Our city’s old­est teenagers

Hi­lar­i­ous Pat­ter book to hit shelves

The Chronicle - - News -

FART jokes, shav­ing mishaps, health scares and travel ac­ci­dents prob­a­bly weren’t what the boss had in mind when Pe­ter Hard­wick was tasked with writ­ing a weekly col­umn.

Fig­ur­ing his opin­ions weren’t worth The Chron­i­cle’s cover price, he de­cided to have some fun and en­listed the mild-man­nered car­toon­ist Gavin “Rowdy” Ryan to help.

Thus Pe­ter Pat­ter was born and now, af­ter 12 years of mishaps and ques­tion­able puns, there’s a handy book about to hit shelves and fill stock­ings just in time for Christ­mas.

It’s been a labour of stress and good-na­tured fun for the ac­ci­den­tal colum­nist and his side­kick car­toon­ist who has re­galed Chron­i­cle read­ers with the real life ex­pe­ri­ences of a gang widely con­sid­ered Toowoomba’s old­est teenagers.

“Or as I call them, ‘Id­iots R Us’,” Mr Hard­wick ex­plained.

“It came about be­cause I was told I had to do this col­umn.

“I don’t par­tic­u­larly like columns; I don’t re­ally care about peo­ple’s opin­ions and I don’t think peo­ple care about mine.

“The rea­son we started muck­ing about with it was re­ally a throw­back to my mates. But what hap­pened is peo­ple started read­ing it.

“Peo­ple started think­ing they were great and bit by bit, we were get­ting feed­back that peo­ple liked it.”

It’s a shud­der-in­duc­ing thought, then, that each col­umn is grounded in truth and based on real life ex­pe­ri­ences of ei­ther Mr Hard­wick or those of his mates - es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing some of the top­ics and in­stances so hi­lar­i­ously de­scribed.

From med­i­cal scares to travel ac­ci­dents, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues of the day to colour­ful char­ac­ters of the city’s crime world, Mr Hard­wick has each week some­how scrounged up a topic to en­ter­tain.

But it’s not without its stresses, with Rowdy of­ten on the re­ceiv­ing end of an irate phone call each Wed­nes­day night.

These two blokes, who have known each other for decades, have risen from the print­ing trenches to their re­spec­tive cur­rent day jobs, have a rap­port that speaks to a long­stand­ing friend­ship.

“I ring Pete up at the same day and time every week,” Rowdy ex­plained.

“If he’s got a story ready then he’s got a fair idea of how he wants me to frame the car­toon.

“It makes it bet­ter so there’s no nasty sur­prises.”

That’s not to say there hasn’t been the oc­ca­sion when the pages were dif­fer­ent, but that could pos­si­bly be at­trib­uted to the out­ra­geous ex­pe­ri­ence of Mr Hard­wick and his band of merry pranksters.

“This is our life,” Mr Hard­wick ad­mit­ted.

“As crazy as it might sound, it re­ally is the way that we be­have. We are Toowoomba’s old­est teenagers or, as I call them, Id­iots R Us.”

Known to en­joy a beer or two on a semi-reg­u­lar oc­ca­sion, this rag-tag bunch of sports mad blokes - and their wives - are rarely spared Mr Hard­wick’s quill.

Nei­ther is City Hall where Mr Hard­wick has (ac­ci­den­tally) cham­pi­oned the cause for big in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing the new air­port, a brothel and a strip club, among oth­ers.

And he’s a “great ad­mirer” of the Ruthven St obelisks, if the col­umn inches ded­i­cated to them are any in­di­ca­tion.

It’s a solid plat­form to launch the Mil­lie for Min­istry cam­paign, rid­ing on prom­ises of tax cuts for beer swillers and mak­ers, sports nuts and free party mem­ber­ship for any­one who sup­ports the strug­gling St Ge­orge Illawarra Dragons.

And a frank and for­tu­nate re­minder for reg­u­lar health checks and, on oc­ca­sion, take things se­ri­ously.

So while an ac­ci­den­tal colum­nist, and now ac­ci­den­tal au­thor, The Chron­i­cles of Pat­ter is more than a decade in the mak­ing and a trib­ute to solid friend­ships (de­spite the hi­lar­i­ous in­ter­pre­ta­tions of a car­toon­ist).

At $9.95, it’s out just in time for St Nick.

The Chron­i­cles of Pat­ter will be avail­able from the front counter of The Chron­i­cle at 109 Neil St from Tues­day, De­cem­ber 11. ■

Pe­ter will be sign­ing his book at the launch at The Na­tional Ho­tel on Fri­day, De­cem­ber 14 from 5pm.

Photo: Bev Lacey

BOOK LAUNCH: Car­toon­ist Gavin Ryan (front) and Chron­i­cle jour­nal­ist Pe­ter Hard­wick are get­ting ex­cited about the launch of Pe­ter’s book The Chron­i­cles of Pat­ter.

Photo: Ryan

Pe­ter Pat­ter com­plains about hav­ing to get the news­room cof­fee.

Photo: Ryan

Serv­ing the pub­lic was never one of Pe­ter Pat­ter’s favourite ac­tiv­i­ties.

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