Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bob and Dave at Home

The front door slammed shut as Bob Ellis, man about town and politico-literary guerilla, announced his homeward return with a hearty, "I have returned! And so it goes!" Placing his ivory-handled umbrella in the stand and doing up his zipper, he went in search of his housemate and best friend.

"I'm in the study," called Dave, "exposing the pretensions of the middle-class!"

Ellis lumbered portentously to the study, where he stood in the doorway, wiping his lips in the manner of man who had written speeches for Whitlam and was a close personal friend of Rodney Cavalier. "What are you working on, Dave, my old friend and sparring partner, man of peculiar talents and even more peculiar flaws, who has profited so mightily from the Australian public even while disdaining them, like a cat insulting the milk it drinks?"

"It's a play!" cried Dave, turning from his brand-new iMac bourgeoisie-processor, eyebrows practically perming themselves with enthusiasm. "It's about how young people don't understand things!"

"Excellent, excellent," murmured Bob, withdrawing a flask of cognac from his hip pocket and taking a long draught.

"Have you had a good day?" asked Dave. "I hope you didn't meet any young people."

"I had an excellent day. I lunched with Bryan and Rachel, then went for ice-cream with Della Bosca and had sex up a tree with someone who may or may not have been Jacki Weaver - I'm not sure, the ice-cream was taking its toll by then."

"Jacki's wonderful," said Dave. "I loved her in that thing I wrote."

"I had a haircut too, do you like it?"

"It's all right, I suppose."

"Robert De Niro said it was the best haircut he'd ever seen. But perhaps you disagree."

Dave sighed. "Come clean, Bob. We all know what this is about. You've always been jealous of my beautiful, thick hair."

Bob scoffed, as he pulled a bottle of Merlot from his jacket and sucked it down. "I would hardly be jealous of that hair, Dave - it's lowest common denominator hair. Your showy, obvious hair has for decades been holding back younger, more vibrant hair. I'm quite happy with my own hair - Jack Thompson likes it for one, as does Sigrid Thornton, and Bruce Spence, Ray Barrett, John Wood, Robyn Nevin, and Rolf de Heer. Who likes your hair?"

"EVERYONE likes my hair!" Dave exploded, leaping from his chair and brandishing a rolled-up Quarterly Essay threateningly. "My hair has embodied the hopes and dreams of middle-Australian barbers for forty years!"

There was a tense moment, as Bob swigged from a jar of rum and Dave absent-mindedly wrote on the wallpaper, "Idea for play - uni students: idiots?" The tension was broken as Bob burped nobly, and announced, in that thunderous voice that spoke of a man who once had tapas with Neil Kinnock:

"It's time for dinner!"

Dave, jolted out of a reverie in which he had been mentally constructing a scene in which some teenagers failed to appreciate the importance of famous writers, nodded. "Yes - I made spaghetti."

"Spaghetti?" spat Bob with the kind of disgust only possible in a man who had written many award-winning films. "Why on earth would you do that? I don't like spaghetti. It speaks to me of nights alone in Pisa, staring up the leaning tower and wondering, when will people learn? When will they learn that capitalism is nothing but a con-job? When will they learn that this pasta they crave is just the device of wicked men in love with their own avarice? When will they realise that while we eat spaghetti, millions of Hazara peasants die simply because of our own failure to pay independent filmmakers enough to ensure we can make films about Hazara peasants dying? Spaghetti? Spaghetti is representative of the whole dirty, corrupt, money-hungry, pestilent, rotting, award-winning filmmaker-hating husk of modern democracy. And it's a pity."

Dave stood, hands on hips, petulant as the youth who still didn't know how smart he was. "Well, spaghetti was in the cupboard, Bob. What was I to do?"

Bob paused mid-sip of vodka. "You could have done many things. You could have run down the fish and chip shop for some blue grenadier. You could have got some Chinese. You could have called Domino's and had pizza sped to our door like Phillippides's message of old. You could have made a shepherd's pie, ignoring the plutocratic lure of nouveau cuisine. You could have whipped up a chicken curry, like my old friend Don Chipp did the night we found ourselves lost at sea after a drunken carouse with Louis Nowra led to a perhaps ill-conceived plan to sail to Canberra and punch Ros Kelly in the face. You could have written more plays about good, wholesome working man's fare like pies and chips, breaking the stranglehold of Mediterranean culinary entropy that has this whole nation in its grip, even to the point of allowing this snivelling eurotrash harpy Gillard to impose her sniffy big-nosed chicanery on us all. You could have done all, but you did not. And it's a pity."

But Dave was already gone, to the dining room, where he sat beneath the enormous portrait of Ben Chifley giving Arthur Calwell a piggyback ride, weeping into his bolognese. Bob found him there, and sat across from him, sullenly digging a fork into his bowl, even as he drank deeply from a box of warm riesling that he had found in his shirt pocket.

After a while Dave could stand it no longer. "Bob!" he ejaculated. "I will stop making spaghetti when people stop eating it! I don't claim to be a great chef, Bob, but people eat my food, and they seem to enjoy it, and that's not my fault Bob. I don't make spaghetti for you, Bob, but for those little people out there who gain nourishment and enjoyment and a sense of soft-left superiority from it, and I'll be damned if I stop making spaghetti simply because bitter old lefties like you need to vent their spleen at those whose spaghetti always came out better-seasoned than their own. You know full well you'd never even have made spaghetti without a grant from the Spaghetti Council."

"And why not?" Bob roared. "Maybe if the government put more money into funding innovative spaghetti auteurs and less money into drowning brown babies at sea, we'd be in better shape. But I suppose if it were up to you, we'd be eating this bland suburban spaghetti until the day we die, swallowed by an enormous ginger vagina."

