As for his mother Elaine, heart in mouth he visited her with her de facto husband, the fat oaf she'd teamed up with at the shoe factory. They tried to make small talk in front of the television, but the AFL football was playing and conversation was constantly interrupted by them both cheering, moaning, yelling directives at the sportsmen flying through the air, the deluded pretense that suburban cheer squads could determine the outcome patently ridiculous to Arthur's intellect and he grew mighty restless. At fatso Jack's behest Elaine spent most of the time toddling back and forth with snacks and cans of beer for him to guzzle, rarely asking anything of Arthur's life, his experiences, his hopes. He knew women of her generation and class had never been given a break, she'd been conditioned to slavery, and queers were beyond the pale. Sadly he kissed her forehead, she hardly noticed such was her rapt attention on the football, and he quietly took his leave. As a kid he dreamed he'd one day buy her a mink coat, now he couldn't even give her an Aussie rules sweater.
To this there was a murmur of approval, most of the crowd being Het breeders. Another guy stood up and blushingly confessed,
The crowd replied with sympathy, “It’s only reasonable that some of us would be attracted to our own sex, after all, it’s a brave, new world.”
And thus, after the Con-fest had deflated and decamped, Arthur was invited to Dr. Jim’s Melbourne home for Christmas dinner. There he got to hear interminable excuses and justifications for the good doctor’s calamitous political doings and for all his grumblings Arthur thought he was a wise, well-meaning, big-hearted man. Maybe he’d have thought different if he’d known the old authoritarian had been a Cop for most of his career but, having blossomed into a far-left socialist, was a likeable old mug and Arthur didn’t mind sitting at his feet as if he were another new-age guru. The avuncular Christmas proceedings were jarred somewhat by the wrathful comments of his long-suffering wife, Gwen, butting into Jim’s platitudes by slamming a dish of chicken or pudding upon the table and cursing, “That fucking slut, she’s ruined everything” and “That mole, how could you?! Running around the pool at Kirribili House, in the nude, with that bitch.” All of it in front of their grandchildren, Arthur embarrassed and bewildered, unable to decipher her fulminations until the truth dawned on him: trading in the the old model for the new, the pathetic pitfalls of frail aged flesh.