was laid low by a terrible relapse of Possum Creek Fever last week.
Joadja phoned Dr Gupta, the vet, who made one of her rare house call
and prescribed many drugs, some of them in doses large enough to kill
a polar bear.
did all that a possum can do when this thing strikes -- I waited it
out in misery. I scratched through the papers and watched a bit of TV
and drifted off into a shallow hallucinatory sleep from time to time.
was a bad week for capitalism. Wall Street dropped sickeningly, the
price of oil hit $36 again and many people panicked about the Middle
East situation. But not me. I have lived a long time and seen all this
before. Many times. It is how they do "negotiations" in the
a question of form. Having only 40,000 rifles the Palestinians habitually
negotiate by throwing stones. With the fourth largest army in the world,
the Israelis usually negotiate by shooting stone-throwers dead from
halfway down the street -- or invading Lebanon. These things are fairly
acceptable to "public opinion" in the US of A (meaning primarily,
to the various politicians, mainstream commentators and other sheepdogs).
You can get away with something like a hundred of these killings at
a time and nobody will turn a hair. The downside is, it can drag on
for years, seriously divide and disrupt your society, and make you look
nasty and repressive -- but that is a long-term thing.
the Palestinian side, they walk a media gauntlet which is narrower and
more treacherous. Burning tyres, throwing stones, and carrying the dead
and injured back past the TV crews is considered fine, but throwing
captured Israeli soldiers out of police station windows and kicking
them to death is definitely bad form, and can bring the whole Western
media down on top of you, even if your police tried to stop it.
is a distinction lost on the average Arab, and indeed, most of the Third
World, where people are less sophisticated than in the West and generally
fail to understand the fine moral distinction between delivering bombs
by car and dropping them from a plane.
Sunday I rose from the near-dead and mooched downstairs to the office.
On the answering machine there was a message from Dave at the insurance
company that keeps me on a retainer, and a faxed news clipping from
the Sunday Telegraph headlined "SHAMED". There was trouble
at Trinity Grammar, the exclusive Anglican private school at Summer
Hill. Four boys stood accused of assaulting something like fifteen of
their school mates over a period of months.
phoned the insurance mob back.
want you to find out what sort of anti-bullying protocols were in place",
the problem?" I asked. "I thought this sort of thing was in
the finest tradition of Eton and Harrow, or the parachute batallion,
RAR, for that matter? If the lads don't know how to dish out a bit of
private discipline, or cop a beating in silence now and again, how are
they ever going to rule the lower orders?"
a flippant marsupial, Nick. Today's nouveau riche parents don't understand
those old verities -- they get all self-righteous and sue for millions.
Do you want the job or not?"
told him I'd take it and hung up.
no wonder the ruling classes are going to the dogs, I thought. Look
at St Ming's down in Canberra: first there was the problem about the
chief prefect's phone card, and then they made Michael "Fatty"
Wooldridge the sick-bay monitor. The next thing they knew he'd got his
hands on the keys to the tuck-shop and he and his mates scoffed $35,000
worth of scallopini di vitello ripiene, chocolate truffles and Grange
Hermitage. Lower middle class headmasters like John Howard really have
no idea about maintaining discipline.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000