Day 39. 64 pages, 30,290 words. Done some editing!
Today I learned of the passing of an age-old Australian icon, former prime minister Bob Hawke.
I don’t know whether he was a good politician, or a good man. He seemed popular when I was a kid and remained popular in most circles I know of to this day. I don’t recall seeing him being reviled as so many politicans are in recent years. It’s probably fair to say he had a few skeletons and was responsible for some perpetuation of mistreatment of minorities. I don’t want to trivialise that but I will plead my complete ignorance.
He was a politician in the 1980s. A product of his time, to be sure, and I’m certain there will be any number of glowing homages, searing take-downs, and the hottest of hot takes over the days to come. Again, I plead ignorance and can only offer this Eighties Kid’s reflection on a larger-than-life national leader.
Mr Hawke’s capacity for drinking was vast. After all, he entered the world record books upon sinking a yard glass of beer in under 12 seconds during his time at Oxford University.
He was very much an Australian icon. From his beer-drinking victories (he quit drinking entirely during his time as a political leader but was still notorious) to his declaration on national television that any boss who fires an employee for skipping work the day of Australia’s victory in the America’s Cup is a bum (not to mention the class act of cheating on his wife with his own biographer, although it seems as though he divorced and remarried with said biographer and remained with her until his death, which – I – well – I, I just don’t know what to think but I’m sure, again, that the takes will be fresh, hot, and numerous), he was well-loved in a quintessentially Australian way that I connect, for better or worse, with my childhood.
Not that I drank a lot of beer and screwed around behind my wife’s back with my biographer in the 1980s. Or, you know, at any other time. I don’t actually have a biographer, in fact. I wrote my own biography, so I guess there’s a masturbation joke in there somewhere but let’s show a little bit of respect … actually Hawkie would probably have a laugh, never mind.
I’m very proud of it in one way [and] very disappointed that all the other, many brilliant things I’ve said are never mentioned. “What’s the most brilliant thing Hawkie ever said? It’s the ‘bum’ one.”
– Hawkie on his bum quote
Like all things from the 1980s, Hawkie was probably better remembered than experienced, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have been well-received in reboot form.
I didn’t know, for example, that Hawkie’s government was responsible for making Advance Australia Fair our national anthem. Up until 1984, it was God Save the Queen – same as Britain’s. Yikes. Now to be fair, Whitlam started this particular fire but then the Queen / Governor General dismantled the Whitlam government on the 11th of the 11th and the replacement government – hmmmm – reinstated the old anthem.
Hawkie also made the green and gold Australia’s sporting colours at the same time. Fascinating.
Here’s to ya, Hawkie. Good innings.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.