A Night At The Opera

It took forty-five years for the notices to come in, but the standing ovation in the Concert Hall of the Opera House last night, fuelled greatly by my rancorous baritone, proved Autopsy On A Dream a considerable success, and the ABC’s recovery of it from oblivion (the BBC after litigation chopped it up with a meat cleaver, but various bits of it survived from an earlier cut, and some of the sound track, and I read out the narration again: after forty-five years, take two) was a Third Age triumph for John Weiley, its auteur, who, having been fired from the BBC for it, went on to invent IMAX and make films on the sun, the Blue Mountains (burning as we watched) and Antarctica, and the memorable Iron Man feature film Coolangatta Gold, for whose title he paid me fifty dollars.

I have not felt so affirmed since the opening night of King O’Malley in May, 1970. My roommate of 1962 Ian Masters (brother of Roy, Chris, Quentin, Deb and Sue and son of Olga) edited it, my mentor Donald Horne appeared in it (his lost voice dubbed by an actor), my sleekly handsome campus rival Ron Blair and the young Harry M. Miller, who was snide and funny in a familiar, stirring way. I was up to my armpits in Utzons by a long night’s end (one said she lived near me for years and glimpsed me often but dared not approach me) and hopeful perhaps of getting an ally for the Rudd miniseries which needs from an Australian broadcaster a single sentence alleging they would interested to read it.

Curious, the tricks Time plays. What would have seemed in 1968 (the year of Civilisation, The Ascent of Man, Monte Python, Brideshead, 2001, Jesus Christ Superstar, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate and Hair) no more than an adequate documentary, seems now a miraculous apparition, a Sphinx rising out of the sand. What seemed then, in Muggeridge’s and Murrow’s wake, but a vigorous, editorialising narration pungently snarled by an angry young man of the day, seems now an Old Testament eruption of worldly wisdom from a couple of 26-year-olds, and an editor barely 23.

Like World War 1, the shredded Utzon vision hangs long in the national memory, as does its dim dread boofheaded Haig-like butcher, Davis Hughes, a Rushmore-craggy granite-witted precursor in sub-simian reasoning to Barnaby Joyce. To see him grumble of squandered hundreds of pounds is to hate anew those muddying saboteurs of our glorious Labor enormities which, like the Opera House, made this, for a while, a country we were proud to have been born in.

And now, no more.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Congratulations Bob - for both then and now. I hope you felt as proud as you sound.

    Good luck with the Rudd mini-series. Who would play Murdoch?

  2. “…the Blue Mountains (burning as we watched)…”

    A subtle insertion Bob.

    Was Gerard Manly Hopkins (1884 - 89) one of the first English poet greenies?

    Last stanza from his poem Inversnaid:

    What would the world be, once bereft
    Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
    O let them be left, wildness and wet;
    Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

    • 1844 - 89. I doubt even The Bard could be that precocious.

    • “…the Blue Mountains (burning as we watched)…”

      That startled me too, Chris, Bob for sure has a way with words…
      Still laughing at his struggles with tea making at his Canberra lodgings :lol:

      • Helvi, yes, I do remember, green tea with a slice of lemon was it not? Was it a knife Bob was looking for?

        That was the (seminal) moment when a certain poster by the name of Gerard Oosterman came to my attention - recommending cooking fish on the bottom of an iron.

        I knew immediately that something (unique) was up and engaged. All the way through to Gerard’s remarkable tale - Frank’s Story - one of the wittiest/saddest/insightful tales I have ever read. And a great commentary on how the Dutch art ‘grant’ system works too, I’d heard about it but never understood all the ins and outs. Fascinating, wish they had adopted it over here. Perhaps the title for another local poem - “Grovelling for a Grant.”

        Fair play to both. Cheers.

