Whose belly laughed?


Whose belly laughed?

Political Speak
By Paul Lyneham
With cartoons by Ron Tandberg
ABC Books, 1991 89pp. $9.95 pb
Reviewed by Tracy Sorensen

ABC TV's Paul Lyneham seems to have become a "media personality". Why? His humour, his insight, his pleasantness on eye and ear, are all no more than fair/satisfactory. Perhaps it's nothing more than this: long exposure leads eventually to acceptance, just as those living under flight paths can (sometimes) come to accept the 6 a.m. roar.

Now this man, too much in love with himself, has produced a book: Political Speak, "the bemused voters' guide to insults, promises, leadership coups, media grabs, pork-barrelling and old fashioned double-speak". The back cover promises a "belly laugh".

The humour could be described as motherhood: the sort of laugh everyone can have about politics and politicians. There are, for example, these specimens from the "Political Dictionary" at the back of the book: "Declaration — a boring statement delivered in a loud voice" and "Desperate — a politician who kisses your dog as well as your baby". Did your belly laugh?

With pollies from both mainstream camps agreeing with each other on every question of substance, the ability to think up the most colourful phrases of apolitical personal abuse just this side of ejection from the house is applauded on all sides as a welcome break from total boredom.

A line of this horse's mouth stuff from the pollies ("you are a rabbit, a miserable rabbit", or, "do I hear a gurgle from the gutter of the one man slum on my right?") is worth a page of Lyneham's fair/satisfactory wit.