Wednesday, July 2, 2008


It probably hasn't been the kind of day here in Australia to make you think, gee, isn't life wonderful and grand - a man has chopped up his grandkids with an axe, another woman was horribly bashed in her own home, no one remembers Robin Beck to this day and Wil Anderson still has a show on TV (I kid). A lot of people are saying Tasmania has gone to hell in a handbasket, and we still, oddly, hold the world record for the single worst mass murder in history. Our school priest, who was basically a senile old homeless man somehow saved by Jesus, got up in the memorial mass and thanked God for "a punishment we deserve" - I can't quite work out why he failed in his bad for the papacy.

When I was growing up in Penguin, there was quite literally no crime at all, but a few years ago in Penguin, quiet cheerful old Penguin, there was a horrible old grizzly murder. Some people in their front room, adorned with jewels and stuffed toys and little coloured plates, were horribly murdered. I remember when we first moved to Penguin, there was one underworked version of Ralph Wiggum in charge of the entire town, and when he went on holiday, it was in the paper that he was on holiday (keep in mind this was an era when if Wynyard Airport was locked up, you got let in by the guy at the nearby laundrette) and if anyone wanted a policeman, to ring another number in another town. I really liked living in a town where the policeman was able to say he was leaving town, so publically, kind of like the Old West. Theft was done on the honor system. The kids in the park who were selling the dodgy gear, the drugs and the spanners, were able to go about their business in peace and quiet and could have operated a blatant stall outside the Mitre 10, but I like to think even they clocked off when the policeman left, like that old Disney cartoon with Wile E Coyote and Sam the sheepdog. The only crimes in Penguin were the price of an ice cream from the local milk bar, and the smell from Barkers piggery. It really was the kind of wonderful 80s town that you could live safely in, and which had all the crime and intrigue and spousal abuse was kept behind closed doors, where it really belongs.

Of course, the days of the honour system in Tasmania are long gone, although to say that we live in a crime wave is somewhat ludacris. I can't remember seeing a single crime that didn't involve selling dodgy things in a park in my whole life living in Penguin or Burnie, but I can name several since I've been in Hobart. I've seen some of them, and even been involved in one or two of them (if you could getting punched by a bouncer outside Syrup a crime). However, speaking of Syrup, our local superstar "we played Rick Astley before Rick Astley was cool" nightclub, the only place you can get in after 2 in the morning, a few months ago it was claimed in the local paper the Mercury that at Syrup gangs were going around the nightclub daring each other to go up to hapless innocent dancers and...punch them in the head. Now, obviously this was complete and utter drivel. By the time anyone ever feels the need to even think about going to Syrup, they'll be much too drunk to come up with anything like that amount of planning. There's a pole in the middle of the dancefloor for a start, always a sign of class. And who can punch someone in the head in the middle of a Dave Dobbyn song?

I will say though, our main source of crime is when Sportstar X is in town. I don't think I'm talking out of school to suggest members of our cricket team are often thrown out by the bouncers. One of them in particular for regularly trying to pash and grope anyone under the age of 15. As I said before, Wayne Carey used to be particularly well known to taxi drivers, who could tell you all about his various crimes. My favourite crime though involved a bouncer, and a current AFL football coach. For some reason, this football coach decided that it would be really, really funny to spend an entire evening repeating everything the bouncer said - the bouncer being Irish, this was repeated with a hilarious sub Damien Leith Irish impersonation. Hilarious. It was probably even more hilarious when the AFL coach got so drunk he didn't realise the bouncer took his Guinness away while it was being poured, pissed in it three consecutive times, and then calmly put it down. I'm not sure what crime this comes under, but it certainly is interesting to see that coach being a beacon of responsibility - and as years of football joke books tell me, this kind of behaviour sure is hilarious.

It's lucky that cricketers and footballers never stop in Penguin anymore - not with the policeman off camping in Riana...


Jeff Luppino-Esposito said...

Society- can't live with it, can't live without it.

Miles McClagan said...

Hey, my first ever comment...proud moment.

Society, can't live with it...pass the beer nuts (to paraphrase Norm from Cheers).