Job Opportunity

A word jumped out at me from a shop window as I jogged along the Carlisle Street shopping strip this morning. The word, writ large, was

PORK.

Not remarkable, given the shop was a butcher’s. Beneath the word that sprang out at me I read 

          VEAL
 

                 CHICKEN
 

                              BEEF.
The words were laid out so they descended across the window stepwise. I slowed to take in the aesthetics of the butcher shop.
Beneath the list of viands I saw a placard which read,
HELP WANTED, (Junior).
Drop in Resume.
So I did.

“Dear Mister Meat,

I write pursuant to your request for my resume. Please consider me for the position of ‘Help (junior).’

Name: Howard Goldenberg.

Born: January 8, 1946

Qualifications: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery;

Diploma of Obstetrics of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practice.

Achievements: Founder of the Stomach Club of Australasia.

Winner (over 60 years, male), Northern Territory Marathon, 2008, 2015. Editor, Mount Scopus College school magazine, 1962.

1972-2002, Mohel (ritual circumcisor) to the not quite devout Jews of Melbourne and Tasmania. 

I enjoy meat. I cook it, I serve it, I enjoy the pleasure it gives my family. When I say I enjoy meat, I mean it in the same way I like other men’s wives: I admire from afar. I eat only kosher. Although I’m a vegetarian I am not a gluten assassin or a fodmapster.

I do not work on the Jewish Sabbath or on the Festivals ordained by scripture. I’ll happily work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and New Years Day and on Easter Day and on Anzac Day, so long as they do not fall on the Holy Days mentioned above. Also Halloween, Thanksgiving and Festivus.

Likewise I will gladly work on Melbourne Cup Day, a festival which never falls on a Saturday and which competes with no Biblical Festival. 

WHAT DO I BRING TO THIS POSITION THAT DIFFERENTIATES ME FROM RIVAL APPLICANTS?

1. Experience – not many juniors have experience like mine.
2. I am a good speller.
3. My degree in Surgery and my experience in performing autopsies stand me in good stead with animals, dead or alive.
4. You know I won’t pinch your sausage. 
5. As a lapsed mohel I know my way around wieners, offcuts and giblets
WARNING: DON’T GET AGEIST ON ME. I am backed by family members who are feared attack dogs of the Law.
Inevitably the competition for my services is intense. I suggest you write by return post and I shall consider your application.”

 

Further Deaths and a Birth in the High Arts

Peter de Vries is dead. This is sad but it is not news: he has been dead since 1993. It appears he will remain extinct. What is sadder is that none of his books is in print. You cannot buy any current edition of the works of this pre-eminent American humourist of the early post-war decades. From 1940 to 1986, he chronicled the full comedy of the full human tragedy.

De Vries found plenty of material for dark jokes in his war time military service, in his Calvinistic upbringing in the Dutch Reformed Church and in the death of his daughter from leukaemia. He transmuted grief into sobering mirth and we laughed ourselves silly. Now his books are no more.

Life is just as funny today as it was in De Vries’ lifetime. We have the media, the markets, religious institutions to entertain us. Our politicians are a joke. The pestilence that is our species still despoils the planet, continues to kill, it maims and lies still – and records its glory in the daily newspapers. The papers are on the way out, and soon or sooner the planet appears likely to kick us out too.

Meanwhile a distinctive genre of off-beat humorous fiction for which Australia was once famed has died, unlamented and unsung. I refer to the Annual Income Tax Return. In the 1970’s and 1980’s creative accountants and millionaires and gifted liars combined to create songs from the bottom of the harbour and paid no tax. How they laughed.

Nowadays the accountant is effectively a secret agent of the ATO. She shows no interest in creative fiction, steering me instead along the narrow and straitened path of maximum taxation. The tax return she creates is deadly non-fiction. She then charges me and – for all I know – receives a commission from the Tax Office. This would make her a double agent. We have here the makings of a spy story. Would that the story were fiction.

The news is not all grim. This new genre in literature, the Tax Spy story, incubates in a silence disturbed only by the sound of calculating machines at the ATO.