Of all the improbable misdeeds in the ABC’s recent exploration of Cardinal Pell’s alleged mischief in public swimming pools none are quite so jaw-dropping as the failure to wonder just how difficult it might be to slip a large, sly and hasty hand into a small pair of Speedos
Half-remembered from an adolescent reading list is the unique skill of a particular character in one of Robert Ludlum’s interchangeable pulpers. This remarkable fellow, in one smooth and flowing movement, could throw the gear stick of a Lagonda through its H-pattern while hiking his passenger’s hem and caressing the thigh, inevitably creamy, of the requisite paperback love interest.
This talent greatly impressed a 14-year-old reader, and it seems the grownups at the ABC are likewise prepared to believe accounts of wardrobe mischief that are even more improbable – nay, impossible to credit. To take the national broadcaster at the word of last week’s 7.30 shocker on the alleged activities in swimming pools of George Pell, the now-cardinal boasts an amorous dexterity that puts the likes of Jason Bourne to shame.
Female readers may need some guidance, as their bathing costumes seldom come with drawstrings, which are essential for holding up men’s togs. This is important because Pell’s accusers ask us to believe that the priest not only gave each a quick feel or ten outside their bathers, he also slipped the thick-fingered hand of a former Richmond Reserves ruckman down the front.
ABC sorts, who would likely enjoy the exercise, might want to try this experiment: pop, say, Jon Faine of Melbourne’s 774 into a pair of Speedos, turn on the microphone and broadcast the attempts of fellow staffers’ wandering hands to take a quick and surreptitious measure of their man.
The audio would be more than amusing — an overdue dividend on the billion dollars a year it takes to hire people who do not know that drawstrings are very hard to get past. This is particularly so, one would imagine, when the groping is sly and the possibility of being observed by fellow bathers a prospect to encourage haste. The only man able to reach the control nob in that studio would be Faine himself.
Try it at home if still inclined to accept the 40-year-old memories of the ABC’s key witnesses, a pair of convicted bash artists and substance abusers. And remember that wet drawstrings can be even harder to get past, as all men and boys know. Quadrant couples might find the experimental exercise promotes a heightened marital amity, but they should also be aware that those same cords are often very frustrating to untie, especially when in a hurry.
Faster by far is the speed with which a lie circles the world.
Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant online. He favours board shorts, always with drawstrings.