Here’s cheers to Drunk Monk

The Weekend Post - - Views -

OURS is a na­tion forged on foam, bile-en­riched hic­cups and mid­morn­ing liver pun­ish­ment; a phys­i­cal and fed­eral ode to the peaks and troughs of drink­ing ’til your dacks drop.

When Mal­colm Turn­bull at­tacks our van­guard of viti­cul­ture Tony Ab­bott for go­ing on the mother of all piss-ups, pass­ing out, and miss­ing some of the most im­por­tant par­lia­men­tary votes in decades, he in­sults our very her­itage and makes him­self look like a tee­to­talling goose.

If any­thing, Ab­bott’s ad­mis­sion to Annabel Crabb on an up­com­ing episode of ABC se­ries The House that he “lay down and next thing I knew it was morn­ing” should earn him a surge in votes, ala Bob Hawke, and a snazzy new nick­name.

He can fi­nally shirk the “mad” tag and take on the roll-off-your-tongue moniker of the Drunk Monk. That, by the way, would mean he shared a name with a Frangelico-based cock­tail, a bar in Spain with a 25-page beer menu, and a lyric on gangsta rap vet­er­ans Wu Tang Clan’s sem­i­nal 1993 track Clan in the Front.

The year was 2009 and Ab­bott, Peter Costello and Kevin Andrews (and pos­si­bly Peter Dut­ton, although his name was miss­ing in this ren­di­tion of the story) were in the par­lia­men- tary din­ing room quaffing wine with wild aban­don, as you do. Things got a bit out of hand. “I think all of us were in a mel­low and re­flec­tive mood so the re­flec­tions went on for longer and later than they should have and the im­pact was rather greater than it should have been,” our famed grog-mon­ster con­tem­plates be­fore the host of his beloved ABC. And so it dragged on. As the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives de­bated prime min­is­ter Kevin Rudd’s $42-bil­lion stim­u­lus pack­age to pull Aus­tralia out of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and it was put to the vote, party whips fran­ti­cally tried to rouse a cata­tonic Tony Ab­bott, to no avail.

In the cur­rent prime min­is­ter’s words to 3AW ra­dio host Neil Mitchell yes­ter­day: “I can’t re­mem­ber any­one else miss­ing a vote be­cause they were too drunk to get into the cham­ber”.

Maybe, maybe not – but not for want of try­ing.

Our first prime min­is­ter Edmund Bar­ton was a lush of bib­li­cal pro­por­tions whose leg­endary ap­petite for get­ting throt­tled earned him the nick­name “Toby Tosspot” among po­lit­i­cal ri­vals, so dubbed by news­pa­per edi­tor and politi­cian John Nor­ton who was him­self a no­to­ri­ous drunk­ard prone to bouts of black­mail­ing.

“I have seen you snor­ing drunk on sev­eral oc­ca­sions ... you have ad­dressed au­di­ences while un­der the in­flu­ence of drink ... when in Bris­bane about a year ago you got so dis­grace­fully drunk and in­ca­pable that med­i­cal aid had to be called in so that you could be ‘toned up’ in time to ad­dress a big public meet­ing,” he wrote in an open let­ter to the prime min­is­ter.

Quite a thrash­ing, con­sid­er­ing Mr Nor­ton was once so soz­zled he uri­nated on the floor of the Cham­ber in full view of his col­leagues.

Robert Men­zies was said to knock back jugs of martinis at lunch be­tween par­lia­men­tary de­bates, a sure­fire tech­nique for fir­ing up the verbosity glands.

Kevin Rudd claimed he was too wasted to re­mem­ber vis­it­ing the Scores strip club in Man­hat­tan.

John Howard racked up a $120,000 wine bill after three-and-as-midgen years at Kir­ri­billi House.

Al­fred Deakin be­lieved he re­ceived di­rect in­struc­tions from the ghosts of Sopho­cles, Edmund Burke and Lord Ma­caulay, among oth­ers, but sur­pris­ingly it seems it was re­lated solely to his be­lief in spir­i­tu­al­ism and had noth­ing to do with booze.

Get­ting ut­terly gog­gled holds deep his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance in Aus­tralia’s po­lit­i­cal realm and Ab­bott’s real sin is his lack of piss fit­ness – a state of peak con­di­tion­ing whereby the body is so ac­cus­tomed to ty­ing one on that it barely re­acts.

As Henry Law­son said: “Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel with­out beer.”

En­joy your week­end.


RAISE GLASS: Tony Ab­bott has spilled the beans on his drink­ing ex­ploits.

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