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September 26th 2012 print

Peter Smith

A cock and Turnbull tale

Warning: Capable ladies of the parliamentary variety react badly to the slightest whiff of testosterone, even when it is wrapped in a soft-spoken solicitude. Fortunately, they have Malcolm to depend on


(Roughneck) Julia had just been interviewed on the ABC. One of the penetrating questions had intimated that she might have been just a touch disingenuous on one or two occasions during her period in political office. In a state of high dungeon she came striding, visibly distraught, into the parliamentary common room muttering and spluttering: “Hyper-bowl, hyper-bowl! The ABC is full of it. Bring it on. Bring it on!” And other, more indelicate stuff. (Tough guy)Tony was the only other person in the room.


“My goodness, capable lady, what ills you,” said Tony, feigning concern, while gallantly rising from his chair.

“What did you say you, wrecking ball?” Julia responded.

This was an understandable retort on Julia’s part (barbed epithet aside) because Tony had taken to talking so softly for fear of offending capable ladies that none of them could properly hear him.

He tried to re-modulate his voice to just the level that would cause no offence yet still be heard. “I asked what ills you”, he said again.

“Don’t shout at me you insufferable bully boy. And, I am not ill! You are the one that’s ill or drugged or drunk more likely, walking in that swaggeringly threatening way of yours.”

Tony stepped a little closer to Julia (a fatal error as it turned out) to allow himself more scope to lower his voice. “No, capable lady, you misunderstand me. I was merely concerned about your evident distress.”

“Help! Help!” Julia screamed; and then, in what those nearby later described as a booming nasal-toned bellow: “He’s trying to hit me!”

Security guards, who Julia insisted accompany her for fear of being disrespected and heavied by Tony, rushed in and restrained the offender, one on each side, tightly grasping his arms.

Tony was getting a little peeved to say the least, but remembering that he had to display a Clark Kentish manner when among capable ladies, he gritted his teeth: “Hold on, boys, I think the capable lady might have misunderstood my intentions”.

“That’s as may be, Sonny Jim”, the largest of the guards said sneeringly, “but we already have complaints about you going about punching holes through walls and, see, you’re clenching your fists this very moment”.

“That’s because you’re holding my arms so tightly.” Control ebbing away, profanities followed. Mr Hyde-like, the real Tony was erupting.

“What did I tell you?” Julia shrieked.  “He’s mad. He has to be locked up to protect us capable ladies from his brutish ways”.

At this point a choir of capable ladies burst into the room and in obviously rehearsed unison began chanting: 

Us capable ladies sweet and cute
Know how to deal with a brutish brute
We take it in turns to addle his wits
Before we cut off his manly bits
His manly bits, his manly bits
Before we cut off his manly bits

This rendition so unnerved the guards that they relaxed their grip on Tony as they sought involuntarily to protect their own nether regions. Tony, now with his presence of mind completely gone, took advantage by wriggling one arm free. He flailed his fist at the guard still loosely holding the other. The guard ducked. Tony’s fist hit the wall with uncommon force. Unfortunately, the wall was solid brick. Tony let out a piercing scream of anguished pain.

All of the capable ladies, Julia too, held each other tightly, and began shivering in apparent fright while emitting plaintive cries for help. “Oh, save us from the brute”, could be heard echoing through the parliamentary corridors.

In the meantime Tony had collapsed to the floor whimpering in agony while nursing his badly bruised and broken hand. The two guards towered nervously over him, wary still of his penchant for fisticuffs even with only one good hand.

Just then (Lady’s man) Malcolm appeared. “Hello, what’s going on here”, he said. “I’ll fix it all up, don’t you worry your pretty heads.”

He instructed the guards to take Tony to a local infirmary with a note for the doctor that he quickly penned, calling for prolonged sedation and mental assessment – prone to self-harm through punching walls, he appended. Turning his attention to the ladies, he quickly calmed them down with his caring and solicitous manner.

Julia and the other capable ladies hugged Malcolm. He was one of them. They saw that right away.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to any living politician is purely coincidental.

Peter Smith is a regular contributor to Quadrant Online

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics