Bernie pic

Bernie pic

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

That is why they call him a bookie

That is why they call him a bookie
BOOKMAKER Tom Waterhouse is at again.
The son of leading Australian racehorse trainer Gai Waterhouse is fresh from betting on the Sotheby auction of the Edvard Munch pastel The Scream.
Aussie author Miles Franklin

He follows up with a market on the prestigious and time-honoured Australian literary award the Miles Franklin which carries a winner-take-all purse of $50,000.
The Franklin is more than 50-years-old. An even older wordy institution The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper could not resist a comment on the bookie’s sideline from wagering on reality TV shows, The Voice and Brain Surgery with the Fishmongers. I apologise; I believe the latter one is called Dancing with Stars.
The SMH or the Herald – Sydneysiders are the only Australians who call it that, as there other Heralds in Oz – wrote about the betting on the books in one of its online entertainment stories.
The Herald wrote, ‘The day after the shortlist was confirmed, bookmaker and celebrated literary critic Tom Waterhouse released his list of odds on who would win…’

Oh yes, that bit about “celebrated literary critic” was definitely taking the piss, having a go/ dig at the bookie or having a lend of him. (Alright, you pedants technically that should be the noun loan, not the verb lend; but Aussie slang is what it is.)
The irony – bonus points coming for my using the term irony correctly – is the Miles Franklin yarn would probably have never made it to the SMH entertainment pages if it was not for the quirky gambling angle.
SHE: Darling, there is a story online about the Miles Franklin short-list
HE: Franklin, my Dear, I don’t give a damn.
Five Australian novelists have been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin and Waterhouse tells his punters what the race is all about:
‘…the $50,000 prize for the novel judged to be of the highest literary merit which must present Australian life in any of its phases," said Tom Waterhouse, Managing Director of
Tom or one of his agents copied the description from the Franklin website
It did not seem to trouble Tom or the many entrants what exactly "Australian life in any of its phases" is meant to  mean.
I automatically thought of the eight phases of the moon but the aim of such an allusion eluded me.

Judging this year was further confounded by the trustee The Trust Company formally authorising the five-person judging panel to use their discretion to ‘modernise the interpretation of Australian life beyond geographical boundaries to include mindset, language, history and values’
Crikey, when you add the fact, the winning author does not have to be Australian, the five Aussie scribes are bloody lucky Forrest Gump was not published last year.

Certainly the Waterhouse favourite for the Miles Franklin Anna Funder’s All That I Am, is only fleetingly grounded in Australia because one narrator Ruth Blatt is spending the last years of her life in Sydney around the turn of the 21st century.
Funder’s is a “factional’’ novel, a term the author may dislike but then she is unlikely to be reading this yarn.
The novel is about five Jewish-German opponents of Hitler who flee to London and later one to America.
Tom Waterhouse says the new rules are among the reasons he made Funder favourite.
‘(The new authorisation) is significant given that Anna's highly acclaimed debut novel is set across three continents and several decades.’ (A note for future reference, Mr Waterhouse, it is not Anna. We in the writing game refer to authors and artists by their family names unless we regularly enjoy soy latte with them, a fact we need to disclose.)

The 2012 Miles Franklin winner will be disclosed on June 20 so we have lots of time to place our bets.
In my next yarn on the topic, I will discuss the form of the five finalists.
For more quirky looks at Australia’s place in the universe my book 7 Shouts is available from Google Books, Amazon and affiliates.


  1. Oh yes, that bit about “celebrated literary critic” was definitely taking the piss, having a go/ dig at the bookie or having a lend of him.
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  2. While some smaller traditional types of bookmakers, most commonly found plying his trade in person at racetracks around the Commonwealth countries such as England, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, still exist, the vast majority of turnover takes place through large online conglomerates.

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