Gough Whitlam, Pauline Hanson and Me

I was only ten years old when former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unceremoniously dismissed from office in 1975, but his death last week had a profound impact
on me, as it did on so many other Australians.

Prime Ministerial amusement

I am not only sorry at his passing, he was such a towering presence — physically and politically.

Many in Australia mourn that Gough’s political legacy has been tragically trashed over the subsequent decades, by both sides of politics. I doubt we will see a return to those heady days.

I had the pleasure of meeting “The Great Man” years ago when writing radio commercials
at Sydney radio station 2KY, which at that time was owned by the Labor Council of New South Wales.

Former NSW premier Barrie Unsworth was the General Manager and was showing Gough around the palatial corporate edifice.

I was rather a fan of the Mambo clothing company. On the day in question, I was suitably attired in the standard creative uniform of a Mambo t-shirt, my wardrobe resembled a Mambo shop.

My selection that day was a satirical parody of the famous Australian match brand Redheads (apologies to Australian readers for getting the glove puppets of explanation out). In place of the flaming caricature redhead, my t-shirt depicted controversial (for want of an expletive) “politician” and all round embarrassment to Australia Pauline Hanson. The word “Redheads” had been brilliantly replaced by “Rednecks” with assorted contents and warnings as you can see.

After exchanging pleasantries with Gough, he looked down (quite literally) at my t-shirt,
smiled and said “Well done, Comrade.”

A memorable moment from an unforgettable man.

Vale, Gough.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Plane Genius – must have travel gadgets

Forget the Knee Defender – the boffins at Randomswill Laboratories have burst out of the shed brandishing these must-have airline travel gadgets. You’re welcome.

Armrest Arrester™ A small, surreptitious, skin-coloured taser that adheres to your elbow.
Bastard next to you tries to occupy your armrest? Hello 50,000 volts.
Ask our operator about the optional Fart Away™ attachment.

BO Blocker™ Say goodbye to gagging when Mr Businessman who reeks like he ate curry in a sewer sits next to you. BO Blocker™ is industrial strength deodorant you engage like capsicum spray on passengers who pong.
With BO Blocker™ their eyes may water for a bit, but they won’t stink.™

Sit The F*ck Down™ Cabin crew will love this. A magic lasso Wonder Woman style to rein in passengers who like to stand up and get their bags as the plane is landing.
“Hey! You in 24G! Sit The F*ck Down™.”

Luggage Lucifer™ A convenient, pocket-sized flamethrower that gives you the pleasure of setting on fire the luggage of the selfish a-hole in 14C who has crammed his extra luggage
in your overhead locker. Luggage Lucifer™ “Burn baggage, burn.”

Headrest Hero™  Don’t you hate those passengers who pull the back of your headrest every single time they get up? Hate no more. Headrest Hero™ is an adhesive velcro strip covered in thousands of tiny, barely-perceptible-to-the-eye razor-sharp needles. Headrest Hero™ “They’ll only do it once.”

Bogan Begone™ An ingenious ultrasonic Bluetooth device that repels singlet, shorts and thong (Australian footwear usage) wearing passengers who sport “mystical” Asian tattoos.
Narelle and Gavin will be instantly repelled, as will their bogan progeny Brihannna and Montannah.

©Steve Williams 2014

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A Fucking road trip (Fucking, Austria)

“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Fucking?”
(with apologies to that Bangor-loving band Fiddler’s Dram).

The very quaint Fucking village

Indeed we did. It is the first time I have typed the word “Fucking” into the car’s GPS system. Though I have directed that word towards it many times.

Setting out from Munich, myself and two esteemed media colleagues (let’s call them Jane and Phil) embarked on a day trip to Fucking, a village just four kilometres east of the German border.
Why? To quote Sir Edmund Hillary, (who possibly never went to Fucking), “because it is there.”
Also for the giggling, childish entertainment value. And the selfies.

Fucking is quiet, very quiet — it is a tiny, picturesque rural village, with only one hundred
Fucking residents.

I was expecting to see tourist coaches spewing out pissed Aussie bogans and English chavs,
intent on stealing the Fucking signs. Thankfully no.

There is not much in Fucking at all. There are no Fucking shops, no Fucking restaurants, not even
a Fucking hotel. The only Fucking living things we encountered were some Fucking cows,
one Fucking person and a Fucking dog, who was quite protective of the Fucking sign I was being photographed next to.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Gasthof Lindlbauer in the next village of Haid, with an interesting decor of former Fucking animals, though we still had a lovely Fucking view.
The very hospitable waitress asked if we’d come for the Fucking experience, and duly presented us with bottles of Fucking Hell beer. Prost!

On reflection, it was a truly Fucking memorable day.

The Fucking directions

This Fucking way

A former Fucking resident

Another Fucking sign

The Fucking end

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2014

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MH17 — Collateral Damage?

