Jamie Briggs is a mongrel.

The Punch imagines this is how Mr Briggs is looking. Picture: AFP

As my on-air debating partner, Jamie - the Liberal Member for Mayo - and I both cut tubby figures with rubbery jawlines. We were comfortable in our overweight skins. We happily pontificated about politics and confirmed every prejudice about politicians being overfed and under-exercised. 

Watching us, the viewing public rested easily knowing that life was predictable and the universe was aligned.

All was well and serene until one day Jamie went on a diet. He also started to work out ... a lot. Now he looks fit, healthy and cuts a dashing figure. In the process he has utterly betrayed me, leaving me high and dry in the realm of sugary indulgence, excessive cholesterol and multiple chins.

I have always known Liberals to be a fickle, unreliable lot. But even for a Liberal, I could not have imagined such treachery. He may be a thoroughly decent fellow and a nice guy, but unilateral and aggressive weight loss is not nice.

In fact the more I think about it, Jamie Briggs is an utter, utter mongrel.

Needless to say this has left me in a difficult position. I have as much interest in working out as repeatedly beating my head with a large atlas. At the same time I don’t much enjoy the prospect of sitting next to Jamie on TV and have my jabber jowls go up against his chiseled jaw.

And so, with reluctance, I am now a daily user of the cross-trainer.

But, adding to my difficulties, is my job in a foreign affairs portfolio which has me regularly traveling. Thus, maintaining the discipline of daily exercise has introduced me to the gyms of the world and their different foibles.

I enter the international hotel gym with my protruding gut, wearing white runners and my latest airline slumber gear (so as to save on packing). I am as much at home in this environment as Sir Les Patterson is on a catwalk.

At the Addis Ababa Hilton, you are met with the beat of fast music echoing through the room. As you start to stride, before long you notice that you are striding to the beat. And so is everyone else. The thud of the ensembled feet, without knowing it, leads you to become a part of collective performance art.

One morning I entered the beating gym to discover it filled with large men, packing heat,  who were not training. They wandered around the equipment trying to look nonchalant and unobtrusive. But it didn’t work. There to protect the Somali President they struck an intimidating pose. Keen to escape and hoping that fast striding would somehow make the half hour go quicker, I did more exercise in that one session than I did in a week. When it comes to a workout, music is good, fear is better.

Croatian gyms are filled with tall athletic women who effortlessly make the rowing machines hum. These Amazons leave you with a sense of inadequacy and a desire to keep up. You may feel pathetic but the shame produces results. In Bulgaria it is short muscle men who are the role models. Doing one arm chin ups in tight body shirts that threaten to rip at any moment, the look may be different but the resulting shame is the same.

If you are a member of the non-fit, and wobbly bodies and excessive perspiration is not the way you would choose to be displayed, then Changi Airport in Singapore is not for you. There, the gym is located in a main thoroughfare, opposite the airport transit hotel. Large glass windows add to the viewing public’s pleasure. Toiling away in the heat of the public glare you are afforded an insight into life as an inhabitant of a zoo.

Despite the rich culture of the international gym, exercise is not something that I enjoy. After two months, I have perpetual pain in my legs. I stand on the scales hopefully looking for reward and, so far, I am not sure it is worth the purchase price. Two months of repetitive aching movement has given me a measly reduction of three kilos.

Yet it is three kilos that I would not otherwise have lost. And as unsatisfying as it may be it is enough to suggest that I should persevere.

In search of added motivation my subconscious has provided the answer. Often when you are in the midst of strenuous exertion, a single phrase starts repeating in your head. In my case that phrase is simple and it has most certainly kept me going: Jamie Briggs is a mongrel, Jamie Briggs is a mongrel ...

Comments on this post close at 8pm.

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    • DJ says:

      07:09am | 06/09/12

      Classic. Proves the adage: If you want to feel better about yourself, surround yourself with losers.

    • acotrel says:

      07:21am | 06/09/12

      Imagine if Gina, Clive, Jamie and Joe all started to work out and look trim taught and terrific ?  The might even gain some credibility. Instead we have blobs telling us we should tighten our belts and work harder to give them more money for food.

    • M says:

      07:49am | 06/09/12

      I dunno, I kinda like having our billionaire being actual fat cats.

