One thing’s for sure: the Commonwealth
Games has been a positive boon for the temporary fencing industry.

Temporary fencing is everywhere. As you
drive around town, Melbourne has become a city of cages. Jeff’s Shed is all but surrounded and
the Yarra River precinct is wire fencing as far as the eye can see. Of course, the MCG
is completely wrapped in temporary fencing and blue bunting. (Albert Park Lake is as
well, but that’s the Formula One setting up.)

So, how many kilometres of fencing are there
around town? That seemed like an interesting fact to track down. I rang Coates
Hire, and was put through to Prestige Portable. I was then offered the Dandenong
office, as controllers of all things fencing. A bloke called Danny picked up
that phone, laughed and said that was an interesting question, he’d ask around.
He vanished for a few minutes.

And then it happened, as I should have
known it would. Danny came back, sounding as though he had a gun nudging his
back, his entire family being held in an undisclosed location and henchmen
surrounding him. “That’s something I don’t know and we can’t talk about it
anyway,” he said. “There is one person here who does know but we are not
allowed to say.”

OK, I replied. It’s not like I wanted to
make Danny’s life difficult. Who should I talk to among the Commonwealth Games
organisers then? “They wouldn’t know. The only person who knows is here but he
can’t talk about it.”

Who’s behind Danny’s terror? Probably the
same people in suits who loiter at Commonwealth Games press
conferences, white-knuckled that the official spin might stray from the
script for a nanosecond.
Or the same grim-faced people who you see running next to the
Baton-holders,
ever alert for who knows what.

I’ve covered Wimbledon, which is run
literally with military precision, by retired army officers who take the job of
showing people to their seats between games very seriously. Boy, do they get in
the way. The Games is starting to feel like that. Have fun, damn you, and we’ve
got an army of flacks to jump on anybody not smiling when we say to smile.

By the way, I rang the Commonwealth Games
media centre and a charming woman called Jacquie confirmed that there are 40km
of temporary fencing set up around the place, along with 2,500 banners, 1,500
national flags and 2,400 square metres of ground graphics.

So now we know. Danny’s family can go free.

Peter Fray

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