        • Thanks you Chris for the wonderful praise of ‘frank’s story.
          Franks has a permanent limp from having jumped off Iron Cove Bridge in Sydney while he was under the care of Callan Park mental hospital. He survived.
          He was born exactly a year before my birth.
          At the moment he is under good care, has his own room and own TV. He gets his feet, teeth and all sorts of other physical, mental and medical needs taken care off.
          Right now he is being visited by my brother from Brisbane.

          • Gerard, it was not my intention to ‘flush you out’, but more to flush the other readers out. Really, to me at least, your story is the story of post-war Australian migration itself. Certainly, many have migrated to this raw-boned country, but few have the ability, the gift, to tell it so well, and in little over 70.000 words. Cheers.

  3. Donald Horne was one of my lecturers in Political Science in the mid 1970s, an excellent fellow in many ways. ‘His Excellency’s Pleasure’, and ‘The Lucky Country’ (intended ironically) are old favourites.

    Congratulations on the Autopsy on a Dream performance.

  4. I am looking forward to watching it on Sunday: don’t forget everyone, ABC 9:30pm.

  5. My friend Jaimie Leonarder appears in this. I look forward to seeing it on Sunday night.

  6. Regarding the mini-series, Aboriginal media will want to pick it up. Kevin is still very popular there. Something to do with the Apology, I guess, and the fact that he was shafted.

    Yesterday I rang up a local Aboriginal HRO which is a client of mine. It is staffed by about 10 Aborigines, 9 of them female. I was talking about their facebook page and mentioned that they had a lot of new ‘friends’, including one J Gillard. The woman screamed back at me “We don’t want her! We want the other one! Kevin!”.

    They would have seen Roxon yesterday and I imagine they hate her as much as I do for her obscene, sanctimonious, ugly treatment of smokers. I wouldn’t say it, but they would certainly call her a cunt. They love that word, especially the women. It’s not nearly as bad a word as bastard.

    • Byron, I don’t know if your are familiar with Raymond Carver’s “Why don’t you dance?”

      I am neither gay nor homophobic, but fair dinkum, with a few in me I reckon I could put it to you, “Care for a dance?”

        • You know Byron, I had my own special Ray Carver moment once. It was in the lounge bar of the Pine Creek Hotel (NT) c 1997.

          It was a Friday night and things were really hotting up, the miners were spending, the hard liquor was flowing, the smell of gunga permeated the fine tropical night, music rang out from the jukebox, people were dancing but there were two men to each woman and luck ran bipolar but someone was going to get lucky, a man and a woman.

          With a triple scotch on the rocks, me abstractly leaning against the refurbished wall, the music belting through my head…

          The missus had probably survived her illness when the internal abscess broke and pus ran down her legs in the Katherine supermarket and the stench was terrible but the streiods, the steroids were working, yeah, she was gonna live, it had been a tough long low period and she said to me on this Ray Carver night “Get outa my sight, go get pissed at the pub you ugly big bastard and I immediately did what I was told.

          I was day dreaming about all this good healing shit when suddenly a bloke, about my height with a grin on his face, said to me “do you want to dance,” and somehow the whole one hundred people or so in the raging room, all seemed knew what was going down and I crazily allowed myself into his arms and he waltzed me around the room, like was real hot chick and the entire Pine Creek Hotel went wild and really cranked up and the nice young girl who worked in the Council office then asked me to dance and I got really really drunk and in the morning my wife had certainly improved, the twenty or so ulcers on her legs the size of twenty cent pieces were filling in, granulating away from the bone and I told her about what I remembered of the night and she said to me “lets dance”, and we danced, and we danced slowly and deliberately, around the tiny kitchen, very carefully so as not to hurt her legs.

          Don’t be embarrassed Byron, if the river of life sweeps you away in a town like Alice…

          • apologies for the odd error in grammar…

          • Good yarn, chris.

            If I may, why were your wife’s legs ulcerated? I thought we could deal with these things via antibiotics, sulfanilamides and so on.

            The old man had large scars on his legs from untreated tropical ulcers contracted when a POW in Burma, but you’re in Oz, eh, with 1st world medical facilities?

