Saturday, December 8, 2012

A new newspaper for Townsville? - it's only gossip at the moment, but there's a touch of smoke to this rumoured fire - Mayor Mullet a cougar? - she is said to have a new toy boy. Naughty but nice? No, not really, it's platonic and political.

As The Bulletin continues to scythe through what staff are left in the bedraggled Ogden Street bunker, there are interesting rumours of a new paper for Townsville. And there have been several Ogre sightings around the 'Ville ... yes, he's back, for the moment, but it hardly matters, there's not much damage left for him to do.

And this has been a week all about free speech, the threat to it, the possible expansion of it, and the lack of it. Plus Quote of the Week, one of the funniest ever vids of a marriage proposal, and Bentley weighs in with his take on the alarming , true tale of The Magpie losing his warble - the old bird's voice is kaput, possibly for good.

All here in this week's nest at
Remember this story.

Mayor Mullet's quest for a paid political pal has fallen flat. Even a six figure pay packet can't entice anyone silly enough to accept this poisoned chalice. (Read the story here.)

Mayor Mullet

Several Townsville councillors are convinced there is an easy way to save $100,000 annually - they suggest Mayor Mullet forego that amount set aside in the budget for a 'mayoral advisor', a sort of chief of staff (read political minder).  After all, they tell The 'Pie, she hardly needs the ratepayers money for a political gofer, she's already got one courtesy of The Bulletin.

Council reporter Anthony Simpleton is regarded by just about everybody in 'city hall'  as one of the most malleable joutnos to ever to cover the Walker Street workings, being ever ready to spin Mayor Mullet's latest moanings. One councillor - taking a leaf out of Simpleton's own style book, The 'Pie will not name the person - described him as a 'her political toy boy'.
Anthony Simpleton

Now that conjures up scenarios of a touching nature, and read that any way you like. Perhaps it is a bit like this.

'All the councillors had left, and the lights were low in the council chamber. A lone figure sat hunched over the reporters' desk. Ace Bulletin newsbreaker Anthony Simpleton was concentrating hard, a single bead of sweat glistening on hiis noble but boyish brow below his golden curly locks, his tongue protruding from the side of his mouth with the effort as he scribbled, erased, scribbled again, and let out a little grrr of frustration. Nothing had happened, the city was humming along nicely, there'd been no controversy but his iditor wanted a front page, come hell or high water. And The Astonisher's policy was clear - good news is no news.

Suddenly he heard a rustling behind him and caught a heady whiff Eau de High Octane. Simpo didn't need to turn around, he knew it was her. 

It was Mayor Mullet. Again.

He felt her rest a hand on his shoulder, which suddenly tightened into a desperate grip as a series of sobs wracked her whole being. Simpo sighed.

'Sit down and tell me what has happened,' he said as soothingly as he could, trying to hide his mounting excitment and desitre take her by the shoulders and pump her for a story, any story. 'Has that nasty Mr Burton been horrid to you again, puddin'?'

Mayor Mullet nodded frantically, unable to speak for a moment, and then she blurted out 'And that Vern Veitch bastard, too, he blocked my motion to have the council supply the mayor with a Ferrarai - he really is an obstacle to the proper running of Townsville.' 

She subsided in to a low sobbing hulk. 'Could you write something about him, maybe , Simpo, darl? Like, we could say his councillors are upset with his personal manner and he's losing support as deputy doo-dah.'

Simpo involuntarily stiffened. 'Are they,? Is he?' he ejaculated.

'Course not, you young silly, but I did overhear a couple of women at the weekly Ladies in Labor mention it.'

Simpo initially thought that Ladies in Labour was a new hospital sub-committe, but then he twigged.  And he could barely contain himself. This could be front page plus, he thought to himself.

He patted the mayor's tiny fluttering hand.

'Maybe I could throw in a couple of grumpy ratepayers - all I'd need to do is contact a couple of our regular letterwriters,' he breathed in her ear.

'Yes, yes,' she panted - it was almost a moan -  as the excitment and elecricity surged between them. 'And ring up a couple the councillors, but make sure you don't name them. Here,' - shyly lowering her eyes, she coyly reached down into her decollatage and produced a scrap of paper' - 'these are the numbers for Colleen Doyle and Les Walker - you may have to try Les a few times, but he'll absentmindedly answer sooner or later. I know he's upset that Veitch beat him to the buffet table at last week's dinner. Make it clear that you won't name them when you talk to them.'

Simpo briefly stroked the winsome mayor's hidden agendas, and she fleetingly cupped his dangling participles as he started to write feverishly. 

