Skullduggery in high places fodder for feisty gossip

STEPHEN OLIVER
Last updated 08:30 13/10/2012

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Stephen Oliver

Nun's soapy penance offset by cream buns What became of the cowboy builders and the shonky jobs? Romney rides into the sunset as US hopes spring eternal Down in the lowlands where the rivers run a dirty brown Skullduggery in high places fodder for feisty gossip Vatican scandal is just another in a long sordid list Another cathedral much admired and beloved Marching to the beat of freedom again A landscape littered with haunted faces of humanity Behind the facades, shaken city's identity still in ruins

My local greengrocer says to me, "Dotcom this. Dotcom that. I'm sick of hearing about it. Knock it on the head."

I say, "Yeah, if you hear the name often enough it sounds stupid."

While he bags my potatoes, onions and tomatoes, we get into a conspiratorial rap about stuff.

"It's all about our security intelligence outfit or whatever you want to call it carrying out illegal surveillance and trying to cover up the dumb behaviour," I say. "Just a bunch of would-be thick cops wanting to hang out with the big guys, the FBI. Makes them feel like TV SWAT heavies."

The greengrocer packs the potatoes firmly on the bottom of the bag.

"That's it, yeah," he chortles in a high register.

"Listen," I say, "you know what this is all about?"

I lean over the counter, stabbing the air with my finger. "It's about Key - that smarmy CEO business dude running the country doing dirty deals with the White House for some sort of tradeoff. That's what's at the bottom it."

"You're right! You're right," screams the greengrocer. He punches into the till what I owe him, shaking his head dismissively.

"And another thing," I say, "who knows what perks he's jacked up for himself?"

"Who?" asks the greengrocer.

"That smarmy PM Key," I say. "He's probably lined up five-star Hilton Hotel accommodation or a resort for him and his and family in Sharm el-Sheikh or somewhere on the Red Sea, paid for by the FBI or some US government mob that no-one will get to hear about. Ever!"

Then I say slow and deliberately, "As if any of this is world shaking."

I throw my hands up in the air with mock disgust.

"Hey," I say, "what do we know, eh? We're just s... kickers man, and whatever it is, sure as hell he ain't' going to tell us. You won't be hearing it on no news bulletin any time soon."

The greengrocer hands back my card.

"Hold on," I say. "Spinach. Got a bag of the stuff for me? Big bag."

He nods vigorously as if we have signed a trade treaty and disappears out back among empty boxes and into the big chiller. He has the freshest produce in town. While he's doing that, I look out through the tinted shop windows.

Trees along the railway embankment are in bloom. Leaves flare bright green, as if lit by a fuse. It is spring, and we're chewing the fat and solving the problems of the world.

I pay and he thanks me with old-fashioned courtesy. Neither of us really gives a toss. What do these people mean to us? Zilch. That's what.

Skullduggery in low places - some of it fires the public imagination, but most of it flushes down the sewers of the tabloid media, smearing the front pages in blearing, crass headlines for one edition.

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The paparazzi with zoom-in lenses prove to the world that Kate Middleton has mammaries and likes to swim. It is mindless stuff that appeals to the more base elements within us. They are just like us after all. Wow.

The one that really gets me is the drop-kick and homosexual shock jock Alan Jones. He used to own a mansion in King St, Newtown, inner-west Sydney, right in the heart of Gaytown.

This guy is a similar cut to his colleague, John "Hello World" Laws, the man with the golden microphone and cold stare of a dead fish.

I once fell foul of him over a voice job I did that he felt entitled to. Laws is a multimillionaire. I laughed at the pettiness of it - the power play over voicing a miserable radio commercial.

Many rumours circulated at the time about Laws and his alleged association with the premier of New South Wales at the time (1976-1986), Neville Wran, involving possession and supply of a "white powder".

Corruption among the NSW police force was rife. Nothing was ever proved.

I met a journalist in a pub once in Newtown who was writing an unauthorised autobiography on Laws. I told him my story and when the book was published, I found I had been quoted, "Another one who claimed to have been done over by John Laws was Stephen Oliver . . ." Laws provided his own response to the story with, "Never admit you have fallen in battle".

Now Jones is again in the news, having addressed a meeting of young liberals in Sydney with the now infamous remark that Prime Minister Julie Gillard's father had "died of shame" over his daughter's trumpeted failures in running a Labor government.

It backfired, or to paraphrase Bob Dylan, "You don't know what's going on, do you, Mr Jones?"

Dozens of advertisers have pulled the plug on the Alan Jones Show. The end is nigh for one ageing shock jock.

Stephen Oliver has published several volumes of poetry including Harmonic and more recently Apocrypha. He resides in the north King Country.

- Waikato Times

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