Bob Carr needs a good dose of the Central Coast water which has perked up the lives of John Della Bosca and Craig Thomson. Bob the Blogger has been down in the dumps lately, lamenting ‘a boring weekend’. For most Australians, the weekends have never been more exciting, with an abundance of sporting events on which to feast. The NRL and AFL have completed exhilarating finals series, while at the track, punters have rarely been so animated in cheering home the champion mare Black Caviar. Too much sport at this high level of athleticism is never enough.
Not for Carr, however. He is suffering a pay-TV-induced boredom disorder, complaining that:
Foxtel’s programming is a colossal fraud, the serving-up of pulp – Teen Mom, Psychic Sally, America’s Fattest Honeymooners – only because it is dead cheap. No serious documentaries, no arts entertainment. Just a dedicated cretinisation of public tastes.
Bob must be the only person in the country who subscribes to Foxtel for its History and Bio channels. Elsewhere there are documentaries galore. This Racing Life, Champions of Racing and Classic Grand Finals are among my favourites. As for entertainment, Carr has embraced the wrong kind of art. For the audacious art of the goal-sneak, he should have been watching Andrew Krakouer during the AFL season. For the subtle art of offloading in the ruck, Feleti Mateo has conducted an NRL masterclass — with every glorious moment screened on Fox Sports.
Who wants to hear about the colour of Rasputin’s underwear or watch a re-enactment of Robert E. Lee’s breakfast at Gettysburg when the glory of sport beckons? It was good enough for the ancient Greeks, a refined and cultured mob, but apparently not Bob the Blogger. The problem is not a lack of culture on Foxtel but Carr’s folly in signing up to the wrong (sports-free) subscription plan. He is more Geek than Greek, a longstanding problem.
In the early 1990s, as NSW Opposition Leader, Carr’s staff took him to an Eels game at Parramatta Stadium. Bob looked on disinterestedly and then, at half-time, disappeared from the stands. Fearing the worst, the staff sent out a search party, finding him in the car park. When asked what he was doing, Carr said he was going home, the match had obviously ended. One of the staffers had to explain it was only half-time. Bob protested, ‘No, I can’t go back to watch more of that, they walked off the field so it must be over.’
The Blogger’s solution to his Foxtel conundrum is to ‘double the ABC’s budget’ — giving the public free-to-air access to (Carr-style) documentaries. As a believer in evidence-based policy, he should have market-tested this idea in advance. Indeed, there is already a place where the public can access this material for free: the Bob Carr Blog. In recent months it has offered the following show-stopping titles:
• What’s on at the Russian Film Festival?
• Civil War (History) at Roseville
• The Battle of Brest Fortress: An Ode to Russia
• Among the Federalists: A Weekend in Hobart. Plus those two rib-tickling tales:
• Stalin and Shostakovich; and
• The Russian Dead of World War II.
Millions of Australians, following their cultural instincts and the creative beauty of free choice, watched the football grand finals earlier this month. Bob Carr’s Blog, however, lists just 338 followers, or 0.005 percent of the population of New South Wales. In fact, I’ve seen bigger Labor party branch stacking operations than this. The ABC wastes enough money without doubling its budget for the benefit of 338 oddballs obsessed with dead Russians and Federalist weekends in Hobart. Why doesn’t Carr invite them around to his backyard in Maroubra, shout them a fat-free BBQ, and screen the programs himself?
Psychic Sally is predicting many more boring weekends for this bushwalking trivia buff, unless he gets with the program and signs up to Fox Sports.
As they say at the track, Whitlam
has broken his maiden. A three-year-old gelding from the Darley stables of Sheik Mohammed, he is building
an impressive race record, with two wins and three seconds from six
starts. Looking at his bloodlines, the former Labor leader clearly has
a fanbase at Darley. Whitlam is out of the broodmare Weaver of Words, while his sire Elusive Quality is from Touch of Greatness. Further back in the pedigree, Gough would undoubtedly approve of the presence of Bold Ruler and Never Bend but, as a well-known Republican, he might baulk at His Majesty. As for Sir Gaylord, didn’t the Whitlam government abolish Australia’s system of imperial honours?
Imagine my excitement at Randwick two Saturdays ago to see an unraced filly named Nixon. I thought this was part of a horse-naming bonanza for political greats, first an Australian PM and then a US President. Reaching for my pedigree notes, however, it was hard to see a connection to Richard Milhous. The filly is from a broodmare called Crazy Fling. Was someone suggesting the 37th President, a Quaker no less, was a philanderer? Surely not. Thankfully, there is more to life than politics. The filly’s owners had in mind a different Nixon, he of St Kilda schoolgirl fame. Burdened by the weight of infamy, the equine Nixon was unplaced in the Gimcrack Stakes.