Wednesday, 04 September 2013

Meeting And Licking The People

Written by

Intrepid press gallery hack Ben Pobjie is on the Abbott Bus, exposing the soft, sweaty and bristled underbelly of the modern election campaign.

Tuesday, 27th August

Unnerving start today on campaign trail with Abbott team. Woke at 6am to find Peta Credlin sitting on my bed, staring at me. Asked if I could help her. She put finger to her lips, then spat on me. Later in the day saw her at lunch and asked what that was all about. She claimed to never even have heard of “beds”. Somehow her protestations lack conviction.

Otherwise a fairly run-of-the-mill day of campaigning. Press conference outside a Crocs factory, where Tony announced his $100 million Crocs fund, to support the homegrown Crocs industry. He refused to answer any questions, instead holding up a series of picture cards depicting common household objects, followed by a demonstration of how he can make faces with his thigh muscles. All journos were then distributed a flyer called “Can You Trust Labor To Make The Thigh Puppets Australia Needs?” A lot to think about.

Early to bed. Though I saw Credlin crouching on top of my wardrobe, but too scared to get out of bed and check.

Wednesday 28th August

Abbott on talkback radio this morning. Interview went sour when Jon Faine started poking him in the chest and yelling about his mum. I think Faine might have had a bit to drink: he couldn’t stop calling Abbott “Merle”. First caller demanded to know what an Abbott government would do about spiders. Abbott promised a feasibility study. Caller seemed satisfied. Second called accused Abbott of stealing his dreams. Abbott became very evasive. Possible story here: must follow up, could be a Walkley.

After radio interview Abbott team had photo op with local candidate in Sassafras. I asked him what he thought candidate’s best feature was. Answer: “Her saucy grin”. Awkward moment when Latika pointed out that candidate is a man. Grattan broke the tension by asking candidate to spell “Liberal”. He got it in only five tries. Widespread applause. Feelgood atmosphere all around. Many backslaps. Really jazzed about positivity of Abbott campaign. Filed story about same, contrasting to negativity of what Rudd was probably doing today.

Thursday, 29th August

Becoming used to Credlin in my bedroom. Last night she acted as a sort of water bottle on my feet. Went to sleep to the sound of her soft little snores. Adorable.

This morning got a phone call from Scott Morrison. He wanted to know what I thought of a song he’d written, called “It’s a Downer When You’re Browner”. I told him it lacked a hook. He got very upset and said the recording session was in three hours and he still couldn’t settle on a chorus. I suggested he try it with a ska beat, and he became very excited. “This could be my big break!” he cried.

We spent lunch at a macaroni factory, where Tony Abbott met with some macaroni sculptors who have been retrenched due to the carbon tax. Made a passionate speech on how Australia once rode on the macaroni’s back, but is being taxed into poverty. Quite a few tears flowing. Filed story on how prime ministerial Abbott is looking nowadays. A good day, but marred by the macaroni I dropped on my new pants.

After I went to bed I was awoken by a call from Morrison. I told him I didn’t care about his song, but he said he just wanted to talk about his feelings. Asked me if I thought he’d be a good minister. Said I was sure he would be. He confided that he’d actually always wanted to be a mechanic. Asked if I thought it was too late. Said it might be. Hung up while he was sobbing.

Friday, 30th August

Sat down with Abbott for in-depth profile piece on his model ship-making hobby. Sat for half an hour waiting for him to start making a model ship, but he just stared at the pieces and sniffed a bit. Eventually asked him if he actually made model ships. He said no, but Peta thought it’d be a good idea. Worried that the nights spent sleeping at the foot of my bed are taking their toll on her. Asked Abbott what he’d like to talk about. He said paid parental leave. I agreed, and turned on my recorder. He asked me how babies are made. Told him. He dry-retched for a bit, but seemed very interested. He asked if a woman could get pregnant from a man smelling her hair. I told him no, but he said he’d be careful in future, just in case. Asked him if he had any other big policies he’d like to talk about. He said he was very interested in subsidising the pet snake industry. Got a call from my editor, so had to cut interview off at this point.

Editor told me he needed a story on the Top Ten sexiest LNP candidates. Promised to file in an hour. Unfortunately, took me an hour and five minutes to make up ten names. Editor fired me for lateness. Am now an independent freelance blogger.

Saturday 31st August

Shouted out during Abbott’s press conference, demanding he come clean to the Australian people. Abbott replied, “About what?” Thwarted! But I’ll get him. Blog design coming along really well: have a picture of Ubu the Family Ties dog as the background. Stylish.

Sunday 1st September

Clarified that Abbott needed to come clean about his plans for the economy. He held up a picture he’d painted of the Budget. Warm applause resulted. Abbott promised more and bigger pictures if only the Australian people would trust him. “Do you trust me?” he yelled. Wrote blog post about how much I trust him.

Later in the day accompanied Abbott to church, where he did the bump and grind with several nuns. Asked Margie if she minded, but she seemed confused and disoriented. Claimed to have never heard of “Tony Abbott” and asked to be taken home. Asked Bridget if her mother was all right. Bridget asked me to go for a run with her. Thought I might be about to get a scoop, but all she did for the whole 20km was make fun of my running style. Have decided the Abbott family is quite odd. When I left to go back to the hotel, Abbott was still at church, removing volunteers’ panties with his teeth.

Monday, 2nd September

Usual Monday ritual of press gallery a cappella rendition of “Manic Monday”. Abbott says we’re getting better, but need to work on harmonies. Moving on to issues, Abbott claimed he had costings in his pants but would only release them if someone could guess his true name. Confusion reigned for several seconds. Laurie Oakes guessed, “Harpington Lute”, but Credlin shut the press conference down.

Later on were called to a photo op at toothbrush factory where Abbott claimed Kevin Rudd hated teeth. Called Rudd’s office for clarification, but got only a barrage of obscene abuse from Jenny Macklin. Too many times to be a coincidence.

Went to bed, but found Credlin hogging the covers. Tried to roll her over but she bit me. Slept on floor.

Tuesday, 3rd August

Woke up naked with tattoos of Liberal policies all over my body. Posted selfies on blog. Almost fifty hits already. Pretty satisfied with career path right now.

Ben  Pobjie

Ben has not one but TWO hilarious books out now. Surveying the Wreckage and Superchef.

Follow him on twitter @benpobjie