A column about Big Brother

This year’s Big Brother housemates have become infamous for not wearing clothes much. But as The Glebe recently reported, housemate Tim has been wearing a Newtown Jets t-shirt. Channel 10 refused to say whether Tim lived locally when The Glebe’s reporter called, but because I know him personally, I can reveal that he is indeed is a proud Chippendale resident. It’ll soon become obvious, anyway – he’ll no doubt make guest appearances at every RSL bingo night in the area.

Not that it’s hard to pick him as a local. For one thing, he’s a journalist, billed as the ‘intelligent’ housemate. For another, he looks like he spends most of his time hiding from the sun in activist bookshops. But the biggest giveaway, of course, is that he’s a rabid fan of trade unions. Now, I know the revolution is alive and well within a 2km radius of Gould’s Book Arcade on King St, but really, where else but the Inner West can real-life lefties still be found in the wild?

Given his vocal political stance, I thought Tim would be about as popular with the voters as his beloved Labor Party. But since being nominated in the first week, Tim has become strangely popular. Not only have the bigger boys stopped hogtying him and dumping him in the diary room, but he hasn’t come anywhere near being nominated again. But the real shock came last week when I learned that Centrebet was rating him as favourite to win.

So how has a pale-skinned politico become the strongest contender in Australia’s biggest popularity contest? Well, it all comes back to his Inner West heritage, which has given him one huge advantage over all the other housemates: Tim has done his time in the trenches – or more accurately, the terraces – and has become an expert in sharehousing. And surviving Big Brother is child’s play after years of surviving quirky flatmates, mung beans and antique plumbing.

Sure, the TV house is not quite the same as your typical Inner West terrace. The housemates’ main contact with moisture comes via the pool and spa, not rising damp, and the BB house seems to have some strange design of garden that doesn’t involve weeds, empty longnecks and cigarette butts.

But ths same skills apply. Share houses teach you to get along with an extraordinary diversity of people. And while there are personality differences in the Big Brother house, it’s nothing compared to your average Newtown terrace – after all, there isn’t a single hippie, Goth, or pretentious philosophy student.

As a result, the tensions are kept relatively low. No-one has commandeered the lounge room to form an indie band or experimental theatre troupe. No-one has stuck up aggressive signs in the bathroom insisting that housemates not flush the toilet to save water. And no-one’s bringing home bizarre bedmates that force other housemates to make awkward conversation the following morning, or at least try not to stare at their piercings.

The communal food situation is also much easier for the Big Brother contestants. There aren’t any vegans, which means no-one has to pretend tofu isn’t inedible. And while the housemates are occasionally forced to survive on ‘staples’, a meal of rice and tinned tomatoes would be a luxury to many of this area’s tertiary students, who would kill for any meal that isn’t two-minute noodles.

There are some hygiene issues in the BB house. Some housemates regularly refuse to clean up, and they’re constantly running out of toilet paper. For Tim, though, this situation would be normal. Most share houses in the area are only just starting to wash up after Christmas dinner.

The other strains of the Big Brother house – the heated arguments, bitching and constant sexual tension – would be a walk in the park for Tim after years spent living in Chippendale terraces. So it’s no wonder that the housemates and viewers alike have warmed to his relaxed, humorous approach. With this much popularity, Tim may not only win Big Brother, but could easily be drafted into the ALP leadership. He’d certainly win more votes than Kim Beazley.

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