Vichy Republic of Balmain Peninsula
I went down to the Brushtail Café, Joadja was behind the bar
regaling an audience of the afternoon regulars.
... suit like a tent, and then this huge scowling bulk lurched
towards the door ... "
tell me you slipped out to see Orson Welles in Touch of Evil
again", I said. She must have gone back to the Chauvel to see the
director's cut three times since we saw it the night Ross Gittins jumped
no. Paddy McGuinness was in the newsagent, doing some copying and look
what he left on the photocopier."
handed me a couple of beer coasters from the Riverview Hotel and went
on with the story of her close encounter. On the backs of the coasters
was what appeared to be a to-do list for next Monday's Balmain residents'
rich burghers of Balmain were rising up angry. They were pouring too
many of their hard-earned dollars into council rates, only to see them
subsidise the scum in poorer sections of Leichhardt municipality --
and even Balmain itself. It was a harsh and unconscionable imposition
on stockbrokers, columnists, TV execs, merchant bankers, retailers,
corporate lawyers, ministerial staffers, radio 'personalities' and other
pillars of the elite, they said.
laid the Chardonnay-stained coasters side-by-side on the counter and
deciphered the scrawled list.
Contact Les Murray re preamble for Balmain constitution.
Ring Helen Darville. Can she be Ethnic Affairs Officer? If not: Paul
Sheehan? Bill Hayden?
Marlboro ads on Town Hall and council cars.
Council-subsidised Quadrant subscription for every household.
Arrange to close library.
Offer flag of convenience registrations for Japanese whaling fleet
(spin: oppose Western cultural imperialism).
Recognise Indonesian sovereignty in East Timor (too small to be viable
entity). Offer asylum to General Pinochet. Ring Bill Skate for his
Taiwan contact's name ($50m enuf?).
Privatise municipality (talk to David Humphries re this). Promise
cashback bonus for all residents [this word was struck out] municipal
Arrange security wall on Rozelle side, customs post on Darling Street.
Workshop formal title for the new entity?"
yes, I thought, a formal title. How about The Vichy Republic of Balmain
Peninsula? Another gated community for the seriously well-off; another
fantasy-land response to the pressures of the age. A polite Hansonism
for the well-heeled. "The civil society" for the very civil.
Funny how it's the globalisation freaks who are doing this. Like the
foreign quarter of Shanghai in the old days, when the imperialists ran
China. "No dogs or Chinese", the signs used to say.
on the other hand, why not -- if that's the way they want it? Why not
concentrate the whole ghastly problem in the one place and quarantine
it? We could arrange to have them all go into exile in Balmain: General
Suharto and the merchant banker Milosevic, Boris Yeltsin, John Howard,
Paul Keating and John Laws, when the time comes.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 1999