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 Well then dear underlings, dear stray dingoes of the brine. How fare thee in these enlightened times?
Here we all are basking in the eternal sunshine of the land of the indebted, the land of the meek. Oh yes, these are great times, the crème-de-la-crème of existence. If we can but grasp the nettle and seize the day. The sting of the nettle be a sweet sensation compared to being stung in so many other ways.

I know you'd rather I spoke of sheepshanks and monkeys fists, but have you ever wondered as time's worn on why the smiles've been ground out of folk, that people once friendly and open won't look you in the eye for fear of seeing a reflection of their own misery. Living lives of quiet desperation become mute indeed. But why oh why is it so? Well fill this tall, voluminous glass that I just placed before ye and lend me your ears.
You may think it inconceivable of me as once 'working' ( and I do use my terminology of the privileged few) as working under the big flag in Canberra.
But aye it was once so. Think now as you see me swagger up the esplanade in my Chinese work boots and Bali tee shirt, and open smile of brotherly (and sisterly) love. That once I belonged, indeed plotted, conspired with the dark side, to make your life sour.
And it was a struggle believe me or not, you may snigger. Firstly there was the climate, bracing eh what? As my chauffeur drove me through the bleak mountain suburbs not a single coconut palm to be spied (I know it's a real shock to you) and despite the ministrations of my thrice awarded horticulturist, my lonesome mango tree withered for lack of spiritual guidance, never bore fruit, or leaves. Global warming? Not in Canberra.
So we would strut about in the finest of tailored suits and great thick woolen coats that gave our meager souls the import of substance. Australians? Lord no, not us! We felt European (or some of us American, Texan, even) to our toenails as we played our games, pretending we were real men of a place of real significance like Geneva or some other aloof but powerful citadel of the northern hemisphere.
We love the cameras, the interviews, the press releases, the statico. People hung on our every word --- interest rates need a hike of another point two five per cent (here take this castor oil, you'll love it) the idiots. And oh it gave the ego a sort of Hollywood opening night extended massage. I've all my press releases burnt to disc and I never tire to watch over and over, say whydontcha come over tonight and we can play a coupla dozen? But mainly they're something to leave the grandkids, you know?
What other problems you ask? Oh the woe! The endless woe!
Have you ever noticed the facial expressions of we front benchers? We couldn't help it, a sort of smug look, like I've just soiled my nappy, but I know you'll understand.
Well we used to get that regardless of how fresh our undergarments were, all of us. Every time we discussed party business behind locked doors. And that look stuck for so long, stuck like, oh well, never mind.
Basically, it was the figures that did it to us. We all sat there swilling our ports. But we were actually struggling. Our arms metaphorically flailing about us. Drowning we were, an avalanche of GST-derived cash thundering down all around us, over us, through us. Now I know some of you old salts have weathered some blows. But not like this.
Lesser mortals would have quickly been overwhelmed. But not us, men of caliber, men of moral fibre, or the old guard we were and still are. Dour men who never falter ever under such a mortal assault as this.
Hold fast! Hold! Steady now! Wait till you see the whites of the workers' eyes. And you know, we did, time and time again. Saw their wide eyes flashing, witnessed their anger, their frustration, their impotence. We knew and they knew that a little timid sabre rattling, a charge, a meek retreat back to the suburbs, back to work, to service the crushing debt that we had bestowed them. Subjugated, that's the word. Still we screwed them. Still they kept voting us in. Inexplicable we all agreed. By the way, all those of ya that voted me in again and again. I thank thee all, but truly, what was ya thinking? Aww don't worry, the question's only rhetorical.
Where was I? Oh yes. The mother lode, the vein that went on and on and on. And all we had to do was stay on top of it, stay cool breathe deeply and have the gall to ride the avalanche.
So there, now you all know how we got 'the look'.
There's gold in them thar hills of Canberra n it all comes from the sweating lowlands, the burbs-of-Australia. You think a robber's a criminal? He's pointing a gun at you? At least his intent is honest. It pales into insignificance compared to our schemes and stunts, free trade, oil-parity-pricing, tax cuts, war on terrorism. We wanted to introduce GST so we engendered a belief that once introduced, you lot would have NO income tax. Now you've got both. We used to laugh ourselves to tears. We had competitions to see who could come up with the most outlandish, shame-faced ways of raising revenue, to be howled down by our comrades They'll never swallow that! But incredibly, you always did.
We now know that with the tools that we have at our disposal. The newspapers, the radio, and the most mind-stupefying tool of all ….. the tv! We could sell you anything. On any given day we could sell you the harbour bridge AND the tunnel underneath it! But in fact we are, with the tolls we're extracting from you, we sell it to you every day --- But the catch is you'll never have ownership. How sweet it is! Win-win for us, lose-lose for you. Yes mates we have psychologists and linguists full time on staff. Their job is to work up the correct rhetoric -- It's all about sales - Hurry act now or you'll miss out!
Pick any country on the globe, I dare you. Our boys will come up with a sales pitch that will have you salivating to invade it, bomb it, generally abuse its people and then give them 'democracy.' It's a global market and we are expanding. Join us or get out of the way (or dig a sturdy bomb shelter).
Our boys are pushing your buttons even while you sleep. Wake up with an idea that's original? Think again, but why bother, you'll only get a headache.
So if you combine all the known unknowns with the knowns that time reveals was in fact an unknown. Don't worry we've factored it all in. We know it all.
Now, you simple sailor-folk of the salty tropical marshlands may still not get it all. But don't worry, you've done wonderfully well considering the gene pool you've had to work with.
I'm not here to talk down to ye, no, not me. I've come amongst you, to be one of you. And you're hospitality is underwhelming.
Just think of it all this way if it'll make it any easier.


