As an occasional speechwriter for the Governor-General I thought I might be welcome in the ABC last night but I was thrown out of the Green Room by a man afeared I might ‘harass’ Joe Hockey after Q&A, which I myself once starred in, though I got on well with Joe the one time I met him, and wrote of him fondly in three books and five columns.
What is going on here? Why am I so abhorred? The Drum Unleashed no longer prints my pieces though I always get more responses to them than anyone but Paul Keating, and I don’t get invited on The Drum any more let alone Q&A which I thought I did well on. I wouldn’t normally raise this, it bespeaks a sense of entitlement that I, a prizewinning columnist, screenwriter, playwright, miniseries writer, feature film and documentary writer and essayist, occasional poet, comic novelist, actor and mob orator of some note, Gore Vidal, Gough Whitlam, Bob Carr and John Ralston Saul among my admirers, am perhaps less entitled to than is Gerard Henderson the world genius, but in this, my eighth decade after my seven sackings by the ABC and my two throwings-out I begin to wonder if I should persist in being nice about it, calling it, as I always do, ‘Our spare university.’
It may go back to my campaign in 1998 to prevent Phillip Adams being fired and the ABC being privatised when Gerard Henderson and John Howard wanted that, or to the ruckus when Sandra Levy didn’t want to do The True Believers and John Button made her, or when I outed Tony Jones as a Liberal, but I feel in a way foreshortened, and unjustly so, given Newsfront, King O’Malley, Goodbye Paradise, Fatty Finn, The Nostradamus Kid, Goodbye Jerusalem, Night Thoughts In Time Of War, A Local Man, The Word Before Shakespeare, Shakespeare In Italy and my reputation as a lively essayist on film and theatre sometimes, not always, as good as Tynan and Anthony Lane. A better explanation than mine might be in order.
Earlier in the night I befriended Bob Katter and we agreed to have a dialogue at Gleebooks on the economy and this may have given me ideas above my station which the good Lord may have punished by my fraught evicter saying ‘I don’t need this. I have a show to get on’ and leading me to the lift.
I’m sorry for shouting at him and Rhys but I am old, infirm, unthanked and seventy.
And so it went.