At the local Rapid Creek Market this morning I gave Kevin Rudd two tomatoes. I have never given tomatoes to anyone, ever before – such is the seductive power of fame. My grandfather used to give us homegrown tomatoes – by the barrel at certain times of year. These ones were ‘local produce’. Kevin is startlingly unprepossessing by the way of statesmen, but quick as a rat up a drainpipe on the social minutiae that makes glad handing successful.
Our local stall holder handed me the tomatoes and instructed me to deliver them to the PM. I was a little taken aback, then curious about how he would handle it – in his stride. What else should I have expected of a man who had been sensously guided by both hands across a fruit stall and kissed quite deliberately on the face then passed on to the next stall holder who clasped both his hands and brought them to her mouth. Two tomatoes! A dodder. His hands disappeared into the crowd before I could see what he did with them. What an operator. He acknowledged me, took the tomatoes, thanked the stall holder’s call, “local produce for you”, without missing a beat.
Too awkward to be gracious, but unnervingly accurate as he directs thanks and small attentions. He is the understatesman for Australia.