            • Firstly Canguro, great rave from you at the nighthawk hour, passion flows in those small hours…

              Oh Robert Crumb, did you ever see that extraordinary doco on the Crumb brothers, all three, the one who swallowed string thereby giving himself a regular rifle cleaning style pull-through, or the other brother, who’d read everyone from Spinoza to Kant and invented an indecipherable language and filled page after page, before finally succeeding in killing himself by drinking some ugly cleaning mix?

              My wife’s leg ulcers were initially from bites, possibly fleas when feeding our (aboriginal) neighbours ducks and they went from there. The Pine Creek hospital couldn’t deal with it and then the Katherine medical centre took over as the infection spread. She then developed some unusual toxicity that her Katherine doctor sought opinion on throughout Australia and the condition got that dangerous I took her on an emergency run down to Katherine in the truck as she lapsed in and out of consciousness next to me. Finally a specialist in SA came up with answer and steroids were used, the most powerful drug on the planet back then and this swung the pendulum our way thank God. Hair raising stuff.

              BTW leprosy is not unknown in remote top end communities and of course melioidosis also rife, very difficult to cure if you suffer from diabetes. My middle son’s allergy reads like a horror story too and he finished up on the same steroids from an entirely different problem but that’s another story. Tough place the tropics, not for everyone. But I love it up there…

              • …and both our fathers fought in Burma, my old man was based in northern India flying Mohawks until the spitfires were delivered… I recently purchased a book from Canada - Mohawks over Burma by Gerry Beauchamp that references some of my father’s exploits (155 Squadron) and has several photos of him flogging along in the flight in H. (Babe Hunter)

                • ummm… slight correction to the story.

                  Your father arrived in Burma in the cockpit of a fighter plane, mine in a cattle truck along with thousands of other allied prisoners.

                  I’ve always wished it were otherwise, but then, if it had been I wouldn’t be sitting here and writing this, given that he met my mother in the Daws Rd Repat Hospital in Adelaide on his repatriation.

                  From such is life… :sad:

                  • Don’t worry, our fathers almost met. Lloyd had to ditch his spitfire well behind enemy lines on one occasion. A paddy field job, got separated, ran out of gas. The Burmese kept him hidden from the Japs and he got home safely (three weeks). His parachute number was 13 and he never used it once, but a lonely life in the sky… He was very young, just 19 over Burma. Given time he seemed to regret his part, mowing japs wholesale in strafing/light bombing raids. He’d begun to think differently, even dwell/speculate on the wives, the families he’d deprived back home in Japan. His hatred withered over time, like in the poem that is in TT archives about old Bill of The Kokoda Track. A great friend of mine, still going strong…

              • Thanks for the reply, chris. You’ve led an interesting life…

            • Canguro,
              I worked with a very experienced physician who was perpetually amazed at the resilience of some and the frailty of others.

              Medicine is a science. Some hypotheses proven, others not.

              I remember a patient who had enormous deep tracking sinuses down each hip.
              He was being eaten alive by them. He would present twice a day to have them redressed. The amount of pus they produced was overwhelming. He was being eaten alive. Yet he went on. No fever, no pain, not “unwell”.

              He didn’t respond to any treatment based on an infective or autoimmune

              There is so much that isn’t understood.

              Doctor’s won’t tell you- but they are scientists and sometimes you are the experiment.

              • Hi K.b., up north we were (medically) flying by the seat of our pants, doctors included. The aboriginal bush nurses like Aunty Helen Lxxxx OBE (our recently departed former neighbour and relative) said, when I asked my young son to drop his pants and his cock and balls were wheelbarrow jobs, “Mango allergy - get him back to the hospital quickly.” At the hospital they’d had no idea - thank God for Helen, she used to take us into the bush along with Aunty Rita and they also taught my wife about womens’ stuff.

