Here & Now with S Sorrensen

There’s a real sense of expectation floating on the wind. There’s also the smell of cannabis.

Three gunja faeries are still dancing, their green wings flexing, their smiles sparkling in the autumnal sun almost as brightly as the fairy dust on their faces. They continue the special dance that all the gunja faeries danced as they led the MardiGrass Grand Parade into Peace Park. They were followed by other dancers, floats, banners, drummers (of course), and the crowd. They filled the park and listened to speeches from the outdoor stage.

A bloke with a one-metre paper-mache joint sticking up from his hat does a little jig with the faeries and then stands on a nearby chair in order to get a good view of the expected event. A beautiful woman clad in not much except green paint and sequins carries a toddler on her shoulders. The toddler blows bubbles from a pipe. The rainbow bubbles float past the faeries who poke at them, laughing.

The speeches have finished. There’s an air of excitement. Everyone is waiting. For the police.

The police, we were told during the speeches, have agreed to a sporting contest – a tug of peace. Basically, that’s a tug of war using a hemp rope – and is an official sport of the Hemp Olympix.

The police will tug against Nmbin’s own peacekeeping outfit, the Polite Force. It’s a coup for public relations between MardiGrass, which is a rally against cannabis prohibition, and the forces that support prohibition.

I’m a big fan of sport. Not that over-paid, let’s-gang-bang-the-

young-girl, poo-in-the-hall sort of sport. No. I like decent, proper sports like the Bong Throw or the Iron Grower Person Event, which feature true sporting heroes like Gary the Bong Chukka and Bob the Joint Builder and Rachel the Dyed from Ipswich. Here are champions with integrity dedicated to the pursuit of sporting excellence. Some travel from far, far away to attend the Hemp Olympix at MardiGrass. (The French sent a huge team this year. Monsieur Matt du France is the new world champion of the Artistic Joint Roll. His winning masterpiece, La Tour Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower), created near hysteria among spectators with its clean lines and sublime craftsmanship.)

The five members of the Polite Force tug team, in their blue overalls and blue caps with ‘POLITE’ printed in white across the front, are warming up. One Polite officer adjusts his face piercings. One does a squat to put out a smoke. One does a sit-up as he rises from having a little lie-down. One is bench pressing with his bum.

A huge crowd has formed around the sacred hemp rope. Everyone is looking up towards the park’s entrance. Where are the coppers?

During the speeches an organiser spoke of the wave of cannabis law reform sweeping the USA. An American doctor spoke about the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Then came a speech from a person who was indignant about the immorality of prohibition. Fair enough, but as his own words and righteousness whipped him into a frenzy, his speech became a rant, then a tirade, against the police. Someone from the wings whispered in his ear. But still he continued...

A microphone squeals, signalling an announcement and stopping the gunja faeries’ dancing. There’ll be no tug of peace.

Awww. The crowd groans. It’s disappointed.

The police were insulted by the tirade, someone says. As a sporting official, I can understand that. One does not abuse one’s competitor in public just before a sporting contest. That’s not sportsman-like. That’s just rude.

And such behaviour breaks Law 43a in the Hemp Olympix Official Rules and Conditions.

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