OF ALL the milestones in the rise of Western civilisation the most overlooked is the arrival of the fork. Until those Medici fashionplates took up the implement, dinner in Italian households must have been very messy affairs, what with all that pasta and sauce. From Italy forks spread to France and thereafter to England, but not in time to save Henry VIII from his reputation for oafishness at the table. Where forks were adopted, the pattern never varied: progress accelerated, democracy gained ground, free speech and property rights prospered. The blessings of the fork are obvious. While various monarchs have put away their queens, none since the implement’s adoption has resolved a vexatious marriage with the assistance of an axe.
Today in Australia we would do well to contemplate the noble fork, especially its relevance to scraping clean the squalor laid upon the nation’s plate by this appalling government and the habitual liar who, for the moment, leads it. Those Italians of old found that forks kept their tunics clean and so they might do something similar for us.
Stick a fork in ‘em, we sometimes say, they’re done – and Gillard’s lot are most definitely overcooked. Or think of a larger tool, the brandished pitchfork of the peasant in revolt.
In other parts of the world it has been ribbons and colours that expressed popular movements' disgust with diseased regimes – the Yellow Revolution in the Philippines, orange in the Ukraine and rose in Georgia. But Australia isn’t that sort of place. We are a bit more sedate and rather docile, which is the reason so few speed-trap end up on the wrong end of a shotgun, as they do in the United States, where citizens are less inclined to accept being supervised like children. And there is the other problem of finding just the right translucent shade of Harpic blue, the appropriate agent for flushing this stinking mob and cleaning up its stains.
A dining fork peeking above the breast pocket of a gentleman’s suit jacket, a daintier cake fork for the ladies – what better symbol to represent the need for an election. We should be taping them to car aerials, printing them on T-shirts, displaying their images on posters in front windows.
This is a government of no legitimacy and less goodwill. It is populated by rogues, protected by a compromised Speaker and sees its first priority as protecting a brothel-creeper in the House and, outside it, a young man who might put to rest suspicions of inciting a race riot if only he would come out of hiding. The Gillard gaggle has no moral authority because it lacks both decency and, as the polls continue to demonstrate, the electorate’s trust. Australia needs an election as poison demands an emetic.
So take up your forks, citizens, and drive home the point with a smile: Rudd and Gillard can wave their knives, but it can only be an election that determines who is genuinely fit to lead.