It hasn’t been the same since the twins said they’ve just turned 18, and need a lift to the university.
It’s Open Day so we start at Monash. Even though I went to Melbourne, I want my children to understand life’s superficial ground rules and the Clayton campus with its international research reputation, masters courses on how to use a hyperlink effectively and elevated freeway overpasses is a good place to start.
Life isn’t just about who has the biggest unsealed parking lot in the Southern hemisphere. But then again, as my Marxist philosophy professor used to say when parking his $200,000 BMW, maybe it is.
So I slide my silver Tesla with its dangling black power cord into parking spot 63723N. I’m thinking how Monash University Open Day isn’t what it used to be because back in my day everybody at Monash was stoned – even the students – and yet all these cars are parked straight, passive and undented like idling Chinese tanks waiting to drive into Hong Kong or politely waiting your turn at the Waleed Aly World Peace and Crowd Control all-you-can-eat.
Five hours later and I’m tired from the six-hour drive to La Trobe University and a barking mad GPS that only speaks international student once you enter the Demilitarized zone. I’m ready for a fight when this pale-faced mime artist gets way too noisy for my liking and climbs out of his cardboard box and creates an imaginary wall.
‘Perhaps Trump’s Wall?’ I say, but he doesn’t understand how clever I used to be in 1981. I’ve always thought you can judge a tertiary institution by the quality of its political street theatre and papier-mache assemblage techniques, but what he really needs is a $600,000 student debt and a career in accountancy.
I think the massive influx of international money – sorry students – has greatly improved the quality of car parking in our world-class education system. I see Monash has risen to highly prized 73rd spot on the Shanghai Global Top 500 university rankings that are measured on the basis of academic achievement and proximity to a car mechanic. Melbourne is at 41, which is better than Monash but, of course, Melbourne has proper public transport and the threat of tasering by Victorian transit police who aren’t really police, something anyone doing the Confucius Centre’s Democracy and Facial Recognition Technology course will understand.
If I hadn’t failed cartography, gender fluidity and Chaucerian slut-shaming when studying at Deakin I would draw an explanatory flow chart of this for you or at least a picture of a blousy serving wench with really big tits.
We visit Swinburne but the car is almost out of electricity and the extension cord won’t go any further. The parking is terrible and I get stuck in the mud spinning my wheels, which probably reflects the loser 975 Shanghai Global Ranking. We check out the marketing courses as there are so many of them full of lobotomized AFL players pretending it’s just concussion and trying to ignore the performance-enhancing drugs and the blousy serving wenches with really big tits wanting to be photographed with them at the Brownlow.
We end up at Melbourne Uni and the Peter Singer Ethics Centre where you can get a $900,000 student debt while learning how to carve the roast ethically. The Meishan Pig on the front counter is a communist plant who hands me a brochure on animal equality and directs me to the euthanasia presentation being given by a philosophy professor who identifies as an Angus cow waiting to be marbled and vacuum sealed. When I was at school I briefly thought of specializing in euthanasia as the idea of killing some old person to put the children out of their misery has always appealed but, of course, I never got the marks.
Michael Scammell studied car mechanics at Melbourne University.
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