Heartfelt pleas have rung out across the nation. From Fearless to Floreat Pica the Almanac has groaned under the weight of concern about young Travis’s welfare, and its tragic consequences for Nathan’s stalled bid for beatification.
Out here in the West we find it a little hard to understand all the drama. Sure there’s money, family and the fall from grace of a much loved son. But I get that daily, sharing the Avenging Eagle’s escapism with the Bold and the Beautiful.
Anyway, what makes Travis C more important than Travis B? Surely its just Victorian imperialism that makes Collingwood’s implosion more significant than Port Adelaide’s slow rolling train wreck.
“Folk joke – Magpies croak – Cloke Boak toke crack coke smoke.”
Now that Collingwood have suspended contract negotiations with the Cloke clan, there seems no way out of a damaging impasse. The problem of course, is not of their making. It is the inevitable result of restrictive trade practices by the AFL, like the salary cap, that prevent market forces working their magic to resolve the situation.
There is an obvious Australian solution to these dilemmas - that ‘colourful’ and ‘astute’ Almanackers like PJ Flynn and Crio will be well aware. It is the ‘whip around’.
Tragically Junior Knackers may not be aware of this ‘time honoured’ national tradition. Many confuse it with the loan; the cadge; or that most loathsome of habits ‘the bite’.
As ever, its the underlying motivation that distinguishes the true nature of any action. ‘The bite’ is an act of individual desperation – as in ‘the needy and the greedy’.
‘The whip around’ stems from a collective understanding that the boat is sinking – with all hands – and that this is no time to quibble about who forgot to watch out for icebergs.
Remember that scene in the Titanic movie where Leondardo DiCaprio is down in the engine room watching the sheet of water gushing in through the gash in the side of the boat. Lenny says “the bloody captain’s been on the sauce again and the navigator was downstairs with his floozy when he was supposed to be on his watch on the bridge.”
The wizened stoker gives him the eye and says “shut up and keep bailing”.
Now do you get the connection to Eddie and Bucks and the unfortunate crew at the SS Lexus? What have Australians traditionally done when the water is up to your neck and you can’t stand on tippy-toe much longer?
The obvious precedent is the case of Rex “Buckets” Jackson and the whip around.
Rex was a Cabinet Minister (Minister for Corrective Services unfortunately) in the NSW Wran Labor government of the 1970′s. Rex had a good heart, but was also a sucker for the punt and the ponies. Things had reached a pretty pass, as these things inevitably do, with Rex bouncing cheques and dubious promissory notes on bookies and shady characters throughout Sydney (there is a longer version involving ‘my little mate’ Sydney lawyer Morgan Ryan and the Federal Attorney General Lionel Murphy – but we’ll keep it simple for today’s purposes).
Neville Wran was one of the most impressive people in Australian public life. A silver tongued, immaculately dressed ex-QC famous for “Balmain boys don’t cry”. He had clerked for bookmaker Bill Waterhouse as a Uni student. When the young Wran wanted to put his clerk’s wages on a sure thing , the fatherly Bill put a wise hand on the shoulder and advised “don’t go down that track son”. Wran’s oratory was not confined to the parliament or the courtroom. In private he could strip paint when riled, as he surely was by Rex’s misdeeds.
The unpaid bookies were threatening to go to the papers and Wran knew that his fragile government could not withstand the loss of credibility at the impending election. So he called a Cabinet meeting, and told the uncomprehending assembled that the chastened Rex had ‘stuffed them’ unless they all put their hands in their pockets for a substantial ‘donation’. The equation of Ministerial car, perks and salary versus short term cash flow limitations was readily apparent.
Plan A was a success. Rex and the government’s ‘good name’ were saved at the election.
As is the way in all the best Shakespearean drama, there was a final act that involved the hero’s demise (think Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear et al). Rex could not give up the habits of a life time, and he hit on Plan B to fund the next ‘bad trot’. This was a prisoner early release scheme on humanitarian and rehabilitation grounds – administered entirely at Ministerial discretion. The jig was up when this ‘informal arrangement’ turned up on police phone taps of a drug dealer. Rex had 7 years in Silverwater to reflect, and only recently died at New Year aged 83.
As well as a history lesson on the perils of the punt for our Junior (and not so Junior) Almanackers, I am sure that our perceptive readers have already leapt to the ‘Final Solution’ to the Cloke imbroglio.
Half time at the MCG with the Magpies trailing by four goals. Bucks implores the assembled:
“Time to dig deep boys. Daisy – surely with the money you’re on, you could pitch in $500 for Trav’s second half goals. And Beamsy you could give Trav 2 grand if we win, out of that new contract you just got. Jolls – remember there are no second chances at this stage of your career, so pitch in. And Heath - I know you got beaten a short head in the last leg of the Quaddy at Flemington, so things I understand that things are a bit tight. But remember – Premierships are Priceless. But for Trav there’s always Mastercard.”
Before the game up in the President’s Lunch, Eddie beseeches the assembled great and good:
“Come on you blokes, we can’t let Visy beat us today. I know Juddy’s copping a $20K backhander if he gets Brownlow votes today, so the toffs will come out fighting. Surely a few of you can get $5K each out of the Corporate Expense account (or even the petty cash tin) to make sure Trav kicks a bag today.”
Yes Almanackers, its time for a little bit of lateral thinking down at Lexus Land. The Whip Around is the time honoured Australian method of resolving these troublesome situations. Its what the management boffins call “Market Based Performance Incentives” or “Big Reward Incentives Bringing Excellent Service”.
You know it makes sense.