29 November 2003

PM comes to the aid of your party

Concerned readers have written asking how to prevent the Prime Minister from turning up for a photo opportunity at their holiday social functions.

As we have seen, not a day goes by without John Howard posing for happy snaps somewhere. No wreath-laying, no troop farewell, no international sporting event is complete without him, although it was perhaps a little overdone for one reader to refer to him this week as Gollum, that creepy homunculus who keeps popping up in The Lord of the Rings.

And several have suggested that his sullen presentation of the Rugby World Cup to the English team was the most awkward sporting performance by a world leader since Jesse Owens collected his gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Mrs Stephanie Grumstickler, of Wombat Hills, Victoria, writes: 'We are having our black tie, golden wedding party before Christmas and we are terrified that Mr Howard will arrive in his Vodafone tracksuit and lower the tone of the evening.'

I am sorry, Mrs Grumstickler, but I believe Mr Howard is under contract to Vodafone to appear in the tracksuit at a number of public events. But have you thought of inviting the Governor-General instead? I shall find out if we still have one, and who it might be.

Other readers worry that the Prime Minister might drop in for a photo when they are incapacitated. I suggest you carry a small white card in your wallet or purse, with the following inscription:

'In the event of illness, accident or death, I do not wish the Prime Minister to comfort me at my bedside or to appear at my funeral.'

I understand concerned members of the labor caucus are wondering how to avoid the Man of Steel attending their awards ceremony on Tuesday.

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