Thus, make a joke at his own expense. You’d have to be okay for Chloe to approve of you. Wouldn’t you? Tick.
And eat a snag. This was the big one. On election day, the trivial takes on proportions large enough to define the future for a politician on the make.
Bill Shorten, Australia remembers, ate the centre out of a sausage sandwich three years ago. Weird. And he didn’t quite win that election.
It was crucial to get it right in 2019. With the cameras trained on him at Moonee Ponds West Primary School – in his own electorate of Maribyrnong, ensuring the pressure was immense – Shorten proved he’d been practising.
It was still a bit laboured, and he used two hands to stuff the thing right way in, and he was wearing by then a suit and pink tie. But there were no unfortunate spills and the technique was judged acceptable. Chloe helped by giggling in the background.
Shorten’s advisers – and Australia – could breathe again.
The democracy snags having been consumed, the knowing around Shorten’s camp turned their nervous attention to the footy. The Sydney Swans were playing.
For those who pay attention to such things, the Swans are among the most reliable of all political bellwethers.
As documented by Fox Footy’s Max Laughton, when the Swans play and win on an election day, a new Labor government emerges. It goes right back to 1951.
Alas for impatient soothsayers, the Swans were playing North Melbourne in Hobart, and the game wouldn’t even start till an hour and a half after the polls closed.
Worse for Labor hopefuls, the Swans poll wasn’t looking good: just one of The Age’s 12 expert tipsters had ventured a chance on Sydney.
Meanwhile, Shorten had ventured beyond Maribyrnong, just north-west of the Melbourne CBD, to cover other bases.
Out at Croydon, in the seat of Deakin east of the city, which Labor is keen on stealing from Liberal incumbent Michael Sukkar, his popularity seemed to be healthier than the critics claim.
Crowds lined up to take selfies with the Labor leader.
“Turn this way to get the right light,” Shorten said, helpfully.
As two women fumbled to summon the camera on their phones, he showed a hint of pre-poll frustration.
“How many people does it take to take a selfie?” he said, recovering with a wink and a smile. On polling day, every vote counts.
Tony Wright is the associate editor and special writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.