What Does The Fourth-Best Runner Collect?

Every major athletic contest  – from the 100-yd Hammer Dive to the Hop-Step-And-Throw Up – is judged pretty carefully. The Olympic Games and the Consolation Games ( Sorry, I meant to write Commonwealth…) all have teams of judges, fabulous digital measuring gear, and the kind of visual recording that used to be reserved for H-Bomb testing. Plus the competitors themselves have their crankcases drained regularly and the contents analysed.

The three fastest, farthest, highest, or strongest eventually get medals and public acclaim. They also get recruited by sportswear, soft drink, and rubber prophylactic makers to promote their wares…at least until the next set of neck muscles win fresh medals and replace them. The very lucky ones get to spruik for all three products at the same time. It’s not the sort of advertisement that runs early in the evening when the kids are up, but it’s worth staying awake for…

But what does N0. 4 or No. 5 get? I suspect they are lucky to get bus fare home. And once there, the glare of publicity is probably replaced by the sight of the backs of a lot of heads. For people who may have devoted a decade to daily idiot pain in preparation for the contest, it seems to be a devil’s reward.

Living up to a promise is hard – living down a defeat is worse. If all this has been your entire life, you have been living it on rough ground. Perhaps the best reward for them would be to just be on the level for a while.

The artist or model builder or knitter or pumpkin grower who competes for some prize can  also feel the sting of victory or the thrill of defeat, but unlike the runner or swimmer, the producer has something to show – or at least to store and dust – for it. The performer who doesn’t get the plaudits has nothing for the effort other than the snide remark that they failed.

If their character is such that they take this quietly and get on with other activities – working, studying, mating, etc – then the time has not been wasted – it shows that they have matured and become good human beings. If they try to trade on their pain and defeat it says something else. Would that defeated politicians and their backers also learn the lesson.

Am I A Clubman? – Part Five

The last question that you need to ask yourself is the first question you should ask. If you don’t know the answer you can call a friend. If you haven’t got any friends, you have your answer already.

Some people are born clubmen or clubwomen. They are loud, make friends easily, are unruffled, take hearty exercise, eat breakfast, produce bowel movements every day ( frequently at the same time…), and are kind to animals. They can stand for office, scrutiny, the flag, or any other thing that the club needs. They are extroverts. indefatigable, ineffable, and impossible to have anything to do with. You’re soaking in one now…

Other folks are born to be recluses – hermits – loners – individuals  – eccentrics – etc. They are generally distinguishable by the simplest senses – silent to the hearing, invisible to the eye, clammy to the touch, and slightly odorous. No-one has as yet tasted one, and no-one is about to start…

And there’s a lot of people in between. Most of us have aspects of each of these types within if we would only see and admit to them. And most of us can choose a club or organisation to suit our real personality. It might not be a fashionable or distinguished society we move in, but if we find genuine correspondence in a group – that is the one we should join. Here’s a few checkpoints for you when trying to match yourself to others:

a. DO I ENJOY LOUD NOISE? If yes, take up shooting. If no, take up reading. Read about shooting if need be.

b. Do I enjoy working with my hands? If yes, carpentry, model making, and any number of crafting clubs are ready for you. If no, run out on a field and hit a ball somewhere with something.

c. Do I enjoy thinking? Yes? Literary and intellectual clubs, political parties, business clubs call. No? Singing and drinking, eating and dancing are for you, and there are people who will help you do it.

d. Am I artistic? Yes? Go to the art store, spend a week’s wage, take the resultant small paper bag to an art society, and ask for help. No? Gardening’s for you – Nature will make what you cannot, and you can eat some of it.

e. Am I an opinionated smart-arse who wants to best everyone in argument? Yes? Become a member of a debating team or get your own secret identity as a troll on internet forums. No? Have you thought of joining a religious order? Or the Asian version…a religious suggestion?

f. Do I love sports? If the answer is yes, join a sports club. If the answer is no, get a competent surgeon to tear your cruciate ligament for you. The cost of the year’s membership to the sporting club or the operation will be about the same and the hospital is quieter than the club rooms.

