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Smoko: accidents, removing graffitti, Simon Crean's appeal and SARS

By Ern O'Malley - posted Thursday, 8 May 2003

Crikey, I'm still alive! I've been in more strife than Steve Irwin with a bleeding head wound at feeding time!

If you're wondering why this column has been missing in action, well, I've been in the wars lately (No, not that one!). Gotten to know the inside of the public hospital system pretty well lately. Number one was a tickle of 240 volts when I attempted to become the workshop's main circuit breaker. Number two was a snake that put the bite on me harder than the taxman (my own stupid fault). I'm not looking forward to number three ...

It was interesting while I was in The Fishbowl (as the Observation Ward is known), because I had plenty of opportunity to eavesdrop on the Nurse's station (what else is a bloke meant to do, there was no telly!)


The medical fraternity was united in its condemnation of Shane Warne. "He must have been using steroids - that is the only way to recover from injury that quickly!" said my doctor.

Come to think of it, when I did my shoulder in the same way, recovery took months, not weeks. Trying to put the blame on his mum's vanity did him no good either. Warney, you don't still wonder why you're not the team captain, do you?

Anyhow, I returned to Dodgy Motors (You Bend-em, We Mend-em!) to find the war on Iraq in full flight. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly are still at odds over the war, even after the fighting has stopped. Mind you, Blondie (The Good) has gone a bit quiet lately, now that his predictions of doom and gloom have failed to pass. He does feel somewhat vindicated: "The Yanks going to look pretty silly if the don't find any weapons (of mass destruction). Proves it was just about the oil."

Angel Eyes (The Bad) almost seems a little disappointed that the Iraqis didn't put up a better fight. And he is very cheesed off about the international media coverage that continually failed to acknowledge our Diggers.

"Credit where credit's due!" he cries, "Anyone would think that it was just the Poms and the Septics in this show. What about our boys?" He wants John Howard to push the Yanks hard on the free trade agreement. "We deserve it after supporting them."

Tuco (The Ugly) disagrees: "Little Johnny supported Shrub, not us. Now he's off to Texas to get a pat on the head."


Of course, trust Tuco to find humour in bloodshed. He's updated us daily with quotes from media sensation Mohammed "We are winning!" Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Information Minister. While the rest of us are a little sick of the media coverage, Tuco just can't get enough, and irritates us by turning up the radio every time there's a news bulletin. I'll be glad when he has something else to bang on about.

While most of the anti-war protests created little comment, the smoko room (peaceniks included) was outraged by one particular effort. Indeed I haven't seen the guys so angry since the 'Gut Truck' once skipped our workshop. It wasn't the schoolkid protests, nor the Greenpeace effort with the warship, that caused so much consternation. They were both seen as fairly legitimate expressions of democracy. What boiled their billy was the NO WAR graffiti painted on the Sydney Opera House. It wasn't the message that upset them, had it been painted on an office block no one would have cared. But Laurel & Hardy up on the main sail used paving paint (do you know how well that sticks? - must have been a bugger to scrub off) to attack a national icon, and in doing so tore at the very essence of Australia. Their little miscalculation did a lot to damage the credibility of the protest movement. On hearing that one of them was a To-and-from, there was a vigorous debate on his punishment.

"Deport him!" Blondie cried. "No, make him scrub the graffiti off the rail yards for six months, then deport him!"

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About the Author

Ern O'Malley works in a mechanical repair shop in NSW. Of course, this is not his real name.

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