The rest of the meal was eaten in silence. After dinner, both men sank deeply into the Jason recliners with satisfied-yet-regretful sighs. The TV was blaring, and for a few minutes they watched in silence.

"This is rubbish," said Dave.

Bob nodded. "It's very poorly written. They should have gotten a marvellous writer in, like Phillip Adams."

Dave nodded. "There is no witty, sparkling dialogue in this programme. It completely fails to show up the hypocrisy of the aspirational classes. Where are the McMansions?"

"This is nothing like the Wharf Revue," said Bob. "Modern television has nothing closely resembling the Wharf Revue, and it's a pity. I watched an entire episode of The Wire the other day, and not once did anyone do a Bob Brown impression. It's disgraceful. Fucking Gillard."

Dave nodded. Bob nodded. They both nodded. They stared at each other. Bob took another sip of the Viktor and Rolf cologne he'd found stuck down the side of the chair. David quickly wrote a play about non-goverment organisation office politics. A commercial for erectile dysfunction came on. They copied down the number. They nodded some more.

"Dave..." said Bob.

"Bob..." said Dave.

"Dave, I find your tired, unrealistic, cliched characters unbearable..."

"Bob, your bloated, self-obsessed polemics have become intolerable..."

"Dave, your contempt for the artistic community is revolting..."

"Bob, your insistence upon your own significance in matters of history is appalling..."

The world held its breath for a moment, and then...they were upon each other, grappling mightily in each other's arms, lips and tongues urgently exploring each other in a conflagration of burning leftist passion. Shirts were rent asunder, pants tugged at with the desperation of second-wave feminists clinging to outdated conceptions of women's place in political discourse.

"Bob..." Dave whispered.

"Dave..." Bob hissed, the desire carried aloft on fragrant bourbon fumes.

"Comrade..." they breathed in unison, as their progressive, influential bellies gyrated against each other, flesh slapping on flesh, and body mingling with body, till finally, they were no longer Bob and Dave, but simply Dob, or Bave, and they became one, coupling and uniting like the perfect synthesis of the Great Man theory of history and Keating-nomics, and their great literary bellows echoed throughout the night until, spent, they collapsed in a pool of sweat and socialism on the fireside rug, gazing into each other's eyes and panting with lust and exhaustion and angina.

"Dave," murmured Bob, caressing his old sparring partner's eyebrows, "do you think they'll ever understand?"

"No," Dave returned, making finger-circles in Bob's grey chest hair and tracing the outline of the tattoo of Kim Beazley's face that resided there. "They never will."

"Ah, me," Bob sighed, "it is hard indeed that in this day and age we find ourselves beholden to such minor, diminutive folk, who fail to appreciate the importance of a good political insult, or a book of essays, or a little-known movie. Hard it is to tolerate being ruled by the petty and the small-minded and the female who do not understand the burden we bear."

"The burden of history."

"The burden of genius."

"The burden of sociological perspicacity."

"The burden of enjoying blow jobs from pretty young women."

Dave stared into the fire, a single tear rolling down his cheek. "Things have changed, Bob."

"Indeed. The world no longer knows how wonderful we are."

"Oh well, what can we do, but keep on complaining?" Dave looked down. "Ready to go again?"

"In a minute," replied Bob, furiously poring over his autographed Kristina Keneally calendar. "In a minute, Comrade."

And so it went.

18 comments:

jbenso01 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jbenso01 said...

Having read Bob and Dave go at it; this is the perfect response. Now; you just need to post it to the blog site and sit back and wait for the bluster to blow in.

Greybeard said...

Truly inspirational. But I fear that you've blown your chance to become the next PM. Bob will never write your speeches now.

Jess said...

Having just caught up on this saga after being blissfully Internet free for a while, let me just say I laughed heartily at this, you gem.

JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ said...

One of the funniest things you've ever written.

Photocopy this a thousand times and let it fly like confetti in Parliament's Question TimE!!

Or, on Q and A.

Great work!

Anonymous said...

Ridiculously funny. What you've thrashed out as an aside is better than anything those two jokers could dream of doing.

Mel said...

I just adored this, Ben! Also, my word verification is "porkst", which is perhaps apropos.

Bill said...

Ben, you excel yourself.
Brilliant!

Bob Ellis said...

This is very good indeed.

Bob Ellis

kim at allconsuming said...

This is your reply to Bob's early query that there is no Byron Bay hinterland isn't it. That indeed there is and it's our very own Brokeback Mountain.

To which we can conceive Bob and Dave having a worn and tired shirt belonging to the other, hanging somewhat bereft in their wardrobe, lovingly stroked each night before, in memory of a time long gone and no longer understood let alone appreciated.

Bob Ellis said...

What a lovely image.

Bob Ellis said...

Popjie can I put this up on my blog? I lack the technology and may need your assistance.

I offer you without caveat a meal at Macchiavelli's.

Ben Pobjie said...

Mr Ellis you may place it wherever you like, with attribution naturally. Just copy and paste if you like, or link or whatever.

I am informed to my surprise that Machiavelli's is a real place, so the invitation is charming. I know not when I shall be in Sydney next though.

David Horton said...

Ben I'm assuming Machiavellis is a bakery.

noplaceforsheep said...

This is so heartwarming. Ben and Bob. Yes.

Doug Quixote said...

Excellent stuff Pobjie, you do seem to excel at parody.

Bob can see the humour; I wonder if Williamson will too?

We live in hope.

Anna said...

Love it! Absolutely inspired. Pobjie, you are brilliant.

ivy said...

Nice sharing,this is really informative,nice history. Really impressive.Thanks
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