                When my older brother, an oil/gas executive, came through on a rare visit, I took him bush to Umbrawarra. He said he’d never seen a kangaroo in the wild, but then he never stopped anywhere for more than about five minutes.

                BTW, TB is a massive problem in the communities too. Billions are made from mining their land?

                • Hey Chris,
                  Don’t even start me on the mining companies!

                  Remember when those mining exec’s went down in that plane crash in Africa, and it took days to locate the crash? It was around the time of the mining tax push. When the mining exec were wringing hands, saying they would have to go elsewhere because it would be too expensive to stay in Oz.

                  I wanted someone in the government to say. Go. Go to a Third World country. Deal with the Third World infrastructure, rescue services, medical care and political instability. Go!
                  As if the miners would have. As if mining is just like setting up a factory. Underground resources aren’t as plentiful and easy to exploit as human ones.

                  Those in government were shit poker players.

                  I’ll leave my opinions on the dismissal of “old fashioned” knowledge and treatments for another day. The shorthand is if it’s sound, cheap and effective, there will be some bodgy study with a tiny sample size in a huge glossy folder telling you how some expensive product is better to treat such and such.

                  • “Those in government were shit poker players.”

                    Regarding mining resources and the Big Swindle thereof, you are 100% correct. Credit in the dirt is worth infinitely more than printed notes in the bank. We’re politically as weak as piss. One person earns more than a city? Without the collateral in the dirt, ‘our’ dirt, they’d be like the rest of us, poor to moderately wealthy. The age of the GREEDY PIG, has to devolve. But I keep my purpose built concrete boots handy, they are my ongoing conceptual remark about the true state of affairs. At bottom these people are ruthless, unbelievably so.

    • How gutless and self-interested! Beazley, Latham, Gillard, Shorten or Albanese for that matter would
      have made a national apology to the Aboriginals.

      It was an open festering national sore. And would have been the first business of government for ANY Labor PM after years of Howard and his pathetic pettiness. But anything to get a cheap shot in, I guess.

      Re smoking - how many have you seen die and dying of COAD, CVA, IHD, Lung Ca? I don’t mean relatives.
      Ever thought about the collateral damage to HCP’s who have to sit with a man chain STOKING for hours until he died? No, didn’t think so.

      I’m sure some of your best friends, blah, blah BS.

      Any measure to make it less likely the next generation will suffer is fine by me. Go fuck your inconvenience. You yuppie prat.

      Better still go live in Hungary. The health minister there loved smoking. The early cull was better for his budget bottom line.

      • Ah smoking what a curse who over sixty doesn’t remember the ‘Marlboro Man’ he died of lung cancer.

        When interviewed, about thirty five years ago, I think it was by U.S. Sixty Minutes, he tells of a meeting with the heads of the tobacco comp.

        To quote roughly.

        Yea I was at a meeting with all these executives and I asked one of them, I noticed nobody from Marlboro smokes.

        The CEO’s reply was,

        We leave that pleasure to the Niggers, Wet Backs, Wops, and the stupid poor.

        These syphilitic fuckers are the friends of the Liberal party. Labor? I don’t know if they were taking the political donations. If they were they are scum as well.

      • Yeah, sorry to divert the conversation. Bob had a great gig and I can’t wait to see it on Sunday night.

  7. Congratulations Bob.

    Affirmation for the right reasons is so empowering, and you’ve surely earnt that right.

    I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s program.

  8. I do wish they gave you a radio show - your voice perfect for broadcast and it would be highly entertaining to hear the comments rather than read them. 2GB perhaps, in the interest of balance?

  9. Narration by RJK Ellis. And very well done it was. Thanks Bob.

  10. gerard oosterman

    Well done Bob. Didn’t know your voice was or still is so sonorous.
    I wonder if Scott Morrison is at all related to Mr Hughes? They seem strangely akin in their hypocritical attitudes, no doubt honed to perfection by endless shimmering above the asphalted suburbs of hopeless ennui and slatted venetians.

