(Above: the Sydney electorate wherein inner city elitist Paul "Captain Grumpy" Sheehan lives).
Even lost in Melbourne, with the angry sound of hornets despoiling the soundscape - you could probably hear the sound of buzzing F1 motors on the moon - it was possible to experience mounting dread at the thought of returning to Sydney, treading amongst the Labor blood still running red in the gutters and reading Captain Grumpy on Monday.
But there you go, it turns out Paul "Grumpy" Sheehan contributes One small word, one giant leap for NSW, a column so delightfully schizophrenic, bizarre and strange, that all was light and joy and peace in the world once again.
Sheehan is of course one of those inner city elites, given to much poncery and pretension, posing and putdowns of the sneering inner elite kind, with a love of fine bread and fine French wine. Well at least if you read this memoir here:
It is difficult to convey the mania of the pret-a-porter season in Paris. I left Paris with my pants smeared with blood and wine and a telephone number written in lipstick. It was wonderful ...
Phew, blood? Don't ask.
And it turns out that Captain Grumpy also loves Clover Moore, but in a most peculiar way:
I voted for Clover Moore. I marked Clover ''1'' on my ballot paper even though in many ways my local member stands for the micro-managing, grimly earnest, nanny-state, tax-guzzling policies that I regard as the road to economic decline and social suffocation.
Phew, weird, schizophrenic, and passing strange, to vote for a candidate whose policies you purport to despise. And the alternative?
And yet still I voted for Clover Moore. Nobody's perfect. The Liberal alternative, Adrian Bartels, was a third-generation member of a prominent Liberal Party family, with a lightweight resume´. Too insular.
Too insular? Is that code for something else? (Gay Liberals want your vote).
Who knows, but it's wondrous bizarro, as Sheehan berates Clover Moore's legacy at some length:
As lord mayor of Sydney she has built the sort of monument to yourself you don't want. You could call it her monumental blunder: the $70 million network of bike lanes that run for kilometres through the cramped inner-city road system while remaining empty of cyclists in most places at most times. A classic victory of ideology over commonsense.
And yet in Melbourne, there was a classic victory of common sense over ideology on view, as the many effective bicycle lanes deployed over the city were being used by an abundance of cyclists, and the streets took on a gentler European tone - apart from the incessant buzzing of the angry insects down at Albert Park.
Perhaps it's partly because the trams reduce traffic to a stately speed, but partly it's surely a sense of style ...
Sure there's also some strangenesses, like the delightful Catch 22 that offers bicycles to rent at street stations at an extortionate rate, then reminds the potential leasee that bicycle helmets are legally required when on the road, and then offers no actual helmets for hire along with the bike. So if you're a visitor, to ride a bike you have to become a law breaker or a helmet buyer ...
But the Melbourne bicycle lovers show how obtuse Sheehan and Miranda the Devine can get when it comes to bicycles, when even that lycra-clad lout Tony Abbott (the Devine's lovely term for bicyclists) understands the joy of producing endorphins by pedal power ...
Junkies unite in the quest for the cyclist's high ...
Never mind. The question at hand is whether you'd vote for this kind of wretched politician:
Moore also banned Tim Tams from council events, apparently because of concerns over child labour in the Ivory Coast where some of the world's cocoa production is sourced, and further concerns about obesity and sustainability. Nanny-state - tick. Micro-management - tick. Grimly earnest - tick.
Evidently Moore needs to exercise power because it is 31 years since her first run for office, to South Sydney Council, and she has been running, and winning, ever since. Saturday's victory was her seventh consecutive election to the NSW Legislative Assembly. Not enough, apparently. She also wanted to be lord mayor and has held both jobs for the past seven years. The time is approaching when she will have held on to too much power for too long.
Of course you would. Of you're Paul Sheehan.
Tick tick tick.
It's the Sheehan schizophrenic way. And of course it leads to a rousingly contradictory finale:
In NSW voters have said they want more value for their tax dollars, not more taxes. The electorate saw little use for independents in this process. Only two survived. One is Moore. If we ever finally meet, perhaps over a cup of herbal tea, we could discuss the new imperative of the discipline of ''no'', and the need to limit the nanny-state vanities. As a gesture of goodwill and self-reliance I would provide organically sourced, child-labour-proofed, hand-crafted, Australian-owned, feminist-made biscuits (aka Phillippa's chocolate chip cookies).
And yet the goose voted for the woman. Has there ever been a more public display of self-loathing and silly grumpy rhetoric, where you have your cup of herbal tea, and your lovingly crafted organic biscuits, and get to slurp the tea, and eat the biscuits at the same time?
Why not vote for the CDP candidate instead, if you so heartily approve of child labour sourced, machine manufactured, foreign owned, masculinist, patriarchal-made biscuits?
Naturally along the way, Sheehan takes a swipe at the now lost and damned NSW Labor party machine, and public service workers and unions, who are ruining western civilisation as we know it:
In Europe, where the cost of the public sector and the scale of the welfare state have been more extreme, many governments stupidly staved off the reckoning by piling up debt. As this unreality comes to earth public sector unions and their allies have reacted with mass strikes, mass demonstrations and street violence. All were evident in London at the weekend.
Of course it is possible to read intelligent journalism about what went down and is going down in Europe, but for that you have to leave the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Right now for my toilet reading, I have Michael Lewis's piece for Vanity Fair When Irish Eyes Are Crying to hand, and if after reading it, you can explain to me how the public sector was responsible for the behaviour of Irish banks, which has plunged that country into what seems like almost permanent penury, why then you're a better economist than me or Gunga Din. And most certainly the obsessively myopic Sheehan ...
Their real-estate boom had the flavor of a family lie: it was sustainable so long as it went unquestioned, and it went unquestioned so long as it appeared sustainable.
That's Lewis, not Sheehan, but then Lewis delivers insights with a sharp sense of style, while Sheehan just delivers the usual nonsense by rote. Here's how his rhetoric goes:
The great question that O'Farrell will have to answer is this: does he have the courage to say ''no''?
No to more middle-class welfare. No to big government. No to tax churn. No to the nanny state. No to more red tape. No to more complexity. No to incessant government intrusions in our daily lives. No to the police state imposed on drivers. No to tax-funded lectures on TV. No to Liberal lobbyists. No to social engineers. No to more lawyers and litigation. No to consultants.
By Sheehan's definition of saying "no" to everything, John Howard was a failure, and so was Chairman Rudd, but what can you say to someone who wants to say "no to more complexity"?
If Sheehan wants simplicity in life, then let him hie himself to a nunnery. Or join with Pauline Hanson by opening the window and shouting "no" to everything quite loudly and firmly ..
But there is one engaging point to the piece.
It's surely possible to 'say no to Paul Sheehan', the goose who voted for Clover Moore, and so for all the policies that he despises.
No wonder New South Wales is an abject mess of chaos and confusion.
If this is the best it can produce by way of columnists, then perhaps it's time to do a Horace McCoy:
Policeman: Why did you do it, kid?
Robert: She asked me to.
Policeman: [smirking] Obliging bastard. Is that the only reason you got, kid?
Robert: They shoot horses, don't they?
Or perhaps the pond should move back to Melbourne and cycle the by ways in blissful endorphin peace ... except for those damned hornets buzzing away ...
(Below: the covers of Horace McCoy's novel, in a 1948 paperback Penguin Signet edition. Better reading than Paul Sheehan, albeit also depressing, unless you find a mercy killing arising from marathon dancing in the depression a fun kind of read).