“Thank you, Reverend Pastor Houston, for those prayers and your message about rich men walking upright through the eye of a needle, with or without a camel. Boys, remember the pastor’s encouraging words about how religion and real estate can work together in the name of our Lord.”  By Richard Ackland.

Gadfly: Speech day at St Brutes

Order of service

Prayers: Pastor Brian Houston (plate will be passed around)

Sermon on spiritual uplift: Former Pastor Carl Lentz (supplementary circulation of the plate)

School orchestra: Pastoral Symphony

School hymn: “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (third verse only)

Bursar’s presentation: Mr Frydenberg (TBC)

And now Headmaster Morrison’s annual address...

“Thank you, Reverend Pastor Houston, for those prayers and your message about rich men walking upright through the eye of a needle, with or without a camel. Boys, remember the pastor’s encouraging words about how religion and real estate can work together in the name of our Lord.

“Everyone should join with me in celebrating a wonderful year at St Brutes. We had challenges, of course we had challenges, due to the spread of a virus throughout the school. We had to lock out our cohort of foreign students, teaching hours were longer, staff wages had to be cut, but fortunately we salvaged a little something by way of bonuses for our executive management.

“The drought meant we had to poison all the grass on the oval and sell off what little water we could find to investors in the Cayman Islands.

“Most of the learning experience was conducted remotely, and thanks to our master-in-charge of technology, Mr Stuart Robert, we managed to do that without Zoom or other forms of IT, ensuring we maintained the traditional senior school non-fulfilment rate of 100 per cent.

“People often criticise St Brutes for an alleged lack of vision. Nothing could be further from the truth. I always say that if we have enough get-up-and-go we don’t need to hold a hose. If there’s one thing I learnt years ago when working as a Christmas Santa at Gowings: the wrapping is more important than the present.

“You may have noticed the pleasant ambience we are enjoying. I’m pleased to say that Mr Taylor, our electrician and gas fitter, has increased the temperature throughout the school to a cosy 45 degrees. This should help everyone get through Mr Colbeck’s aged-care and responsibility tutorials. (Only joking – sorry Becko.)

Nurse Hunt (that’s H-U-N-T with an H) has been overwhelmed with work in the sick bay and we congratulate him in keeping the foreign students well away from the rest of us. Because of the virus, we’ve had to restrict accommodation to one boarder per bed.

“There have been distressing rumours concerning after-hours community service work by housemasters Mr Tudge and Mr Porter. I’ve been assured that there is absolutely no truth in these stories, in any way, shape, form or fashion; and furthermore all the photographs have been deleted.

“People who spread those rumours are being told by the media studies teacher, Mr Fletcher, or ‘Misery Guts’ as he’s affectionately known by the boys, to write 100 times: I must not say things that other people shouldn’t know about.

“In an unrelated matter, the staff-only Public Bar next to the laundry has been temporarily closed for cleaning and renovations.

“I want to send a shout-out to our bursar, Mr Frydenberg. He found an old photocopier in the disused George Pell Sacristy and, with the ingenuity for which he is justly notorious, Josh immediately put it to use, printing reasonably accurate facsimiles of your $20 lobsters.

“This initiative got the school out of all sorts of financial trouble. A big thanks, Mr Frydenberg.

Mr Murdoch, the school’s life governor and in-house philosopher, has generously donated television screens for each classroom, all tuned and dedicated to the Sky News channel. This saves on teaching time and expense, as students can watch and absorb lessons from Peta Credlin, Andreas de Blot and other scholars.

“It also means a considerable saving because we can now shut down the Gerard Henderson Memorial Library and devote those funds to more efficient causes.

“Another big thanks to Mr Murdoch.

“I note with disappointment that students have been using art classes to make clay gnomes and to place them around the grounds of the school. They bear a resemblance to Mr Rudd, from our Complaints Department. This is not funny, and anyone caught doing this will immediately be asked not to do it again – unless there are special circumstances.

“There will be a significant staff reshuffle for 2021, which you should hear about now.

Major Dutton will be running the cadet corps. He takes over at a troubled time but we’re excited that he brings with him the learnings he acquired while master-in-charge of detentions and punishment. I’m happy to say that the security equipment he has installed in every classroom will be a lasting memorial to his vigilance and paranoia.

“For rifle practice, Major Dutton has commandeered the Bridget McKenzie Memorial Indoor Pigeon Shooting Pavilion until further notice.

“An old boy, Mr Merritt, has kindly agreed to come in for one day a week to take the legal studies class. He is lent to us by the Rule of Law Institute and the Business Council of Australia. Unfortunately, there’ll be a small charge of $309.99 per 15 minutes for his teaching time; however, his groundbreaking thoughts on the role of forced confessions in criminal cases is worth twice that price.

Ms Cash will move from careers adviser to a new department of elocution, deportment and grooming. Mr McCormack, the deputy head, keeps his role as gender counsellor, and picks up the task of bathroom patrol on level three.

“And I’m happy to report that we’ve found a new role for Mr Abetz, the old German history and language master, who has been out of work for several years. He has been given permission by the school council to set fire to the unsightly Malcolm Turnbull Arts and Crafts Centre.

“How good is St Brutes!

“Now I come to the part of the day where we celebrate achievement – the school prizes.

“The prize for outstanding chalk monitor: Tim Wilson (4C).

“The John Winston Howard Cricket Prize for wicket-keeping: Gladys Berejiklian (11B).

“The Maurice Newman Science Scholarship: Craig Kelly (repeating 5C).

“The Memorial Bronwyn Bishop Merit Certificate: Not awarded this year.

“The Annual Nev Power Award for big ideas: Sprog Paterson (Remove).

“The IPA Award for foreign studies: George Christensen (4A).

“The Rinohart Bursary: Little Matty Canavan (3B).

“The Albert Einstein Certificate for adding up and numbers: Micky Sukkar (6C).

“The Gold St Brutes Statue for best all-rounder: Gratefully accepted by the headmaster on behalf of himself.

“So, there we are. Can I invite you to move into the Tsingtao Marquee for our end-of-year sausage sizzle? And to mingle, to network, to be proud of who we are and to watch some leaf-blower demonstrations from our opportunity student Barnaby Joyce.” 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 19, 2020 as "Gadfly: Speech day at St Brutes".

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