Date: late January sometime during the 1980s
Setting: Parliamentary bunker in Canberra, very hot, an overhead fan rotates with a wobble.
Stage: Curtain opens on a parliamentary secretary who is hot, sweaty, and attired in a short sleeve shirt, old-school tie, shorts and long socks
Scene 1: Parliamentary Secretary receives a phone call from the Minister; brief conversation is heard with crackly voice from wings
Minister: gotta problem – seems we’ve too many bloody cyclists on the roads with all the bloody road improvements – motorists aren’t bloody happy – so, mate, I wanna a plan pronto – one that looks like we're trying to save the bloody cyclists but really gets rid of the bloody buggers
Parliamentary Secretary: jeeeze! It’s a tricky one – I could have a yarn with the rep from "Big Helma"
Minister: Mate! you could be on the money – give him a bell!!
Scene 2: Parliamentary Secretary calls “Big Helma” Rep, and the following conversation is heard with another crackly voice from wings
Big Helma Rep: Maaa-te, it’s the “3 Ss” – that’s what you want!
Parliamentary Secretary: whadja mean the “3 Ss”?
Big Helma Rep: “Scare”, “Soothe”, “Sell” and in that order, mate – you create a problem, you miraculously provide a solution and then you flog 'em your product!
Parliamentary Secretary: Fair dinkum! But hang on a sec’ - could it be unpopular? Minister wouldn’t be keen to blatantly piss off the cyclists – they can be bloody bolshie
Big Helma Rep: maaate – got that covered – we’ll get an expert like Dr Yukonschmoozeme - the public trusts him and he’ll lend some weight to the matter - we’ll be right, mate!
Parliamentary Secretary: Jeeze!, mate, fair dinkum!
Big Helma Rep: Just picture the tag line – “No helmet no brain” – we’ll flood the schools and community groups and bicycle organizations with free helmets initially and then discounted ones for a few years! We’ll create a religion, we’ll turn helmets into oxygen, we’ll re-badge cycling into an 'extreme', dangerous activity, one that requires mentors, highly specialized gear, and testosterone!
Parliamentary Secretary: Fair dinkum?!
Big Helma Rep: Yep! Fair dinkum!
Parliamentary Secretary: You little ripper! So what’s in it for youse all?
Big Helma Rep: Well, mate, down the track, we'll get you to mandate our product! We’ll undertake to keep funding the bicycle organizations who will become the 'seminaries' of the new helmet religion; in effect we’ll become the ‘godparents’ of the bicycle organizations so that they can be 'independent' of you fellas – picture the "commercial-regulating indoctrination" – helmets will become the first and last words on bicycle safety, end of story!!
Parliamentary Secretary: Jeeze! Mate, there’s no doubt aboucha! You’re a dead cert for a place on any parliamentary helmet enquiry committee that might be held!
Big Helma Rep: Hey maaaa-aaaate - no worries!
7 hours ago