Slow Train Coming: An Essay on Australian Politics.

Cohen’s writing process, as he told an interviewer in 1998, is “…like a bear stumbling into a beehive or a honey cache: I’m stumbling right into it and getting stuck, and it’s delicious and it’s horrible and I’m in it and it’s not very graceful and it’s very awkward and it’s very painful and yet there’s something inevitable about it.”

Similar to the election I am currently watching on TV, to be fair. Very similar.

Here comes the hung vote… yik yak yok!

My election day began with a phone call from my very first boyfriend. A fan of the ‘ol blog he said, “Fuck it. Rather than read about you every night why don’t I just go ahead and call you!?” I confided in him how curious this has all become for me– this writing business– because everyone seems to get a bit, have their fill, and yet I don’t know half as much about other peoples lives, and I’d like to, at times, the special ones anyway–

“You sound like you’re in bed.”

“Yeah man, my favorite place on the planet! I only intend to rise later to vote and to go to yoga. This is my Saturday.”

He made me laugh a lot and I was reminded of how bloody funny he can be.

“Listen Al, I wanted to talk to you about the election. I just voted…”

I knew we’d be voting similarly and it was most helpful to be walked through the process, cause to be fair, boxes and numbers aren’t a strong point of mine– whatsoever. He knows this. I can barely count. ; )

“I want a longer blog from you tonight! Write it now. I want more.”

“Ok. What should I write about?”

“Write about the election, of course! Your people need to hear your voice.”

We laughed.

‘Your people.’

It was a struggle to drag my ass out of bed at four o’clock. I do love my bed.

I walked up the hill in a big, baggy jumper and hot pants. Mat over my shoulder. My belly full of tofu and politics. Loads of the stuff.

I wondered how surreal the experience might feel. How long the queue would be. Who’d be voting at the primary school on Crown Street in Darlinghurst.

I purchased a coffee for the wait and was humored by the big, boring affair at large. Such a clinical landscape–politics. No fun here! I wanted to jazz the hall up with flowers and maybe some sweet northern soul for the masses. I’d wished I’d signed up to be a ballot boy. You can make good money stuffing envelopes on election day. But I’ve been too busy for that sort of caper. No time. No spare time at all, really.

We– my ex- and I– discussed the likelihood of us both wanting to move overseas in the event todays election ends in a Liberal Government lead.

We talked about how scared we both are of Tony Abbott. I didn’t know Brighton was a liberal demographic. I recalled the last time I voted. Kevin ’07. I remember the day well. I remember the letter I received shortly there after in the mail informing me that my vote had been null and void. Fuck knows why. And as a consequence, I’ve been a bit disgruntled about todays election. I didn’t actually want to vote. Because of the last election, of course. And because of elections in general. And my knowledge of the Australian government and how frequently they fib and how– if I’m honest– I think the whole thing is rigged.

I was seated in front of a man I seemed to recognise. I was trying to pin point it. From a dream? From a film? From a memory? His face was open wide and I noticed right away he had absolutely no body hair.

“Hey. How you doin’?

“Yeah good, getting through it all…”

Noticing he stuffing and folding and all that paper I asked him if he’d encountered any nasty papercuts as yet– how his hands were fairing, in spite of it all.

“Ar, my hands are really sore actually.” His face softened even more. “But that has more to do with my dry skin than the election.”


He stared at me, surprised.

“Yeah… Yeah…”

“Tough gig,” I said, wondering whether it was lupus or trauma… Remembering Matt Lucas (from Little Britain) describing the trauma of a car accident and later the death of his father, both experiences he believed had caused his alopecia.

“So, can you walk me through this slowly? I want to get it right.”

He smiled.

“Ok Alexandra. Here’s what you do…”

I bumped the guy next to me with my yoga mat and he seems thoroughly unimpressed. He’s placing an absentee vote also. His electorate is in the western suburbs. I wondered what it would be like to be voting our west today. What people would be saying to one another as they queued. How they’d be thinking. Or not thinking, as I think the case often is for happy idiots, irrespective of their post codes.

I voted for The Greens, of course.

Here’s Bob, saying some things:

“I’ve seen the future, brother: It is murder.”

“I love the country but I can’t stand the scene…”

He asks me to bring my papers back to him once I’ve voted.

He asks me to fold the papers. I do.

“Is that it?” I ask.

And he just sits there, smiling broadly, saying nothing, staring at me.

“Umm… Did I do it right?”


“Ok… So… ar, great! Go The Greens! Have a nice day.”

I chuckle to myself as I leave. It’s so funny how people keep their vote secret. The total opposite of democracy if you ask me. He hands me a sticker as I leave and I laugh. “Great! A sticker!”

I notice all those envelopes, all those forms, all those people, and that this is just ONE community hall in one suburb, in one state among many– I really do think it an impossibility to read and acknowledge everyone of those envelopes by whatever time we’re supposed to have this thing wrapped up by tonight.

Totally unfeasible.

I think the decision has actually already been made for us. That’s how politics works. Get ’em all to stand in a line, intimidate them with an insipid controlled environment and copious boxes to number, force them to do it and then gather all the envelopes and distribute them to all the little elves in the warehouse under the ground, by the tree, through the woods, for safe keeping. Archive the fuckers. And do it carefully, really carefully, so as to seem official.

I could bang on about Australian politics for hours– but I don’t care to. You know my thoughts. These are they. It’s actually a little dull watching it unfold on tele right now. It ain’t got nothing on the last American election, of which I had the rousing fortune of watching all night long on a big projector screen in my friends basement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They circle things on the tele over there they do. With red and blue markers. Plus they’re American, so I laughed a lot, out loud, those funny Americans. Aussie politicians ain’t got nadda on that lot. Notice how few women are covering this election as it unfolds on the TV tonight. Notice how no one actually says anything, with the exception of Bob Brown, whom I think is a bit of a nice guy– It’d be so exciting if he was afforded the opportunity to drag our daggie little stale poltical culture into a brave new world. I’d love that.

Still, I suppose I should wrap this up somehow. Go out with a bang! Because the reality is… If I wake up to a Liberal Government tomorrow, I’m afraid I shant be able to live here anymore. Tony Abbot is a dangerous man. I even voted him seventh after the Christian Democrats. This was mainly for humor sake but also because I really don’t like the bloke.

I’m curious to see what will happen now. ‘A hung parliament’ will result in more than just a bar full of below-the-belt political jokes here.

People scream.

People wait.

While those little underground elves work overtime… You know… fixing things. Making stuff happen. Opening envelopes. Ticking different boxes.

“We’re not going to know tonight who will be governing this country tomorrow,” Kerry O’Brien reckons on the ABC.

“I’m neither left or right/I’m just staying home tonight/getting lost in that hopeless little screen.”

One Response to “Slow Train Coming: An Essay on Australian Politics.”
  1. About time! Someone with some information on this. You’d think considering how popular Comic Book Adaptations are nowadays, some information would actually be pretty easy to find. Apparently not. Anyway, thanks for this! I appreciate it!

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