After the launch of the Human Brochure, and after we 101 humans had started to get to know each other through social media and through meeting ‘IRL’ (in real life), the idea of attending events started to get more exciting! Once we had been issued with our orange wrist bands that designated us as official ‘humans’ we began attending the Discovery Events that we were invited to attend as part of the Human Brochure experience.
The first was an evening at Old Parliament House, which now houses the Museum of Democracy. I have been to the building before, to attend a ceremony where my ex-husband received medals, but hadn’t spent time there otherwise. The staff put on a wonderful experience for us.
Apart from the amazing canapés (beetroot and goats cheese marshmallows were a major winner – I know? Who would have thought?) and lovely trio playing music, they had set up three different experiences, and our group was randomly split into three. My group was the “Mixology” group who were taken to the Member’s Bar. This was the bar where Members of Parliament could meet for a drink, and where non-members were not allowed. This meant that they could have a drink and discussion without worrying about whether there were journalists in the room. To emphasise the way the Old house worked, compared to the ‘New’ Parliament House, we were met in the bar by Michelle Gratton, a long term and very impressive political journalist, who shared her stories of working in Old Parliament House, and the interaction between the journalists and politicians in those days, compared to the environment in new Parliament House today. It was fascinating!
Ms Gratton talked about how the politicians and journalists had a code of honour where an ‘off the record’ discussion stayed off the record. In this way they were able to socialise and attend parties together. While journalists were not able to attend the Members Bar, the Members were able to attend the Public Bar, and often did. One of the points that really struck me was that the public bar that was built for ‘New’ Parliament House had closed very quickly through lack of use, and that area is now a day care centre. The change in the associations between journos and pollies was highlighted beautifully by that story.
The barman then mixed a ‘Menzies Martini’ for us, telling us the story of the Prime Minister it was named for, who liked to mix drinks for his guests.
He also impressed us by pouring flaming brandy from jug to jug to create a lovely warmed brandy drink. Freshly shucked oysters from Tasmania, and the south coast of New South Wales were served, and it was all quite remarkable!
The other groups had equally wonderful experiences, either with political cartoonists who told of their experiences, and drew caricatures of them, or in the kitchens with a chef who taught them how to prepare some amazing dishes. We all agreed that as a first event they had set the bar very, very, very high! We even received a ‘show bag’ to take home, including all sorts of interesting publications and information. This is the first of many places that I need to go back and spend more time exploring. Having an inside story and a taste of the history is enough to whet my appetite to want to find out more!