It’s almost lunchtime when I open my smartphone. After checking the weather the source of the notification prompts me to log into The Australian newspaper and set up an account. It is as pleasant as when I have a book of Schapelle Corby.
As soon as the door opens, I check my news list and see I’m subscribed to editor John Bennett’s Christmas issue for the 27th time this month, and the press-on section’s Christmas special. I just had breakfast with a friend of mine in the hotel bar, so we will be off to the 11am this morning (at 10am in the case of Joel, who heads off to work).
The magazine, shot by Peter Hooper, features a collection of lurid merriment in which Santa puts on a gaudy mask, dressed as a turkey and a pork pie. It is made up of pies, balloons, satins, leather gloves, hats, gloves, hats, make-up, and dolls. The paper’s editor, Tony Hegarty, even cut a doll out of a pancake roll so that we can have a go at the version of pecan pie we’re sitting on.
The camera takes a picture, then the editor hands the doll over to me, who takes it away to him. The doll crumbles into a graham cracker, but the mum smiles and we are happy: Bennett writes: “The photo is part of John’s Christmas special featuring ‘loved ones offering comfort and support’ after the weekend tragedy of teacher Jenna Lynne Clancy (pictured) whose teacher daughter Sally was fatally stabbed at a holiday camp in Gippsland on Friday. Clifford Werborg, the father of Sally, is pictured in the magazine, and Paul Tait and Joy Peake were clearly a popular couple.”
“Magazines are just a bit of fun,” Bennett tells me. “We thought it was a little sleazy to be doing it on Christmas Day, but it’s too good to not.” One wonders whether Bennett may have some regret about its appearance when he realises his interviewer, Adam Danby, whom he describes as “an enthusiastic, cheerful, fun man”, must be a columnist, too.
Bennett spends his time writing about the readers who respond to his weekly Facebook updates about this weird situation — well, if he thinks I’m fair, but I’m not sure if I want to concentrate on my weekly beer budget.