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Life of Riley

By Dave Riley

Copyright 2011 Dave Riley

Smashwords Edition


Smashwords Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends . This book may be reproduced, copied, performed, adapted and distributed for non-commercial purposes, but you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder. If you enjoyed this book, please return to to discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.


Table of Contents










About the author



This collection is a retrospective selection of satires I wrote in the 1990s with some dating from the following decade.

They are a topic mix mainly published in the ‘Life of Riley’ column in Green Left Weekly which I wrote on a weekly basis for a few years.

Some were recycled as dialogue for performance as I was also writing for street theatre troupes at the time. Some I recorded and published as part of a podcast I produced -- The Blather. Some were aired on radio both here in Australia and in the United States.

They even had a fan base.

I think that their satiric quotient still exists.

Just change or ignore the proper nouns and see what continuing relevance you can muster.

I decided to publish this selection because this is what I was writing BB – Before Blogging – and in trying to get back to a conscious satiric mode I wanted to relive my past.

So looking back is good for me. I enjoyed it.

You, on the other hand, will have to make your own way as I have chosen not to offer guidance as there is not a footnote or glossary to be had in any one of these pages.

Dave Riley


Back to top.



You can take comfort in my presence

GOOD NEWS! I have entered another decade. The smiling dial that marks me out has not changed one smidgin in yonks. I'm ageless, that's what I am. I'm still the same bloke I was way back when that pic on the book cover was taken; still my dear old mother's son, the crème de la crème of the Highett Rileys in the prime of his wonderful life.

How can this be, you may ask. Surely one day he must be touched by cruel time?

My resilience from the toll life levies rests on a little-known feature of my existence: I'm the second son of God.

My brother you surely know. He dropped in for a while way back in BC something or other, and went on to make quite a name for himself among the locals.

Me? I'm the shy one in the family. You won't catch me getting up to the little tricks Jesus was forever performing whenever he thought he could pull a crowd. That's not for me. I'm the family intellectual. (Please note the glasses in that regard.) The thinker.

Dad's plan was to send down a sibling every thousand years or so. My sister, Eileen, who got the job for the millennium after Jesus got nailed, was burnt as a witch just as soon as she said boo.

You won't catch me as main course on a barbecue. I want to live on to a good old age (not that you will be able to tell it), thank you very much. So as far as my theological duties are concerned, I thought I'd keep them on a back burner and settle instead on well-chosen words of wisdom every now and then through my various publishing ventures.

You can't blame me. Members of my family tend to die young.

So it’s OK to take comfort in my presence. You won't catch me pissing off home as soon as the authorities get nasty. No, I'm in it for the long haul. And you can forget that malarky about a heavenly reward — why do you think I want to stay on down here? Dad is so strict and dogmatic that he makes the afterlife a merry hell.

My advice to you is to do the best with what you've got.

Just don't tell Dad I told you so.

The Riot Gene

Everyone knows -- or I hope they know -- that a penchant to riot is suggestive of an underlying pathology.

Rioting -- by which I mean full-on vigorous civil disorder by disorganized rabble lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property and other persons -- is not an every day occurrence.

Leastways it isn't in my family.

I can safely say that within my pedigree we have gone several generations without some family black sheep (and I grant you that we have had our share of those) taking up rock throwing as a lifestyle.

We write letters. We vote in elections. We take home our pay and make the best of it.

We grin and bear what life throws at us.

We do not riot.

Maybe we get a little testy now and then -- and think we've been hard done by. Who doesn't? But in my family, one and all share an ingrained respect for authority and the goods and chattels of others.

The seeming ready ease with which those of darker skin complexion or shallower income become obstreperous, suggests to me that they must have something volatile within them, something that may cause hot blood and obstropolousness (as the Greeks say).

All I can say is that we do not carry that gene.

We're accepting of our lot…unfortunately.

Riley Inc

Are you concerned about social issues and corporate ethics? Are you looking for financially sound investments that are socially responsible? Then look no further. Now you can integrate your personal values with your investment objectives.

As of today, I have capitalised on my position as a private citizen and have henceforth incorporated myself. The Riley Inc float has shaken the markets.

As one broker told the Financial Review, "This should help the local bourse climb higher. Market confidence like this is sure to lead to some positive movements in the All Ordinaries, and that's going to be good for the industrials."

This is the sort of micro-economic reform this country is crying out for. Instead of whingeing about what's wrong with the economy, you should all be joining me in corporate Australia.

Rather than hunt jobs, offer shares instead. Forget about your curriculum vitae and character references; what you need is a good prospectus.

Upward mobility is now knocking on the door of the unemployed. If a ,firm won't employ you then go into business yourself. Stop being an anonymous statistic by turning your life into a ledger. Make the next job you create, your own. (How does "company director" sound?)

No longer need you be stereotyped as a bludger or a bum: Once incorporated, you join an entrepreneurial community determined to get Australia working — that is, in the off chance someone ever became unemployed again.

My action was greeted ecstatically by the ACTU. The ACTU national secretary phoned me personally to offer his congratulations: "It is responsible entrepreneurs like you we have been waiting for. The rest don't seem to have what it takes. Thanks to you, we can now see the light on the hill.

"Enterprise bargaining", he told me, "is fine as far as it goes, but what we really need is more enterprise. Unfortunately, the Australian working man and woman do not get the business community they deserve. Given all that we have done for them, the boardrooms of this country have let us down and should be ashamed of themselves."

He then proclaimed passionately: "Workers of Australia, take a stand and raise your own stocks. The share market is waiting on you to show the way. Ethical investment is the hope of the world."

With such an enthusiastic endorsement, Riley Inc is sure to live up to its promise. Australian corporate profitability has come roaring back, and Riley Inc wants a share of the action. If the profit surge continues at its current rate of a thumping 22%, corporate Australia should be ready and willing to invest.

