Almanac Music: Spoiler and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’

When I imagine the perfect way to spend my twilight years, I have a fantasy that I could live in the same retirement village as some of my university mates.  The retirement village would be at a beach within stumbling distance of coffee shops, restaurants and bars.  I have a list of people I would like to invite into my Nirvana.  High on the list is Spoiler.

Those of you who have read Confessions of a Thirteenth Man by J. T. Harms will have already met him. Spoiler is the eternal gentleman.  In the early eighties modelled himself on an amalgam of Bryan Ferry and James Bond. When I look back on the Spoiler of old I always think of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” …’his hair was perfect’.

After University we both found ourselves working together in the Commonwealth Public Service.  During that time my love life was a nuclear winter.  My desperation was visceral.  Eventually, I crossed paths with Annie, a glorious blond who snorted when she laughed and had a wink like a head butt.  She worked as a nurse with the wife of another mate and was on the rebound.  Our meeting was arranged at a dinner party. If you’ve ever been to Utrecht and seen “The Matchmaker” by Van Honhorst, you will get the general idea.

Like a drought ridden grazier seeing clouds roll in I thought my ‘luck’ had changed, Annie asked me be her partner at the Hospital Ball.  Annie lived in a unit on the north side which she shared with another nurse. The invitation came with the sweetest request.  “Helen, (her flatmate) doesn’t have a date …Can you get one of you mates to take her? …  you know it won’t be fun if there are three of us. ” (insert the head butt wink wherever you think appropriate)

Desperation being what desperation is I enthusiastically promised her that I could find a suitable date.

Spoiler was my man.

His reply was matter-of-fact, “It’s an open bar I presume?” … my instant reply was, “If it’s not I’ll pay for your grog all night.” (I did say visceral)

The day came, we drove over to Annie’s unit.  On arrival, Annie came to the balcony it was three stories up.  She was wearing a sprayed on red satin gown.  Her smile was like a tsunami.  I was ready to die.  Helen joined Annie on the balcony, she was a large woman, her frock was reminiscent of a multi-coloured parachute.

Spoiler looked at me adjusting his cufflink.  He was wearing a double-breasted white dinner jacket.  His jawline was immovable.  The perfect hair had not moved… He breathed in deeply and uttered the famous words “This is the debt that can never be repaid.”

We went up to the unit, Spoiler naturally, was all charm and complimented Helen on her colourful gown. She gushed and tried to give him a rose for his buttonhole, Spoiler declined tactfully saying it would clash with her gown.

As we walked into the ballroom the DJ introduced “Another one bites the dust” by Queen, saying “here’s one for all you ladies who have found the perfect man”.

I thought for a moment Spoiler was going to lose it.

I don’t remember much of the Ball, except for buying Spoiler Gin and Tonics all night. He caught a bus home.

In time, Annie rebounded right back to the former boyfriend, it seems he wasn’t so bad after all. Helen, I never saw again.  Although I have an aversion to hospitals as a general rule when in one, I am very polite to the nursing staff.

As for me I still owe Spoiler and if we ever get to live in the same old folks’ home I will have to have buy gin in bulk.

JTH and Spoiler

Spoiler with J.T. Harms, July 2015.

About Anthony W Collins

A northerner with a mild distrust of anyone from south of St Lawrence.


  1. I was sure that Spoiler was going to get the red satin dress girl, Mulcaster, and owe you a life time’s supply of G&T. Still its your life not mine.
    Priceless. “For those in love and those who can remember” as the smarmy late night DJ’s used to say.

  2. I gave Spoiler his nickname, it was previously Donk. I was always a little aggrieved that I didn’t get a mention in the 13th Man because as JTH & Spoiler headed off on the great southern Ashes road trip, they only reached Stanthorpe I think, and they were on the blower to me getting advice about how to reattach the bumper bar that fell off in the first 2hours of the drive. I’d suggest a retirement village in Toowong as Spoiler almost lives at the Boatshed now.

  3. Magnificent, Mulcaster. Spoiler is a truly great man. You and I could write a column, alternate weeks, about him, and we’d still have plenty to say in 2020.

    In the months after Confessions of a Thirteenth Man was published, I was asked a lot of cricket-related questions. I was, however, asked more questions about Spoiler and the actress Grace. Spoiler engaged many women in conversation on tour. He was very impressed with Pop, a violinist. He managed to find out her favourite flower, and then her address, and had a bunch of them on her doorstep by the time she got home.

    TG, I think I was sitting at the table in the dining room with you. Is that right?

    I will attach a photo of Spoiler to the end of the piece.

  4. Quite possibly Johnny, it certainly came about from the graffiti about Donk that Dave (Des the Garbo) Cullen had scrawled in chalk on the staircase balconies opposite the dining room.

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice track Mul,
    I was in Grade 4 when ‘Dust’ came out and I remember how me and my classmates would marvel at and try to emulate Freddy Mercury’s easy machismo. Song for the ages.

  6. Polythene Pam says

    And, of course, Werewolves of London has the finest piece of alliteration in modern popular music – “little old lady got mutilated late last night”.

  7. A brilliant read, Mulc.

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