Our city’s oldest teenagers
Hilarious Patter book to hit shelves
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.
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.
Peter Patter complains about having to get the newsroom coffee.
Serving the public was never one of Peter Patter’s favourite activities.