Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Where to for The Wild Colonial Boy Carney?

We all have bad years.

Todd Carney just seems to have them more often than most. Annually, actually, if you discount last year.
(As it happened, 2010 was my own annus horribilus. In this sense, it would appear that I took one for you Todd. You're welcome honey).

So he's somewhat wayward. Hello? He's from Goulburn for chrissakes, it's practically Deadwood out there. You know when the courts banned him, for a year, FROM THE WHOLE TOWN? Seth Bullock was totally there with his sheriff badge on display to escort him beyond the shire limits. And Al Swearengen was totally giving them both the long-range stink-eye from the Gem's balcony as they went.

Anyway, I digress. As it happens, I have more HBO-influenced digressions daily than I care to admit, Unless I'm paying somebody with framed degrees on their wall for a 50 minute session that is.

I heard Mick 'Atherton Publican' Nasser say that he would be more than happy for Carney to return and resume tending his bar and playing for his footy team and occasionally being beaten on by hostile locals. I like Mick Nasser, in the same way that I tend to like most North Queenslanders of his generation and disposition.

Also, I like that Tablelands. I myself spent a thoroughly satisying and illuminating night in an Atherton pub once, where a bell kept sounding periodically to signify the sale of $1 pots, and things quickly became what you might describe as 'colourful'.

A man set out to demonstrate to me his illustrious trick of making a full schooner magnetically adhere, at eye level, to where two walls met in a corner using only the power of his mind. To say that his repeated and best efforts never quite lived up to expectation barely hints at the scale of the shattered glasses and volume of spilt beer. Not to mention the sprays of blood after he trod in the glass and sliced open the toe that was hanging over the edge of his double plugger.

Another man told me that he worked nights on a chicken farm. His job was to creep, by stealth and under a cloak of darkness, around the chicken yards, ambushing the drowsy chickens by seizing them around the legs and gathering them in bunches of three birds per hand per swoop. He provided plenty of technical detail and even a demonstration (North Queenslanders are, by and large, nothing if not a demonstrative people) of his "special high-step".

The finer details from here on in are a trifle sketchy, but MAYBE I asked what the hell he wanted with the chickens anyway, and MAYBE he gaped at me and said "to turn them into chicken", and certainly it was at this point that the exchange became *ahem* inflamed.

He became highly excited, and, in an incredible bar-room matamorphosis, took on the exact characteristics and movements of a highly excited chicken, albeit a three sheets to the wind chicken. I don't think he much liked me pointing out the similarities, but, really, they were astonishing. His Adam's apple became all over-active and erratic, and he was scratching and bobbing and ducking and looking all beaky and beady and peevish, much the same as Brian Smith tends to look in the coaching box, and tends to sound in post-match press-conferences, and pretty much comes across as in general, now that I think of it.

Anyway, we argued and raved until he eventaully left to go to work ambushing said chickens, at which point my boyfriend suggested that perhaps announcing my vegetarianism by saying "I don't eat meat" was less than ideal, and that in future I should use the less strident "I choose not to eat meat". I suppose he suggested this in the hope that I would appear less slogan-screaming activist, more zen-like pacifist. Or maybe he'd just wanted to take the chicken-catcher up on his invitation, extended pre-fight, to accompany him to the chicken yards "to see me in action", and was miffed that I'd blown it for him.

Either way, his suggestion erupted into something of an arguement of our own. Because we were well-oiled on $1 pots, it was one of those extravagantly wide-ranging and fairly good-humoured arguements that tend to occur among the happy and the half-cut, when things are generally going well and you're enjoying your surrounds.

Things picked up even more when the barman, with zero fanfare, started spinning a noisy lottery wheel of some kind from behind the bar. Due to the sheer quantity of $1 pots we'd consumed, and thus the sheer quantity of raffle tickets we'd amassed with each purchase, we swept the field and won three sixpacks of XXXX.

In light of our good fortune, we decided to book into a room upstairs so that we could settle in for some serious drinking downstairs. It was brilliant. I borrowed a mango farmer's enormous pair of pull-on work boots to clomp around the bar in and swapped shirts with a jillaroo, and when we finally retired to our upstairs quarters my boyfriend, leering out onto the street below, fell out of the open window and rolled halfway down the roof before regaining control of himself. Brilliant.

So, yes, I agree with Nasser. I think the Tablelands would be a fabulous place for Carney to defrag. Again.

I know he seemed by all accounts to settle comfortably into city life, and I've seen the pictures of him strolling on Coogee Bay Rd and Bondi Beach but in my mind I cannot reconcile The Wild Colonial Boy that is Carney with these urban and coastal surrounds. What is there for anyone at the Coogee Bay Hotel or the Cross other than the lingering possibility, however abstract, of finding shit in your food, and having PR girls draw all over your face with lipstick?

Failing Atherton, or a return to Canberra*, I would suggest a sabbatical in the West. Kalgoorlie, say, or perhaps Port Hedland. Good, solid, frontier-type towns full of good, solid sorts with tanned throats and, I imagine, a certain appreciation for an exiled outlaw from Over East.

That's all I'm saying, other than, again, and as always, you're welcome honey.

* the long-standing, million-to-one Pie In My Sky

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