Story by Lehan Winifred Ramsay
Suddenly we’re transported back to the seventies, the primary schools are full of nice neighbourly types mutiplying cakes and sausages like spelling bee champions. And it’s welcome to Australia, the votes are stoppable again and real, sensible, machine wash and drip-dry cotton synthetic mix politicians are in charge. There are tie-pins, and small floral bouquets, and the women are wearing hats.
I go down to the local primary school but even from the gate I’m starting to perspire anxiously. There are no stalls and the caretaker is looking at me with suspicion. I’m here to vote, I say but no, he says there is no voting here today. But it’s happening, everyone, around the world I say, they are voting in New York, in LA, in London town. He goes in a phones someone and I can hear him talking no he says she says she wants to vote, and comes out and tells me maybe come back on Monday when the principal will be here.
Maybe there’s another school somewhere close with a sausage sizzle.
I want to check the ABC because I know people were saying the geo-block is off but no, the internet, it’s not working, did they forget to ungeoblock here? We don’t usually get the internet around here and I was looking forward to tuning my television in to it and also checking the football. I’ve only got until six o’clock and time is running out.
Some men walk on the water, everybody looking on. It isn’t a miracle, for years and years they’ve been building under the water a kind of platform that cunningly disguises itself as fluid. One man he miraculously turns back time; he puts the women back in their places, he puts the ratbag party members back in their places, he shows us how in the bathtub we can just push the boats with our fingers and make them head off to a mythological Papua New Guinea. Ooh, we say. What can the other man do? He makes his daughters dress up in nice sensible dresses and stand politely. Say nice things about their dad. And smile while they do it. Oh we say. Now that’s something we like to see.
The young people are all staying out of trouble, voting for the Pirate Party and the Sex Party and the Computer Hackers party so there ain’t gonna be any swings or roundabouts there. It’s down to the line, down to the mums and dads and grandmas and grandpas. For the grandmas and grandpas it’s Christine Keeler, a bit of a whiff of profumo and Bob Hawke. Hogans Heroes and those Nazis, things we can really get our chalk into. But what to do for the mums and dads, they can be a bit flighty now they know how the internets work.
We can have the men do a bit of cooking that’s always a bit contemporary. Nothing too fancy we all know it’s possible to make something restaurant like in fifteen minutes thankyou Jamie Oliver but who has the time these days the economy is always so sensitive these days. What we need is the kind of blokey stuff their dads did when they were kids. What we need is a bit of a Paul Hogan thing; the surf club and the barbeque, so that when they get to the sausage sizzle they feel more comfortable with those complicated voting cards. A smooch at the ladies, a bit of a joke about the men, one that doesn’t alienate the homosexuals, makes them still feel included. We’ll put in the multicultural candidates and some women, in some of the seats we’re likely to lose, if they fail it won’t be too much of a disaster.
Taxes are covered, we’ve got that carbon tax. So we don’t have to raise anything or lower anything else it’s great! In fact we can stay off most of the usual economic things. Nobody’s complaining about petrol, the banks have covered interest rates so we’ve got that off our backs too. But back to the election day coverage. We’ve got the surf clubs. We’ve got the schools working with us and the choirs are out. Higher education is just crossing its fingers. All those movie stars were lining up for the backing vocals of Les Miserables but we told them to just pipe down and they’re good, they’re just writing funding applications now.
But we’re here in Canberra, at the lake in front of the parliament house, and on national television two men are going to step out onto that water and only one is going to make it, and that’s how we’re going to know who should lead the country in this election. The crowds have assembled. They’re well-behaved, they should be for the kind of overtime rates they’re getting today. They’ve been vetted for political preference and they’re prepared to say anything if they can have a job on Monday, they’ve signed up for that. They’ve all been given a boxed lunch and a bottle of water and the portaloos are standing by.
Two men step onto the red carpet that takes you from the parliament house down to the lake. Behind them you can see the hilt of the Excalibur Sword buried in parliament house facade, it’s gleaming in the mid-morning light. One of the men is wearing his speedos on the outside of his blue nylon Myer suit and you can see, it wrinkles here and there but those wrinkles just fall away with a bit of stretching. The other man is just not looking very athletic at all, he’s looking tense and worried that his glasses might get pushed off. It’s clear already who is gonna have the faith that this stunt is going to work, and it’s clear who thinks that nifty underwater platform is gonna suddenly open up and with a Big Brother scream of jubilation see him sink into the water toward a fate of political oblivion. It’s a tense moment for the cameramen who have been told the suspense has gotta carry us through to the evening programming.
Which of our feckless political candidates will win this battle of confidence. Stay tuned for next week’s exciting conclusion to
The Sound of Sirens.