So gather ‘round kids. This is how it is in Morrison’s fascist Australia these days.
Redundant at 50, unemployed and unemployable.
I told Caligula Employment Services I was looking for pastry chef vacancies.
Those Coalition-outsourced brownshirts wasted no time in fixing me up with interviews for—
… a registrar brain surgeon at the Mater (no, I’m not shitting you)
…a Mercedes Benz auto mechanic in the Valley
…the national affairs correspondent for the Shire Ledger, whatever that is …
‘But I’m not qualified …,’ I started to protest.
The squinty-eyed brownshirt ‘jobanal’ consultant looked like I had dropped a four letter word.
‘You are required to apply for any suitable job!’
Good imitation of a short-arsed guy in a bad haircut with a small toilet brush under his nose.
‘If you do not, we’ll cut your maggot soup allowance!’ she barked at me. ‘And we will have to jobanally probe you!!’
The spittle was flying.
Tic toc, tic toc.
Threats, ego-stroking. Threats, ego-stroking.
Sadism contracted out by the Commonwealth. Employment for sociopaths on the pubic purse.
I turned up for the Mater appointment the same day.
Stern panel of senior surgeons faced me at a head table, arranged like the bench of some star chamber.
I was commanded to sit in the sole, very lonely, very uncomfortable chair. Positioned so I could be scrutinised from a higher position by each of the four panellists.
They didn’t quite sit in saddles, but they did resemble the horsemen.
War asked me for references: ‘I have none. I’m not really a surgeon, at all, you see,’ me stuttering. ‘Caligula Employment services said I had to …’
‘Nonsense m’boy,’ Famine interrupted. ‘Let’s not worry about such trifles. Tell us about your last operation.’
Operation? Like a hernia job?
‘Operation?’ I muttered. ‘Look, I’m a pastry chef really …’
‘Oh, excellent. Pastry for morning tea! When can you start,’ bellowed Conquest, looking a lot like a sallow Boris Johnson. With just the right touch of imbecility.
‘Well, I …’
‘Nonsense,’ shrieked Death. ‘We cannot hire you. A mistake was made! You might save lives here. That is not our function at Ellenpea Health.’
Second interview didn’t go much better.
Owner of the Valley Mercedes dealership looked at me with derision from the get-go.
A huge man, in every sense. All the more imposing, standing in the courtyard of his dealership, surrounded by the latest models of luxury European cars, supporting local enterprise … with little Kangaroo stickers on the gaol-made license plates. The height of Australian industry in neo-fascist Australia!
‘How much you offering?’ he demanded curtly. Looking down at me past his enormous paunch.
I was unprepared. ‘What do you mean … ?’
He glowered at me.
‘I see. You wish to bargain! Very well, I’ll take four hundred a day. Not a penny less!’ he boomed.
I tried very hard to make sense of this dialogue.
Was he twisted? No surprise there, I guess.
‘Look, I was told you had a vacancy here. By Caligula Slave Services. Auto mechanic. Forty bucks an hour.’
For a moment I thought he would strike at me.
Then his face cracked open and he laughed a rotten-toothed opera of mirth.
Hah, hah, hah. Hoh, hoh, hoh.
I;m the man. You’re just scum.
‘One of those,’ he managed to gasp at last. ‘No, no, no! Here at Fascismo Motors it is you who pay me for the privilege to work on my beautiful automobiles!’
Tried to explain the necessity for me to earn money to pay for rent and food and medicine and clothes, and …
He threatened me with decapitation … leave his premisses at once!
‘I report you to my good friend Trev Evans,’ he yelled after me. ‘He make you pay more to work here!’
Queue El toque a degüello.
Another entitled fat bogan shithead!
I didn’t expect much from my third interview.
Turned out to be the strangest one.
I was summoned to the Hilton’s cigar bar. I was to ask for Lord Peregerine Copper.
No joke. The barman told me Lord Copper was waiting for me in the smoking lounge.
Smoking lounge! How the rich live.
He was a thin, wizened man, bald, and looking all the while like Emperor Palpatine, but with glasses. A bit like Rupert Murdoch really.
Hey. Rupert Murdoch? Really?
‘Sit down, sit down,’ he croaked in the gravelly voice of a man accustomed to whiskey for breakfast. And for every other meal in the day.
‘Tell me about your outlook on the nation, young fellow,’ he croaked.
I creaked into an overstuffed leather armchair opposite him. Enormous clouds of smoke drifted towards me from his ridiculously large cigar.
Like a bad scene from a movie with a script by Charlie Dickens.
‘Outlook?’ I tried to be neutral.
He didn’t like that. Fixed me in a steely gaze with his pale blue eyes. Puffing at his monster cigar.
When the silence had lasted just too long, I said: ‘I don’t really have an outlook, sir, I …’
‘Splendid! Splendid!’ he exploded like pistol shots. ‘That’s just the ticket, young man.’
‘Yes, yes,’ he mused, as if to himself. Suddenly soft and almost quiet.
But then voluble again: ‘Can’t have an opinionated know-it-all working the national affairs desk! Wouldn’t do ‘t all.’
‘Well, if you say so,’ I ventured as pleasantly as I could muster in the fog of mustard gas spewing forth from the zeppelin-like cigar. Sucking on it in an almost obscene imitation of a feeble fellation. The way rich folks do.
‘Capital, my dear fellow,’ he cackled. ‘Capital. You do seem to understand the attitude rather well. You will report what I tell you. I shall instruct the editor immediately to arrange credentials for you as our man in Canberra. Here’s a few shillings. Get yourself some decent clothes, man, and turn up smartly at the Ledger.’
With that he fumbled in his coat, produced a fat roll of hundred dollar bills, handed it to me, and waved me off.
I was dismissed. Ooga booga!
And that’s how my career as national affairs correspondent began.
Unassuming Ledger offices. Double-storey concrete cube in a Caringbah back street off President Ave. The editor was the only one there.
He was a fat little man with piggy eyes.
‘So you’re Boot!’
I didn’t say anything.
He thrust a folder at me.
‘Here!’ He didn’t seem to know how to talk except in accusatory staccato.
‘Your accreditation! First month’s pay is in your account! Your flight and hotel details are in there! Jog on!’
Jog on? What the fuck?
‘Now, hang on …’ I started.
‘I’m in no mood for you right now,’ he spat at me. ‘Lord Copper made his wishes pretty clear!’
He gabbed at a fax and crumpled it one-handed.
‘He’s a great man! He’s had a stroke!! I have no time for you right now!!!’
He threw the crumpled fax at me, turned his back.
I picked it up, put it with the other papers, left.
It was over pretty quickly.
Rudely, condescending behaviour is the new norm under the neo-fascists.
Somehow all those fat fucks who make up the LPA and NPA, and all their supporters, seem to have ascended to some kind of superior class of people with no qualm about letting everyone know it too.
Maybe the only thing that could turn these morons on was to vomit on lesser people. To torture them like Roman gentry their slaves.
Don’t even know they’re sitting on the wrong end of the branch they’re busy sawing off. Dumb bastards. One and all.
I was half-way to the airport before I realised why the fat bastard was so sour at me.
The crumpled fax made it plain: all my work was to be published without editorial interference.
The man who was gonna dictate it to me was in hospital. Stroke. Unconscious.
Lord Copper had given me a blank cheque.
It didn’t take me long to conclude: I’m gonna party on that cheque!
Isn’t that what people do in Morrison’s ‘Straya?