Imagine it’s September 25 and you’ve paid your $450 and you’ve just settled in alongside 59,999 of your fellow Melbourne football fans at the Perth arena (the second most beautiful stadium in the world, the most beautiful, of course, being Ghazi Amanullah International Cricket Stadium right there in the heart of Ghazi Amanullah Town) when the festivities begin.
Now I don’t want you to think Gil exclusively briefed me but can I say that all the entertainment will be from West Australian stars. And 19 readers, one friend and one family member (at last) this is how it should be. The Wildflower state (and don’t those very words set your heart racing with excitement) never wanted to be part of Australia. It never participated in the earliest federation conference (the original national cabinet) and, in April 1933, 68 per cent of the wildflowers voted to leave the Commonwealth of Australia with the aim of returning to the British Empire as an autonomous territory.
Anyway, on comes Suze DeMarchi with the Baby Animals as back-up belting out the words to the national anthem for the majority of Australians and before you can say Black Swans, Twiggy Forrest and Gina Reinhart, up pops the éminence grise of iron ore heaven, specially jetted in from London, yes the wobble meister himself, Rolph Harris, singing WA’s own state anthem, There’s Only One Mark McGowan.
To top off the musical interlude, direct from the sister/brother/other state of the West, Zhejiang Province (famous for its silk umbrellas and hand fans), are members of the Yue Opera (all not men since Yue is performed by actresses only, in male, female and other roles) doing an excerpt from the Romance of the West Chamber (one of Bon Scott and I’s personal favs) with back-up by musicians on the Guban Gaohu, Yangqin, Erhu, Pipa, Sanxian, Dizi, Liuqin, Xiao and Yunluo.
The stage is carted away and the crowd goes wild as out comes the traditional parade of players sitting in classic cars from the Peter Briggs collection with Briggsy himself leading in his Bentley Blower. Of course, in every car there’s also a well known local identity. There’s the state’s most famous movie star, Koko the kelpie, well known surfer Tim Winton, Danny Ricciardo and of course Bon Scott. Then just as expectations run higher than Mt Meharry and you wait patiently for bouncedown, balls-up or whatever they call it in Melbourne football, the two teams come out in single file, led by match officials and walk around the outside of the oval. After three laps they all go back to the dressing rooms and that’s it. Grand final is over.
Now before you think I’ve been following the advice from my bible of the week, The Specials’ wonderful tune, Everybody Knows, which includes that deeply insightful truth of middle age: “Everybody knows that you live forever when you’ve done a line or two” (and the equally insightful: “Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful, ah, give or take a night or two, everybody knows you’ve been discreet, but there are so many people you just had to meet without your clothes”) this is truly what happened in last Sunday’s F1 race in Dentist land, aka Belgium.
Now it was raining trackside but many of us (particularly your correspondent who hates even a spot of water on the track) believe the real test of a great racer is how they handle the wet. Anyway, race officials were worried about safety issues at Spa but instead of cancelling the event and giving fans their money back, they waited for three very damp hours, had the cars line up in single file behind the safety car and drive (not race) for three laps, then come back in and award half marks as though the charade was real.
While Mad Max won the disgusting farce, Hamo got it right: “Money talks and the two laps to start the race is all a money scenario. So everyone gets their money and I think the fans should get theirs back, too. Because unfortunately they didn’t get to see what they paid for. We were sent out for one reason and one reason only. Two laps behind a safety car where there is no possibility to gain or lose a place or provide entertainment to fans isn’t racing.”
Meanwhile, FIA president Jean Todt has backtracked and announced there will be a review of F1’s regulations – including the practice of handing out points once a race has run to a minimum of two laps – after the Spa Sunday.
And an even sadder announcement from everyone’s favourite F1er, Kimi Raikkonen, who this week said he would be hanging up his gloves after a 20-year career behind the wheel. After 344 races, 21 wins, 103 podiums, Kimi’s last race will be the season finale at Abu Dhabi. Williams driver George Russell will take over as Hamo’s wing person.
“After taking delivery of the Sorento, I spent a day driving around Darwin training the beast to do what I wanted it to do as opposed to what its computer wants to do. It is also a rolling nanny state (must have been designed in Victoria), festooned with electronic gizmos, several of which are quite useful, but many of which are complete pests which serve no purpose at all but to serve as a major distraction for even the dumbest motorist, who really shouldn’t be driving anything at all in the first place.
“No matter, it’s a great vehicle and very strong and very fast. I then drove it down to Timber Creek, which was most relaxing, despite all those caravans of grey nomads in long chains sitting behind the occasional road train. Meanwhile, the Sorento is constantly chirping and beeping and challenging the driver to find a way to shut it up. Example: I was peacefully cruising on the Victoria Highway when Bong, a message flashes up on the main screen (there are many) showing a steaming coffee cup and a message indicating that I should rest and refresh. Yeah right – the bloody thing probably makes breakfast for you, but I’m only halfway through the 1.5kg driver’s manual and eagerly await that revelation.”