The Garlic Warrior


Have you ever felt just a bit suspicious of that extremely white garlic that you see in all the supermarkets nowadays? Jon Doust certainly has. But rather than just shrug and throw it into the trolley anyway, he decided to do something about it, growing his own garlic, supplying it far and wide, and encouraging everyone else to do the same. Now there’s no excuse for eating flavourless and heavily bleached garlic that has been shipped all the way from China.

His many friends would not have been surprised at Jon’s campaign. Doust is well known in his home of Albany in Western Australia as someone who does a lot of things well. His website reckons Jon has been asked to leave more professions than most of us have considered working in, but that can’t be all true or they wouldn’t keep inviting him back, whether it’s as a stand-up comedian, hoaxer, professional therapist, political candidate or author.

Doust is currently appearing at a bunch of writers’ festivals across the country on the strength of his latest book Boy on a Wire. It’s sold so well it’s already been reprinted, and made the final 12 books being considered for the 2010 Miles Franklin Award.

Which brings us back to garlic…

1. What’s the headline you’d most like to see on the front page of a daily newspaper?
Garlic production up 90 per cent — Australia now producing enough to feed a nation.

2. If you could oblige everyone in Australia to click through to one webpage, which one would it be?
Grow your own garlic.

3. What is one thing you’ve always wondered about economics but were too afraid to ask?
Why do so many people study it? For what?

4. When did you last eat a meat pie?

5. What’s the oldest thing in your fridge?
A tin of linseed oil.

6. Has anyone got a climate change policy you agree with? Who?
Yes, my grandfather. He said in 1971: "Jon, they have gone too far with all this development. They should stop, right now, before it’s too late."

7. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
I was six. I thought: I won’t go down there yet to get the hamper from the car. Then I changed my mind and a young thug punched me in the face.

8. What’s the household chore you relish the most?
Washing clothes and washing dishes.

9. What sort of shoes do you wear to work?
Doc Martens.

10. What campaigning tactic do you most want to see in this year’s federal election?
People saying only nice things about their opponent.

11. Nominate a new public holiday.
National Grow Your Own Garlic Day.

12. If you could go tomorrow anywhere in Australia for a holiday, where would you go?
Albany, WA.

13. What’s your favourite YouTube video?
Anything featuring the nymph-like Leonard Cohen.

14. If you were given $5 million, what would you spend it on?
I’d give a big bundle to Bush Heritage, some to other green groups, and I’d start a fund to encourage risky comedy.

15. Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Richard Walley. He’s a Nyoongar elder from WA. He plays great didge, he knows too much, and he makes me laugh.

16. What trivia question/topic will you beat everyone else in the pub to the buzzer on?
Name the five "Good" Roman Emperors?

17. Complete this sentence. I’d like to hear Kevin Rudd say "…"
"OK, I’m a wanker and I’ve got no guts. I’m working on it. In the meantime, Julia can have this job."

18. Name someone in Australian public life who deserves a promotion.
The school principal who insisted on building a smart, green library because he wanted to do the right thing and set an example in his community.

19. In 10 words or less, summarise your food philosophy.
Eat only enough and as close to source as possible.

20. What question should we ask our next interviewee?
Do you grow your own garlic?

BONUS QUESTION: (From last week’s interviewee, Tom Long):

"Can you write something about yourself with all the meanings of the word ‘blue’ in it?"

My novel, Boy on a Wire, is sometimes blue, mainly because it describes my life as a teenager, when hardly a day went by when I didn’t have a blue with my father, so many blues that eventually I got the blues, turned to the blues for solace, tried therapy, worked as a standup comic until I went blue in the face, but it was all blue sky stuff and nothing really changed until, suddenly, right out of the blue, I came across an article that explored the value of surrounding oneself with the colour one loved, in my case, blue, which was not surprising, given I’m a man.

Jon Doust’s novel, Boy on a Wire is published by Fremantle Press.

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