She batted her eyelashes and gave a little giggle. 'I've got clause, sweetie, so I'll massage your prose to stiffen it up a bit. Oh, Anthony, snookums, write something adjectival about me - tickle my personal pronoun.'  

'You're right up my alley, babe,' Simpo breathed, because, as the whole world now knew, Simpo was a legend at inserting arousing adjectives into body copy to coax an uncontrolbable, jerking spasm in readers before they abandoned all emotional control and threw the paper against the wall. 

But gentle reader, we must now draw a gossamer veil across this touching scene, and we can all have a cigarette.' 

Suggestions for the title of a novel along these lines would be welcome, but nothing nasty like The Mullet and The Moron. 

The Magpie also reckons Mayor Mullet could sling him a bob or two, after all the free advice he has so generously proferred her over the years. There's graditude for ya.

But he wouldn't be much good to her at the moment ... not in person. About four months ago, The 'Pie awoke upon his virginal couch and discovered he had lost his voice. No pain, no flu, no cough - just no voice. What noise he could make would make Darren Lockyer sound like Anthony Hopkins by comparision.

Long story short, the situation has remained that way for more than four months now, despite two operations and more than a dozen trips to the hospital. 

Incidentally,  never once had a car parking problem, the car park was never full, even on the 'busy' days Tuesday and Thursday - John Bearne's car parking fees are just an extortionistic cash grab from people who, unlike airline passengers or football fans, have no choice about being sick. Nice to see you making Townsville a more compassionate place to live, John, you old humanitarian, you. Fie upon those that say It's a cynical and uncaring intrusion on this community, and it really is unecessary. Remember, as Oscar advised us, a cynic is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

The excellent staff have been just great, even a certain boofheaded nurse who fancies himself as a comedian- g'day Martin - but for the life of them, the docs haven't a clue whats's wrong. Tests show it isn't cancer - shame in a way, no Astonisher tear-jerker headline 'Brave Bird Battles The Big C' but then he's been battling several Big C's ever since he left the paper. 

The swollen voicebox may well be a permanent condition, and one mordant wit has dubbed him the Hoarse Whisperer. The 'Pie now has a bigger collection of pill boxes than Jackie Kennedy ever had.
The 'Pie beats Jackie's record.

This is written not to elicit tears of either pity (unlikely) or mirth (guaranteed) but to forewarn anyone hitting the MagpieFone that they have indeed contacted the old bird. Two people subsequently explained that they'd hung up thinking they had a wrong number. 

The current situation has resulted in a mixed reaction from one of community's worthies, as recorded by Bentley. 
Mayor Mullet gets the good news before the bad news.

Other matters.
First, a seasonal nod to the coming festivities.

Of course, all the talk at the moment is about that big birthday coming up, and all sorts of creatures, human and otherwise, are eager to chat about nothing else. Especially Mormon mice.

One assumes that chat is about the Baby Cheeses of Nazareth.

Celebrations will no doubt feature the usual Christmas cake, and if you can't be fussed making your own, you can always buy one. But if you're in Britain, don't send the kids down to the supermarket to buy one ... they won't be allowed to. This Nanny State Award of the Week tells you why.   

Quote of the Week perhaps should belong to pommy funnyman Stephen Fry, he of QI fame.

When Britain's Prime Press Toady, David Cameron, refused to bring in legislation to curb the excesses of the British press recommended by the Leverson Inquiry, Fry promptly tweeted: ''It would seem David Cameron's address is no longer Number 10 Downing Street: it's now Flat 2, Rupert Murdoch's arse.''

Oh, well, as Mr Fry himself so often boasts on television, that part of the anatomy is his area of expertise. So sophisticated. And this from a bloke who thinks Aussies are 'so uncouth'.

And while we're 'over the shoulder and down south'  here is another unsophisticated but side splitting video that proves that love will find a way - and a place. It really is a must view.

Changing tack.

Vale Dame Elisabeth Murdoch
Bet there were was diligent subbing and double checking going on in Rupert's evil empire in the past few days, with the death of his mother, the venerable Dame Elisabeth, a woman of such overwhelming generosity and consideration that it leads one to believe that the apple fell far from her tree when Rupert came along. The 'Pie well remembers the Bulletin's eruption of finger-pointing, blame and sheer fear when three years ago, there were puff pieces galore about Dame Elisabeth's 100th birthday. Only the Bulletin spelt it 'Elizabeth'.  For all the fuss, including phone calls from Sydney HQ taken behind closed doors,  you'd think somebody had put 'fuck' in a front page headline (The 'Pie still awaits that, probably won't be long). And here's a sure bet: you won't be hearing that mincing, prissy  little brown-noser Alan Jones suggesting Rupert's mother died of shame ... although she certainly had more - lots more - cause to do so that Julia Gillard's father. She actually told off her son publicly for his callous business practices not so long ago, all to no avail of course.

