Peter Patter cartoon for 22/2/19
Peter Patter cartoon for 22/2/19 Ryan

North Queensland, monsoons and weapons of MAFS destruction

AS SOME of you would realise from last week's column, I spent a rather wet holiday with a couple of friends in North Queensland during the recent monsoonal big wet.

Now, my two travel companions were young journalist colleagues, both of whom were very helpful in putting together The Chronicles of Patter book, so this was planned as a sort of victory book tour of the tropics.

No-one had envisaged the flood of biblical proportions that was to welcome us to the north.

What am I leading to here?

Well, I'm setting up excuses for what is about to follow.

Like a lot of young people, the girls' TV show selections are very different from that of crusty old journos whose TV watching tends to revolve around news, documentaries, sport and news.

Now, we were rained into our motel room at times and at the mercy of commercial television channels as the units didn't have Pay-TV.

"Watch whatever you like," I told my room-mates, not even fearing the consequences at the time.

Did I mention it was raining heavily so I couldn't very well step outside and before I knew it I was on the couch watching Married At First Sight, or "MAFS" to those of us in the know.

Now, I'd like to report that I whinged through the whole first episode and carried on about "what crap TV this is" but, to be honest, within about half an episode I was hooked (unlike any fish which had been one of the primary aims of the tour).

By the second night when we were having dinner with some of my northern family, I was caught looking over mine hosts' heads at the restaurant TV (which my colleagues had arranged to be on the right channel).

One of my young colleagues even snapped a photo of me cranking my head sideways to see the TV.

This photo I feared could be part of future blackmailing and used to damage my reputation, a weapon of MAFS destruction, if you will.

However, I was assured that, much like Iraq, no such evidence would be found.

After each episode the three of us would end up in a discussion on what had just transpired on the show.

These discussions we referred to as "MAFS debating".

And, I have to say there was more MAFS debating going on than what one might think was healthy.

Until I'd watched this show, the mere concept of marrying someone you hadn't met until standing beside them at the altar was to me ridiculous. Still is really.

My mob wouldn't even accept the concept of "Shouting At First Sight".

It takes time before my mates allow outsiders into our pub shouts.

I've known my mate Mick for 40 years and I still struggle to get him to shout at all.

However, going by the ratings, I suspect there are more people watching MAFS than are admitting to it.

However, there is an art to watching this show, particularly if you're over 50.

My method is to close all the windows, draw all the curtains and turn out the lights.

Then I watch MAFS on my iPhone under the couch. And, I use headphones in case someone knocks at the door and can hear the TV.

Some of my mates, disgusted upon learning of my latest television indulgence, tried to tell me that the show was fake, that it was scripted and not reality at all.

"Oh yeah," I said defensively, "But remember, there were those who claimed World Championship Wrestling wasn't real either!"

To prove a point, I had the barman at our favoured Toowoomba pub put on MAFS during one of our weekly catch-ups upon my return from the north and I caught more than a couple of them sneaking a peak at the TV.

"There's more botox on this show than in Hollywood," one mate remarked cruelly.

So, if nothing else, this show had given my crabby old mates further inspiration for a sledging session and before I'd left the pub I think there were a few more MAFS converts…. They just won't admit it.