Tuesday 22 July 2008

More name dropping

Since I have been accused of name dropping, I can't resist the urge to do a bit more.

When I was about 9 (which is so last century), I played croquet with Malcolm Fraser at the Lodge. Yes, the Man Who Was PM, at That Place of Residence in Canberra.

The only thing I remember about that day at the Lodge was whacking a few wooden balls through hoops via a wooden mallet, and being taught some of the finer points of mallet-handling by the PM. Looking back, he probably had the same level of understanding of the actual rules of croquet that I did - we just punted the balls around and laughed when one boinged off into the rose garden.

I have no idea what we were doing at the Lodge, or why the slaves had set out a croquet pitch. What I do know is that I was shoehorned into a suit and tie, forced to shine my shoes and frogmarched through the gates with dire warnings not to push any dignitaries into the pool or steal the silver.

Those are totally unnatural things for a nine year old to do, particularly for an entire afternoon.

That the Lodge is still standing is a testament to the disciplinary powers of my parents. Malcolm lasted another 6 or so years as PM, so my presence can't have done him any harm either. Although his back gave out before his last election campaign, forcing him to delay the election and allowing the Labor Party to install Bob Hawke as leader. I hope Malcolm's back was not put out by him practicing croquet on a daily basis, just in case I returned for a grudge match.

Thinking about it, would any OH&S obsessed flunky allow young kids to play with heavy wooden balls and mallets in this day and age? Would a risk assesment allow such an activity to be permitted? Could the PM have found himself in court if I had brained another guest with a mis-hit ball?

Say what you like about the Fraser years, but they were the last time before this country went completely soft and pussy-like. They are the time before PC. A lost era that I weep for.

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