incident on Oxford Street
from Bruce Tarkis Creative rang me late on Saturday afternoon.
God I've caught you Nick!" he said "Can you do a marketing
survey for us? We've had somebody stand us up at the last moment. It's
gotta be done tonight. With your people skills, you'd do it on your
ear. We'll give you $300 for the job."
was one of those bad Saturday nights when Joadja was working in the
café and there was nothing on TV, so I said: "Aw Jesus ...
mate, I wanted to watch 'The Bill' tonight ... it's a bit late ... ".
came around half an hour later and gave me a clipboard with a battery
of chrome-plated tally counters riveted to the top. Easy. All I had
to do was go to Oxford Street and do a two hour survey. There were photocopied
sheets on the clipboard with columns to record categories of passers-by
every 15 minutes: gay female couples, gay male couples, heterosexual
couples, single gay females, single gay males, single heterosexual males,
single heterosexual females, and a category labelled just 'other'.
commandeered one of the outside tables at Cafe 191, ordered a long black,
and started clicking. The place had been a Sanyassin restaurant once,
but that was a couple of decades ago, before anybody had heard of ecstacy
or the internet.
looked up. He was a bloke of maybe twenty eight, thirty. Celtic, built
like a meathead footballer. Red hair, beer on his breath, Wallabies
cap, eyes like a roadkilled cane toad.
doing a marketing survey. Yvonne Allen's thinking of putting a shop
grabbed my wrist and pulled the clipboard towards himself, peered drunkenly
many single heterosexual men you counted?"
of them came past, about an hour ago", I said.
about me?" he said.
wasn't sure, so I put down 'other'".
the fuck are you saying, penis-nose?".
down ... it's an old joke. Even Phillip Adams thinks it's funny".
about me mates? You sayin' they're poofters?"
arrived at Darlinghurst Police Station to pick me up a couple of hours
later. Sergeant O'Houlighan had gone to Casualty at St Vincents to charge
Cane Toad, and his yobbo mates were still being questioned out the back.
A bunch of bimbos and nice middle class parents were arranging their
bail when Superintendant 'Shag' Pile ushered me out of his office.
you getting too old for this sort of thing?", Jo asked.
went back to the cafe and found Tarkis's clipboard thing. It had fallen
under the table in the melee. I'd only had a quarter of an hour to go
before finishing the survey. Tarkis would be disappointed, but I felt
he could bullshit his way out of trouble.
didn't feel too bad after a couple of ciders, but on Sunday morning
I discovered that I was, in fact, too old for serious sparring with
ended a week of disturbing discoveries and wild punchups. Paddy McGuinness
learned that kerosene and water don't mix and that Bronwyn Bishop isn't
a good-hearted lass. Bob Carr discovered that the trains weren't running
on time and took Carl Scully out the back for a flogging. The Sydney
Morning Herald discovered that Bob is forever saying it was somebody
else's fault when he discovers that something's gone wrong and suddenly
remembers he's the Premier of NSW.
board members Nick Whitlam and Anne Keating (those pillars of the city's
business elite) fell out in a nasty spat that will echo through the
cocktail parties for months to come and John Howard discovered that
mandatory sentencing will dog him till the end of his rotten political
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000