I’m lucky enough to travel quite a lot.
As a matter of fact, I’m writing this on an overnight international flight.

As I clicked my seatbelt in, my thoughts turned to the passengers and crew of MH17.

Like me, they would have settled in to their seats, had a drink or a coffee, watched a movie,
or caught up on some sleep. The crew going about their well-practiced routine of feeding and watering.

Some passengers would have been reliving memories of their holiday or business trip, thinking about what needed to be done once they got home. Those mundane things like the washing,
or back-to-back meetings. The kids looking forward to telling their friends all about their adventures, showing them the selfies they hadn’t posted on Facebook.

Then they were blown out of the sky by some lunatic bastards.

There but the grace of whichever mystical sky person of choice go I.

Was it the sick work of some random rebel nutjobs playing with a deadly new toy (“what does this button do?”) Hardly. The lives of 293 people obliterated in a war that had nothing to do with them and in a split second ripping apart those of friends and families on the ground, scattered around the globe.

The stories emerged of MH17, as they do, of the passengers, the chaos of the scene and reports of looting and bodies shown no respect, left for days in the sun.

Will the murder of all those on board make one iota of difference in Ukraine? Of course not.
It will be murder as usual. The victims of MH17 will merely be collateral damage.

To the passengers and crew of MH17, a Monty Python quote:
“What a senseless waste of human life.”

©Steve Williams 2014

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Rolf Harris: guilty of cultural cringe

I never liked Rolf Harris.

“When was the last time Rolf Harris actually went out here?”

Not quite true — as a young kid I liked his song The Court of King Caractacus. I’d enjoy the silly word play, giggling as the song sped up to its climax until I got the hiccups.

Now using the words “climax” and “Rolf Harris” in the same sentence conjures up disgust.

Many words have been written about his trial and conviction on indecent assault charges.
I’m not going to add to them, other than I hope his pathetically weak sentence is increased and the man rots in jail.

My dislike of Harris started long before his name was even linked to any wrongdoing.

Rolf Harris was too Australian, while simultaneously not Australian enough.
By that I mean he cashed in on and exploited his “Australian-ness”, though was too serious about it. He didn’t “take the piss out of himself” which would have endeared himself to the country he left, rarely returned to, yet made millions of pounds out of.

He was jingoistic at its worst — which didn’t go down too well with my fellow Australians.

It was so fake and as we say in Australia, “bunged on”. He was guilty of cultural cringe. I used to watch Harris painting his bog-standard landscape scenes of the Australian outback and the bush and wonder, “when was the last time you actually went out there?”

The Poms (and many Australians) lapped it up — this simple act of the misplaced Aussie overseas. Harris stuck to that act for over sixty years.

It turned out we couldn’t trust Harris, unlike British Paints that he flogged for years.

The sense of betrayal felt by English and Australian fans of Harris is quite palpable. Though this betrayal is obviously nothing compared to what his victims have and continue to endure.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Rugby League — Greatest Memories of All

So the debate has raised its ugly head once again. Should Australia’s National Rugby League clubs leave their suburban home grounds and force fans to support them at soul-less stadiums where you could fire a gun and not hit anyone?

Rugby league fans have a passion that can’t be dismissed. Here are a few random memories from when I was a kid growing up in Sydney.

The greatest team in the history of sport (www.nma.gov.au and Melba Studios)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Getting splinters in your arse from those wooden seats at Cumberland Oval. The exuberant Eels fans that torched it after the 1981 premiership win did us all a favour.

*Running onto the ground as the fulltime siren sounded to try and grab the black and white striped cardboard corner post. I was successful a few times.

*The halftime entertainment malfunctions that have plagued Grand Finals — the busted TV allegedly to promote Optus Vision (which was actually quite prophetic), John Williamson serenading an inflatable rubber tree with “Rip Rip Woodchip” after loggers had threatened a blockade of the SCG, the cast of “42nd Street” standing forlornly in the centre of the ground waiting in vain for their music to start, and more recently, Billy Idol’s hovercraft cutting the power, which was a good thing.

*The sensational prizes bestowed on guests of TV’s “Controversy Corner” — including a Pelaco shirt, vouchers for a Viking Sauna and Kevin Junee’s Run For Your Life sports store and the piece of resistance — a bottle of Patra orange juice.

*“The Theme From Shaft” used over the closing credits of Channel Seven’s Sunday night footy coverage with Rex Mossop. Not sure what a “blaxploitation” film had to do with footy, but there’s probably a parallel. “Chips and eggs” was the standard Sunday night fare in the Williams household.

*The Chook Army (diehard supporters of Eastern Suburbs) singing “We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / we are the Ray Price haters”. One actually threw a grapefruit at him while he was in his petrified praying mantis pose — he didn’t budge.