  11. Well done, Bob, a very sexy voice, Abbott must be jealous.

  12. Never Enough Ellis

    May the offers roll in, Bob. Loved the early student shot of you.

  13. Well done Bob. Not only do you walk the walk, you talk the talk.

    You should have done World at War instead of Lawrence Olivier.

  14. I forget who coined the phrase,

    The Opera House is like a load of old shells trying to have their way.

  15. The above for you DQ. Forget the music. Feast your eyes on the girls DQ the girls man, the girls.

    Do you remember those heady days DQ?

    There you were in the crowd DQ, Short back and sides, pimples, and in trousers and patent leather black shoes and,a white shirt your old mum spent the rent on. You like Frank wasn’t getting any was you DQ? You couldn’t wait to get home to have a quiet crank after the concert. Frustrated teenager was our DQ. I reckon you probably got as far as a fondle DQ, then you had to ruin the attempted union by boring some girl to death with a little Bach.

    OTOH, there’s Phil, foul mouth, blue jeans unwashed for a week, greasy hair, and a studded belt. Up to his nuts in guts. That’s female guts btw I got in first.

    I bet you don’t get them crowds when your down listening to a little baroque or the classics.

    The sheila at the Proms you want to get horizontal, Lady Penelope rotten crutch, has a kisser like nine miles of bad road, and legs like an under fed chicken. With a breath that smells like a penis that hasn’t been washed for a month.

    Don’t get all intellectual on me DQ. I can read you like some of those briefs you get paid a kings ransom for defending/prosecuting ???. :)

    • Why are you doing this? Why are you, against the rules, attacking with personal detail someone you do not know?

      • Oh please give me a break, like I’m the only one that takes the piss on here.

        It’s called return fire.

        At least I do it open, unlike others who hide their snide remarks in language they think only they can understand.

    • Nup. In 1978 I was tall long haired intelligent and handsome, and getting quite enough thank you. I went to Midnight Oil concerts, Lou Reed concerts, Roxy Music Focus Jethro Tull . . .

      Whilst you were rooting sheep and so drugged up you thought they were women!


      (ps only the long-haired bit has changed )

      • Sure you was DQ the hair I believe, but intelligent, don’t milk it.

        • Give DQ a break Phill. He was tall at least. :smile:

        • Anyway, I don’t see you Phill attracting any sort of woman, perhaps a midget transvestite from a freak show, but not a real woman with a warm heart.

          Certainly not a quality woman remotely interested in a self proclaimed greasy-haired, dirty clothed, crotch smelling, muso-copper with a foul mouth and a predisposition to peppering his retorts with F-K all the time and demonizing anyone with an appreciation of art or music higher than his standard which can’t rise above that of the gutter.

          Its a serious handicap.

          Seriously, do you imagine there would be any woman, black or white or brindle that would be inhabited with such a sense of low self worth that she would stoop for so low a character as your good self? With his studded belt? That detail made me laugh…

          A personality challenged misfit from WA? Really?
          I think not.

          • Jesus Frank if you can find one, I don’t see a problem at all.

            Anyway what’s your problem with a transvestite midget?

            Think about the benefits Frank, plus she/he would have the added bonus of being able to stand a middie on her/his head.

            Frank, you’ve got to start thinking outside the box. A bit of lateral thinking Frank…

            • Awww, shucks, all right Phill. You got me there. I was on a roll…

              • Be careful Frank you’ll incur the wrath of the

                The B.E.W.G.

                AKA the,

                Bob Ellis Wowser Group.

                • Let me see if I got this straight: you’re going to side with ‘the mortal enemy’, those you have ‘utter contempt’ for so as to share a giggle over your false claim of Left wowserism on this blog?!

                  You gotta be fucking kidding me phill.

                  • Yapper’s foil, Table Talk’s own Stockholm syndrome.

                  • Judd , Jesus H Christ take a chill pill.