But as finance journalist, Terry McCann, asks, "The $64 question — perhaps more exactly, the $44 billion question — is will it?" Rest assured that Riley Inc believes that if you wan something done, it is best to do it yourself. My company will be integrating my personal values with my investment objectives. Riley Inc takes its corporate responsibilities seriously and from here on in will be investing — in me.

Life of Riley: Tea for two

"Come in if you're good looking."

"I wish you wouldn't do that, mum", I said through the screen door. "I could be anyone. I don't know why I bother to knock."

But she wasn't listening. Stephanie had just learnt that Sebastian was dying.

"I should have guessed it", I said, stepping into the lounge. "You're watching your soap."

"Since you're up, make us a cuppa, will you? And I'll have a Tim Tam. They're in the cake tin on the second shelf."

There was nothing for it. I walked through to the kitchen and did her bidding.

"Let it draw a bit, love", she said from her armchair. "I like it to brew."

"You're a good boy", she said when I bought her the tray. With Home and Away over she could attend to other things. "What would I ever do without you? Oh dear, you know how I dislike drinking my tea from a mug. Never mind — at least it's hot and it's wet. How's Jill and the kids?"

"They're fine", I said. "Are you coming Sunday?"

"Of course, love. I wouldn't miss my grand-daughter's ... eh ... "

"Twelfth, mum."

"Is that it? Twelve years — it only seems like yesterday when she was born. You know, I left school when I was her age. I did. Your gran sent me out to work because we needed the money. It was common then. Not like today, eh? Pour me another cup will you?"

"No, mum", I said, refilling her mug, "not like today".

"But what have we gained? Tell me that. I worked right up to the time I married your father (God rest his soul). You've had the advantages denied us. You and your sister went on to university. And that took some doing on our part, I tell you. And you've done alright."

"Yes, mum. I've done alright."

"But what has a 12-year-old got to look forward to today? Tell me that. Schooling for what? All these educated young people and no one wants to employ them. It makes me wonder what we've gained over the years."

"I've done alright."

"Oh yes, you've done alright. But it's a bit unfair on today's kids. They can't cash in their chips as easily as you could."

"Don't you think it's a bit early to be worrying about her future when she's only just turning 12?"

"Someone's got to. We battled all our lives — your father and I — but at least we got somewhere. We educated you kids, paid off the house, got a nice car and secured a little comfort for our old age. But where's the guarantees for my grand-children? Tell me that.?"

"I'm certain they'll manage", I said.

"You know what your trouble is: you got it too easy. You were too accepting of the world. Maybe at university when you joined up with those radicals ... "

"SYA, mum — Socialist Youth Alliance."

"Yeah, them — you had some heart. But you soon put those days behind you."

"I grew as a person, mum, and changed for the better."

"What a pity", she said, "that the world didn't".

If greed is so good, why can't I afford some?

I was studying the Business Review Weekly this week to see if I got a mention: Ramray, Rathbone, Reid, Richter, Roberts, Roche, Roth, Rydge — but no Riley in the journal's list of Australia's 200 richest. None of my relatives nor kin by default — the Reillys, Rilleys or O'Rielleys — got in either. In fact, I don't think I am related to any of the 775,000 people in this country who earn more than $100,000 per year (and if I perchance were, I am sure to be the black sheep of their family). Mum never mentioned anything about an extraordinarily rich uncle.

I guess that we Rileys (Reillys, Rilleys or O'Rielleys) don't have a head for business. Take my mater for instance. She's 72, widowed and living alone — and I'm still sending her cash so that she can keep afloat financially. I keep telling her that you can do a lot with mince, but does she listen?

My guess is that it's in the genes. I never got ahead either. (With such a spendthrift for a mother, is it any wonder?) In fact, if I want to entertain the notion of joining the richest 200 list, I had better get cracking. The super rich are doing well — so well that to qualify for their club I'd have to earn more than $500,000 per year and do it for the next 100 years to get together the $50 million deposit I'd need to enter their ranks.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I could do it? I simply have no idea. My guess is that I'll have to resign myself to being a shitkicker for the rest of my life.

When you look at the figures, it is hard to believe that they'd miss a few hundred thousand if perchance such largesse were to suddenly come my way. Tallied up, the net private sector wealth in this country comes to $1753 billion. Of this Kerry Packer owns $3.3 billion and Richard Pratt (he of Westfield shopping towns) owns $1.5 billion — and so we go (way) down the list until we get to me and you.

How long this list is and how far it goes down was recently suggested by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra. By their figures, 1.7 million Australians scrape by in poverty. Another 700,000 live in only slightly better conditions so that the proportion of Australians living in or near poverty runs at approximately 17%.

While 4.4% of the population are pulling in more than $100,000 a year (thank you very much) a good proportion of the rest of us are surviving on less than a quarter of that.

And I, dear reader, have spent my life among them. I'm not proud. I admit my poverty. But I can't help feeling a touch resentful. Kerry Packer earns in one minute what I take a week to pull in. And as for my young friends working their butts off for $6 an hour: it all seems a bit unfair, don't you think?

In such circumstances, I begrudge Packer his billions. I do. How is it that he's in the money and I'm not? What did he do to earn it? And tell me: why doesn't he stop now that he's so far ahead? If greed is so good, why can't I afford to be greedy too? Unfortunately, I think I've missed my chance. Maybe it was the wrong sperm — my Dad was all right for a father, but he wasn't a Packer. Maybe I should have studied harder, saved more, worked more overtime, stayed off the grog and given up fags earlier. Maybe it just simply wasn't meant to be. Maybe for the likes of me, life wasn't meant to be greedy.

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