In this piece I will utilise a writing technique by entering the point of view of an old friend of mine, who, until recently, was an employee at Kirribilli House. In a lengthy, detailed and alarming discussion, he revealed to me what I believe is the most accurate portrait of Scott Morrison ever sketched, which I will present to the people he "serves" while brandishing, it has been claimed, an increasingly authoritarian tone.
By disseminating what my friend told me in the strictest of confidence (he signed a confidentiality contract in order to work at Kirribilli House), I'm exposing him to a possible lawsuit and to what he feared most while working at Morrison's Sydney residence, which the PM prefers over The Lodge. But, hey, I'm a journalist: everyone knows we would give up our mothers for a good yarn.
Creative writing 101 dictates that I show readers what happened instead of telling them. So without further ado, I present to you Scott Morrison, minus the spin, as seen through "Steve's" eyes:
I suffer from a severe reaction to dog barks. Once my family talked me into buying a Pomeranian when we lived in a small townhouse. Just as I was getting over the last barking burst another would begin, keeping me in a near perpetual state of anxiety. Working at Kirribilli House was like living with that yapping mutt.
A case in point: I was in the Kirribilli House kitchen, cleaning up after lunch, when Morrison stormed through the door and plonked a plate on the bench in front of me, pointed at it and said: "What's this, Steve?"
"Umm ... a sandwich, sir."
"Of course it's a sandwich. But it's not the sandwich I wanted, is it? I clearly stated that I wanted a simple sandwich, which for me would be something like ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce. But you gave me ... let's see [he inspected the sandwich] ... You gave me barbecue chicken, sliced cucumber, ricotta and chives, and ... what the f*** ... orange sweet potato. Steve, mate. I've told you a million times to keep it simple." He knocked on my head. "Hello, is anyone home?"
"I think, er, the sandwich I made is better, sir."
Do you want me to crush you like a worm, Steve?Scott Morrison
Morrison slammed his hand on the bench. "Do you want me to crush you like a worm, Steve?" His phone rang. "Hello, Peter, what's up? ... No, mate. You tell that little weasel to stop talking like a f****** policy wonk. Joe and Jane Average Australian aren't interested in that bull**** ... Facts?! Don't make me laugh. Listen, you tell him to stay on message, or I'll crush him like a worm. Have I made myself clear? ... Good. ScoMo out."
Two days later, the Morrisons hosted an intimate dinner party at Kirribilli House. Open double doors facilitated a soothing breeze blowing off Sydney Harbour, on what was a humid night. Naturally, Morrison was sitting at the head of the table. I serenaded guests with Sinatra covers. People have said that I sound like Harry Connick Jr. I was belting out the chorus to "New York, New York" when Morrison drained his wine glass and yelled: "Sing 'Shout to the Lord'."
"Sorry, sir, I don't know that song."
"Ah, you're a useless bastard, Steve. The next time I ask you to entertain my guests, make sure you know that song, because I'll ask you to sing it." He slammed his hand on the table, startling Germaine Greer, who was seated next to him. "Don't you bloody let me down again, Steve. Because if you do, I'll ..."
"I know, sir. You'll crush me like a worm."
A 60-something man with thick hoary hair and an intelligent face cleared his throat and said: "I'm sure I speak for others at this table [he looked knowingly at Greer] when I say that I consider your intrusion on that splendid rendition of a timeless classic, for the purpose of requesting a Christian song, as being akin to a monkey banging pots during a performance of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. And I know I speak for at least one other guest at this table [he looked knowingly at Greer] when I say that the dramatic regression of Christianity in Australia and other countries is one of the few positive signs in a world that, for mine, has become increasingly disappointing." He glanced at the other guests.
"What say you, friends?" he continued. "Do you believe, like me, that the deity people have killed in the name of for millennia is either an impotent being who can't do anything about the untold suffering he unleashed when he created man, or he can do something but chooses not to? In other words, is he a deistic god or a theistic god? If he's the latter, I wouldn't want to be judged by such a blood-soaked monster? Would you, hmm?"
Morrison slammed his hand on the table, sprang up and pointed towards the front door. "I want you out of here! Now!"
"Get out, or I'll crush you like a worm!"
"Scott, I was just trying to have an intelligent conversation about ... Good grief, man. Are you really sticking your fingers in you ears, going 'nah, nah, nah?!' ..."
Mark Bode is an ACM journalist. He uses satire and fiction in his writings.