My friend Neil

Almost every weekday, Neil would put on his white cotton shirt with french cuffs; his golden cufflinks; his silken tie; his pure woolen suit. On many of those days he would change again and wear his starched white collar, his black woollen gown; his horsehair wig. So dressed, he would breathe deeply and begin his speech to the judge. He would speak slowly and precisely, trying to persuade them to give some glittering prize or golden bauble to his client.

For no matter how unfair or capricious seemed the rulings, he would politely press toward. On his best days, he would slowly encircle the judge with argument until finally the judge would simply ask him what he should do. On his worst days, with restrained fury he would ask for reasons and begin preparing the appeal papers in his head. On those days, he would think that he had indeed entered a place of hell. Yet when he saw them back in court or even on the street he would speak to them with great deference and exaggerated politeness. He would laugh at their jokes and praise their judgment. And then on Friday afternoon he would sit behind a beautiful crystal glass of fine shiraz and with wit and intelligence would excoriate the buffoons on the bench for their pettiness, their bias and their inability to grasp the simplest legal concepts.

And on almost every fortnight, he would put on his white and red sleeveless jumper and his scarf. And on a wet Friday night when the umpire walked Setanta O’Hailpin almost down to the goal square for an interchange infringement, he took a deep breath and screamed abuse at him until those around him became concerned for his wellbeing.

But on that day many years ago when Leo Barry raised his arms and the umpire signalled a mark; then he really thought that he had entered the kingdom of heaven.


  1. You never know who you’re sitting next to at the footy.

    Enjoyed the read Ian.

  2. Who is this magical man?

  3. My friend’s dad, a bean counter from the burbs, and a lovely bloke, used to get so worked up at Crows games that he had to stop going. Then he had to ban himself from watching them on TV as it upset his wife too much when he got rabid (the dog used to leave the room when it heard the theme music at the start of the telecast). I’m not sure if he still listens to them on the radio or whether that had to go too…

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Interesting read Neil and we can all change personalities at the footy spot on dips you never no who is who and what a person does in life

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