You're the Master, the Captain of the grandest triple-masted schooner ever conceived. Surging majestically, tirelessly before an eternal tradewind under a billowing cloud of perfectly set sails (a lot like my boat come to think of it). With each surge down those gigantic clean ocean swells, she touches twenty knots. It cannot be denied, all this timber, the planking, the spars have come alive. This timber was once of the forest, now reborn, transcended, come to a better life, a prouder one. And the rigging hums, yes it does. This ship is not merely sailing. No, behold! She makes love to the ocean and the ocean is grateful, compliant. A lover now strokes her the way she's always wanted, hungered for. All is in a swoon of perfection. Imagine all this, and you are the master. Does not your heart thunder in your chest? Does not your mind say, So this is being a man? You are very large in the frame of your life, and now, that frame dissolves…… and you are…. ALIVE. Your world is all the world and naught else matters.
"Hey, Charlie, top this up, will ye? Thanks, mate!" To think in another life I was a world ranging, respected, ship's captain of the line, and now in this 'carnation I've got thee 'children overboard' to tinker with. From a great sword fish to a single sardine. "Sheesh! This stuff's strong! Charlie, you been doctorin' the brew again?" Mmmmm. Afraid I was starting to wax lyrical there. Forgive me, gentle reader, and stay with me.
Do you not think it grand, fellow way-farer, that this timber, canvas, copper, brass and hemp, should come together? Fashioned by human hands! A living thing to carve this furrow lovingly across the trackless, untrammeled ocean. To fetch to us, a destination that exists only in our dreams. Did you not feel the timbers shiver, just then? She never tires, gleefully she works and only asks for more.
Oh, sorry! There I go again. Mind this drink, matey, I'm just gonna duck off for a cold salt water shower. Ever since me darlin' lady bosun moved back ashore for a saner life (And I never saw any demonstrated there after a lifetime of careful observation) I've felt well…. Deprived, and prone to over-excitement.
Well now, that's much better. Now where was I? My advice is don't' drink Charlie's brew. Venomous it is. Even to one of such great mental alacrity as yours truly.
My mind is full of visions of this magnificent schooner, on the perfect day, surging through a perfect ocean with deeply spiritual ( sexual?) connotations.
But I promise not to wax lyrical and the Captain's word is good-as. I just lost my train of thought and wished I'd made the bitter end fast.
I was using it as a life's metaphor, that's it, to carry the less mentally-endowed with the rest of us.