                    If I could be serious just for 1 minute.

                    I don’t like conservatives, I fucking hate them.

                    No second thoughts, there is not a word in the English lexicon, that could do justice to how I really feel about them.

                    They are slime, pure and simple.

                    But you see, Frank like the other half wit Ryutin, amuses me, I like to get into his head.

                    Frank is taking the piss, it sticks out like dogs nurries.

                    He is winding people up, and it is obviously working.

                    There are contrary to what you believe,

                    wowsers on this blog. BTW I could care less.

                    I fight for the progressive cause, with my time and my money, I don’t just pay it lip service. o/k?

                    • Phill,
                      First, My mate Stevie from Redman’s Road, (heyo Stevie, nice gaff), said it best; “oi son, yew ge’in’ ben’ over”.

                      Second, it’s the 3rd time you’ve called “wowser” on this blog. Turn your cards over phill, I’m calling you out; who are they? Name them. Let them respond to your charge.

                      Third, it’s the second time you’ve thrown that “lip service” jab.

                      You think you’re the only one here that contributes? You presume to call people out in ignorance?!!?

                    • Wrong I have not used lip service before. Listen in, I don’t have to keep explaining myself to you get it?

                      I don’t presume anything I know.

  16. Fantastic stuff Mr Ellis.

  17. What a journey!
    I think I had almost forgotten how those times were.
    But we survived those times. Well, many of us did.
    The cynic in me recognises some disturbing similarities with today, but we will survive them as well.

    • Sad tho Mark that when Australia takes one step forward, we then promptly (under Liberals) take two steps back…what’s happening now I would say THREE steps…

      There seems not to be much idealism in this country, it’s always about money, how much things cost…
      Bob’s narrating was excellent but watching the show made me feel very sad…
      Our mining riches should get us at least one ‘opera house’ erected each year.

      PS. Colin Lanceley used to be GO’s art teacher…

  18. I don’t have a TV so I’m watching it now on the ABC website. Five minutes in… Bob Ellis 1968! Fuck me Bob- you look great. That fire in the eyes, that shirt and tie. :cool:

  19. What a MONUMENTAL favour I did myself last night. The macabre story of the Opera House, followed by a recitation of a nasty trial for pack rape involving elements of the larrikin pushes of old Sydney Town, I got up later thinking, “does nothing substantial ever change?”

  20. “does nothing substantial ever change?”
    I thought the same ,Paul. Only Bob Ellis has kept his youthful sounding voice :wink:

  21. It was fascinating stuff Helvi, I think I remember you saying you were in Australia from Finland for this era so you have watched it all unfold also, the whole panorama.
    But to make sense of it takes a long time with me- as an aussie, too “close” to it all?
    Which is why the doco and it’s intro were so important as to attidues and their formation.
    The other doco, going back a hundred and thirty years, offered a second cultural view to help mediate and meditate on the first and second as a sequence, now that we are in the Abbott era.

    • There was enthusiasm in the air, people were protesting, there was a feeling of good things to come…and then Utzon was gone and some David Hughes became the expert in building Opera Houses…and now we have Abbott, Hunt, Hockey and Morrison…WOW… :cry:

      • C’mon Helvi, you have to admire Tony Abbott a little bit.

        the people’s firefighter working the midnight to dawn shift fighting fires.

        I was sleeping in bed, snoring.

        Tony was driving a truck, keeping Australia safe from bush fires.

        He deserves a poem. A pat on the back. He’s a dinki-di Aussie bloke. He’s won my respect. Can he not win yours?

        • …but do we have to pay for all this volunteering ?

          That’s the question, the respect has to be earned.

        • Frank, they must have ummed and arrred for a long time. The PM’s team. Would it look like nothing more than a publicity stunt? If something happened to the PM was it worth the risk, Harold Holt all over again.

          The Thick of It would make a meal of such a situation.

          I think Tone would have done it just to get away from the office and the entire team of fuckwits that make up his cabinet.

