The vegie patch wars.

The vegie patch wars.Credit:Robin Cowcher

“Is diversity possible when growing pumpkins?” Kevin wondered. “Or are we, once we start growing pumpkins, just pumpkin-growers?”

“Kevin, check your patriarchal mansplaining,” I snapped.

“OK, I will, but all the women I know reckon growing pumpkins as sport is stupid,” he said.

“Well, it’s not. It’s fun. And the fact they think it stupid is a sign of the systematic oppression they’ve suffered in the vegie patch. Disparity is always, always, always a result of bigotry, Kevin. You remember that next time Hawthorn wins a flag. So we’re going to have a special women’s section this year to encourage, well, women.”

James put his hand up. “Way I see it, Anson, the hubbies will grow the pumpkins and win the women’s comp using their missus as frontman.”

“Frontwoman, James,” I corrected him. “And shut up.”

“Righto. Just sayin’. Blokes been dominating the women’s section of the garlic comp for years using their wives as puppets. What’s the bet Jason Kalafatis’ wife, Jenny, wins the women’s pumpkin prize without ever setting foot in the garden?”

Our celebrity judge, a famous cricketer from the 1970s, exhaled and threw his hands up. “Stuff it, I’m out. Find a new judge. Women’s section,” he said. “What next?”

“People of colour,” I answered.

“People of colour?” they chorused.

“We’re way short on people of colour.”

“There’s a correct number?” Brian asked.

“Diversity, Brian. Diversity.”

“But there’s only the Singhs who are members. And they aren’t really very … colourful,” he said. “Marian Singh is an endocrinologist, and Pete Singh’s big thing is being a pisspot, rather than especially colourful. Are we going to have a pisspot category?”

“Yeah, Pete will need talking round. He’s under the impression he’s just a knockabout bloke,” Barry said. “Will he be allowed to enter the colourless section?”

“Of course. Jesus. There’s no place for the segregated pumpkin here. Listen, people,” I said, “if we want the shire to tip in for the new clubhouse, we’ve got to tweak our diversity ratios.”

“So there’ll be a pumpkin prize for Episcopalians, surely, and one for communists, and Muslims, and Young Liberals, child’s play for a Young Lib to grow a Queensland Blue that’s a dead ringer for Peter Dutton.”

“Now you’re being a smart alec, Barry. Forget diversity of thought. Forget Peter Dutton’s eerie likeness to a Queensland Blue. Never mind what the pumpkin-growers believe, or their mental and moral qualities. Totally irrelevant. We’re going to sectionalise our competition by gender, sexuality and race.”

“But I thought race was a social construct?”

“It was, momentarily. It’s not now. That’s gender. Keep up, Brian.”

Barry scratched his head, “Can I put to the committee that a Singh grows a pumpkin same as a Smith?”

“And that’s just the sort of white privilege bullshit we’ve come to expect from you, Barry.” I shook my head. “You’d erase the pumpkin of the oppressed given a chance. Well, the time has come, my friend, when the marginalised pumpkin takes its place alongside your white, male, colonial pumpkin.”

Barry is Jewish, so I felt on shaky ground calling him out, because, TBH, I’m unsure whether Jews are oppressed by white privilege or beneficiaries of it.

“I’m out,” Barry said. Which was a black eye for our diversity ratios.

The oldest committeeman, a veteran of many pumpkin wars, murmured, “The women will be a Trojan horse for transgenders.”

I patted his wooden leg. “Transgender women are women and grow pumpkins just the same as cisgender women, Steve.”

“Well the cisgender sheilas will be hopping mad about sharing their dunny,” he warned.

I sighed. You can see my problem. It’s a bigoted and backward club. But I’ve bravely started our journey of enforced diversity via the pumpkin. And when Marian Singh finally holds aloft her comely buttercup to the cheers of the many, my chairpersonship will be consecrated.

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