Heroin and circuses
was the sort of week that private investigators hate -- full of lousy
beer money jobs you couldn't turn down, and that made you feel bad about
started with the sad middle-aged couple from the outer suburbs who wanted
me to find their daughter. She had run away from home again and disappeared
into Sydney's nightmarish heroin underworld. It was a harrowing tale
of social isolation and cheap education and unemployment and long hours
driving to lousy jobs and terrible boredom and disappointments and dumb
took the job for $25 an hour plus expenses. It wasn't likely to end
happily and there was a fair chance I'd find she was already dead, but
I started making the usual phone calls to the usual contacts.
somebody was tapping on the side window, which looks down into Werrong
Lane. This was unusual because my office is on the second floor. I spun
around and saw Michael Knight leering through the window. Then there
were four of him.
turned out to be the Michael Knight Riders practicing their routine
for the Gay Mardi Gras parade. They were teetering around in the lane
on their stilts, wearing sequined running shorts and smiling Michael's
"Hey Nick, can you test us out on our routine", the head Knight
asked. "On the big night we'll have somebody in a Peter FitzSimons
mask walking in front throwing up questions with the megaphone and we'll
be chanting out the answers."
passed me a megaphone and I started with some simple ones.
you be investigating Phil Coles' Sydney Olympics travel arrangements?"
I'm not about to bag Phil Coles, maybe he has lots of frequent flyer
points", they chanted back.
don't you release all Sydney's Olympic bid documents for public scrutiny?"
no way I want to start a witch hunt against the former state government
this far out from the elections".
do you say to the proposition that the world Olympic movement is just
one big feed trough for wealthy sports bureaucrats".
not going to start bagging members of the Olympic community. I know
they all personally do a lot to support the recreation industry".
you think we should apologise to Manchester?"
never bagged Manchester and I'm not going to start now."
if the world economy crashes before the games, and nobody comes?"
I'm not going to get into bagging Alan Greenspan and Wall Street and
the World Bank. You should ask Alan."
are saying that the AOC and the IOC are wallowing in money while the
state's basic services are running down".
I'm not about to bag the public".
a class act", I admitted, "where did you learn that patter?"
we just hired Michael's media consultant."
Knights continued practicing their routine: three steps forward, two
steps back and a neat sidestep ... smiling and waving.
is the whole thing really about, I thought: health? fitness? happiness?
fun? international understanding? wellbeing? Nah, it's about sales:
concrete, steel, plastic, earth moving equipment, airline bookings,
hotel rooms, video gear, hamburgers, uniforms, steroids, shoes, advertising.
yes, 2000 will be a great year to be out of Sydney. There'll be tears
and traumas and desperate cheating and ugly drug scandals and much posturing.
Not much of it will be noble or happy. Records will be broken by times
so infintesimable that it will take the finest atomic clocks to detect
the amount. The biggest, richest, countries will win nearly all the
medals -- because they have lots of people and the biggest sports institutes
and the most cunning "sports medicine" experts.
be tawdry spectacles and lots of cheap gimcracks. At the end of 2000
the big circus will be over and Sydneysiders will go back to work on
overcrowded infrequent trains. Most of the city will still have no public
transport infrastructure, and many schools will have dilapidated classrooms
and not even basic sports facilities and more country hospitals will
have closed and the Hawkesbury will still be polluted and we'll still
be pumping shit into the ocean and there'll be more homeless on the
streets and there'll be a big public debt to pay off.
we will have more overscaled infrastructure -- a huge Roman Circus.
And the patricians will write long self-serving memoirs and squabble
over the spoils.
walked down to the park. The sun had finally come out and steam was
rising from the soggy grass. A bunch of kiddies were kicking a cheap
K-Mart soccer ball around -- running and laughing and falling over.
A bunch of losers who didn't have the Olympic Spirit. And I sat down
on the old wooden bench and I felt better because I remembered that
Rome wasn't destroyed in a day.