of well over 20 years. The concern is that if they're all left roaming around in Canberra there will be fallout on a scale that makes Chernobyl look like a dental x-ray.
In these days of environmental responsibility, it seems like a wicked waste not to find some way of recycling them, especially as most of the recent ones were hardly used.  Australia tried powering up the Rudd unit a second time but it didn't work for long as someone had stuck a screwdriver in its rear casing. At least we don't need to worry about a retinue of loyal supporters that would take up even more space!

In the US, former leaders get sent off on the speaking circuit, but the oratorical skills of our own recent batch weren’t that flash. One had all the easy-listening appeal of a cat descending a blackboard, another could patronise an unsuspecting audience into a coma, while the last would just shut down and play possum if it sensed danger. If the current leader of the Opposition joins their ranks, inflicting after-dinner speeches on innocent people will be declared a breach of human rights.
It would be great if we could use Canberra's cast-offs to promote Australian industry and culture but finding the right causes is problematic. The wine industry has backed right away, understandably concerned to distance itself from sour grapes, while discussions with the organic fertiliser industry are looking promising. Export would be the favoured solution, but there is a world glut of disenfranchised Australians. Ecuador wouldn't even return our calls. 

Luckily, Mattel has shown an interest in doing something with the Abbott as it'll give them a way of using up all the Lycra left over from 1980's Barbie. Then we'll just need to find a use for the 1950's policies.  The entertainment industry is the only one that's reluctant to see such a rich vein of comedic material leave, but as long as we leave them Clive Palmer and Christopher Pine they'll settle down.
There are fears however, that it may be the wrong time to launch our local talent on the world stage.  Even Australia's formidable force of farcical former leaders would struggle to compete with such natural comedy gold as Donald Trump and a population likely to be dumb enough to elect him.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fear of not-quite-flying

“Good morning. I'd like to thank you for choosing to fly with Ascheapaschips Air, the new sub-budget Australian airline. Please pay attention to the safety announcement. Unlike certain national carriers we don’t spend money recruiting ‘resting’ actors and celebrities to make amusing parodies, just to win kudos on YouTube. In fact, we care as little for your safety as we do your dignity, but the Civil Aviation Authority makes us do this, so listen up and let’s get it over with.
Your captain today is Mr Bobo, who is with us as part of an exchange program with the Primate Department at Taronga Zoo, to which we provide uneaten airline meals for the monkeys to fling at the tourists. Apparently, intelligent apes are unable to distinguish between this and their usual readily available projectile matter, but airline food has been deemed safer for both the flinger and the flingee, as long as the monkeys don't eat it.
Mr Bobo has undergone a full day of intensive training in the flight simulator, where he graduated dux of his class, largely because he chewed off fewer knobs than his peers.
However, please don't be alarmed if you hear terrified screeching from the cockpit. Mr Bobo's pretty cool with flying, but the Flight Engineer is only human.
You will have noted, on being herded aboard, that we have embraced new technology to eradicate the need to print boarding passes and merely swiped your credit card instead. Luckily, your credit card is included in your free cabin baggage allowance, along with a small tissue with which you may care to mop your brow in the event of an in-flight emergency. Should this fairly unlikely event occur, you can access the lifejacket stowed under your seat. Your credit card will automatically be debited with a sum that will be determined by the rate of descent of the aircraft and the likelihood that Ascheapaschips Air will be required to pay damages once the wreckage has been recovered.
Cabin crew will now indicate the location of the emergency exits, fitted with token- operated turnstiles to facilitate the smooth exit of those passengers who opted for the Survivor Fare upgrade.
Should the plane ditch in the sea, we advise you to wave frantically to any passing plane as soon as you have placed the lifejacket over your head, as the cardboard from which it's constructed isn't suitable for immersion in water. The lifejacket is also equipped with a whistle, as a nice little tune may help distract you from your imminent demise.
Planes in the Ascheapaschips fleet are subjected to rigorous pre-flight testing on the first Thursday of most months, as long as our maintenance facility in Bangladesh isn't under water at the time. Kind of ironic really, given the contribution we're making to global warming.
Thank you for flying Ascheapaschips Air. We hope that you enjoy your flight today, and, in the absence of a long hard look at your standards, book your next journey with us.”