*The “sand boy” running on with a small bucket of sand to for the ball to sit on before conversions and penalty shots at goal.

*Scanlen’s footy cards — that sweet smell of the thin pink strip of bubble gum lingering on the cards… and still lingers with me. Some bastard kid knocking the cards out of another kids’ hands in the school playground yelling “Scramble!!!” which meant a mad free-for-all.

*Having a birthday party with a few mates when I was about ten at Lidcombe Oval, we were sitting behind the try line and were captured in mid-try celebration mode in a photo on the back page of the next day’s Daily Mirror.

*The arse falling out of your meat pie at a brass monkey-inducing Sydney Sports Ground.

*The trainer scurrying on to the field with his “magic sponge” dunked in a bucket of water, mopping up a horrific head gash, then redunking it in the same bucket, primed for the next injury.

*One of my most prized possessions — the autographs of the entire victorious Roosters 1975 side (on an Easts Leagues Club wine list — thanks Uncle Pete).

For all its faults — and there are a few, it’s a bloody good game. The clubs and the NSW government need to listen to their fans about where they want to watch their game.

©Steve Williams 2014

 

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Bullfighting and the running of the morons

“Good.” That was my first reaction when I heard of the latest horrific injuries suffered during the “running of the bulls” in Spain.

An alternative to the running of the bulls, “sticking your hand in a blender”

A crushed thorax, gored armpits, heart, groins, knees and thighs, even a rectal perforation. Just part of the injury roll call from previous versions held in Pamplona. Enjoy.

However, that is small change compared to the 250,000 bulls maimed and killed each year in bullfights across the planet.

Harsh? Possibly. I hope these people recover, and then get some sense (try a 7-Eleven, it’s on special).

Seriously, how much of a moron would you need to be, what copious amount of alcohol or drugs would you need to have consumed to think that running 850 metres through narrow, cobbled streets in front of very big, very pissed off (and terrified) bulls, before they are corralled into the bullfighting arena is even remotely a good idea?

Bullfighting is cruel and barbaric and needs to be stopped, as does the running of the bulls. Thankfully there is an ever-increasing groundswell of support to do just that — Barcelona and thirty-eight Catalan municipalities in Spain have banned bullfighting. ¡Felicitaciones!

If you want to get badly injured without inflicting cruelty on an animal who has no choice in the matter, may I suggest the time-honoured “sticking your hand in a blender”.

You can hear the purists cry “the running of the bulls is an intrinsic part of Pamplona’s San Fermín festival dating back to medieval times.” Bullshit. Don’t care.

Hopefully the running of the bulls and bullfighting will one day die a death — and you can add other barbaric practices to that list — such as fox hunting by people with double-barrelled surnames wearing stupid hats, animals in circuses, restaurants serving sharkfin soup and exponents of Traditional Chinese Medicine using basically every body part of endangered tigers in the vein attempt of getting a bigger dick.

One can only hope.

For more information on the (blood) sport of bullfighting, visit the World Society for the Protection of Animals, www.stopbullfighting.org.uk and PETA, (warning: the websites contain disturbing, but necessary facts and images).

©Steve Williams 2014

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World Cup miracles – Jesus saves but lets one in

Any heretic that scoffs at the premise that football (soccer to Australian and US readers) is a religious experience is a doubting Thomas… or Miguel or Gabriela to give it a slight Brazilian.

A World Cup relic – Maradona’s “Hand of God”

Only an association football apostate would dispute the fact that miracles are being performed
in the World Cup by the wine vat-load.

I’m not talking about how some of the players’ mohawks and afros stay up, or Tim Cahill’s goal — forget Betty tapping him on the shoulder with a sword — just give him that Sydney expressway,
but I digress.

Every single match a player is apparently tragically killed, or at the very least mortally wounded — rolling around on the sprayed-on grass, their face a twisted, grotesque mask of agony, as they desperately clutch a body part that is in danger of falling off at any second.

Then yea, once the ref bloweth thou whistle and thine penalty is awarded, the dead and wounded spring miraculously to their feet, the “injury” fully cured, without even a splash of the holy water from the magic sponge.

Hallelujah! Resurrection! It’s like Easter every ninety minutes, just without the cave and rock bit,
and chocolate bunnies.

Messianic miracles are not only happening ON the pitch.

Nay, a group of wheelchair-bound Brazil supporters were suddenly cured of their afflictions, jumping up in an exalted leap onto their not-so atrophied limbs. They then followed the word of the law-d, taking up their wheelchairs and walking out of the stadium escorted by security guards not swept up in the ecclesiastical euphoria.

Jesus! If I could see just one World Cup game without a player prostrate in penalty prayer,
THAT would be a miracle.

Here endeth the lesson.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Your one stop shop for all your radio commercial cliché needs

You could always tell them to get *****d…
Not the ideal course of action obviously, but for a radio station creative writer it is very tempting.

