I’ll be buggered if I’d go to a private school

An old journalist and scoundrel, Ronnie the Wheel, once told me in Melbourne that if you were capable of rational thought you would lean to the left side of the world.  Ronnie was correct yet still some people who can tie up their own shoelaces and wipe away dribble quickly can viciously cling to notions that are so unhinged and irrational it defies belief.  Then again belief over rational thought is perhaps the issue here.

The idea that private enterprise could provide better and seamless delivery of services to the masses over a lumbering public sector has held true, for most, since the 1980s. Whether, in this country, it was an overreaction to the Whitlam policy juggernaut that swept aside the post-war torpor of conservative back to wall politics or just simply catch-up.  It’s hard to know what motivated the accelerated attempt to sharpen the pencil without proper consideration.

But being a conservative in the 70s in Australia must have been like living on a diet of devon and dog shit. No one wanted hear you or to be near you. You allowed your hair to grow slightly over the collar but you stayed indoors after dark.  You leaned towards Jesus Christ and loved John Denver.  You were generally without deep thought and you never saw “Deep Throat”.  It wasn’t your time.  You had to stay in the shadows until it was.

At this time, if you were a bloke from the middle and upper class your feckless parents sent you to places such as St John’s College in Sydney or to Robb College in Armidale for a tertiary education.  But it was only a holding pattern.  Learning wasn’t your thing. It was purely a social experiment.  There you skirted around the sidelines, played rugby, hated poofs and drank rum.  You found you were not alone.  At Sydney University Tony Abbott stalked the halls, threatening women and charging his conservative credentials. There were others here and at Bachelor and Spinsters Balls you could find equally gormless females to grope and fornicate with.  You despised and dismissed any criticisms of your conservative cocoon.  You looked after you own and bugger the rest. You carried this dislike for progressive ideas with you for the rest of your life.  It meant you didn’t have to ever think again.

Conservative times really came to NSW in the late 80s and 1990s when that low ferret, Nic ‘Otine’ Greiner* got hold of power.  This unprincipled weasel got rid of the public service graded bureaucrats.  He then crudely inserted the Senior Executive Service system in its place. It was a contract system.  You could be punted at the end of your contract.  It sounded sensible to those who found the public service inflexible and unyielding to political nuance.  They believed that a Departmental Head had to virtually expose his todger in Martin Place to get sacked. Unlike politicians who generally did it in their electoral offices and got promoted.  The end result of this virtual privatisation of the public service was to neuter it.  No longer did most departmental heads provide fearless advice.  They knew to survive they now had to firmly tether the public interest against the rampant political good. The sell-off of public utilities soon followed.

In schooling, generous federal and state subsidies saw the growth of private sector schools. In NSW public sector school numbers dropped 20% in two decades.  Conservative parents pushed their fruit of the loin into faith-based and elite private schools.  This guaranteed that their offspring would not be challenged to consider different ideas nor have to confront different people.  And by giving a smatter of scholarships to your odd pov but talented sportsperson and Indigenous kiddies private schools could assuage any semblance of christian guilt.  Parents smugly bored everyone who would listen that they paid more than their share to send their Katies and Keirans to St Bede’s of the Busted Arses.

Little did they care that the role of the local school as a core of the community and its values would decline.  Nor did they connect that the social dislocation they decried was part and parcel of the careless society that had partly created.    They didn’t want their precious mixing with the spotty herberts from public housing.  They wanted a safe, quality education that they had worked hard to provide – in fact they often mentioned the incredible sacrifice they had to make to send them “off to school”.  They wanted gymnasiums, buckets of sporting fields, drama theatres and string quartets.  They wanted to dress their kiddies up in stupid military outfits, tartan skirts and boater hats to show that they were very, very special children.  But most of all they didn’t want them to be different from the ideal conservative nonces that they had become.  A dose of safe Williamson at the Wharf and a bit of rugger was what everyone needed to become balance, conservative cunt.

Of course they got upset when they found clowns like the smug shit-head Timmy Hawkes and his kind allegedly failed their duty of care to their charges by reporting offences to the police.  Surely, they thought, $40,000 a year guranteed a kiddy-fiddler free zone?

And so now in the era of Neo-Nazis, $Trumpet and Abbott, the white breads continue to flock together to breed and prosper – it is their time and be damned if you are one of the poor bastards who think.


*Nic Greiner was chairman of the board of WD&HO Wills and then British American Tobacco Australia for the period 1996 to 2004.


