Here’s cheers to Drunk Monk
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.
Chris Calcino ROBERT MENZIES WAS SAID TO KNOCK BACK JUGS OF MARTINIS AT LUNCH BETWEEN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES, A SURE-FIRE TECHNIQUE FOR FIRING UP THE VERBOSITY GLANDS
RAISE GLASS: Tony Abbott has spilled the beans on his drinking exploits.