RTG, Dave Wright, Old Spice cheered Half on his big launch on Friday.
Glebe and the upper room at Gleebooks – what a track, a village, a city village no less, bikes galore, and what a grand sight as our learned academic elders appeared from the inner city mist, with unruly grey curls bursting forth from their erudite scalps, and took their place at the front (except Half of course, you will be pleased to hear he is retaining that lovely clean cut north shore patina, must be his French shaving balm).
Next, in the wake of these academic giants, came some lovely keen young things, bright, bubbly, a touch of unpolished hipster here and there, leaning forward to catch a glimpse of the famous political theorists – and oneoperative – on the track.
Thirdly, observing both our learned academics and their smitten young adherents, were a large swag of washed out middle aged northern European hemp jacketed senior lecturers – with a bewildered, forlorn look, as if they were hoping to catch a bit of the genius that seems to flourish at either end of the academic lifecycle before them, but that had abandoned them in their listless middle years.
And yep, you got it, right up the back, the three ER podium girls in their bags of fruit keen to see their man compete and to knock back the Gleebooks refreshments.
The race started with Half in the hot seat on his super light carbon “End Of”. What ensued was initially chaotic, something like a cross between a 60 minute Madison and an Olympic Sprint, with Half himself confused over the particular chair he occupied at the Uni.
But the race settled down once John Keene, riding “The Death of Democracy”, a crusty old iron tourer with panniers and a giant wicker basket, took the lead, in an energetic 10 minute burst. Half jumped in his slipstream and drafted him for about 5 minutes, before slingshotting off up the Col de Radical Resistance and through Citizens Gap like a man possessed.
Half had just got the top, and took a breath to start his descent, when Geoff Gallup appeared, presidential in his pace, relaxed on a flat bar belt drive internal hub outfit. The wily practitioner of the old give them the centre left trick, took the lead at a very measured pace, keeping a careful look out mind you – as he said more than once – both left and right. “Watch Right” he called, “It’s time”.
The sprint to the finish saw Keene and Half clash briefly, with a rising challenge from Keene, but Half recovered his equilibrium. Gallup and Keene pulled back on the rhetoric and let Half take the whole prize, yes the whole lot – I kid you not – the kit and caboodle – the flag, all stages, every colour jersey – and the podium.
If you didn’t know better, with all the harrumphing and back slapping, you would have thought the race, not just the bike race, was well and truly rigged. Unbelievable.
Not to be critical of Gleebooks, because they did fill us up with wine and beer, but you have to wonder: where was the promised effervescence? You might be able to take the socialist out of the chardonnay, but heaven help you if you try to separate a thinking ER from his champagne.
Regardless, after that performance, Old Spice predicts that it might be the end of representative politics, but we haven’t seen the end of Prof Half yet, not even half of it.*
All in all a terrific night at the velodrome.
* Mrs Half has, and she said we should be grateful for small mercies.