Checklist For Anzac Day March

With the recent theatrics of the ” Anti-Australia Day ” march in Melbourne in mind, the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia has prepared a useful checklist for protestors who wish to stage an ” Anti-Anzac Day ” march later in the year. Feel free to download it and add anything that you feel may improve the affair.

a. Remember that it may be a march but it is not in March. Try as you might, you can’t re-write the fact that the assault at Gallipoli really was on April 25. If you come down the main street in town a month early with protest banners and scarves wrapped around your face in anticipation of tear gas, no-one will take any notice of you.

b. When you howl in outrage and curse the 1915 soldiers of the ANZAC you will be safe from retaliation by the original people. They are no more. Their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great etc., are, however, inconveniently alive…in large measure because of the original people’s war service.

That means you are not quite as safe to insult and degrade the memory of old service people as you may think…

c. If you plan to make your protest a step in your political career, be aware that steps can go down as well as up.

d. Likewise, if you plan to make your ” anti ” march a theatre of sexual protest and anti-male propaganda, keep a wary eye out for the ex – servicewomen who are there. If you are too offensive, that eye may collect a fist from one of them…not all aunties are anti.

e. If you plan to complain about the Anzac Day march from the point of view that the Australian forces were harsh to the enemy…well that’s fine. They were, on many occasions, and on a professional basis. That’s why the big chap up the front of the parade is still carrying the Australian flag down the main street of an Australian town a century later…

f. If you plan to protest current wars instead of past ones, remember that you may be seen as espousing the cause of current enemies. If you try to make this clear to all around you with foreign flags and banners, expect unofficial as well as official attention.

g. Don’t wear bogus service medals anywhere on your person during your protest. Not even if you wear them in the correct position. Nothing will earn you more lasting contempt and damaging notoriety.


Acting and Re-enacting – Part Two – How To Address The Players


The title of this second post would seem to draw no distinction between actors and re-enactors. There is only one real distinction between them: actors act for pay – re-enactors pay to act. It is as simple as that. When it is done well, both groups are happy.

But they both are often approached by members of the audience and engaged in conversation, and frequently the public does not know how to do this well. Here are a few tips to make the contact a pleasant one:

  1. ” Who are you supposed to be? ” is a rude form of address – It presupposes a right to demand identification. The actor so accosted may have been trained to give a set answer or may make it extempore. Beware asking this sort of thing at the end of the day because some actors are very good at the latter form of response.
  2. ” What are you supposed to be? ” is even more dangerous. ” Polite. And you? ” has sometimes been heard in reply…
  3. ” Is that a real musket, sword, helmet, dress, syphilitic sore, etc  ? ” may seem like a good way to start a conversation but really isn’t. Not if you wish to appear intelligent. The actor is utilizing costume, makeup, and prop to support a part – to create an impression. As a spectator, you too create an impression…
  4. ” I had one of those when I was in the Army “. Indeed. If the item you are pointing to is a shirt button we believe you. Of you are pointing to a Baker rifle, we do not. Conversely, if we are representing a Vietnam War-era rifleman and you are 70 years old we are prepared to believe everything. Re-enactors study the impression they present in microscopic detail. Don’t try to bullshit someone who studies bullshit scientifically.
  5. ” Are those your medals” is actually a good question. If the impression requires a Waterloo medal and it is worn on the left breast you can take it to be a costume effect. There are NO Waterloo veterans left – save those of us who have gone to Belgium at intervals to re-enact the battle. By all means ask about that, but fall in with the game and ask about them in context.

Real modern medals and medal ribbons worn correctly on the left breast are indicative of real service. If you ask about them ask carefully and with respect. There are often good stories there, but the stories may be told, not demanded. Military personnel know not to mix uniform elements or wear their real honours in an inappropriate manner.

