Filed under sport

The week: 1 June

I don’t remember taking the first pill but I do remember picking them up from the pharmacy. This was in August 1991 – a week or so after I got my HIV diagnosis. The doctor said the treatment options were limited, but there was a drug, called AZT, that would buy me some time. Of course, I’d heard of it.

So with my paperwork in hand I hesitatingly took myself to the pharmacy department at St Vincent’s hospital to pick up my drugs. The pharmacist looked dispassionately at my script, told me to wait, and a short while later handed my the biggest bucket of pills I’d ever seen in my life. It was a month’s supply, but it felt like enough for a year. I stashed the bucket out of sight and, when I got home to my flat in North Bondi, took my first dose. Two decades and sixty-something-thousand tablets later, I’m still here.

This week, I took another step on that path by starting HCV treatment. An extra seven pills a day, a period of abstinence from booze, and a hefty dose of luck, and by Christmas Iris and I hope to be rid of that uninvited hitchhiker for good. As I write this, four days in, I feel rather crap, but glad to have taken this step.

Meanwhile, in the real world, last week’s ugly racist incident at the MCG continues to have repercussions. Eddie McGuire, on Friday night one of the heroes of the story, reverted to form and made a spectacularly ignorant remark on Wednesday morning.

If we were all pulling together to avoid victimising a 13-year-old girl, when the 48-year-old president of Collingwood put his foot in his omnipresent mouth, it presents a unique opportunity for every pundit on the planet to weigh in. McGuire himself didn’t help things with a ham-fisted fauxpology, but the resulting Sturm un Drang did little to inform an understanding of the issue that went any further than ‘you shouldn’t say certain things or people might get upset’. A couple of notable exceptions: Debra Jopson in the (new!) Guardian Australia points out Australia’s ‘covert racism‘ and the six-year-old assault on Indigenous rights that is the Northern Territory Intervention. Helen Razer pointed out that Australia is a racist society and therefore she, he, and we are all racists, and ‘the only way out of this shunless truth is to acknowledge it’.

The Guardian finally launched its much-anticipated Australian edition and, lo, the luvvies were pleased (actually, it’s a welcome addition). It was National Sorry Day again. The British government said it wanted to supply more arms to Syrian rebels, and the Russian government said it would arm the Syrian government, opening the way for a horrible, drawn-out proxy war. An international drugs think-tank warned that the ‘War on Drugs‘ was driving a global hepatitis C epidemic. Cardinal George Pell fronted a Victorian parliamentary inquiry, admitting that the Church covered up paedophile priests, but not taking any responsibility himself. Julia Gillard tweeted in Dothraki. The remains of two Aboriginal men who were unearthed in Tathra in 1961 were reburied in a traditional ceremony. The NSW Court of Appeal ruled that not everyone is male or female.

And finally…

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Football conversations

“Hello! Hello! Where are you from?”


(PAINED EXPRESSION) “Australia no good. Four-zero.”


“Hello! Welcome in Syria! Which Country?”


“Aussie Aussie Aussie!”


“Hello! You like football? World cup? Which country you like?”

“I’m from Australia, so I like Australia.”



Thorpe comes bows out

Ian Thorpe has hung up his speedos for good.

Good for him for going at a time of his own choosing, and with such grace and maturity, rather than hanging about for ever. At today’s press conference, Thorpe said he’d decided to quit swimming to enable him to move onto “a next phase” in his life.

“One other thing happened in LA, as I got physically fit, my mind also got fit, I started asking a lot of questions.

“And I started to look at myself as a person. That begged another question: What would my life be without swimming?

“It’s been a security net for me. But what it’s meant is I haven’t balanced out my life the way I should.

“So I realised I had to prove other things and let swimming take a back seat at this stage.

“I’m looking at a next phase, and that next phase means I am realigning the most important thing for me to do. Swimming falls somewhere short, which is never the way it used to be.”


I guess we’ll know in due course what that “next phase” is going to be.

No doubt he’ll continue to be a public figure and, for as long as that is the case, rumours about his sexuality will continue to circulate. I have no idea whether there’s any truth in these rumours — he was asked about them a couple of months ago and didn’t deny (or confirm) them.

If he is gay, I hope his post-swimming life enables him to come out with the same maturity and grace that he displayed today in ending his swimming career. It would be a shame for the truth to come out in a less dignified way, as it has for so many celebrities (George Michael, Alan Jones, Rock Hudson and the rest).

If he’s straight, I hope he meets a nice girl and settles d— ah, who am I kidding?

Les Bleus

I may have been remiss in not posting sooner about the Rugby World Cup which has Australia transfixed at the moment, and it’s probably a bit too late now that the French team has been eliminated by the crafty Poms, but let us take a moment to acknowledge the French fly-half, Fréderic Michalak…

Fred Michelak
Fred Michelak
Fred Michelak


Aussie Aussie Aussie

(Recycled from the House of Love)

Week one of the games: some random thoughts (updated every hour or three) …

  1. If archery is an olympic sport, why isn’t darts?
  2. Bruce McAvaney‘s opening comments at the opening ceremony: "Three point seven billion people — that’s more than three billion people — will be watching this telecast…"
  3. Apparently we won a gold medal in The Madison … no doubt we have a chance in the Charleston too.
  4. Those absurdly fake Coke ads which supposedly show ordinary Aussies celebrating our successes … my favourite is the ecstatic response of "Belinda, Jason and workmates — Architect’s office, Adelaide" to Australia’s Archery gold medal.  Yeah, all the architects I know are big archery fans.
  5. Bruce again, this time to our gold winning equestrians: "You couldn’t have done it without the horses…"
  6. Matt Shirvington: no sign of that nagging groin injury
  7. If Dressage is an olympic event, shouldn’t they have a dog show too?
  8. Solo Synchronised Swimming debuts at the Athens games.  Synchronised with what?
  9. Found myself standing about 3 feet away from silver medallist Russell Mark last night.  Considered saying hello but decided the risk of saying something inapprorpiate about his sport (he’s a shooter) was too great.
  10. The whole country united in cheering for two teams: Australia, and whoever’s playing the USA.
  11. Still no sign of the Hungarian Water Polo team, but I’ll find them if it’s the last thing I do.
  12. Aussie pole-vaulting couple Viktor and Tatiana: can’t wait to see the babies.
  13. That closing ceremony: "a fiesta so camp even Liberace would have blushed" (BBC); "like a Macy’s parade on acid" (Washington Post); "if Salvador Dali held a homecoming parade, this is what it would look like" (Someone else).

Oi oi oi!

Citius, Altius, but mostly Fortius

(Recycled from the House of Love)

It’s been more than a month, I know. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Time and motion being the scarce commodities they are, there just hasn’t been the critical mass of opportunity it takes — these days — to stir me into words. So, sorry. Continue reading

Five Ring Circus

(Recycled from the House of Love)

Greek actress

Today, as I write, high atop Mount Olympus, in the ruins of the Temple of Hera, the high priestess of the goddess Demeter and her acolytes are preparing to perform an ancient and solemn ceremony, igniting the sacred flame from the rays of the sun, commencing its epic journey through Greece and across the world to Sydney, Australia, forever to be remembered as the host city of the 2000 Olympic Games. Continue reading