    • TimB says:

      07:51am | 06/09/12

      Imagine if Acotrel ever said something halfway intelligent? He might even gain some credibility.

    • David C says:

      07:53am | 06/09/12

      Well according to Gremaine Greer, Juila could do a few pushups as well

    • the duke says:

      08:22am | 06/09/12

      I dont know—Billionaire Biggest Loser—sounds like an interesting concept

    • year of the dragon says:

      08:33am | 06/09/12

      acotrel says:07:21am | 06/09/12

      “Imagine if Gina, Clive, Jamie and Joe all started to work out and look trim taught and terrific ? The might even gain some credibility. “

      Ultimately it is about the superficial, the form over substance isn’t it acotrel?

    • Black Dynamite says:

      08:36am | 06/09/12

      I won’t be satisfied until Gina starts getting around on a repulsorlift barge so we can refer to her as Gina the Hutt.


    • Al says:

      09:04am | 06/09/12

      TimB - I’m imagining, imagining…...AHHHHHHHHHH!, It’s the Apocalypse!

    • Levi of Bris says:

      09:12am | 06/09/12

      Imagine if Craig Thompson stopped spending union money on hookers and Julia stopped trying to cover it up? Maybe then we would actually have a productive, helpful, fair and open and honest union movement, and we would have half a chance at trusting our halfwit government.

      Don’t you just love it how its fair game for acotrel to have a go at people about their weight? But the minute you mention race or religion that isn’t anglo-saxon he’s the first one to cry raaacist.

      That and his constant rantings about the DLP from the 50’s, Santamaria, workchoices, etc. It truly surprises me that they banned Erick but they continue to let this tin foil hat wearing nutter post absolute crap on here.

    • colin says:

      11:01am | 06/09/12

      “...lobs telling us we should tighten our belts and work harder to give them more money for food….”

      So very true. They are all morbidly obese, aren’t they?

      Talk about your ULTIMATE cashed-up bogans..!

    • Babylon says:

      11:02am | 06/09/12


      When we discovered the scandal that 40 percent of our Mining jobs were given to Overseas workers on a 457 Gillard Government temporary visa, the Government PR machine went to work on the objecting Australians.

      We were accused of being Racist, lazy, skill less and unwilling to travel for jobs in an effort to justify what the Government was signing off on.

      Of course the opposite is true.

      Isn’t that more disgusting? That a Government would assassinate the reputation of it’s people to smother another one of its scandals?

    • Andrew says:

      11:59am | 06/09/12

      I love double standards. Why is it ok to knock the above mentioned for personal traits, but not ok to the PM a fat arse, KRudd stunted or Wong a lesbian? Calling Abbot ‘mad is fine, but Gillard a ‘liar’ isn’t?

      (To be clear, none of those are ok, but slagging the right for being fat isn’t either)

    • P. Walker says:

      12:00pm | 06/09/12

      OMG, acotrel didn’t mention his number one heart throb, read, throbbing acotrel, Abbott.  (how’s that clakker going, aco?)
      Is that because he looks better than you?  Is it because “The (sic) might even gain some credibility”

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      03:34pm | 06/09/12

      acotrel, aka Nicola R, is so bound up in jealousy it is impossible for her to say anything decent about anyone.
      By the by, acotrel, how are you going to re-act to your heroine Julia Gillard’s, Australia’s Most Disastrous Prime Minister, latest back-flip: the cancelling of her Promise to buy & close down those dirty old coal-fired Electricity Generating Power Stations?
      She has done so because she has squandered all our money on other pet projects so there is now nothing left. However, and this is far more important to her, by not closing those Power Stations down she is pandering to the Unions because they have been jumping up and down about all the extra people she would have been responsible for throwing out of work and that would impact on the Union’s incomes and that in turn would mean that there would be less money for the Unions - up to 50% of whose members would not vote for the ALP - to illegally give to the ALP. Illegal? Certainly is. If someone takes my money and then without my written permission gives it to an organisation I would never, ever support they are stealing my money.

