Saturday, 23 May 2015

Press Gallery Dinner 1980: The year of the gams

If you've worked on Parliament Hill, you have no doubt been to a Press Gallery Dinner.
The dinners these days are relatively staid affairs.
Except for this year.
This year, our Elizabeth May extinguished herself by going postal on the Conservative Cabinet, f-bombing her way to a hook off the stage. Good for Liz. There's more than hot air in that helium balloon, and we frankly applaud her for whipping it out.
That said, it was a frankly amateurish performance for Lizzie (who took and axe, gave the Tories 40 wacks), and it was pretty tame compared to Press Gallery Dinners of yore.
I was reminded of this last night when the old codger Ray Stone filled my inbox to the brim with photos of pre-eminent journalists wearing chaps, and drunkenly crooning on stage, to the delight of a mostly male crowd back in the 70s.
There were only a handful of women allowed at the Dinner back then, when I was a sweet young thing trying to break into serious journalism. The women allowed in were either seriously working journalists, or politicians. There was a no wives rule, which meant that the men could get up to all sorts of nonsense, mostly drinking, losing their cars and puking in the hair of other journos.
Some of us, who were not members of the Gallery, got in because we were part of the Gallery show, which went on sometime in the middle of the night. It was a swinging dick contest with lines like this:

Jean-Luc, a steamin' and a strokin'
Jean-Luc, got his caucus in his hand.

There were songs you wouldn't hear today, like the one sung by Don Newman and Peter Van Dusen about the CBC, entitled The Johnson Fags, after the head of the CBC and what was deemed a preponderance of gay men doing his dirty work. Yeah, that wouldn't happen today.
Evan Solomon would have a stroke.

I got talked into doing mostly stripper pole work, as evidenced by this photo.

That's me in the front with the black hair. I was a hooker, a can-can dancer, etc. etc. always in the chorus, never the lead. That was left for the off key Gayle Morris, who did yo-girl's work as the Governor-General, Barbara Frum, and so on. There were other women in the Gallery, but none of the rest of them wanted anything to do with the Gallery show. You can't blame them. Many had worked hard to overcome all the bullshit that came with getting that golden ticket and they weren't going to put on a corset and be mocked by their limp dicked colleagues.
Me, I didn't know any better.
Back then, I could be talked into anything.
Which is exactly why nobody took me serious until my boobs started sagging and my hips started spreading.
I had to work in the trenches for two decades, drowning under the glass ceiling that was being propped up by serious women. I thank them today for their hospitality, and their generosity; otherwise, I would have ended up like Joan on Madmen.
Oh wait...
Nevertheless, I am wistful for the days before children, the times when I never had to buy a drink at the Press Club bar, Not to mention gams that didn't pucker and jiggle.
Oh well, even now, I look better than Michel Gratton, God rest him and his budgie smugglers.



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