Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tommy Hafey, he sleeps with the bogans

There's this book out at the moment that I saw in Angus and Robertson - not the one in town with the really grumpy woman who shuffles magazines next to anyone who browses, and not in a certain store where a certain girl with blue eye shadow works either - which is called Billys Book for Blokes by Billy Brownless. Just so you know if you are a furrener, Billy Brownless is a "colourful" ex football personality who makes a good living out of having gentle fun poked at his weight on television and travelling all over Australia visiting local football clubs spinning chocolate wheels and drinking bars dry. I think a lot of blokes would quite like to be Billy Brownless, since he played football, has a wife roughly 200 times hotter than him, and never has to pay for a beer. So it makes sense for him to write a book - much more sense than scumbag Andy Mahers "book of jokes" anyway - all about blokes. I haven't read it, but I'd imagine it's got chapters about drinking, fighting, mateship, cards, pool, cars, changing a tyre...all the usual things that real blokes are supposed to like. I'm sitting staring at a Hannah Montana poster and I spend most of my days wondering how anyone could possibly fancy Gabrielle Climi. Even knowing who she is probably DQs me from the real bloke category, although I do have a lot of opinions on what Mick Malthouse should do next. I've tried to look at a couple of times in a certain store, but I could probably guess the contents from here. If only the woman in that shop didn't keep walking past with her security intercom...

Anyway, thinking about Billy Brownless and the role he's played in local football (and by extension, local pride) got me thinking about two things important to any local community. And certainly I could write a very good post about being a bloke. In fact last nights news probably was something of an inspiration. Apparently Kevin Rudd stopped all the funding for community groups (such a sexy two word phrase, up there with smart casual and day off) until he had a review (get out, that doesn't sound like Kevin) of whether the funding model was viable, or summat. Anyway, the heads of the community groups got together to discuss this, and how to get their funding back, and they were all on the Tasmanian news, chatting about this over Tim Tams and weak tea. This is definitely going to be my future career path, helping out the local community in some way around a pot of tea. Mostly, I'm just going to sit in a room and pay out on everyone. Maybe it was just the community groups and CWA in Penguin, but I've always found that community groups are massive bitchfests. Between bitching about how little funding you get, bitching about respective governments, bitching about the quality of the cake that committee member X brought last week, and of course bitching about how here you are giving up your free time to plan a big event and damn punk kids/local council/senior citizens etc won't support it, you can pretty much spend your days just having massive sprays at everyone. Sounds like terrific fun, throw in my love of local pride, and it's amazing I never do it.

The first thing important to any small local community is the visit of a celebrity. In Penguin, it was always Kevin Sheedy or Tom Hafey. I think those two are pretty much who goes and visits the place now to be honest. Can't imagine Rihanna and her 3 different expressions popping in for tea and scones. The visit of a Kevin Sheedy, particularly in the 1980s, was a cause for celebration and an 8 page special in the Advocate. The format for their visit was pretty much set in stone - funny speech, bit of Q&A, help out with a bit of fundraising via raffling off a couple of footy jumpers, then a few drinks at the bar. The best bit about this visit (and it was always a footballer who visited Penguin for our celebrity quotient, we never quite got Jason Mraz - even Burnie got Slim Dusty every 6 weeks) was that in preparation, the local dickheads would pump themselves up that they were going to confront Sheeds on why he wasn't playing a particular player or how they could do a better job. And then, they would melt like starstruck 8 year olds when they actually had a chance to ask their question. Eddie McGuire a few years ago yelled at the crowd at the casino to just buy the fucking jumper that was raffled, so tedious were these stuttering questions. I felt the spirit of these important local visits a few years ago when I did work experience for a company that was in a very rah rah phase with it's employers. The company booked Tom Hafey, who if you don't know is a very motivational old football coach famous for yelling at people and keeping himself in such amazing physical shape he could still outrun you all at age 80. Everything was all set, except our ditzy secretary had mistakenly booked Mr Hafey into a caravan park, and not a good one - one in Warrane (Tassies equivalent of Beirut). Naturally, this was easily fixed, but I thought the company went a tad far in firing her for her error. I mean, Tommy would loved the place - he could have yelled at lazy bogan slackers to get up and do some push ups. Who knows, maybe one of those ugly Warrane ducklings could have become a beautiful Anne Maree Cooksley (one in every post) type swan through Tommys rantings?

However, as much as there is lots of local pride in showing a Billy Brownless your town, there is one group of people who don't enjoy the visit of a celebrity - the existing local identities. These people spend roughly 364 days a year in exalted local status. I'm obsessed with old fashioned local identities, people spoke in awe struck tones because they bake the best scones in the village or something. I loved that in Penguin when Kevin Sheedy was in town, how personally they would take being marginalised. If Mr Sheedy asked for a particular type of tea or biscuit, he copped it right in the neck for being a snob. If Mr Hafey made a remotely off colour joke, he was bitched about for a week. They would patiently wait at the back of the hall until the celebrity left town and then seized control and attention back as rapidly as they could. One family in Burnie of a certain standing used to shove their daughter into the face of any visiting singer or footballer, and bitch about them based entirely on their response. If they didn't hit on her, they were gay, if they did, they were sleazy. I used to love when we'd throw a BBQ in Penguin seeing the more known families bringing a particularly posh beer or a salad because they didn't want to be common and just have a pork sausage. Their kids were always with us in the rumpus room, and we'd get them drunk or get them to do something embarrassing, just to keep ourselves amused. Even the kids would bitch about the footballers speech, and how lame it was, and they weren't even allowed in. This one kid I went to school with, he hated Kevin Sheedy, hated Tom Hafey, thought David Parkin swore too much, and yet, went to Melbourne and got about 20 pictures with David Dixon. And they gave him social standing? I'd have taken it off him just for that...

Mind you, at our school, we were definitely bitching, the only celebrity speaker we ever got was Jane Fleming, a woman who never got over the first hurdle at the Olympics, telling us to work hard and never give in. I'd only have paid attention if we got the sexy early years Melinda Gainsford...whatever happened to Mel G?

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