    • Stephen says:

      04:08pm | 06/09/12

      Normal people hate rich people, normal people hate beautiful people.  If they all worked out and somehow became more beautiful.  You lot would hate them even more.  Fat cats they may be, but they worked their butts off for years, invested huge amounts of their own money in projects that may or may not of worked out and ultimately we should be thankful for people who are successful in this country as they are the ones who create the jobs.  Most poor low ball thinking people hate on the billionaires, it makes them feel better about their smaller less successful lives.  If we all hate on them together and call them fat names and crazy we’ll all feel better about ourselves.  Works a treat.  Now lets get this class warfare going hard so we can all feel better now.

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:42am | 06/09/12

      Where did you find that picture of me?

      Exercise and eating right is very important. As a great man once said “You can always be thinner…look better”

    • Tim says:

      08:54am | 06/09/12

      don’t you know those steroids will shrink your ability to have the full package?

    • Tubesteak says:

      10:36am | 06/09/12

      You don’t need a full package when you’ve got big guns

      By the time they realise the truth the game is already over, my pants are back on and I’m heading for the nearest door/window/escape hatch

    • Bob Stewart, the Elder says:

      07:59am | 06/09/12

      Jamie Briggs is a Mongrel, Jamie Briggs is a Mongrel, Jamie Briggs is a Mongrel…..............  I think it’s working

    • Roscoe says:

      08:51am | 06/09/12

      Losing weight is about 80% diet and 20% exercise.  Just think about it - an averag chocolate bar is 240 calories.  A 90 kg man would have to run for 90 minutes to burn that many calories.

      Solution? Exercise because it makes you feel good about yourself and watch what you eat very carefully. It sucks that I can’t hoover up a family block of chocolate every day but that’s just the way it is if I want to maintain my weight.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      10:16am | 06/09/12

      “Losing weight is about 80% diet and 20% exercise”

      Got it one Roscoe.  Another way of putting it is;

      to lose weight you need to use more calories than you consume.

    • StuieG says:

      10:29am | 06/09/12

      Maintaining weight is more about diet IMO. Losing weight is 50/50, if your on a diet and giving your body less energy then it uses everyday then that’s going to equal weight loss, if your going to “starve” your body why not make it eat it’s self too. Hopefully that energy you use while exercising will comprise of a lot of fat, pretty simplified way of looking at it I know, but still..

      Also depends on the type of exercise your doing as well. Getting your lean muscle up not only makes you look good but the more muscle you have the more calories you burn, cardio + weight lifting = the way to go, again IMO.

    • Max Power says:

      12:08pm | 06/09/12

      If a 90kg man can’t burn 240 Calories in 10-20 minutes of exercise, then they are not training, but socialising.
      90 minutes to burn 240 calories, hah, they are not working out Max Power style!

    • runner says:

      09:19am | 06/09/12

      Run Richard run, get out of the gym and get some real exercise

    • Borderer says:

      09:24am | 06/09/12

      Seriously if you were keen on losing weight you could, it’s not hard for someone in your position, you have staff, have them conduct briefings while using the cross-trainer or walking (its harder to throw things when you’re struggling to breathe), more particularly control your diet and alcohol intake. Travelling does make it hard, flying is hours of inactivity, ritualise exercise as soon as you land, it helps work the kinks out from sitting for so long, helps adjust sleep patterns and changed time zones.
      Even though in my opinion you are the enemy in regards to politics, I’m sure your wife and kids would like a fitter healthier dad around.

    • year of the dragon says:

      09:54am | 06/09/12

      Borderer says:09:24am | 06/09/12

      “Even though in my opinion you are the enemy in regards to politics,”

      Though a member of the Labor party, Richard has often struck me as a moderate, rational, decent politician.

      How sad that his legacy will be his association with this extremist, hypocritical, ethically bankrupt shambles of a government.

      Maybe the problem is comfort eating.

    • CJ says:

      10:13am | 06/09/12

      “I enter the international hotel gym with my protruding gut, wearing white runners and my latest airline slumber gear ... “
      First world problems pal. It irks me when people like you make all sorts of excuses for being fat and out of shape - and then have the gall to whine about it!
      Try this: small portions of fresh fruit, veges and lean meat. No sugary, fatty snacks AT ALL. Drink lotsa water. No booze. Exercise to the point of sweating for 45 mins every second or third day (no bullshit excuses like “I’m too busy”, or “I travel a lot” or “I’m a far, rich, white guy”). Then get back to us in six months.

