'I say whistleblower for mayor'

JANE BOWRON
Last updated 07:40 12/11/2012

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Jane Bowron

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Halloween, Guy Fawkes, the Melbourne Cup, the United States elections, and of course the greatest event of them all in the early November offering, the launch of Ripped Apart: A City in Chaos - Bob Parker's story.

Thankfully I was able to ignore the first two aforementioned calendar events and pleased not to have been door-knocked by small fry dressed in macabre costumes demanding sweeties. And apart from the irritation of sporadic crackers being let off every night, long after November the 5th, Guy Fawkes slipped me by with a whimper rather than a bang.

I guess you could argue that a person who has grown tired of pyrotechnical displays has grown tired of life, but as I grow older, apart from a sentimental attachment to waving the odd sparkler, I find I'm unable to connect with my inner arsonist and can think of better ways of watching a whole lot of money go up in smoke in a few seconds.

There I was on Tuesday afternoon virtuously cleaning out the hose and sock drawer, determined to ignore the pounding of horses' hooves emanating from across the ditch, till like an automaton I picked up my wallet, opened the door and made my way like a gambling zombie to the nearest pub avec TAB to put two over three on Jim Cassidy, and a couple of $2 quinella bets on the horsies of Bart Cummings and Gai Waterhouse.

Needless to say to no avail but loads of fun observing everyone lose their resolve to not cover the waterfront and bet on every horse in the race in some form or another. I didn't hear one person yelp with joy from the swell of the packed pub when Green Moon breasted the tape, so as Leonard Cohen once said, we were all beautiful losers together on the day, and it was too hot to wear our famous blue raincoats.

Nine dollars is a small price to pay to honour my grandfather aka Gan Gan, or the late SOP (Seedy Old Punter) as his son-in-law affectionately called him, on account of his daily worship at the local TABernacle. Occasionally he would allow me, as a small child to accompany him to the race track and issue the instruction to sidle up to "the Chinaman" at the tote to hear what he'd put his money on and report back tout suite.

Generous in his victories, he would arrive home bearing bottles of Niederburg, Boston buns, packets of "chaws", and on one memorable occasion dozens of Bluff oysters resulting in a sibling projectile vomiting out of his bedroom window all over the pride and joy of my mother's newly assembled rock garden.

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Wednesday night was US election night, watched with great nervousness and attention, with a neighbour dropping in Barack Obama earrings, and a cobber texting when the Electoral College vote revealed a clear victory: "That sound you can hear is the world breathing a sigh of relief."

Another friend made the observation that the candidates had just completed the ultimate job interview, and even though I'd sooner vote for Charlie Manson than Mitt Romney, he got an A for effort in his concession speech when he said of his grinding campaign that: "Paul [Ryan] and I left everything on the field."

Back home with the launch of Bob Parker's manifesto Ripped Apart: A City in Chaos. I have not read it as yet but have absorbed printed excerpts from it in The Press. The mayor attempts to justify his support of CEO Tony Marryatt and explain his insistence that Marryatt's employment contract be renewed and his threat to council that if it wasn't, "I would consider whether I would continue as mayor".

He says his objective was to emphasise the destabilising effects the absence of Marryatt would have on the city's recovery.

When the threat was leaked to The Press with the headline the next day: "Mayor threatens to resign if CEO goes", Parker says he considered the leak from the confines of a committee room to be "an act of treachery".

Surely the real act of treachery was in the mayor's threat to quit, as it revealed all too plainly a captain prepared to leave a sinking ship, abandoning the citizens to hell and high water, if he didn't get his way. The book, also raises questions how such a busy mayor found, or put aside, the time to write the book even with the assistance of a ghost.

I say whistleblower for mayor.

- The Press

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