Friday, 7 September 2012

Chewing the fat with...the family guy

The family guy performs a juggling act being a dad, local author, fitness fanatic and town planner.

I don't move in particularly exalted circles, even for Perth, and I don't know many people who have accomplished something significant enough to put them in the public eye. The magnificent Village Kid, until his recent passing, would have topped the list, and he was a horse.

The one exception in my (otherwise sadly lacking in celebrity) friend group is Will Schaefer, who's garnered media attention for both his fiction writing and his lack of road sense.* His debut novel, 'The Wolf Letters’, is a fantastic, pacey historical thriller/adventure novel set in 1930s England and medieval Germany, which has deservedly netted him recommendations from fellow celebs such as Susannah Carr and a spread in Men's Health magazine. There's not much more I can say, except that you should read it immediately and here's the link for the e-book.

(I raced through the book in a single sitting on a long-haul flight, and enjoyed it so much that I asked my wife to take a photo of me reading the book for Will (to use in publicity shots, future Men's Health spreads, etc, you understand). My wife, being my wife, neglected to mention that the airline seat had made my shirt gape in such a way that I was revealing a hefty slab of side-boob. I wondered at the time why she a) cackled to herself as she took the photo and b) didn’t show me the photo. Setting aside the fact that there is a R rated photo of me floating around, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Will has a particular talent for cool chase scenes and in making sure the action comes thick and fast.)

Today Will and I are on one of our bro-dates. We’re having one of our half yearly summits where we catch up and celebrate our successes: on his part, having his first novel published and then sell out, plus a new gig as a strategic planner; me, making it a year into blogging without any defamation suits. This time we’ve decided to check out the sumptuous and exotic sounding food at Lapa Brazilian BBQ in Subiaco.

Quick aside

Here is an insight into how the first part of the day went:

Will wakes up and does 1067 push ups and chin ups listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

Will does some skipping. Daughters Lucy and Maya alternate sitting on his shoulders, swapping every 5 minutes. They each get two turns.

Will sits down for a hearty breakfast of 6 sausages, 5 hashbrowns, 12 eggs (a combo of fried, poached and scrambled), baked beans (two cans if wanting to clear the system) and a pack of old school English smoked bacon; crispy style.

Play with the kiddies. Generally involves impersonating male and female cartoon characters, having kiddies jump on belly, impersonating more cartoon characters.

Quick massage for wife (if requested).

Change into super sexy pink lycra cycle pants and equally sexy tight fitting (three sizes too small) cycle top that emphasise massively pumped, granite figure.

Mirror time.

Hop on the BMX and wheelie down the street on the way to Swaney’s joint. Wave to wife.

Stops off at the local deli for a couple of cheese sausages and a sausage roll (you never know).

Arrive at Swaney’s joint. A bit whiffy. Asks for a quick shower. Gets knocked back.

Walk down to Freo train station. Swaney smelling really good. Will is a bit stinky.

Arrive Subiaco. Swaney sits with crisply dressed and nice smelling Freo businessmen and Will hangs out with (to be honest, 'attracts') Freo’s more “interesting” types.

Will arrives back in Subiaco. He missed the stop off because he was too busy conversing with Freo locals and had to get off at West Leederville. Probably showing off about running from Freo to Perth dressed up as a medieval monk.


Power saluting, lots of power saluting. Another coffee.

Tour of Subiaco. Swaney gets “cramp” 20 metres in and returns to the cafĂ© complaining of “sweating up” and not wanting to smell like Will. Will goes on by himself.

Will returns. Swaney having drunk another 15 coffees is having a heated argument with his alter egos, the Fremantle Doctor and Captain Translator. Will sits in the corner pretending not to know his overexcited and very animated nice smelling friend with a hint of coffee breath.

Will smacks his pal whilst yelling “snap out of it Swaney”. Smacks his pal again and once more for good effect…and then one more time (for not letting him have a shower).

Presentation of new plans and consideration of different strategies. More power saluting.

Will and Swaney arrive at Brazilian restaurant to stuff themselves senseless.

Swaney does first prank phone call of his wife for the afternoon.

Back to the business at hand

Will and I enjoyed a merry afternoon of chowing down on some awesome food, power saluting and shooting the breeze about Freo. A big part of Will’s successes revolved around his running stunts to promote his book. They even led to an article on the back page of Men’s Health magazine.

We couldn’t avoid chatting about Freo and in between chomping away on some succulent and tender beef we moved onto this delicate topic. Will, who takes some time to collect his thoughts about what Freo means to him (and to knock off another piece of beautifully cooked morsel of chicken) begins with:

"The place is like a smorgasbord of potential good times. Just help yourself! Sure, you can shop or have a meal, just like you can in the city or at Hillarys, but you can also visit galleries, beaches, bars of all shapes and sizes, cinemas, quiet side streets with hundred-year-old cottages; there are museums, bookshops, lovely old civic buildings, grand residences perched on the hills, a famous Arts Centre, footy ovals, even a university and thriving harbours full of ships. Culture flourishes here. The number of good bands/musos around Fremantle is astonishing. Recently I read that Fremantle has the one of highest concentrations of artists in the entire country. Nowhere else in the state can boast of having anywhere near as much in the one place."

Gathering his thoughts, a slight grimace emerges on his face and I begin to guess where he is headed.

"Of course, you can make a case for Fremantle being a bit of an underperformer right now, despite the bajillions of good things it’s got going for it. I sympathise to some degree. Wouldn’t it be so much better if the place were several shades safer, especially at night? People who step off the train are greeted with a mess of buses and snarling cars. Businesses look like they’re having a tough time. There are vacant shops all over the place, which, like it or not, makes Fremantle feel like a wheatbelt town that’s long past its best days."

He doesn't linger too long on the negatives before he begins moving back to what he believes can be done to help Freo.

"But it’s people that are players in our memories and our futures.  Places are just the stage. And while the stage needs much work to bring it to its full potential – for example some extra greenery; some free, family-friendly, Council sponsored activities to brighten up the tired squares; and how about a major facelift to the train station to town hall route that guides visitors into the heart of town – the people you can meet in Freo are amazing. That’s why Fremantle means a lot to me and my family."

It's time for a little dessert and before we know it we’ve moved onto the topic of Will’s next promotional event for his book and the latest favourite cartoon character of his two young daughters.


To find out more and to enjoy reading about his different stunts check out his website.
* Whilst holidaying in Germany with his wife's family, Will enjoyed a brief moment of notoriety as 'Autobahn Mann', when he found himself asked by several policemen to please stop cycling on the autobahn. Unluckily for both Will and Australia's international reputation as sophisticated cosmopolitans, there was a news crew close by who captured the whole thing on camera, and the German media had a happy twenty four hours chuckling into their beer steins. This is the sort of thing that seems to happen routinely to Will; I'm hoping that in between the next few installments of The Wolf Letters, he might write a few of them down for The Fremantle Doctor.

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