    • Stuart Germon says:

      10:37am | 06/09/12

      While CJ’s comment is probably a bit “tough love” for my liking he does make one of my favorite points to people trying to loose weight. NO excuses. Never break that routine,

      Hung over - screw it get out there.
      Sick - screw it get out there ( might make ya feel better )
      Raining, Got home late, Feel down - Get out there.
      Even a leg injury or something, hit the pool instead.

      Keep at it and you won’t try to make excuses anymore.

    • St. Michael says:

      12:47pm | 06/09/12

      @ Stuart Germon: I wish I could link to the Nike ad that is a beautiful piece on excuses.  Over about 1 minute, a black athlete recites literally every excuse under the Sun: I’m tired, I’m not athletic, I don’t want to be here, etc, etc, etc ...

      And at the end he slams two basketballs down onto the floor.
      From a seated position, because he’s in a wheelchair.
      Part of the US Paralympic Basketball team.

      The tag line at the end? JUST DO IT.

    • Rose says:

      10:17am | 06/09/12

      Every now and then it is good to be reminded that our politicians are human and that some of them even have a sense of humour.
      You made my day!

    • Rose says:

      10:17am | 06/09/12

      Every now and then it is good to be reminded that our politicians are human and that some of them even have a sense of humour.
      You made my day!

    • Babylon says:

      11:18am | 06/09/12

      When I hit my 30th birthday I was getting a little paunchy.

      For my girlfriends birthday I had provided Prezzies, Bucks Fizz, bacon and eggs in bed and was expecting the same.

      Instead she gave me an envelope. It contained a series of vouchers for personal training, the first one was that morning in 30 minutes.

      I was upset, it meant I was going to be ordered around by some fit nut, who’d worn away their knee caps exercising, on my birthday.

      Then the door bell rang. I protested by refusing to answer it. Another ring. So I charged out of bed furious and determined to cancel the session.

      I opened the door. Glorious is one thing I can say folks. Absolutely Gorgeous is another. She was beautiful!! Fit Goddess.

      I rushed back into the bedroom and struggled with my speed to get my kit on.

      “You’ve changed your tune!” said the girlfriend.

      “Well you’ve paid for it Dal so…”  :-D

      We went swimming (oh yes), cycling, running and gym-ing together. And I have followed her regimes ever since.

      I loved her and she taught me how to love the challenge for fitness and sport.

      For the past 7 years my issue has been keeping weight on.

      The moral of the story is if you’re struggling to lose weight, rent Fitness eye candy to help you achieve your goals.

    • AFR says:

      12:05pm | 06/09/12


      Your birthday is about eating and drinking what you want, and your GF giving you an awesome BJ.

      Personal trainers can wait, at least until tomorrow.

    • colin says:

      11:57am | 06/09/12

      @Babylon 11:18am | 06/09/12

      Awww…what a touching story…

      If it wasn’t for all of the sexist, banal, ocker bourgeois connotations.

    • St. Michael says:

      12:48pm | 06/09/12

      Troll harder, colin.

    • colin says:

      01:41pm | 06/09/12

      @St. Michael 12:48pm | 06/09/12

      “Troll harder, colin (sic).”

      In other words, “I don’t agree with your point of view, ergo; you must be a troll because my posts are always right, my opinion is always right, and everyone else always agrees with me. If you don’t do these things you must - ipso facto - be a troll. QED.”

      However, I also note that “Trolls” supposedly post “Off-topic”; you’re suggestion seems to be that because you did not engage me about your point of view of what i posted, you just dismissed it. So, “St.Michael; are YOU a troll..?

    • St. Michael says:

      03:00pm | 06/09/12

      Better.  But you still need to be more abusive to be a really successful troll, colin.

    • Office Hetero says:

      04:10pm | 06/09/12

      Crap…Bruce the office gay just minced by my monitor and stopped, looked and started licking it.  Damn that picture!

    • iansand says:

      02:51pm | 06/09/12

      Colin - You mean you’re not trolling?  Extraordinary.

    • Ray says:

      04:57pm | 06/09/12

      I find it terribly sad that what was obviously intended to be a witty and self-deprecationg piece attracted obnoxious and irrelevant comments from the usual ranters who end up arguing among themselves!


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