Thanks to the free copy of the Australian Financial Review thrown over the fence on a Saturday - yes, they're so desperate to paper the house they'd pay for the petrol so a hapless peón can deliver sad memories of a slow coffee over an ink-laden tree killer - the pond's attention was drawn to a piece by Mark Latham, entitled The sure-footed Mr Bolt.
As you can tell by the title it's a suck piece, in which Mr. Latham has lunch with Mr. Bolt and then proceeds to suck up to him at length and in excruciating adjectival detail.
Thanks to the wonders of the intertubes, you don't actually need a throwaway tree killer to enjoy the piece, you can simply head off here.
And while enjoying talk of cafes and coffee, why not also imbibe David Ramli's page two effort on the tree killer, uploaded at slow speed for your reading pleasure under the header Melbourne cafe patrons lap up free wi-fi.
Yes, these days you don't have to head off to The Australian for a bit of NBN, fast broadband bashing. Rimli does the usual trick of talking to a few people, who casually advise him they don't need the speeds being promised by the NBN.
No doubt Rimli could have done the same a couple of decades ago when astute, forward-looking business people could explain how they didn't need new fangled things like the internet - provided they could just do a bit of emailing over the modem, they'd be happy.
Rimli was probably around to record the thoughts of quill users confronted by fountain pens and biros too.
Anyhoo, it's worth remarking just how fucked the piece is as a simpleton exercise in FUD, and a reminder once again of a phenomenon recently noted by Bernard Keane in Crikey under the header AFR's opposition to NBN infects journalism:
Once upon a time you used to be able to distinguish The Australian Financial Review from The Australian because it was only at the latter that its editorial stances infected its journalism; the AFR, for example, is editorially opposed to the NBN, but its coverage was always far more neutral than that to be found in The Oz, which has conducted a mostly fiction-based campaign against it for years. Things however may be changing under the not-so-new régime of Michael Stutchbury.
In Keane's story, Ramli was a key offender with another story, and the only upside, the only comfort to be taken from this latest outing is that the AFR is doomed.
It never got how to be digital - hence its current confusion regarding its paywall and its pricing and its giveaways - and it better shape up, or ship out, because NBN-bashing aside, there's a whole new world coming, and they aren't on it ...
But hang on, hang on, the pond didn't throw the useless rag back over the fence, or use it for cocky litter, because it also contained that wondrous piece by Latham on Bolt that we started talking about ...
In a nutshell? Wankers of the world unite, and why not enjoy a good lunch in the process.
The pair have a fine old time nattering over a spiffy meal at a nice cafe on Toorak road in South Yarra. As you do ...
Oh it's a terribly intense conversation. It turns out that they both distrust the excessive use of authority (did anyone ask Latham's colleagues?) And consistency is important. It seems consistently being wrong is better than being inconsistently correct. The ABC is of course a competitive outrage, as Bolt explains over his small bottle of beer (well he's not a lush is he).
It's a state-controlled mouthpiece for the left, Bolt explains, noting that notorious leftie Peter Reith and a host of IPA Chris Berg types are continually given a perch to promote their commie pinko pervert thoughts.
Of course they're not killing Bolt, they're ruining Fairfax!
Naturally Latham would like to see the Bolter in parliament, because he sounds just like a Federal minister with his grasp of detail and his attention to intrusive boat people, greedy welfare blacks, climate change, and the freedom to express dingbat thought bubbles on whatever culture war comes to mind.
Oh he's acutely original is the Bolter, fresh in his comedy material, and with an underlying calmness, refusing to rant when careful debating needs to be accumulated.
Eyes glazing yet?
Other topics include Bolt's persecution and martyrdom at the hands of Balmain basket-weavers, and the cruel way the media treated him, and Bolt's good-hearted libertarianism, and the pair's shared loathing for Tim Flanney and climate science, all given a nice salad dressing thanks to Latham's willing way with lavish adjectives, but let's just settle for this par:
When I think of the Dutch, I think of the Protestant work ethic, a breed forever on duty, in the manner of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Bolt could easily slip into the role of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, leading his company of loyal libertarians into conflict against Balmain’s basket weavers, global warmists and refugee lobbyists.
Still with us? Didn't feel the need to rush off to the toilet, or dig a bucket out of the laundry?
Well while having a go at the basket-weavers, here's the most crucial set of ideas to emerge from the lick-spittling and the gratuitous sounds of sucking up:
A La Bouffe Bar & Bistro
268 Toorak Road, South Yarra, Victoria
1 Prawns with pea mousse, tomato marmalade and orange sauce
1 Prawn and lobster ravioli
1 Eye fillet wrapped in prosciutto
1 Pave béarnaise
1 Kronenbourg beer
1 Stella Artois beer
1 bottle Badoit mineral water
1 Cafe latte
Now that's not a shabby way to make a living. The biggest question is who drank the latte and who drank the cappucino. Either way, it's obvious that neither are purists, that both are in fact close-kissing cousins of Balmain basket weavers.
