F*CK ME NOT THE PLANET

Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH wonders about the propriety of the climate protest by girls from a northside private school.  citynews.com.au

MOST students attending Canberra’s Global Climate Strike rally skipped classes with their schools’ blessing. But should those in charge at one northside private, Christian school be more engaged in students attending future protests?

In a sea of provocative signs, including one featuring Scott Morrison holding a lump of coal, captioned “Old King Coal was a Merry Arsehole”, four female students from the faith-based school in full uniform proudly held a placard which took the “make-love-not-war” mantra of their grandparents’ era to a new level.

FROM an oversharing generation to a member of one who should know better comes this pre-Midwinter Ball overshare story. Former ABC breakfast TV host Virginia Trioli tweeted: “Travelling from Melbourne to Canberra with a thousand yards of tulle on a nail-bitingly tight flight for the Parliament #midwinter ball. Hair and make-up will be done in the lav: Apologies to all on board”.

Within an hour “The Australian” was reporting an in-flight tantrum, alleging one ball guest had their knickers in a bunch en route about the placement of her $5000 dress. The paper later retracted its reportage and made a personal apology to Trioli.

THERE’S a booze ban at Bruce. As the city turns greener, Raiders players got “on the wagon” from Mal Meninga Medal night onwards in order to be clear headed for Friday’s preliminary final against South Sydney.

A “Sydney Morning Herald” piece on coaches’ eccentricities: “The traits that make the NRL’S coaching kingpins a cut above”, attempts to psychoanalyse Raiders’ coach Ricky Stuart. The article, by Phil Lutton, also speculates on Wayne BennettCraig Bellamyand Des Hasler, suggesting many “are deeply eccentric. Some are superstitious, others make a point of dispensing with the mystical and building their empires on relentless work and dedication”.

According to Lutton, Stuart falls into the paranoia group: “His team v the world when Ricky Stuart, master of the siege mentality, is on deck”.

IT’S been a busy week on the hill with all manner of visitors, including a Peregrine falcon called Floyd. The bird came to the rescue of Parliament House horticulturalists who are again drowning in duck droppings and ducking dive-bombing magpies. Federal Parliament’s pristine gardens and forecourt are under attack and Floyd has been tasked with dispersing the menacing Maggies and ducks with diarrhoea.

Three days walking from Collector to protest press freedom… 77-year-old Adrienne Carpenter and her dog Phoebe. Photo: Mike Welsh

A 77-year-old Collector woman and her dog had a message for Canberra on press freedoms and walked from her home to deliver it. Adrienne Carpenter says: “When I heard about [lawyer] Bernard Collaery, I just had to do something”.

Adrienne and Phoebe pushed her “Freedom of the Press” baby pram 70 kilometres over three days, camping overnight in the snow at Lake George.

LAST September Falun Gong practitioners assembled on Parliament House lawns highlighting the widespread practice of human organ harvesting in China. But their protest was thwarted as inside, political practitioners including senators Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson, were slobbering over visiting superstar Olivia Newton-John.

Ditto this week, only this time starstruck pollies were fawning over the likes of Hugo Weaving and Rhys Muldoon in town, again, to lobby for more local content in the local film industry, as the Falun Gong, again, lobbied on the lawns in silence.

SEEMINGLY the country’s first human rights compliant correctional facility, the Alexander Maconochie Centre unofficially goes the extra mile on conjugal visits, with reports of male inmates penetrating the wall between them and the girls since 2017. An internal probe found a male prisoner had jumped into the women’s section in April and attempted to have sex with a female inmate but the action was scuttled after male prisoners watching became overly excited.

THE ABC journalist reporting snow blocking the Hume Highway at Goulburn didn’t put much thought into his piece to camera after Tuesday’s unseasonal weather event. The young man confidently told his audience the “spring dump caused truckies to be severely backed up”!

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HOW NECESSARY IS A REWRITING OF THE BOB ELLIS STORY?

AN awkward silence exists in the wake of the Weekend Australian’s cover story ” A Family Affair”  A Family Affair which exposes the predatory sexual behaviour of several celebrity arts figures in the 1970s. Writer Rosemary Neill says reveals “Growing up in a licentious household in the care-free 1970s had a devastating consequences” for the children of celebrated  poet and playwright Dorothy Hewett.

