It’s Election time in Australia. The votes are being counted and, once again, Antony Green is the Election Oracle. There he is, with his own special seat on election night live. Higher up than everyone else and with a giant screen that the others have to look up to, as befits his status. Unflappable, unstoppable, explaining and setting everything out so clearly that even I begin to understand the intricacies. As the Guru of Elections, he has his own page on the ABC News site. “Has Antony Green called the election?” it asks in large letters, next to a neatly dressed Antony. If you can’t bear to sit through hours (or possibly days or even weeks) of endless discussions and waffle, this is where you’ll go. NO, it says, days after voting closed. It’s all we need to know, because nobody’s more reliable. Nobody knows elections like he does. Scroll down for a detailed analysis or just go back to your gardening and check back later.
Antony Green answers every question. Only one remains and it has been bothering me for some time. Where does Antony go between elections? He seems to disappear off the face of the planet! The mystery! The intrigue! What does he do? Surely he’s not just handily reconstituted with water every three years by the ABC? No, there must be a more realistic, scientifically feasible explanation. I have no proof, but I do have several theories, and here they are.
It’s quite simple, really. After each election, Antony is put in a broom cupboard, somewhere deep in ABC headquarters. He wraps himself in a large, sustainably sourced bearskin and goes to sleep. Since he is a very important asset, the broom-cupboard is temperature and humidity controlled and carefully monitored. Once a week, he is roused enough to consume a large multi-vitamin protein smoothie with added chia seeds, so that he does not lose too much condition and to ensure management doesn’t have to buy him new suits. When a new election looms, he is gently woken. After a hot shower and a quick haircut, he puts on his freshly-pressed shirt and suit and settles to a hearty breakfast and several coffees. A couple of hours of speed-reading through the news he’s missed and a thorough check of the computer and he’s ready to go!
ABC management finds this to be a very satisfactory solution, especially since they discovered that renting out his inner-city terrace on Airbnb while he’s hibernating easily covers the costs of technicians to maintain the broom cupboard climate, with a bit left over for the last remaining tea lady. A good clean and the place is just like new, he’d never spot the difference.
Likelihood? Moderate. Economically feasible, but perhaps scientifically improbable.
The long wait
Antony looks disconsolately at the pantry, Sirius meowing at his feet. It’s been a while since the last election and the shelves are almost empty. The baked beans will have to do for dinner. Sirius isn’t too happy with the home-brand cat biscuits, but settles down to eat, tail lashing. Antony sighs and strokes his chin, thinking. There’s an overdue rates notice on the fridge and the gutters need repairing.
It can’t be helped, he needs a by-election, urgently. It’ll have to be either Bob Brunting or Fiona Fancypants-Flavonoid. Both rusted-on MP’s, long past their use by date in their respective electorates. There are more worthy candidates, young and energetic, waiting in the wings, so he will only be doing the nation a favour. Duty calls. He packs his neat little valise and puts on his sunglasses and hat, a surefire disguise. The cat bowl is full. Anyway, he knows that Sirius will be heading next door to old Mrs Papadopolous as soon as he’s gone, to get his share of cream and roast chicken. He flicks a coin before he heads off to the train station and buys his ticket.
When he returns, tired but satisfied with his endeavours, the by-election is done and dusted. Once more, he impressed the audience with his unfailing ability to predict a result earlier than anyone else and with his preparedness. ‘Almost as if you’d known this was going to happen’, as his admiring colleagues in the news room said.
Likelihood? Extremely likely, given the current financial position of the ABC.
Antony adjusts the sun umbrella as he sips a pina colada. Life’s good. A nice novel (the latest Booker winner, air-freighted in), a drink, the ocean – and a gourmet dinner to look forward to tonight. Later he might tinker with the Election Machine. One of the preference sprockets is a little loose and it might be worth asking the dedicated engineer staying downstairs to have a look at it. After all, it’s important to keep that machine in perfect order and he is the only one who knows exactly how it works. He briefly considers skyping with a fellow psephologist back home to discuss the latest developments in Lower Grundgebuttle, then decides to defer it until tomorrow. He’s nicely settled here now, the weather forecast is good and there’s no urgent reason to move.
Likelihood? We wish. However, the ABC has no money (see above), Antony has no tan and I can’t, for the life of me, imagine him wearing boardshorts. Not even carefully pressed ones. Verdict – very unlikely.
When I shared my theories with my long-suffering husband, he said that, in his opinion, Antony Green spends his downtime doing electionny kind of things. Like research. Programming the computer. Travelling around electorates doing fact finding thingy stuff and maybe giving talks to schoolkids and lectures to students or something.
Likelihood? Are you kidding? No way. Too boring, humdrum, every day. Next thing I know, you’ll be telling me he goes to the beach on a weekend, wearing (unironed) boardshorts!