18C, 1975, abuse, act, anglican, anthony morris, award, brisbane, child, churchie, cindy, crushed, discrimination, fred, headmaster, hedley, hedley thomas, indigenous, journalist, law, lawyer. barrister, mango, melon, national affairs, prior, qc, queensland, QUT, race, racial, Roberts, sc, school, section, section 18c, sex, society, thomas, tony morris, toowoomba, university, walkley, whitehouse
It’s through adversity that triumph shines my old mum used to say in the days when she still shucked sixty bucks a day through the pokies at the Bunger, sipped on Sweet Sherry and Soda shandies, and cuddled up to Kevvie when the old man wasn’t looking, which was every time a race jumped that you could get a bet on, or 59 minutes out of every sixty in the old-fashioned lingo.
‘Archie’ she used to say (she never called me son, because it made her feel old; for 40 years I’ve been pretending to be her younger brother, and on a deathbed promise maintained the fiction at the funeral during the Eulogy I delivered to my sister)
‘To be a man means that sometimes you just have to suck up the sour lemon and accept that you’re never going to be a professional punter or root Elle McPherson’ ….. I inwardly smiled at this, knowing how wide of the mark the old duck was, but given that she was on a respirator and a litre and half of morphine a day I simply put on the serious look and nodded ….. ‘then take a peek in the Bunger boys-room dunny mirror and take stock of yourself and your useless wastrel’s life’.
She had the sh*ts the old girl, because I was whacking a couple of hundred an hour through the Mr Big one-armed-bandit and betting 250 credits a press, while she was stuck sticking a sixpence a spin through the Queen of the Nile.
I kept copping the upraised eyebrow that was the long-understood Bunger code for ‘Oi c*nt, you might on the QT be my son, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t sling us a hundred or three when you’re cashed up’, and usually it would have worked and if I could get away with not explaining how I came across the unexpected temporary riches, and not have to show her the winning quaddie ticket, I would have stumped.
But I had the pip too, because instead of showing the requisite degree of gratitude required by my selfless act all those years ago, the bird whose womb I’d kindly warmed for all those winter months was snidely stabbing me to Aunty Mabel – who was sitting in the next seat to Mum ploughing 150 of the 15 million credits I had given her a go into the Show Me the Money machine, while the Old Girl watched out of the corner of one eye with her internal temperature soaring by the second – while she smiled at me in her smirk-like way and stared as if she cared into the Archie meat pies that over the years have sunk a thousand large-sized-undied chicks with saggy, stretch-marked tits.
‘Archie’s looking thin isn’t he Mabel’ the old girl cooed. ‘He doesn’t seem to eat a damn thing, and he’s up at all hour of day and night. And the useless bastard always appears to have a wad of large-denomination used banknotes in his no-good cargo-pants pocket. I say appears because the ungrateful little ingrate won’t even let his Mum into his room to count his savings, and has stuck a triple padlock and one of Gorgeous George’s 6 foot-six mid-Catalonian minders on the door just so his poor old Mother doesn’t trip over the stacked piles while she’s sleep-walking’.
Nice bloody inferences coming from your dearly beloved Mum aren’t they? What was I supposed to do? Spill my guts and tell her the God’s Honest Truth that I’d pulled Erica Packer or something? The snip would be on super-sized then, and when it failed she’d be banging on ad-nauseam about my ex-missus the Bead-Twirler (well sort of ex anyway; I never quite got around to lodging the form after I lost the application fee on that nag that Doubting declared was a dead-set cert in the ninth at Stoney Creek) and declaring that any decent sort of bloke would be slipping his Mum all of his cash while he sat around for six months waiting for his spouse to slip out of the side door of the Women’s Correctional Centre after being granted parole.
Nup, she could get stuffed. Loose lips sink unlicensed 8 foot crab-pot carrying aluminium ships was the mantra she taught us when we were tin lids sent down to catch guppies in Downfall Creek while the oldies practiced the Kama Sutra, and luscious lips sewn tightly together I intended to remain.
So I simply lay back in my supremely comfortable vinyl-covered Zac’s cafe chair, pulled the brick of fifties out from my back pocket, and started counting.
The sly old schemer changed the bowling attack.
“Yes my little brother’ the lying pensioner lowed, ‘Skip over your successes sibling. Only wankers from Wavell Heights wave their hands in the air and shout ‘yeah, yeah I’m da man here’ when number S18 flashes up on the big screen at the Chermside Centrelink and they’ve got the ticket in their pocket. Don’t be a d*ckhead like those job-dodgers from the wrong side of Downfall Creek’.
‘Push the delete button on your ego-fed moments of brilliance Grasshopper, and focus instead upon your multitude of failures’ the world-renowned emotional blackmail expert purred, her desperation for a piece of the pokie-bound pie in my paws as evident in the old girl’s eyes as her southern bound evaluation of the size of the slice.
‘Fess up to your brief periods of failure, and tell the world the truth about your torment and your travails’ the aged duck in desperation gushed.
Mum didn’t mean it seriously -she was just on the skim and had spent the morning reading all about the junkie actress’s latest loot-lifting ruses in last year’s Woman’s Day while she waited for Dr Botox to blast her hard-lived-and-earned wrinkle lines back into World War 2 – but apparently being this brooding, introspective, openly self-questioning metrosexual is all the rage these days, and supposedly the way to go.
That’s what my head shrinker says anyway, and he’s got flash-looking framed degrees from all manner of far flung places on his wall, so he’s gotta be bloody super-smart hasn’t he sportsfans?
Mum put five hundred of his through the TAB on the dishlickers in the 5 races run between opening time and 11am at Manakau Raceway, Arse end of Auckland, New Zealand just last Wednesday, so what the hell would that highly-qualified yet useless Medico wanker know?
It was 9.27pm at this stage of the evening sportsfans, and as old Lenny the Jew turned Buddhist turned Victim of Crime and every other bugger knows, Archie gets bored pretty bloody quickly, and can’t cop the idea of a death by a thousand cuts. Put the bloody pistol to my head and pull the trigger sport I say.
It’s a mantra I try to live by, and so in this spirit and before she could blink I pushed maximum spin seven times in a row on the old girl’s poker machine, lost the lot, and before she could cock back her palm to pummel me I screamed ‘Mum! I have a confession to make!’
Mama I’m not a goddamned drug dealer or a Maserati driving wog gangster wearing dark shades;
I’m a Bunger boy who pulls all the rich chicks, and get my tracks carved at Fadez and Bladez’.
You brought me up not to walk in a jail-bound sucker’s shoes,
and told me a man’s reputation is a currency he can not afford to lose.
Mama you taught your boy o look after his hair,
Now all the ladies love Archie, boo yeah!
Comprende da-la-secret to cash-soaked success homeboys?
Keep it to yourself hey?