I love the smell of sautéed scrotum in the morning

You will recognise these godawful radio commercial clichés from having them cruelly seared into your auditory canals as a listener, or being forced to insert them into a commercial by a sales manager or client with the imagination of a prawn.

In absolutely no particular order, with bonus appropriate responses…

“All your (whatever) needs” — I don’t have any needs… that you can help with anyway.

“Thinking (insert product here)?” — No, no I’m not. So do I have to listen to the rest of this?

“One stop shop” — The cliché to end all clichés (cliché alert). I’d rather sauté my scrotum
than use that in an ad. Unless you’re mercilessly taking the p*** out of it (the ad, not my scrotum).

“Located at… (address)” — Oh, so that’s YOUR address? I would never have guessed.

“All roads lead to…” — No, actually they don’t.

“They have all the best (whatevers) under the one roof” — as opposed to seven?

“Tonight at 8.30pm.” — Thanks for clarifying that.

Client voiced ads — No. Their ego needs stroking? Get them some lotion.

Ads obviously voiced by station “talent” that say “we” — Unless the drive announcer
is moonlighting as a car dealer, no.

“Family owned, Australian business…” — So if it’s run by a single Swedish person
you shouldn’t shop / eat / drink / whatever there? Xenophobia much? Hopefully a very high-rating, high profile Australian metro station has a drinking game using this one. It’s very popular.

“Hello Beryl, that’s a nice (Wankel rotary engine), where did you get it?”
— Pathetic conversational ads, sometimes nauseatingly described as “slice of life” are the work of Satan. Nobody EVER speaks like that. If you have a gun to your head, maybe try and gently take the proverbial out of it. Or ask them to pull the trigger.

“Wankel Rotary Engines R Us” – Difficult, the client has chosen a business name that sucks…
see above option.

“Call us on (phone number).” — as opposed to? Unless the phone number is the only way to buy the product or makes up 90% of the jingle, lose it.

“See us at (address).” — Lose the horrific first few words.

“Check out our website, www.(whatever).com” — Ditto and lose the “www”, it’s not 1993.

“Are you in the market for…?” — Nope. Now what?

“Open seven days a week…” — Oh, so you mean every day?

“Don’t forget to like us on Facebook.” — No. You’re my proctologist.

There are no doubt many, many others, but I‘m feeling nauseous having endured this lot… “Thinking nausea….?”

©Steve Williams 2014

*The uncut version originally appeared here:
www.radioinfo.com.au/news/your-one-stop-shop-all-your-radio-commercial-clich%C3%A9-needs (for all your radio info needs)

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Smokers’ rights? I call bullshit

Two words I always find amusing when used in the same sentence are “smokers” and “rights”.
It’s dead simple, they don’t have any.

Shazza enjoys a post-rant smoke

I remember a hilarious comment in response to a story about the NSW government in Australia banning smoking in commercial dining areas next year. I can’t recall the author’s name, so let’s call her “Shazza”.

Her erudite contribution was: “Non-smokers have all the inside space…”. What, in the world?
So us non-smokers should just shut up and never leave the lounge room? Why should smokers have territorial rights to a restaurant terrace with a panoramic sea view or even an outside table near a random pot plant? At least Shazza did suggest allocating a separate outdoor seating, eating and drinking area. They already have — it’s called your home.

Unfortunately, outdoor smoking areas have one major design flaw — smoke by nature is fairly unpredictable. I recall seeing a large yellow rectangle painted on the ground in front of a city office building complete with the words “Smoking Area”. I like to think they were taking the piss.

Just yesterday my wife and I wanted to enjoy lunch in a rather pleasant outdoor area of a cafe. Once we heard the click of a cigarette lighter we knew our enjoyment would be zero, so we left. Why should we have to? I wanted to breathe the cool garden air, not secondhand toxins from the pits of tar-filled lungs.

I’m unaware of any studies linking smoking to spelling and a morbid fear of apostrophes,
but another reader (“Trevor”) who commented on the same story would make a worthy study:
“This is rediculous arent smokers banned from enough places, but drinking alcahol and getting blind drunk is totally acceptable? If you dont like it dont stand near us…”. Trev may have imbibed the odd vat of beer before hitting return.

Love the old “dont stand near us”, with an “alcahol” comparison chestnut being fired up.
At least “alcaholics” don’t have the potential to give me cancer. Vomit yes, fruity aromas, possibly violent assault and / or inappropriate displays of unwanted affection and / or slurred, off-key renditions of an Elvis classic, but not a potentially terminal illness.

Of course smokers have rights — in their own house or car or similar totally enclosed box
where I can’t smell it or them.

I realise it is a potentially tragic addiction for a lot of people,
but(t) there is absolutely no way it is a “right”. That is just a smokescreen.

©Steve Williams 2014

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