Get the Claus out
Once upon a time we might have pictured Scott Morrison coming down our chimney only because he thought he stood half a chance of finding coal in our fireplace. Now, thanks to the combined efforts of Michael McCormack and the Armoured Photoshop Division of one of our sibling papers, the vision has been expanded. The Treasurer laid it out at the very start of his press conference yesterday: “As much as The Daily Telegraph loves to play dress-ups with me on the front page, I can tell Australians I am not Santa Claus and there won’t be a Christmas in May and the Grinch won’t be making an appearance either.” But as fetching as he looks in his beard and red robes in the Tele, the fourth estate was on hand to give credit where it was due. Journo: “It was the Acting Prime Minister that actually called you Scott ‘Santa Claus’ Morrison, not The Daily Telegraph. Is the Acting PM wrong in saying this?” ScoMo: “He was enthusiastic about the important investments that have been made in infrastructure but I’m sure he would agree with me that our budget will be one that lives within its means ...” If there’s one thing Acting PM McCormack brings to the table, it’s an almost eerily undimmable enthusiasm. Journo: “So what are some of the gifts your Acting PM has …” ScoMo: “No, I don’t believe that is — as I said, I’m not Santa Claus and I’m not bringing a bag of gifts in May and there won’t be any Christmas in May …”
Knowing ScoMo’s fondness for 1990s Australian pop, it’s a pity he didn’t starting singing “Don’t call me Santa” to the tune of Madison Avenue’s 1999 hit Don’t Call Me Baby (“You don’t know me / The way you really should / You sure misunderstood.”) Anyway, it was all fun and games until Bill Shorten characterised Santa as a “mythical person”. Which may have led to a few bumpy chats with children last night. It was pretty distressing for Strewth, too.
Santa the right way
Meanwhile, a small, helpful note to the hardworking folks in ScoMo’s office who transcribe his press conferences. Strewth admires the consistency with which you stuck to spelling Santa’s name as “Clause”. In future, just remember that it’s like a rave after the police have been through with the sniffer dogs — there’s no “e” in sight. Unless you were making a sly nod to the Tim Allen flick The Santa Clause (imdb.com’s helpful synopsis: “When a man inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place”). Or better yet, this bit from the Marx Brothers’ film A Night at the Opera: Driftwood: “That’s in every contract. That’s what they call a sanity clause.” Fiorello: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can’t fool me. There ain’t no Sanity Clause!” The transcriber/s had no problem whatsoever with “numpty”, which ScoMo gave yet another airing. It’s an old Strewth favourite, and one imbued with a certain charm not to be found in, say, Bill Shorten’s beloved “knuckledragger”. Here’s a little “numpty” explainer from The Guardian in 2007: “Scotland’s favourite word, according to a poll by BT Openreach, is numpty. Derived from ‘numps’, an obsolete word for a stupid person, rather than the more obvious numbnuts or numbskull, the term implies general idiocy, often in my experience accompanied by windbaggery.” And as the article says, it’s a word of great flexibility. We hope that when ScoMo tires of this very British insult he replaces it with another: wazzock.
The very enterprising then small business minister Bruce Billson once adlibbed when a plane flew over a press conference: “Now was that an aircraft, or the roar of small businesses saying, ‘Thank goodness we’ve got a government that is the best friend small business has had’?” The man sure had lobbying in his blood. Labor’s Jason Clare had a crack at doing a similar thing during a joint press conference in Cairns yesterday, but it just didn’t have that Billson zing: “It’s the sort of thing that the local community has been calling for, for a long long time, and if Bill Shorten and Labor win the next election.” (Cue plane overhead.) “Just in case you missed that, it’s the sort of thing the local community have been calling for, for a long time, and if Bill Shorten and Labor win the next election, then it will happen.” Shorten also tried rising to the occasion after another plane: “Doesn’t this just show that a busy airport needs the roads to match the busyness?” Bruce, please help these people.
Quite the delicacy
A postscript to yesterday’s avocados, courtesy of reader Pat Quilty: “William Dampier brought the word ‘avocado’ into English from Central America, where it means ‘testicle’. The concept of ‘smashed’, or even the slightly less impactful ‘mashed’, causes me to squirm.” Quite so.