Mallett Street Camperdown, June 2010

Emmjay had grown tired of trying to re-thread the string in his Speedos.  The paper clip shuttle was a mistake and he recalled that a bobby pin was the weapon of choice for a lap around the waistband.

But ever since O’Hoo had been hauled over the coals for the Lambrettista incident, Emmjay had thought better of associating with bobbies – and their pins.  Resigned to a long afternoon amongst the gentlemens’ smalls repair fraternity, he poured himself another “Smith’s” Single malt, giving another tiny Aussie battler distiller a chance at fame in the taste-off at the Pig’s Arms.

A couple of sniffs told him that his old favourite Limeburners was a short half head in front anyway.

It had been a bastard of a week.  He’d been completely unable to avoid work the whole time and had sought solace by ducking out at lunchtime and swimming a couple of dozen laps of the sweetly-heated pool down the back of Petersham oval.

Emmjay was pleased with his new “Nero” cut.  It reminded him of Derek Jacoby playing in “I, Claudius”, or as Tim the Cabin Boy preferred to call him, “Clavdivs”.  It was a swimming-tolerant coif and offered a style statement that was more tolerable than the tragics who had (in epidemic proportions) begun to shave their heads to disguise male pattern baldness.

Baldness was not Emmjay’s problem, but he had grown to despise the kids playing in the back of the Pig’s Arms car park who referred to him by the epithet “Snowy”.  Particularly the little bastard who used to strike the pose and burst into “There was movement at the station” every time Emmjay parked the blue Zephyr and went into the Pig’s for a cleansing Trotter’s – after his swim and before returning to the Wardrobe department at the ABC.

Emmjay was relieved that he had been able to change shifts and avoid the curdling density of the morning news crews, but it was not like the old days.  He felt a profound sense of sad whimsy for the old timers and missed the challenge of picking a tie to go with Jim Dibble’s spectacles – or finding an open neck shirt with a collar big enough to get over Bill Peach’s head without exposing too many acres of chest carpet.

Nowadays there was a new generation of talking heads and the make-up department had set itself a challenge of creating 365 different ‘do’s for Juanita Phillips – without bothering to let Wardrobe in on the joke.  And the ABC seemed to find it more economical to switch newsreaders than it was to buy Juanita a third dress.  Which Juanita overcame, with the assistance of the Brotherhood of St Laurence.  Emmjay was never sure whether he was supposed to press the garment, fumigate it, or nuke it in the department’s microwave.

But the foreign correspondents were even harder to please.  Emmjay recalled the time when Miss Muffett, the tea lady ran off screaming when she miss-heard Darryn Lockyer – on his way to the middle east proclaim that he had “an Iraq need”.

The Smith’s was evaporating fast and Emmjay wondered whether anyone would care if his togs fell down.  Reading his thoughts, Merv smiled.  “You spend most of your life bare-arsed, sport”.  And poured him two fingers more.

“Reckon this rain’s gunna stop soon” ?

“What rain ?”

“Come in from the beer garden, sport.  There’s a good boy”.