 “Swaggering, starry identities — among them Brett Whiteley, Patrick White, Martin Sharp, Bob Ellis and British photographer David ­Hamilton — passed through the girls’ lives; many illustrious names from the theatre, film, literary and visual art worlds were frequent visit­ors to the family terrace in Woollahra in Sydney’s east.

How this explosive feature plays out- in particular for the legacy of filmmaker Ellis- will be interesting.

 

I wrote the following after Ellis’ death in  April 2016

By Mike Welsh

Bob Ellis who died at the weekend, has been variously described as “one of the finest scoundrels our nation has had the good fortune of sharing” (Rhys Muldoon); “the Truest of True Believers” (Kevin Rudd); and “he dispensed his views both barrels and full blast and to hell with the consequences” (Everald Compton).  It’s a fair start but fails dismally to describe the essence of the writer/playwright/filmmaker/wrecker of conservative political ambitions. Muldoon probably goes as close as anyone who tried to “nail” the real Bob Ellis.

 Last year I reread Goodbye Jerusalem , the 1997 book by Bob Ellis. In fact it was the second book of Bob’s I’d revisited.  I had also picked up for a second time the more contemporary and less controversial 2010 Ellis political tome Suddenly, Last Winter (An Election Diary)

My review copy of Goodbye Jerusalem is  special because it survived a pulping publisher Random House was forced to undertake after legal action from Liberal MPs Tony Abbott and Peter Costello and their  spouses.

Goodbye Jerusalem  was described at the time as a ‘wake’ of sorts. Ironically, Bob Ellis in public always looked as though he was in a slow motion hurry, possibly heading to or returning from the wake of yet another famous Australia actor/writer/ALP stalwart or sundry other notorious person whom he’d known for years…You wouldn’t know who Bob Ellis knew.

bob ellis books pic

I only knew Bob Ellis from the many phone interviews he generously participated in for my radio program. By far, for my money, Bob’s best caper was vowing to destroy (politically) Bronwyn Bishop by taking her on in a by-election for the Blue Ribbon (Sydney) Northern Beaches seat of McKellar.  

 I knew him by name only, as the author of the play The Legend of King O’Malley and was surprised when a friend assured me that he was regarded as a genius amongst Sydney’s political/intellectual push”. The friend also told McFadyen that “Women wanted to have Bob Ellis’ children.”

TV producer Ian McFadyen
bob ellis election poster.jpg

The essence of Ellis’s eccentricity and storytelling skill is in the Goodbye Jerusalem chapter, Six Degrees of Separation. Bob brilliantly demonstrates his almost unique grasp of Kevin Bacon’s game, in which a group of players attempt to connect a nominated actor to Bacon in as few steps as possible. Discussing the 1993 Fred Schepisi movie “Six Degrees of Separation”  and to ease the boredom on a long road trip with director Michael Jenkins (Blue Murder, Scales of Justice), Ellis takes up the challenge and prunes Bacon’s concept further….to three degrees of separation. And manages to create a uniquely Australian example in the process.

Bob wrote speeches for singer Kamal who corresponded regularly with Sir Donald Bradman. Ellis’s father lived next to the Darcy family in East Maitland and sparred with a young Les Darcy. And Bob worked with the man who made Phar Lap the movie. An impressive trifecta but as Bob was wont to say often…”and so on, and so it goes”.

In almost any chapter of Bob Ellis’s illustrious and colourful life he could easily nail an entertaining result within the allotted six steps of Bacon’s popular parlour game. One of his favourites involves the late Robert Hughes (art critic not sit-com actor). Bob Hughes’ brother is the Q.C. Tom Hughes, whose daughter Lucy is married to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whose Auntie is the actress Angela Lansbury, whose father George Lansbury was the British Labour leader in Britain in the 1930s.

Another book I have read more than twice is Frank Hardy’s Four Legged Lottery.  Frank Hardy’s grand-daughter is the writer Marieke Hardy who has a female dog named Bob Ellis and a tattoo which reads “and so on, and so it goes”. Three degrees of separation!!!