If you see foreign medals and ribbons you must be careful what you ask. Some can be real, but in the last few years there have been instances of false colours being flown and it is as well to avoid these situations entirely. Let the service and police organisations deal with the problem.

Occasionally you’ll see medals that have been presented by private clubs and organisations worn as service medals. Generally people do not mean ill with this – indeed I have a pewter gaud pinned on me by the ” Commander ” of the Scottish Brigade at Waterloo ’95 ( pinned on in a restaurant…) that I treasure as a souvenir. I’d wear it happily at a dinner for old comrades of the trip but not at an open event.

Honours to be paid to medals? Saluting a theatrical MOH winner? Ditto to a VC or Croix de Guerre ? Leave that for the real military on real military occasions.

Wretched excess? I have no advice here. If someone wishes to re-enact a Soviet or North Korean Field Marshall with a coat and pants full of brummagem honours, it might well be seen as theatrical dedication or madness. Teat it with awe.

6.  ” What are you supposed to be doing? ” is a rude way of asking ” Please tell me what is happening here? ” You’ll get a sad answer to the first and a happy answer to the second – which would you prefer?

7.  ” I suppose you think that’s good fun…” is a statement heard rarely, but it always indicates smart-aleck aggression. The simple answer ” Yes.” is not an invitation to continue the abuse.

8.  Now to counter the impression that this is just a list of ” don’ts “, let me suggest some good approaches. Try ’em – you’ll be surprised how they open the door to good conversations and good times:

a. To the well dressed lady. ” What a marvellous gown. You look radiant”. No woman wearing a crinolined confection will take this amiss. Smile.

b. To the guard standing there at attention in the sentry box. Say nothing. Touch your hat as you pass, but leave him to his duty.

c. To the officer at his/her ease. ” Good morning. I couldn’t help noticing your uniform/troops’ appearance/ medals. Looks splendid.”. You will not be ignored nor abused.


d. To the driver of the veteran car/preserved tank/biplane. ” What a splendid vehicle! Can you tell me more about it? ” Beware – they can – they will – you may not get away until sundown…Fortunately most old cars have dim headlamps and you can escape in the darkness.

e. To the re-enactor 0f religion. Priest, minister, mullah, rabbi…whatever.” Bless you in your work “. If they are a Salvation Army re-enactor put a coin in the tin.

f. If there is a horse nearby. That horse is not re-enacting being a horse. That IS a horse. They kick at the back, bite at the front, and cost money in the middle. Beware – they are not required to be tolerant of fools.

g. To the organiser of the day. ” Thank you for the display. I particularly admired the ( something…). I’ve enjoyed myself. ” You will be welcomed next time.



The Stiff Lower Lip



Readers of this series of articles by the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia may be wondering at the lack of a distinctly British award from the Guild – particularly as we were formed in that most British of states – Victoria. Well, you need wait no longer. The Committee presents you with : the Victoria Crutch.

This distinctively shaped medal is to be awarded to fearless campaigners for sexual rights or wrongs on the internet – people who demand 112% equality or inequality in everything to do with their twiddley bits and who are prepared to meme loudly until they get it. No issue is too delicate and no argument too scathing to daunt them – and we can but admire their ability to return to the topic again and again.

We have decided to emulate the British government in this award in several ways; it will be awarded on extremely rare occasions when the recipient has undergone desperate struggles – and it will, like the VC, be made of melted down weapons that have been captured from an old enemy. If this does not sound like much, consider how hard it is to melt the average sex toy without setting fire to the bedspread.

We are not exactly certain that we can get The Queen to pin them on to recipients but we are hopeful that we can get A queen.

Note: No suffragettes were harmed in the making of this post.

Post note: The correct form of address to a British woman in India who is engaged in flooding the internet with short political messages that are encapsulated on one panel is Meme-Sahib.