We've lost a good 'un in her.

The News Ltd subbing saga continues apace. Not satisfied with ripping the guts out regional communities (more going from the Bulletin in the next couple of weeks) News Ltd has now outsourced it's subbing of all regionals and Tassy papers to a crowd called Pagemasters. 60 jobs lost across the board. So what's wrong with outsourcing? Just that Pagemasters is already using sub-editors in New Zealand to sub Australian papers (at lowerc rates of pay). And that could conceivably be the case for the Astonisher. Next we'll be being subbed from India. And why not, it IS called the subcontinent.

And just to round out the cheery news, Michael The Ogre of Ogden Street Wilkins is back in town. The 'Pie hears he appeared in the Bulletin newsroom briefly, causing a change of underwear for some borderline employees. But he's only up here for family reasons, apparently, but his looming, cadaverous visit to the Ogden Street offices seems akin to a sadistic arsonist revisiting the smouldering shell of his last target.

But could there be some competition for the Astonisher around the corner? 

The MagpieFone has been in meltdown during the week, with breathless word that a well established Townsville figure, well versed in publishing and drumming up ad revenue, is seriously looking at starting a new newspaper for the 'Ville. The story is that the bloke and his winsome partner have been canvassing various moneyed folk around town about the prospects, and presumably about the costs. No word if any support has been forthcoming, but this pair have a good deal of - but not all - the expertise and work ethic that will be required for such a venture. The 'Pie will decline to name the wannabe Rupert and Wendy, but he wishes them luck and support if they go ahead - they are a formidable duo.

Finally, here's something for you contemplate over the festive season as you look forward to a free and democratic 2013, when it is proposed that making political comments in the workplace will be punishable by law. Yes, here in Australia.

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, where The 'Pie will offer himself up as a toy codger, although finding a cougar at his age may involve the tangling of walker frames and the comparing of medications. But as Mongrel the Barrister so indelicately puts it, ' I don't care if she's a cougar, any type of pussy will do'. Charming.  



  1. Where is Poseur's Bar nowadays?????

  2. Conan the GrammarianDecember 8, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    Deeply saddened to hear of the departure of your voice, Magpie. While telling ribald jokes in Auslan can be highly entertaining (at least to those in the know), it is time-consuming and can also be hazardous in confined spaces like the Poseurs' Bar. My sincerest wishes that a timely medical miracle can be delivered.

    The video clip of the Scots' engagement ring delivery is the highpoint of 2012. Thank you!

    The last link 'here's something for you to contemplate' in your penultimate para did not activate on my browser. Perhaps you might append it to next column?

  3. Hope you get your warble back Magpie. As for the new Rupert & Wendy - good luck with that as I am sure you know you will need every bit of help and luck to fight off News Ltd in and out of the courts too. But a new QUALITY newspaper would be a breath of fresh air frankly.

    1. Well, News Views, it would seem that across the board, News Ltd has failed dismally (around Australia) in supporting the quickening move across to on-line content and has thus opened up opportunities for others to share in the lucrative market of Townsville.

      The Bulletin's on-line editor Chris Quagliata is a very competent journalist, but it is clear that he does not get the support that any paper serious about on-line content would provide. He is just one of many people being let down in a mad scramble for a buck by a arrogant monopolistic entity - without any return for the community.

      Going head to head with a new print paper would take up at least $25 million - probably twice that much - and a lot of headaches regarding printing and distribution, both factors open to News Ltd's well known dirty tricks dept. It would also be, as Mongrel the Barrister has it, rowing against the tide on shit river in a barbed wire canoe using a bent safety pin for a paddle - any new print offering would be a perverse move going against all current (global) evidence.

      The Bulletin, like all other papers, is plummetting in circulation, but it has hastened the process with its successive wrong-headed management, resulting in a massive disconnect and disservice to the community.

      But a full scale website, properly funded, could be profitable and offer quality, trustworthy news and features. A scaled down version of the excellent Sydney Morning Herald site could work.

      And that would cost a fraction of a print version.

      The 'Pie believes the tipping point has been reached, if anyone is game.

    2. A Magpie PS to News Views:

      It seems Rupert would support any new independent venture!!
      Here is the QUOTE OF THE LAST 50 YEARS

      "The important thing is that there be plenty of newspapers with plenty of different people controlling them ... Freedom of the press mustn't just be one-sided for a proprietor to speak as he pleases, to bully the community."

      Rupert Murdoch in a BBC interview in the late 70s.

      Love the last line.

    3. and now, it's not actually run in Townsville? In my opinion, it's has gone down the gurgler.....

