The phone call came through yesterday mid-morning.

“It’s that pompous twat on line one,” my personal assistant informed me.

“What do you want, Christopher Pyne?” I grizzled, annoyed at being interrupted while I practiced the half-nelson and the hammer lock.

“Peter … it’s Malcolm here … No, not ‘that c-nt Fraser’ … Malcolm Turnbull. Your leader!”

Realising the importance of this conversation, I hurriedly dropped the cardboard cut-out of Kevin Rudd on the canvas floor and clothed myself.

I examined my body for any signs of early onset of decisiveness. Surely this was the telephone call I’d been waiting for since November 2007? This would be the come-back call, the great re-match, my return to centre stage. This would be Turnbull, top-hat in hand, begging me to assume the throne, imploring me to lead the Liberals to victory, pleading with me to head butt and maim those Labor pretenders.

“Look Peter, Julie Bishop’s rooted …”

Great, he just wanted to gossip about the good old days again.

Turnbull brought me up to speed on the fate of our Deputy Leader.

“Julie’s made a few calls and found out that she’s about as popular as Gorgeous George Brandis at a bachelor party, so she’s decided to pull the pin …” Unfortunately it wasn’t a grenade he was referring to, but her position as Opposition Treasury spokesperson.

Understandable, really. Julie knows f-ck-all about finance. Sure, she landed a few blows back when we ruled the planet, but when it comes to anything more taxing than adding up the GST on a pearl necklace, the woman may as well have been floating at sea for the past six months in a giant esky.

“How is it possible that anyone can make Wayne Swan look competent?” I asked the man who makes Kevin Rudd look positively adept.

That’s when Turnbull dropped his clanger … the one about the new Coalition Treasury spokesperson.

“Peter, the job as shadow treasurer is up for grabs, and I’d like to offer it to you …”

My eyes bulged. My jowls sagged. My undergarments liquefied. Shadow treasurer? A Shadow? Me? An understudy? A second stringer? That’s like offering Kevin Sheedy a job as Assistant Coach — for the West Coast Eagles! That’s like making Nicole Kidman a drama teacher.

I thanked Malcolm Turnbull for his flattering suggestion, and noted myriad anatomical innovations he might like to consider vis-a-vis his frontbench.

The leadership of the Liberal Party will be handed to me — nay, I will be carried forth on the shoulders of the morons who currently comprise what’s left of our party — if I just bide my time and wait for Rudd’s popularity to slide. Say about 10 years?

I see myself as the Mickey Rouke of the federal Liberal party. The Wrestler. Just when the media think I am nothing more than a fat, egotistic, truculent, self-serving, spineless git, too cowardly to challenge in my own right and too indecisive to quit as Member for Higgins and forever extinguish my claim on the throne — well I’ll show them.

They can run a staple gun through my head, cut me up with barbed wire, they can hurl me against the ropes and drop kick me as many times as they like, but they’ll never ever make me play second fiddle … excepting those 12 years when John Howard made me Australia’s number one punching bag.

“Turnbull,” I yelled, my jockstrap quaking at the insult he had bestowed. “There’s only one job I want, and that’s your job!”

“Well why don’t you challenge me for it, Costello?” he snapped back.

I’d been warned by specialists never to try to get back in the ring again and try to relive my former glory … but when Turnbull questioned my courage, my moxie, my backbone … why, I don’t care if my heart gives out …

“I will challenge,” I told that toffy-nosed merchant banker, and immediately set my PA to the task … there might be something free in my diary around in June 2012…

Peter Fray

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