All Is In Order!

brass-crossThe Backstabbers Guild of Australia prides itself upon the accuracy and correctness of the articles that are published under its aegis. We never tolerate spelinge errors, and therefore we are never under the eye of the Grammarian Stormtroopers. Others are not so lucky nor so precise; they feel the lash and fury of correction. A single Grammarian Stormtrooper has been known to decimate 4 columns of entrenched English…

To recognise the correct and hygienic efforts of the GS we are issuing the Brass Cross. It will be pinned to the breast of the GS…or at least to the severe grey tunic covering that breast…in front of the assembled regiment. There will be order, or there will be consequences!

Old-comrade meetings of grammarian Stormtroopers in the future will be jolly. This has been entered into standing orders. After the jolly time is finished the celebrants will return to their barracks.

The Order Of the Golden Cloud


The Backstabbers Guild of Australia is nothing if not respectful. We look upon the other countries of the world and their rulers and take heartfelt lessons from their lives.

Thus we have looked long and hard at the Japanese traditions of imperial awards that are in the form of a chrysanthemum or sunrays or flowers and their careful ranking of the various medals into classes. We noted with interest that the order of the Precious Crown can be divided into Apricot Class, Wisteria Class and Butterfly Class. Apparently since 2003 it only goes to foreign females. Make of that what you will.

The Guild recognises that a direct copying of any foreign order is not so much flattering as confusing. At the request of the RSL we have stopped sending up VC’s with the rations. Occasionally we send up the RSL, but that is another matter altogether. What we aim to do with the Order Of the Golden Cloud is show the nation that people who post unintelligible one-liners on social media are also deserving. Indeed we have a list of things we think they deserve, and now we have the Golden Cloud to add to it.

The OOGC is a classed order – in that we have taken some direction from the efficiency of the Japanese. There are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class Clouds, corresponding to the ways the posts have been received.

If everyone can guess what you are on about but just deletes your post before reading it you are entitled to the OOGC 3rd Class. If they fire back anxious enquiries about your state of mental and physical health and then race round your door with a plate of cookies and an external defibrillator machine, you receive the OOGC 2nd Class.

If they shut down their Facebook account, unplug the computer from the wall, and then kick the screen in, you are eligible to receive the OOGC 1st class. You have done a service to culture and humanity. We can do no less than salute you.

Note: the Order Of The Golden Cloud is worn on the hat. It is suspended above you and dangles in front of your eyes on a sad, blue, extremely fuzzy thread. This was an inspired bit of analogy that the design bureau came up with.

The Heart Of Sympathy


The second award to be instituted by the Backstabbers Guild of Australia this year is intended to recognize the tireless efforts on the part of members who wish to be seen as sympathetic to those less fortunate than they*. This is stirring stuff, and with a large spoon, too.

The Heart Of Sympathy has been likened to the American award for wounds in combat – the Purple Heart. This has sometimes been derided by the uninformed, and sometimes by the uniformed, but it is recognition that some people do put themselves into danger and then don’t duck fast enough. What is forgotten is that other armies do the same; the French award citizenship to some soldiers who have been wounded for France and the British award…that is to say they award…okay, they don’t award anything. But you have to remember that this is perfectly consistent with their policies regarding equipping and feeding their troops.

The Heart of Sympathy will most often be awarded to social media postings that cry for the poor. Urging others to donate money to governmental or private aid agencies will also count toward the award, though if the directors of any charities are found to be holidaying in Mauritius more than 8 times a year some points may have to be deducted. No deductions are made if all the money collected goes to pay the administrative costs because this is precisely the basis upon which the annual Backstabber’s Stiletto Appeal is conducted. We are venal, not hypocritical.

A question arose in the Guild Council meeting as to whether this award would also be presented past-dated or posthumously. As appealing as this may seem, we are saddened to say that our hearts bleed that we cannot do it. As a matter of Guild policy, the only thing we ever present to a grieving family is an invoice.

  • Oddly enough very few people are sympathetic to those who are better off than they are.

Note: The Heart Of Sympathy is plastic, transparent, and cheap. A lesson to us all…