THE FITZ FILES
Illustration: Reg Lynch
Back in the day, TFF's line used to be that while my former rugby teammate Joe Hockey was one of the eight men who would carry my coffin, I am one of the 16 men who would carry his. These days, of course, given that Hockey has lost 31 kilograms after stomach surgery in December, the Shadow Treasurer is a shadow of his former self and the line no longer works. But it has been instructive to spend more time than usual in his company while shooting a profile on him for the Sunday Night program on Channel Seven.
For what its worth, one of the strongest moments of the piece is when I put to him that a common view is that he is too good a bloke to actually wind down the ''age of entitlement'', as he described it at a speech in London last year.
''Try me,'' he replied, with enough flint to draw sparks.
On his softer side, when Hockey confirmed that his first phone call, should he become the federal Treasurer of Australia, would be to his inspirational 85-year-old father - who has been unwell of late - I asked him what he would say.
Tears welled, and he could not speak.
Another point of interest was Hockey talking frankly of the time he and Tony Abbott came to physical blows on the rugby field, during training at Sydney University, when the man who would be PM knocked out cold the man who would be Treasurer. ''No one told me he was an Oxford Blue in boxing!''
These days, he says, their strongest disagreement is on Australia becoming a republic, with Abbott agin, and Hockey all for it.
Strike a chord
Earlier this year, Judy Gowland was going through her son's bedroom when she came across his tenor saxophone and clarinet, rarely used since his days back in the North Sydney Boys High School jazz band. Remembering an article she'd seen in the Herald a few months ago about the Granville Boys High School band needing instruments, she rang the school to ask if they would like her son's instrument, to which the principal, Linda O'Brien, replied, ''Would we what!''
The school has 500 students, 99 per cent of whom come from non-English speaking backgrounds, and has its challenges. In short order, Judy visited the school, met the student who now has a top range saxophone (Ahmed Osman of year 9), and became the patron of the GBHS concert band.
There remain, however, another 20 students on a waiting list to get an instrument, so if anyone has a spare clogging up a cupboard, please contact bandmaster Noel Dixon on email@example.com. Trumpets, saxophones, trombones and electric or acoustic guitars particularly welcome.
Gotta love this city!
Clearly, it had to come to this. With the success of Movember, with men growing their moustaches in November to promote awareness and raise money and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health, we now approach ''Sidetember'', with men growing their sideburns to do the same for the support of people living with acquired brain injury and to support Brain Injury Australia. Try sidetember.com.au for details.
Joke of the week
Prince Charles arrives in Iran on an official visit.
He says to the President, ''Where's the Shah?''
''What do you mean?'' says the President. ''There is no Shah. We got rid of the Shah years ago.''
''OK,'' says Prince Charles. ''In that case, I'll have a bath.''
They said it
No one, however smart, however well educated ... is the suppository of all wisdom.
Tony Abbott to the Liberal Party faithful of Melbourne, talking out his arse. (Sorry — couldn't resist.)
Victorian Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg, to a man standing next to him at the meeting.
This is what women have to look forward to if Tony Abbott becomes PM, a man who will only give you the time of day if you float his boat. He will be, as George Bush jnr was for the United States, an international embarrassment for modern Australia.
Tanja Kovac, of feminist group EMILY's List, after the Opposition Leader said one of his female candidates had "sex appeal." A tad harsh. No one could be as bad as Bush jnr.
Prince William is known to love the ... ordinariness of the Middletons' lives and frequently enjoys kitchen suppers at Carole and Mike's £4.8m home in Bucklebury.
Maxine Frith, The Evening Standard.
If there is one place where people say what they really mean about most things, it is in a taxi. Right from the gut.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on why he dressed for a day as a taxi driver and drove passengers around the streets of Oslo.