“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





03 February 2016


Match fixing, pissed bogan sports heroes, the panting hackery and performance-enhancing drugs 

Within a day of each other, two great Australian sportsmen hit the chitter-chat last week.

One was Thommo, who'd struggled into a tux and popped on a crooked pre-tied bowie to win something in a big room where he made a profane speech about being old and blind and how much he drinks and how little his dick has become. 

Everybody thought this was really funny. 

With certain  avuncular care he also mentioned how unfortunate today's young professional cricketers are, being in the spotlight and on duty 24/7 all year round.

"Cricket was something I could do for fun," he said, pointing out the differences time has brought. "We were lucky in our day. We could play for fun."

At least I'd heard of Thommo. The other bloke was Mitch Pearce, who might have been famous before somebody filmed him being a totally pissed sexist bogan with hardly anything on, but I doubt it. He sure is famous now. The bogan gang of the press hackery frothed on a great deal about how he pretended to root a woman's dog while I thought his vile treatment of the woman, upon whose couch he'd urinated, deserved much more derision and dissection. But the media pack has dumb sexist tendencies too and it's popular to post nice safe doggie shots on Facebook and Twitter so there you go: everyone barracked for the poor woman's dog.

Like a big drunken muscly brute of a bloke can push himself on a woman and attempt to kiss her or dribble on her or whatever coarse intrusions he attempted, and that's pretty much ignored but if you pretend coition with her little dog all the pundits go nuts. 

Personally I thought that from where I sat the pooch looked pretty safe given the apparent depth of Mitch's imbibition. I doubt that his mighty sword would have cut any more mustard than poor old Jeff Thomson's, but that's not the point. Anyway this vulgar peanut wasn't a cricketer but he seemed to me to be a perfect example of the sort of young professional sportsman Thommo referred to.

This more or less coincided with the 1.6 million hits - it's over 2 million now - another coupla Queensland yobbos got for their vid of them interrupting a robbery with hardly anything on, en route from a boozy singlets and stubbies party to a servo in search of noodles. They took the keys from the crims' car and chased them up the street in bare feet. Everyone in the world thought this was pretty funny, including me. The Americans thought it was particularly funny. Two blokes in nothing but stubbies, without machine guns, stopping a robbery. 

It's just as well our heroes weren't sportsmen. These days in Oz, they would probably have got hauled up to a tribunal.

Men being the operative word: it's as if sportswomen never get celebratory and sexually cocky after a hard sesh on the playing fields. I've innocently walked into a women's lacrosse team about four hours after it won something big and I'm telling you I woulda preferred to get undressed with James and Kane to tackle the Gold Coast robbers than been the petite, perfectly-dressed blonde lady sitting quietly in the corner of that bar. Those big tough drunken lasses gave her hell. 

All sporting sexes could use some performance enhancement when it becomes to respectful, moral, role-model behaviour.

While we're on sport, this matter of match-fixing also bemuses me. Of course people rig results. Of course some players will take a dive. They're all narcissists with far too much money at stake. 

I've always thought that it's a big enough gamble getting out of bed in the morning without betting on dogs or horses or similarly inane things like tennis or cricket. If I had the spare readies I'd be placing my bets with a health insurance company but that's rigged too, so I'd deserve to be screwed. In my book, all the poor punters who choose to plunge on sport get what they deserve.

I've written for decades of match-rigging in wine shows, which leads us back to booze as much as to Ocker hypocrisy. No need to colour-in the celebrations that happen when somebody wins a big trophy, but it's worth reiterating the way you can directly influence the results of a wine show by your choice of judges according to their style preferences as much as their acuity with their hooters. Even those of us who don't do the giant wine races anymore are predictable: I find it extremely difficult to enjoy and recommend wine made by a creep.

Which leads to performance-enhancing drugs. Given the nature of all the above, and its inherent, hopelessly human vainglory, it's just plain dumb to expect that competitive individuals will ignore science and medicine to risk being slower than their rivals.

As it's virtually impossible to keep ahead of the constant evolution of performance-enhancing drugs for the sports and athletics fields, it's time we instead legalised the whole kaboodle. If it's cool and advantageous to feed defence force warriors drugs to enhance their deadliness in battle, let's have 'em. Let those sporting types and athletes who want to go faster and harder longer take whatever they like: use them like lab rats. Research. They'll discover things that could dribble down for use in the general community much faster than whitecoats using innocent and unwitting monkeys, rabbits and rodents in a lab.

I'll never forget watching Ben Johnson win the 100 metres and I don't care what he took: using the wonders of modern medicine, he beat 'em fair and square. To me, his sin was no worse a matter of performance enhancement than any journo who gulps down a handful of painkillers and four coffees to ease the problems of a hangover in order to remember how to type and talk and meet a deadline.

I've always nursed a secret desire to watch the pole vault on acid. As a pimpled hellbilly kid I watched Australia thrash Pakistan, without Thommo, on the Adelaide Oval in 1972 and I have to tell you cricket never looked so good. I thought at the time it would have looked even more entertaining if the players had also been on the electric orange juice. The thought of pole vaulters trying the same trick is truly  tantalising. I reckon they'd just keep right on going up and up and outa sight.

page from one of the 1972 diaries ... illo, text and photo©Philip White

As a professional who works daily with a desk covered in wine I reckon I'm qualified to say that in my line of work wine is hardly a performance enhancer. Unless one's tasting something rare and brilliant, one tends to go further and further down. When the writer's block sets in, I find strong spurruts a much better writing fluid than wine: vodka when it's hot; whisky when it's not.

On the other hand, when I get my writing done in time to do some actual editing, I agree with that torrid misogynist, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who I think said booze is good for writing but not editing. A joint is better for editing, but our stupid laws makes such an harmless act criminal.

Even a placebo can work if you're lucky. While we're in the confessional, I might just as well recount a day when I'd been unpacking book boxes and found a tiny paper parcel which contained what looked like a chip of stale hash. As there was big editing to be done I tried in vain to set fire to it ... regardless of the aggression of the flame I applied, it would glow, but wouldn't catch. Still, I felt sure it was helping me, if only in a mild stale sort of a manner. Eventually I noticed some faint handwriting on the wrapper. I'd been trying to set fire to a chip of the famous Mundrabilla Meteorite.


Kevin Hakney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Milton Wordley @kauridog said...

Have you still got the piece of famous Mundrabilla Meteorite? You must have been well into the edit when you tried to light it up !!

Kevin Hakney said...

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February 4, 2016 at 4:59 PM

[Kevin also put links to his business, which I have removed - Whitey]

Philip White said...

I still have my piece of the Mundrabilla Meteorite, Milton. I doubt that I'll make that mistake again. To that avail, I have discarded all the loose chips. I wonder where that damn thing came from.