You're the master of this schooner, you have the finest of everything. The food, the wine, the women, and a bit of song. The holds are stuffed to the gunnels with uncountable treasure. You could never spend it all, even if you were a Buddhist with multiple personalities bound to eternal reincarnation. Always a distant exotic port to allure you on, and endless chain of islands just like Hayman, only this time you can afford it. But the most incredible thing, simply inexplicable, are the crew. Cheerful to work watches round the clock for next to nothing, requiring no medical care, no insurance, no superannuation….. no long-term plan at all. One expires or breaks a limb? Give them or their families nothing, shovel them aside and miraculously another appears to take their place, just like in the Whitsundays.
So there you are, as you slowly strut from stem to stern, the warm beech deck underfoot, cat-'o-ninetails dripping claret from your hand, and everywhere the crew smiling back. Begging to be whipped. A sadist's or politician's fantasy. Here have some rock salt to rub into the wound, shipmate, I'll put it on your credit card.

And that's the way it was. Not so very long ago men roamed free upon the globe. Incredible but true. They lived by their achievements or died quickly with their dishonour. But how times have changed me hearties! Now we've made dishonour an art form. We've perfected it down on those cold heartless hills of Canberra and from there our web stretches coast to coast as the banks spread our insidious deceit. Workers were once kept submissive by levelling a blunderbuss at their genitals. But now this bright new millenium loomed and presented its own problems. Emancipated times. How to keep the masses enslaved? Easy, we found.
Stamp out millions of small rectangular cards with numbers embossed onto them. Let them rain down from the sky and as the simple folk stoop to pick them up they're quickly ensnared… for life, returning to work each Monday in a depressive pique. It's exactly the same principal as laying ten-eighty baits from a plane, and just as effective.
So there you have it, mates, we've distilled the mojo, the wanderlust from ye veins, rendered it down like so much whale-blubber and store it in great oaken casks deep in the hills of Canberra.
We love to pat those barrels and think sweetly what we took from ye. It makes our small dark hearts glow, it doth!
There are very few free men left now, we're bombing them in various parts of our fair globe. And here in Australia, we're on their tails, we have their boat rego numbers, soon they'll all be eradicated. Easier than rabbits.
You will all be battery hens, emasculated, kept on low grade feed, and yet every day without fail, you lay us a golden egg.
You got the truth outa ye old captain and I feel better for it. But are youse worth it? 'Cuz I've broken the Code of the Conservatives and you should never underestimate their malice. My ex-cohorts won't be happy. I've withdrawn my consciousness outa my own rearend and come into the light and eh what, it's bright out here! But they have ways and means of quieting sods like me. They can make you suffer and their ways, as I've shown, are more devious than the devil.
They could force you to sail a wharram cat continuously till you painfully died of boredom, exposure, grotesque mutated solar growths, etc.
Maybe youse'll see your old captain's carcass squashed wafer-thin on the road amongst the likewise canetoads, or mysteriously sucked up into a midwinter cyclone. Or perhaps a simple caption in one of their newspapers " WRECKAGE OF SV CHILDREN OVERBOARD FOUND. CAPTAIN RUDDER PRESUMED LOST WHILST ROUNDING THE HORN."
Well then, shipmates, youse'll work it out, even tho' you're as thick as a besser-block outhouse. If that happens, well then raise a toast to the captain and remember me fairly. In the meantime, fill this glass again, will ye? I feel like I just sailed a boat down the Canning Stock Route!

The Captain.