Fev’s Flashing Fetish and Me: A Recollection
Sentence for sentence, Ian McEwan is the best living writer in English that I know. Even in his less-good books — of which his latest, Solar, is one — he is capable of crafting exquisite stand-alone sentences that almost deserve dust jackets and press tours to themselves. In Solar — which begins well but gets lost in too much plot — he writes this about the nature of memory:
But he had taken many taxis from Heathrow before, and he had been in many traffic jams, and memory was wax-soft, and soon his construction formed itself in his mind like any genuine recollection, both vague and certain.
It’s after sentences like this I find myself whispering “stop it, Ian McEwan” with envy-tinged awe.
This quote struck home because it touched on the unreliability of memory, a particular issue for me because I spent ten years of my life more often drunk than sober. As a result, my recollection of events until four years ago is obfuscated by grog, and it’s impossible to trust the few fragments that survived the deluge. My memories — wax-soft in McEwan’s words — have hardened into anecdotes over years of telling and retelling. By now, they are just stories.
Here is one such story, from the early-Sober period.
I provided media training for the Carlton Football Club in 2007 , soon after billionaire Richard Pratt had taken the struggling Australian Rules football club under his wing. My job was to offer the players a basic overview of how the media works and provide some simple tips on how to deal with press, radio and TV interviews. I ran “theory” sessions in two large groups, followed by practical run-throughs, complete with cameraman, in groups of 3-4 players at a time.
Brendan Fevola, who played for Carlton at the time, has made the news in Australia this week for allegedly indecently exposing himself to a “mother of four”. (Now, why does the fact that she is a “mother of four” make the sight of a penis more shocking, and not less?).
In the face of these allegations, Fevola is not receiving much benefit of the doubt from his current club, Brisbane, nor from anyone else. This is not surprising since Fevola has long been a problem-child – a boozer and a shagger, a public urinator and a shameless media whore. Waving his privates at a solitary woman in a carpark seems like a fairly standard day at the office for Fev.
Fevola refused to take part in the mock interviews because, I guess, he thought he was too experienced to need it. He did, however, sit through the “theory” sessions, making a series of “woe is me” statements about how football reporters that he “thought were me mates” wrote scathing stories about him. When he wasn’t whining, he was texting and giggling and showing off. To their credit, the other players were completely unimpressed, even the rookies who had worked out quickly that Fev, for all his footballing prowess and media profile, was about as good a choice for role model as Jeffrey Dahmer.
But Fev could not keep away from the one-on-one training sessions, even after refusing to take part himself. The presence of a camera was too much for him to resist.
Fevola arranged a physio session in the neighboring room that coincided with the on-camera interviews.
Periodically, Fev would emerge from the physio room and stand behind the cameraman and me and try to break the concentration of the whoever I was grilling at the time. This caused us to halt proceedings on a couple of occasions as the player in the chair lost his train of thought or broke into reluctant guffaws at Fev’s antics. The Carlton media guys just rolled their eyes, muttering “It’s Fev, what can you do?”.
Soon enough, the players learned to ignore to Fev’s disruptive presence. But Fevola is a child in a man’s body — an evil and stupid child, mind you — and he hates to be ignored. He needed to up the ante.
That was when Fev reached into his shorts and began to reveal the contents thereof. He was behind me, so I couldn’t see for myself — but I could feel the presence of an unwelcome intruder near at the point of my left shoulder, and perhaps even the gentlest of zephyrs as he gyrated his hips, drawing perfect imaginary circles with his now-exposed genitals.
The horror etched on my colleague’s face confirmed what was going on behind me, but the players themselves were unsurprised and unperturbed. This was clearly not the first time they had been subjected to the full Fevola package, nor was it likely the last. I am sure they count the day Fev packed his bags for Brisbane as among the happiest of their young lives.
What an irredeemable jerk.