  4. The link worked me but it did not take me to you tube - had to open it in a new window

  5. Dame Elisabeth will be sadly missed. As a former worker of the Astonisher, underpaid (less than 50,000 in editorial although award winning) dollar per year no penalty rates and asbestos over my head etc.

    I'd like to highlight where our woosie wages were spent after we left...

    Murdochs plan $11.6m facelift

    "THEY are yet to spend a night in their splendid $26 million Bellevue Hill compound, but Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch have already upset the neighbours with their $11.6 million renovation plans."

    It's so easy being nice, if you have that much money...

  6. Re titles for a novel about the
    pretty but platonic love story between Mullet and The Meathead:
    She Stoops to Rancour.
    The Green Mayor's Pest.
    Jenny and the Journo (A Fantasy)
    Creative Journalism for Idiots. (a guide)
    The old grey mayor is still what she used to be.
    Ego is such a dirty word.
    Publish and be rewarded.
    Machiavellian for beginners.
    How to pull the chain of office (a field guide).
    A column inch against 10 good men.

  7. Always good and always entertaining.

  8. Magpie I sent you a comment 4-5 weeks ago re new Proceedure re delivery of News Limited Papers (all) already being trialed in Brisbane. Each home Deliveer must Have either 10000 Houses or 10000. delivery Houses, did you do any follow up. My local News agent Ceases delivery of News Ltd papers in 7 Weeks. I have been advised that most people who currently deliver News Ltd papers will cease to do home deliveries Early Feb 13. Apparently it means i could tender for an area and as it would be impossible for me to deliver at an reason hour i would have to employ up to 20-25 staff with their own vechiles Pay P/roll Tax W/Comp etc etc any news...

    1. Re the re-jigging of Bulletin delivery arrangements. Don't know if it's important and another money grab causing inconvenience for the already dwindling and put-upon readership, but The 'Pie has been getting sketchy reports along these lines, although it isn't exactly clear what's going on. Anyone know anything about it?

  9. What a corker of a cartoon! You'll always have a voice Pie, we love your webpage! Merry Xmas.

  10. Here's a title. A Simpleton and his love for a Mullet. A love that could never be.. A tragic story of a boy and his love of aquatic creatures in newspaper.

  11. The Ogre returns back to Townsville? Apart from a trail of destruction what more could he have left behind?

    I'd write more about the perils of working within the Astonisher but, Im not over it quite yet.

    1. The 'Pie usually steers clear of private lives (unless it has community implications) but the answer to what Michael Wilkins left behind is his family and/or an unsold house while he was suddenly recalled to Sydney. Sounds logical, letting the kids finish the school year and sell the house. Do know the missus will be happy to hotfoot it south so her kids can, as she keeps endlessly telling any of the local yokels who will listen, 'can go back to Loretto' (a very exclusive and veeerrry expensive Sydney school).

      An idle thought does occur to The 'Pie - has The Ogre allowed his kids and missus to visit him in Ogden Street bunker when he was the chief headkicker? And if so, has he, as the good and caring family man he is widely reported to be, had his family checked for any asbestos contamination? A bad oversight for a caring Dad if he hasn't, and more importantly, a despicably cynical attitude if he has had his family thoroughly checked out, something that he didn't afford the staff who were showered with asbestos dust, other than ' you can get xray if you want to'.

      Double standards to the bitter end.

    2. Here is a picture of the Asbestos roof for your reader's files. it is from the photographic office. If you look at the roof there is a sign about asbestos.

  12. Dear Pie; how about (for your racy novel) one of the following titles:

    The Fool on the Hill
    How I ride my Mare/mayor
    Un-chained Mayor-dee
    Jenny Long Legs eats an Ant
    The small Ant climbs up a very big Hill
    Jenny's Guide to Cougar-dom

    Hope the voice comes back soon... But just don't get your knuckles broken with a baseball bat as its the fingers that really do the walking ... xxx

  13. Pie, Lady Byron has a crush on you. I've been told she's gorgeous lady.

    1. Mate (or matette), Lady Byron will have to settle for unrequited love. In his old codgerdom, The 'Pie gets all the sex life he needs from airport body searches.

    2. Come on Pie get you IT gurus working to develop a "Like" button for all these wonderful & sometimes funny comments :)

    3. Good thought - maybe - News Views. A few changes to the blog are coming up in the new year - if The 'Pie can find an IT guru. The 'Pie hadn't thought of a 'like' button for his stuff, seemed a bit too much like leading with his chin/beak. But worth looking at, thanks.

    4. Did'nt Ewan Jones indicate on this site he had an IT guru in his office Could you drop a line and for his asistance