I’VE HAD a few good laughs this week. One of them was driving through Malvern and seeing large photos of Peter Costello’s face in people’s front yards. “Well, that’s an effective way to deter intruders,” I thought. But I wondered why people would spend all that money on landscaping, an automatic watering system and a gardener just to go and spoil it all with a picture of The Smirking Gun.
John Howard’s coming over a bit Sir Joh at the moment, so it was refreshing to see the face of The Man Least Likely. Poor old Pete. The last time I caught a glimpse of him was during the worm poll dancing debate. The camera would occasionally cut to him in the audience and Pete would strap on the fake smile faster than you could say, “You should have gone straight for the jugular when you had that chance”. I did think it was fabulous that Costello managed to chew through his restraints and escape from his cage for the night. I’m sure they upped the sedation after that.
As I jog round the People’s Republic of Moreland puffing and wheezing in my Kevin07 T-shirt, I do enjoy the delicious irony that every front yard with a Greens placard in it is overgrown, unkempt and knee high in thistles. It’s a case of, “Sure we’re into the environment, we just can’t be stuffed mowing. We’re flat out weaving.” And it seems you can’t put up a Vote Labor board unless you have the obligatory Tibetan prayer flags flying from the veranda and a recycle bin overflowing with Coopers Red stubbies.
The Socialist Alliance may be short of money, but they’re certainly high on effort. Power poles are plastered with black and white A4 photocopies of their team, which includes a man with a goatee wearing a hood. The Honourable Member For Utopia I assume. And I thought I saw a Democrats bumper sticker the other day. But it just said “Magic Happens”. Here’s hoping.
Placards in people’s front yards are one thing. But receiving a personally addressed letter from the spouse of a candidate is hilarious, outrageous, tragic and appalling on so many levels – which leads me to the other good laugh I had this week.
Malcolm Turnbull’s wife, Lucy, (Turnbull of course, Mrs, thank you very much) wrote a personally addressed letter to the constituents of Wentworth. All 90,000 of them. She wrote because, “I thought it was important for you to have the opportunity to hear about the Malcolm I know and love”. Why? What’s with this guy? Does he get his mum to ring up work when he’s taking a day off sick as well?
Mrs Turnbull goes on to attempt to dispel the myth that he comes from a privileged background by explaining that as a child, Malcolm’s family hit rock bottom and had to move from Vaucluse to Double Bay and – shock, horror – lived in a flat. The shame. Family values. Supported my career choice. Our kids our greatest achievement.
Reading the letter smacks of “never mind how he presents, he’s actually a good bloke. Never mind the born-to-rule accent, the deep sense of entitlement and the patriarchal walk. And the nuclear reactors.” Political spouses should be not seen and not heard. Can you imagine getting a letter from Kevin Rudd’s wife, Therese Rein? “This is an automatically generated response. I have my own life and he has his. If you see him, give him my best. T.”
Or a postcard from Bob Brown’s partner? As the two of them shuffle about in their sarongs and mandals cleaning up after a big night on the tofu, does Bob’s partner think it’s his place to tell voters what Bob’s really like?
I’d love a letter on flowery paper from Janette. “Dear Mrs (insert husband’s surname here),
“Let me introduce myself. My name is Mrs John Howard, or as my husband calls me, Mother. I’d like to tell you about the man I have been sleeping in a single bed next to for more than 30 years.
“Contrary to common belief he’s not old-fashioned. His favourite band is the Seekers and he once had a conversation with a woman whose daughter had a child out of wedlock. And he’s not racist. We have many friends from overseas. Well two, George Bush and his wife, Mrs Bush. Even though they talk funny and don’t know who Don Bradman is, we treat them just like normal people.
“Despite my supportive wordless wife routine, let me assure you, I’m the one who wears the fawn slacks round here. We’ve never disagreed on anything because if we did, things may become unpleasant. And we couldn’t have that.
“Your husband should tell you to vote for my husband. If he hasn’t already you’re probably poor. Or foreign.
Yours forever cardigan clutching,