F has a friend who comes to play after school every Monday, while his mum is at work.
L is a delightful child, who I most prize for his sensitivity and compassion as a friend to my son. (I grit my teeth when he walks in the back door, rifles through my cupboard, opens my freezer and says 'I'm hungry! Feed me!' and 'I want a chocolate biscuit', but that's beside the point.)
However, L has one noticable quirk. He loves John Howard.
A few months ago, he first spotted the 'Not Happy John' sticker on my filing cabinet.
'Is that John Howard?' he asked.
'Why does it say Not Happy John?'
'Because I'm not happy with John Howard.'
'Well, he locks children up in the desert when they haven't done anything wrong,' I said. 'Isn't that right, F?
'Yup.' F didn't look up from the floor, where he was sprawled, drawing a picture.
'So, you don't like John Howard?' asked L.
L was visibly shocked.
His mother had already told me that he liked John Howard. She was a bit embarassed. She's a nurse. L doesn't get the sentiment from her. Her theory is that he likes authority, and automatically reveres the person in authority. (He's also shocked by the idea of Australia as a Republic.)
A month or so ago, L was crouching on the back lawn, making BMX-like accessories for his bike out of toilet rolls, when he noticed the 'Still Not Happy John' sticker on my bike.
'Huh!' he said. 'Not Happy John! Not happy KEVIN, more like it!'
His mum told me today that he stood in the line on Saturday pleading with her.
'MUM! Please! Put in a vote for me! Vote for John Howard!'
'He's not as unhappy as I thought he'd be, though,' she observed this afternoon.
'Don't worry L,' I told him. 'You'll change your mind soon enough. You'll be a fan of Kevin.'
'He looks just like John Howard, only 20 years younger,' F's father helpfully added. 'You'll hardly notice the difference.' (He was kicking a footy around with the boys on the back lawn, before he took F home.)
'We'd better!' I said.
L's mother laughed.
'Ah, my son's a Liberal,' she said ruefully.
F frowned and crashed purposefully into him from the side, even though neither of them had the ball.
'Hey!' I applauded the sentiment, if not the action.
I forgot to discuss the election with F this afternoon and now he's gone. The Husband, who spent the afternoon in the back yard with the footy while I worked inside, told me that F was more concerned with the OTHER voting contest this weekend.
'He was very grumpy,' he laughed. 'He said I hate Natalie. I told him that wasn't nice, so he said I hate the voting public.'
On the contrary, I rather love them right now.