Saturday’s West Australian: Sydney Greenstreet


Before I start, I must make it quite clear, Sydney Greenstreet had nothing to do with the writing of this column.

He did not dictate it over the phone, in person, or slap me on the side of the head with it. He did not email it, send it around by courier, or arrange for it to be delivered by Peter Lorre.

Because of current controversies surrounding various issues, recipes and table settings, it is also important that I reveal all previous meetings, meals and toilet breaks I have had with both Greenstreet and Lorre.

Let me start with Greenstreet: I have never had relations with that man.

From time to time there have been vicious and uncalled for rumours regarded the disparity in our respective sizes: I am a weaselly man; Greenstreet is a fat man.

This has not affected our relationship in any way. We don’t have one.

I have never met him, heard of him, know what he does for a living and I most certainly did not buy a used car from him or anyone associated with him.

I don’t go to parties with him. I don’t know what he looks like close up, or from a decent distance, say five metres, or why he wears that stupid hat when he is inside a house, building, or place of investigation.

All right, there was that one time, when I thought I was going to a pyjama party at Humphrey Bogart’s.

When Humphrey rang he said all the “gang” would be there, but I thought he meant Lauren Bacall, Spencer Tracy, Edward G. Gobinson George Raft, Ingrid Bergman and Jason Akermanis.

I assumed we would be discussing up-coming projects, including a remake of The Big Sleep. It was to be called The Big Wake Up.

We all make mistakes. I made a mistake which, in hindsight, I probably would have made anyway, but I would have made it in the knowledge that I was making it, rather than the other way around.

All right, okay, then there was the fund-raising for my election campaign. As it happened, my nomination was withdrawn at the last minute due to something to do with my nationality, which I am sure will be cleared up when the papers are found, or my parents turn up.

As for the money, I understand it was absorbed by various bank accounts related to the organising body, or donated to a double-bass player with curly hair.

And now I think I should deal with Peter Lorre.

To be honest, it is very difficult to know if you are talking to him. I once spent 45 minutes on the phone before I realised it was him. His soft, sneaky tones make him hard to discern and hanging up didn’t help because when I went into the next room there he was on the carpet.

Six months and $4076 later, we thought we had him removed but the very next day my youngest discovered a small stain at the back of the house near the old septic tank.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to my neighbours, the people over the road, those who live down our side of the street, a couple of those on the other side towards the north east, not the others, on the south west, because of their failure to stand up and be counted over the curbing issue, which I won’t go into here.

I think that’s all.

As far as I can recall.

Now, let’s return to Sydney.

In fact, we tried returning to Sydney, to get away from Sydney, but it made no difference. The man has tentacles.

He said he had something that sounded somewhat similar and anyone who wasn’t with him didn’t have them.

Sorry. Just a second. The phone.

“Hello. Yes. Oh, Sydney. No, I didn’t know you still had a phone. What? No, mate, no, maaaaate, yeah, sure. What? The column? I’m writing it now. You serious? Editor? Of the whole paper? You could? Mate, Sydney, of course I can. We go back, mate. No, it didn’t come from you. Bye.”

Look, if you don’t mind, I’d like to start this again.

Before I start, I would like to make it quite clear, Sydney Greenstreet is an honourable man, an old family friend, a man I have looked up to ever since I have known him as a taller man than me and I think what is happening to him is a travesty.

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