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January 2009
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Babies Having Plasmas

All the other ruthless commentators can quote the soccer team’s worth of lads (okay, there’s only two so far, but one of ’em reckons all of his mates have had a crack) now bragging, or fearing, that they may be the actual father of Masie, the baby born to 15-year-old Chantelle Steadman. There’s 16-year-old trainee chef Richard Godsell, whose own mother claims baby Masie has his eyes (whatever that means – incredibly puffy when not perpetually closed, like all new-borns). There’s  14-year-old Tyler Barker, whose mates are all teasing him about possibly being the dad, but who also insists “any one of them could be” also.

All the other ruthless commentators can relate the interview given by ‘Grandpa’ Patten. His son Alfie, the 13-year-old who looks about eight, is prepared to take responsibility for Masie. But Grandpa is busy bragging about making a bundle selling son Alfie’s story to the tabloids, while poor little Alfie sobs in the back seat. Alfie’s prepared to take a paternity test now. Only to shut the mouths of those mean, older boys, mind.

I’m not even gonna point out how Conservative Leader David Cameron, MP’s ‘children having children’ quotable quote was lifted from one of the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s soundbites during his attempts to nominate as a Democratic candidate for the American Presidency. Or how Jackson’s sounded much more effective since he was bemoaning ‘babies having babies’ – a little more outrageous image to conjur – and not just pinching some other politican’s soundbite and fobbing it off as his own.

But I don’t have time to get stuck into all that, let alone to try and find those clips online.

I’m having too much fun re-watching this excellent snippet of Alfie and Chantelle being interviewed. That point, 17 seconds in, when the interviewer asks what Alfie intends to do, to care for the baby, financially. He replies, “What’s ‘financially’?”

Don’t you just love Chantelle’s embarrassed reaction? She ever-so-briefly has an‘Elaine-and-Ben-on-the-bus-at-the-end-of-The Graduate-moment’ when the realisation starts to dawn: okay, we’ve pulled it off. My god, what do we do now?

But it’s just an instant. Rest assured: Chantelle at least knows what ‘financially’ is: it’s how sorted you are after you get the payout for being a single, teenage mum with a kid. It enables you to buy that plasma television set.

But it’s neither Alfie’s immature ignorance, Chantelle’s popularity with the lads or the final dawning of the Elaine-and-Ben-on-the-bus-at-the-end-of-The Graduate-moment that amuses me most about these kids. Nope. It’s the fact that, with her hair done the right way, Chantelle could actually pass for a convincing Wednesday Addams. And with nothing done to Alfie at all, he is definitely Eddie Munster.


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Wednesday Friday Addams, aka Chantelle Steadman

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Edward Wolfgang Munster, aka Alfie Patten


I'm a Minstrel (In the Bedroom)

In addition to having seen her on stage over the last few Melbourne International Comedy Festivals, Amanda Buckley offers some of the best street theatre when flyering for her shows (handing out advertising flyers to passing strangers in the street) or running into fellow performers heading to or from a venue. That’s cos, being a crack improviser, she's always able to turn the interaction into something. While I’m looking forward to seeing her – and the rest of the cast – in the excellent Beaconsfield - The Musical at this year’s MICF (it’s also playing Adelaide Fringe), for the time being, her Facebook keeps me amused.

Lately she’s taken to adding ‘…and I’m a minstrel’ to her status updates, after a certain Pappy’s Fun Club item (see it from about four-and-a-half minutes in the clip below) and because she plays the lute herself.

Recently, her status update announced the she was "24 hours from Tulsa. And a minstrel." That was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“I thought you were the man who shot Liberty Valence. And a minstrel," I offered, continuing the Gene Pitney theme. (Pitney sang both songs.)

But then Amanda countered “… see, there’s always someone there to remind me...." adding, “oh dear - this could get out of hand!"

And she was right: now that I realised the theme was Burt Bacharach (composer of the music to these songs), I had the perfect comeback: there is indeed always someone there to remind me, I agreed, “and baby, it’s you. And a minstrel.”

Suddenly it was like that fortune cookie game where you add “in the bedroom” to every dubiously ‘new age’ phrase. But I had the unfair advantage – the recently released three-disc set Magic Moments – The Definitive Burt Bacharach Collection was still on heavy rotation in my computer, so the cover was within reach.

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Now I had a whole barrage of such comments, at my fingertips:

This guy’s in love with you. And a minstrel.

God give me strength. And a minstrel.

Raindrops keep falling on my head. And a minstrel.

Make it easy on yourself. And a minstrel.

Trains and boats and planes. And a minstrel.

Wives and lovers. And a minstrel.

Anyone who had a heart. And a minstrel.

Feel free to add some of your own.