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Making a song and dance about Eurovision

Australia was both excited and confused this week having unexpectedly found itself dining at the cool kids table - the Eurovision Song Contest. Sure – the Aussies could get their heads around the idea of competition, but were completely flummoxed by the absence of a ball. Cynics of course suggested that the work experience kid in the Eurovision office had just put the invite intended for Austria in the wrong bag. That sort of error might be expected of Americans, who tend to classify anywhere foreign as either 'dangerous' or 'Canada' and regard it all with deep suspicion. England, on the other hand, is pretty good at knowing its countries, having been something of a collector in years gone by.

 I strongly suspect therefore, that Australia's 'wild card 'invitation to participate in Eurovision was Pommie-inspired. A return joke for the one Prime Minister Tony Abbott played on England when he offered the Duke of Edinburgh a demotion to being a mere knight.  It's the sort of mutual pranking that seems really funny at a particular point in the evening, but is inevitably going to end up with someone waking up and wondering where all the traffic cones came from.

There were fears that our initiation rites into Eurovision would involve becoming part of the single currency and handing over our lunch money, dinner money and the contents of our national bank to Greece, the equivalent of having the Euro-gang flush our Aussie heads down the financial toilet. Luckily the threat of a retaliatory repatriation of Leo Sayer brought a rapid back-down.
England clearly felt safe from any sort of musical competition from Australia as Kylie wouldn't lower herself to those sorts of shenanigans and Rolf's diary was a bit full for the next six years, which pretty much left just Peter Andre. This is much like realising that you've only got Francesco Schettino available to cox your rowing eight. However, England didn't bargain on Australia's famed resourcefulness, finding as we did  someone who had won a singing competition only a dozen years before and who wasn't doing anything in May.

Guy Sebastian was an obvious choice, with the dual qualities of having a voice that didn't make your ears bleed and a crazy afro hair-do, which is pretty much as wild and gender-bending as Australian entertainers get. At least those that want to eat regularly and not get a good kicking when they tour regional towns.  The 'Go Guy' campaign hit a hurdle though, with the discovery that the man known and loved across this wide brown land as ‘The 'Fro’, had had a haircut and looked worryingly normal. Unfortunately, singer Redfoo had come up trumps in the ballot to wear the nation's token mad hair style, and clearly we weren't desperate enough to ask him to represent us. Guy was duly despatched with a ''good luck mate'' and an emergency bag of sequins in his back pocket.
Of course, now we were playing with the big kids, Australia had to familiarise itself with the delicate Eurovision politics if it wasn't to end up with 'nul points' and turn instantly into Norway. In a set-up that relies on more mutual back-scratching with close friends than a humid night in a psoriasis clinic, Australia was feeling a bit lonely without even its tormented kid brother, New Zealand there. It had been very carefully explained too, that any ‘sledging’ or boisterous badinage with competitors about the sexual proclivities of their family members vis a vis close relatives or domestic animals would not only be frowned upon but likely result in armed warfare. As would suggesting that the leaders of any Eastern European countries looked ‘a bit gay.’

Tough though the competition was, Australia would not adopt any dodgy palm-greasing tactics- it wasn't after all, the Football World Cup. Any brown bags in Guy Sebastian's vicinity contained only vegemite sandwiches and it was a safe bet that no non-Australian was going to touch those.

With no gimmicks or political alliances, Australia was going to have to fall back on its vocal talents alone, historically, a pretty insubstantial safety net at Eurovision. That said, in achieving fifth place, Guy Sebastian scrubbed up pretty well. There have been some lessons learned and next year’s contestant will no doubt apply for funding to upgrade the bag of sequins to magic glitter and develop a killer six pack, as this can only be what got that funny little Swedish song over the line.


© Wendy Wardell