Well I’ll be beclouded if I am not a strategic purveyor of meaningless tosh

There was a time when a truck carrying fruit was called a fruit truck. Now it is highly likely that a truck full of fruit and vegetables will have proudly emblazoned on its side “Herbaceous Plant Logistics”.

In simpler times a truck was a truck. This was a time when there were only a few careers available to you when you left school. If you were in one of the less academic classes of a comprehensive high school then there was a fair chance you’d be driving that fruit truck and if you were good at numbers but couldn’t dance you became an accountant. Simple.

So in these complex times there seems to be a requirement by many for an increased complexity in our language. We seem to crave words that heighten the importance of what we do and use words that make other people think we are important and therefore want us. Therefore every clown in town is either a Director, Executive Officer or Senior something and they are generally involved in something strategic or logistical.

The other day I went past a shop run by another eastern suburbs spiv that proclaimed he was purveyor of fine food. It made me smile. A purveyor – it almost sounded obscene and at the prices it was. I didn’t go inside because I knew I wouldn’t find any Black Cat Chocolate selection or Coon Cheese slices in the Purveyor’s pad.

It was on the same day that the very little man from News, Kimbo Williams used the term “chemical conversation” when Doogie Niven Cameron, trained fitter and machinist, ex-AMW secretary and now member of the Gillard graveyard shift had the temerity to question News about its lack of ethics. The carefully groomed Williams, who is increasingly beginning to look like one of the crew out of Dad’s Army, peered owlishly over his goggles and spat extremely smart words out at Cameron. That evening the bug-eyed MP Rob Oakeshott banged on about agnostic platforms in relation to the new media laws. I began to sweat. The room was swimming, I was bewildered and drowning in a tosh mire and the only way out was to turn everything off and sip from memories cup cheered on by the scarlet brew.

Don Watson’s wonderful site weaselwords is full of people’s attempts to inflate the importance of what they do or sell. Read the prose below from Watson’s site and try to imagine what they are talking about:

“The love for beautiful things, the knowledge of the functional and technical aspects of the product, the belief that domestic life is an individual space to conquer so that freedom of choice can truly nourish, in short, the determination to empower an authentic life style, unconditioned and untainted by consumerism, is the mission and goal.”

I was thinking a sex toy here – perhaps a Steely Dan. But no it’s the product description on the box containing three cheese knives.

Titles across the corporate world preen the egos of suited charlatans and generally have no connection with what they actually do. Why do we need senior strategic toads to orchestrate front-end schemas or deploy innovative content? I’d suggest it is because some of us feel the need to deliver a complex response to an increasingly challenging and complex work environment.

There is an increasing need to obfuscate (see it’s happening to me)? In Nerdland obfusciation or “beclouding” is used to refer to the practice of hiding the intended meaning and often the reason is a need to make code unable to be compromised. But in IT it has a reason to exist. Elsewhere it is simply the chosen language of misleading scoundrels.

Obviously sport is not immune from the habit of gilding the lily. The highly successful rugby league club, Melbourne Storm would have us believe that their Storm Advantage Payment “is not a membership package but a payment plan to make life simple”. Such is their concern for the fiscal prudence of their fans that they want to help them “manage their cash flow”. That appears to be a flow from the fans’ pockets into the fat News coffers particularly if you go for the payment plan for a “Sup-paw-tor” membership for your pet at just $35 a year.

In gaming the Punter’s Pal, little Tommy Waterhouse is trying to recruit a ‘high impact editorial manager’ who will be charged with ‘leveraging’ more media opportunities. In my day a high impact manager was a bloke who belted you for not doing your job.

Cricket Australia loves a good title too and in November 2011 appointed Pat Howard as General Manager, Team Performance. A fabulous yet curious title given that I thought the coach and selectors were responsible for team performance with simple performance criteria such as if you don’t get enough runs or wickets you’re gone. But no, they obviously need a bloke with a special title who owns a string of chemist shops to tell them or a press conference when a bloke is on the nose. It’s really even stranger when you find that Pat the Chemist was the General Manager of the High Performance Unit at the ARU – where his clowning achievement was “recruiting the current Wallabies management”. Now doesn’t that decision smack of high performance?

So where are we now? Well we are in a mess. What most say is not what they do or mean. We need to return to a time of plain English – a time of fruit trucks and bosses. But most of all we need to banish the turd bronzers.