the celery juice off my toga
was moping around the office when the phone rang. It was Patrick from
the NSW Right.
is not often that I get a call from anybody in Sussex Street. When I
do, I ask myself very deliberately whether I'll feel worse about myself
if I take the job ... and then I treble my corporate fee.
know we've got our differences Nick, but you're a marsupial of the Left
and we know you'll treat it with the utmost professional discretion.
It's Bob Carr. He's acting very strangely. He keeps disappearing, and
he won't tell us where he goes. His driver isn't saying anything ...
it's becoming a security problem".
took the job and he swore me to secrecy. I hired Abdul the Cabbie and
swore him to secrecy.
spent a couple of hours circling State Parliament until we picked up
the Premier's car as it pulled out of the carpark on Hospital Road.
We hadn't tailed them far when they pulled up suddenly and Bob got out.
He was wearing sunglasses and a wig and he carried an overnight bag.
slipped out of the cab and followed him down Sydney Street with mounting
disbelief. A couple of minutes later, he turned into Werrong Lane and
went into the Brushtail Café. You could have knocked me down
with Fatty O'Barrell's intellect.
waited a couple of minutes at the corner before following him. The café
was nearly empty but Bob was nowhere in sight. Joadja was behind the
bar, polishing glasses.
what the hell is going on here? I just saw Bob Carr walk in. Where is
leaned forward and spoke in a whisper: "He comes from time to time
and hires the private room upstairs. Not to be disturbed."
I've been hired by Sussex Street. It's a security matter. What's he
doing up there? Is it a woman? a gay lover? drugs?"
I suppose he never exactly swore me to secrecy ... Occasionally he calls
down and asks me to take up a celery and ginger juice ..."
it's weird. He's just sitting there at the table wearing a toga and
writing on a vellum scroll, and I have to address him as 'Emperor'.
And he does this for a couple of hours and then he slips out again.
It's good money, and he pays in advance".
investigations are easier than others. I rang Patrick and told him the
it's just his Marcus Aurelius obsession. The Imperial Rome thing. It's
probably been triggered off by the Olympics", he said. He seemed
relieved, and asked for the bill.
don't worry about money. Let's not put anything on paper. Just get one
of your people to drop around a case of the season's best apples every
week for the next six months ... and I need a 56K modem", I replied.
Bob's constantly reinventing himself", Old Possum said later, after
I had sworn him to secrecy. "First there was Milo Dunphy Bob, then
there was James Ellroy Bob and Abraham Lincoln Bob and now there's Marcus
intellectual infatuations are a weird reflection in Bob's mind of how
he sees himself at the time. Marcus Aurelius Bob is the stoic ruler,
assailed on all sides by ingratitude, insolence and disloyalty, doing
his duty to the masses with grace and forebearance. It's not a democratic
leader's philosophy; it's the self righteousness, self pitying self
image of the hereditory administrator. My children, I am doing the best
I can for you, 'tho you are ignorant, unruly, ungrateful and will forget
me when I am gone."
Mother of Darwin", I said. "Don't tell me what he was thinking
about himself when he was James Ellroy Bob."
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000