The frothy milk factor sorts out the purist espresso drinker - or maybe at a stretch macchiatto - from the common or garden herd of idle chattering class elitists who live indolent Balmain lives. (And don't get the pond started on the subject of mochas - if you want to drink chocolate, drink chocolate. Next thing you know you'll be sipping a Gloria Jeans coffee).
And how pleasing to see that they shared a Badoit mineral water, the water of gourmets and seen throughout the cheese-eating land of French restaurants.
The beers should also meet with the approval of the chattering elites. It's true a Stella Artois is a little suspect, some would contend this Belgian beer is now a little too vulgar and widespread, but the Kronenbourg - shipped from its brewery in Strasbourg France no doubt - is a mischievous tribute to what was once a Free Imperial City in the Holy Roman Empire.
Thank god there was no need to talk about how VB tastes like soap, and Australians simply can't make beer (they can't make cars either, where would we be without the Europeans and the Japanese?)
Other deep thoughts arise. Who ate the prawns, with their clever pea mousse, tomato marmalade and orange sauce? Who preferred the prawn and lobster ravioli? Who settled for the eye fillet wrapped in prosciutto (very rare one trusts) and who boldly marched into the Pave béarnaise?
Was it a pavé of venison or de boeuf? No need to worry. All was well:
French food has a reputation for being served in finely crafted portions, too small for the ravenous Australian appetite. At A La Bouffe there was no need for dessert as our beef mains were perfectly cooked and filling.
Boeuf for the buffs at the bouffe ready to bash the judges and their judicial over-reach for giving the Bolter such a hard time, when all he was doing was getting his facts wrong in a noble cause.
Now some might immediately think of that fine Marco Ferreri film La Grande Bouffe - where four friends gather to eat themselves to death because of an existential sickness - but the pond was immediately reminded of a recurring theme of late, George Orwell's Animal Farm, and its climactic get together, and the speech by Farmer Pilkington:
He would end his remarks, he said, by emphasising once again the friendly feelings that subsisted, and ought to subsist, between Animal Farm and its neighbours. Between pigs and human beings there was not, and there need not be, any clash of interests whatever. Their struggles and their difficulties were one. Was not the labour problem the same everywhere? Here it became apparent that Mr. Pilkington was about to spring some carefully prepared witticism on the company, but for a moment he was too overcome by amusement to be able to utter it. After much choking, during which his various chins turned purple, he managed to get it out: "If you have your lower animals to contend with," he said, "we have our lower classes!" This BON MOT set the table in a roar; and Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm.
Only one more thing would have made the image of Latham and Bolt shovelling beer and French food down their throats complete.
That would have been the news that Bolt composed his urgent cry on the need for Australians and Olympians to lift their productivity ... after sitting around with Latham in a bistro having a whinge about the world before rushing off to deliver yet another parasitical column for the HUN, or perhaps an entirely useless TV program full of commentary for the Ten network ... about the ways the animals on the farm aren't productive enough and are pampered too much.
The one certainty of course is that the Bolter's tribe of readers will never have the first clue what Bolt gets up to when he turns up in the Fairfax press, or how he sounds in his self-pitying opera-and wine-loving moments in a Fairfax profile like 'I don't have to fear insulting people ...'
The Bolter tribe never visit Fairfax or the ABC for fear that they might lose their libertarian souls and be swept up into a gigantic tribalist collectivist thought machine where everybody thinks the same. It's so much more free-thinking to think exactly like Andrew Bolt ... why even Mark Latham does ...
You might also think some of the Bolter's readers don't have the first clue about populism and the rewards on offer for its finer fear-mongering practitioners, and so they find it hard to imagine how there could be such a coming together of like minds, such as Latham and Bolt in a French bistro.
Latham seems somehow to imagine he isn't fawning:
Often in politics the most intriguing associations are forged on the anvil of conflict. Perhaps this comes from the repeated experience of hurling one’s best barbs at an opponent, only to see him stand sure-footed and return fire with a warrior’s certainty. Think of it as respect. Not the kind of fawning respect one might offer a close colleague or friend, but the mutual respect one finds in a worthy adversary.
Waiter, you can bring me that bucket now.
And so to end with a mangled version of Orwell:
Two voices urgently discussing matters of state and important crucial issues like climate science and judicial over-reach and the persecution of Bolt, and they were remarkably alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the diners. The creatures outside the restaurant window of the A La Bouffe Bar and Bistro at 268 Toorak Road, South Yarra looked from Bolt to Latham, and from Latham to Bolt, and from Bolt to Latham; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
Sorry George, here's your original. Gee it comes in handy:
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
Now there's a writer with insight ... no job for him at the AFR.
Straighten up George, the NBN is killing us ... we have to give Mark Latham away for free, and just for starters he costs us a couple of hundred for the posh food.
Couldn't he and the Bolter do it over a pie and chips, like the dinkum Aussies they pretend to be?
(Below: glory be, found here).