The only explanation I have for my overwhelming urge to go to Calder Park Drags last Friday was because I’d spent a disproportionate amount of the previous fortnight in Mount Martha, or as I call it, Midsomer Murders Bay. You know that English mystery telly show where it’s all chutney, hedges and avuncular parsons at the village fair until the kindly widow who breeds hounds finally snaps and decapitates the tavern keeper in his sleep for bending over the corners of the hymn book? Well it’s like that but by the sea. Mount Martha is the only place in the world you’ll find authentic ersatz 16th century Tudor architecture with a view of jet skis.
There are more uptight white honkies in the Portsea end of Frankston than you can shake Maggie Beer rolled in quince paste at. The morning after bin night I received a petition from the neighbors. Apparently my rubbish ‘wasn’t clean enough’. A mate’s parents have lived in Mount Honky for 40 years. “I didn’t know people from other countries existed until I was 14. The only Asian I ever saw growing up in Mount Martha was in the word Caucasian. I suppose it could have been worse,” she added, “It could have been in Sorrento, where you can be arrested for not blow drying your hair and you get ten years hard yakka for not wearing moleskins.”
What have I been doing in Caucasia? Squatting in an empty house because I, like hundreds of other Melbourne show offs, attention seekers and narcissists with self esteem issues am writing a show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. And no, that is not a veiled attempt at advertising my show God Is Bullshit, That’s The Good News. When I tweeted “And when I say ‘writing’ I mean googling myself and wanking.” my mate and fellow comedian Geraldine Hickey replied, “it appears we have the same method for writing shows. I also include eating toasted cheese sandwiches.”
Mount Martha’s Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has since informed me that onanism is illegal in their jurisdiction. The only form of physical pleasure permitted other than doubles tennis and brisk sudoku is hitting yourself in the sternum with a first edition copy of Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion.
The only antidote for my White Dog, White Shoe, Emotionally Constipated, Self Funded Retiree fatigue was recalibratation via a bogan enema. Which resulted in a bunch of little boys in skeleton suits and I taking off down the Calder on an odyssey. The Thunderdome for a night of legal street drags on what is apparently the fastest drag strip in the world.
I say ‘apparently’ because how could you prove it? Years ago I worked in Tokyo as a prostitu…. I mean English teacher. I fancied writing a memoir of my escapades and calling it Give Head, Lose Face. Anyway out with a couple of mates in a Japanese restaurant last week one asked if I was fluent. “Can either of you speak Japanese?” I asked, “No,” they replied. “Then yes. I’m fully bilingual.”
I pulled up to Hoons Haven behind a lowered Commodore with tinted windows, mags all round, a license plate H8ER79 and a bumper sticker that read Fuck Off We’re Full. And a crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror. Because Who Would Jesus Hate? I explained to the boys that H8ER79 meant the driver hated not only 79 but all prime numbers and as far as being full went, well, he was full of shit. But probably best not to tell him that. Unless they wanted their heads punched in. In the name of God.
Entering the carpark a bloke with a face like a slapped arse, the mouth of a corpse and the personality of a very angry war criminal with a personality disorder and a toothache gave me a ticket he’d written my licence plate number on. Parking fee I assumed. Or maybe some car key party where you get to have a stab at someone else’s car for the night. No, the ticket was so I could prove I was the owner of my own car on the way out. Or that’s what Ivan Milat’s brother said. If the ticket and the license plate didn’t match I was pretty sure I would have been raped. For all I knew the black sheep of the Milat family may not have even worked there. He just showed up every Friday night with his official looking tickets to meet people. Before dismembering them.
Entering the temple to petrol, testosterone and rubber I was overcome with 70s flashbacks. Mullets, Winfield Reds, panel vans, blokes called Daz and 3XY. As I entered The Dome, the dirt bowl carved from paddock in Diggers Rest (under 18s free! Under 12, don’t get too pissed you may have to drive mummy and daddy home) I was greeted by the roar of hotted up engines, the smell of global warming and the sight of, no it can’t be, yes is was, an espresso coffee stand. So much for pie, smoke or beer? Now its, soy latte, chai or mochachino? At the Calder Park drags. Only in Melbourne. Bunch of poofs. With taste. And anger management issues.
At least back in the days you could buy a girl a beer you were in with the chance of a root. These days you buy her a caffe latte and the best you can hope for is a conversation.
Great crowd. I didn’t realize it was a theme night. It was either Inbred and Sex Offender Friday, or a Moe Singles Night. I pulled out a texta to write my mobile phone number on the little boys arms in case they got lost. Then I thought maybe I should write their blood types down as well. Or a message JUST BRING THE KID BACK SAFE AND I’LL GIVE YOU MY PHONE, MY WALLET AND WHAT EVER ELSE YOU WANT.
The truth is I trust bogans far more than middle class people. The harder people try to act normal the less normal they actually are.
The little boys and I sorted ourselves a posse and the crowd was very friendly. It was a like a bogan Noah’s Arc. Two of every kind. Short fat bogans whose heads joined directly onto their bodies and tall skinny ones whose heads appeared to be connected to their body by a stalk, ones that looked as if they’d bite if you touched their ears, and others wearing beanies that screamed Special Needs Group. And stacks of families. I particularly enjoyed seeing the fagging mums in tracky dacks tipping Coke into baby bottles and handing it to toddlers in prams pushed flush up against the cyclone fence next to men wearing ear muffs commonly worn by operators of jack hammers.
The little boys were mad for the speed, noise and particularly the smell of burning rubber. “You can get the best smoke here Mum. Suck it up and hold your breath. It’s sick as!” Sick as? Hello Cancer! “And if you boys close your eyes while you inhale you can wish for where you want your tumor to metastasize from!” My kids were doing the drawback with tyre smoke. Not surprising, considering they’re half wog, half bogan. And considering I’m what the boys call WWM. World’s Worst Mother. Which is a refereshing change from ‘fat maggot’, ‘hell in a skin suit’ and ‘a cross between the grim reaper and a weirdo.’
I can’t explain how I find burning rubber, exhaust fumes and 140-decibel noise relaxing. I suppose you can take the girl our of Reservoir but you can’t take the psychic mechanism to escape emotional chaos via outside distractions out of the hysteric with repressed rage and abandonment issues.
In the current climate of panic and fear about the impact of greenhouse gas emission and our preoccupation with our personal responsibility for reversing the devastating and far reaching consequences of global warming there’s something comforting and liberating about being amongst people who consider environmental vandalism a sport. “Who gives a stuff about carbon footprints? Shove your Prius. Go hard or go home. Not my fault the environment’s fucked. Game on.”
We met a lovely kid with a skinhead and rats tail called Scott. He was one of those aggressively friendly baby bogans who, due to benign neglect had the survival instinct to identify and bond with any adult with a full set of teeth and access to a car not up on blocks in an attempt to ingratiate his way up the food chain. “So who are you here with Scott?”
“Me dad. And me bruvver Efan. Drags give mum the shits. So she’s gone boozin’. Sometimes me Nan comes. But she’s in jail at the moment.”
“How old are you darling?”
“Five. In April.”
“Can I by you a Coke Scott?”
“Na. I’d rather a dim sim but. Give us $20 and I’ll buy us all some.” Gave him $20. He nicked off didn’t he and that was the last I saw of him.
The highlight of the night for me was a 1962 FB Holden dropping her guts and dragging off a C63 Mercedes Benz. It’s not every day you get to see a merchant banker from Hawthorn get their arse whipped by a panel beater from St. Albans. Mount Martha to Calder Park. Seeing how the other half live. Top night.