          Being burned to death or spending another twenty minutes talking to Morrison or Abetz? No contest.

          • I think you might be right. Abbott is addicted to all those hormones he produces when he’s exercising too much.

            Q: How do you make a hormone?

            A: You don’t pay her.

          • Well Allthumbs, in the name fair play I’ll give it (a poem) a go. The Labor party is generous hearted and would certainly wish Tony continued safe passage in his most dangerous line of volunteer work. So:

            Tony the Firie is our man,


            a man in whom respect does command,

            with steel in his grip,

            glint fight in his eye,

            he’ll risk his good life

            and for you he might die.

            As far as I’m concerned if Tony Abbott can make his way onto a firetruck and attends fires, fighting them where necessary, then the ‘stunt’ status is suspended
            because reality has taken hold. A certain country service fireman once spent twelve months in a major burns unit after fighting a grassfire heading directly towards our old farmhouse (down the Rapid Bay gully). He was a well respected farmer from our district. It’s seriously dangerous work on a firetruck where firemen/firewoman are often subject to extreme dehydration and total exhaustion. Roll-overs, firemen becoming separated, it’s all part of the territoy. Like the Ambos, the Firies are a brotherhood - a band of brothers and sisters.

            From an historic perspective, being a Firie fits Tony Abbott’s character ‘assertion’ to a tee. Fair play to him.

            ‘Tony’ the Firie is really your local Firie. The man or woman you know.

            • I came down on Abbott’s side Chris in regards to doing what he did.

              How do you think that compares with Rudd playing piano while children around him sang?

              Possible Lib advert:

              Footage of Bill Shorten on his mobile phone during the Rudd deposing.

              Voice over:

              “some men start fires”.

              Footage of a helmeted Abbott in yellow fire fighting gear, with a hose in smokey bush, flames in the distance.

              Voice over

              “some men put them out”.

              • Allthumbs,

                Tony Abbott is both physically and mentally suited to being a volunteer firefighter.

                However, I would not buy into an argument that necessarily compared people’s contribution.

                A piano playing Kevin Rudd could have important implications, rather than admirably saving a life, he could be admirably making a life, inspiring some youngster towards a career in music.

                Not important?

                Bill Shorten is disaster credentialed, Beaconsfield his proving ground. He needs no fanfare from me.


        • He deserves a big beer stein of strychnine.

        • “He deserves a poem. ”

          Tony tony there you stand,
          big hose pumping in your hand
          fighting flames throughout the land.


          which part of ‘bush’
          which part of ‘fire!’
          don’t you understand

  22. Frank, that is NOT the punchline for that joke..you know it, I know it.
    Perhaps even Bob Ellis knows it.
    If so, I call on Ellis to BAN Frank, for revisionism

  23. A poem for Tony?

    Tony Tony burning bright,
    Won’t you drive my sleigh tonight?
    What immortal hand or splint
    Could frame thy fearful manly squint?

    In what distant vales or skies
    Smoked the styes in thine eyes?
    On what tenders dare he aspire?
    What the hand dare seize the fire?

    What the hammer? what the chain?
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the fuck? What dread grasp
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

    Tony, Tony, burning bright
    Won’t you drive my sleigh tonight?
    What immortal hand or splint
    Dareth frame thy manly squint?

    (Apologies to Blake, and Rudolph)

  24. Phill, you once said something like, some here “stand around the watercooler with their thumbs up their arse discussing Shakespeare”, whilst your “on the barricades”.


    Lip service, barricades, watercoolers - all the same.

    “Wowser” - you forgot to turn your cards over.
    Who is the “wowser/wowsers” deserving of your disdain?
    Name them.
    Afford them the opportunity of rebuttal.

    Explanations? No Phill, you owe me nothing.
    You owe those who are left wondering what the fuck you talking about.

    I’m certainly not in any doubt.

  25. Well Judd I’ve told you what I did, what did you do?

    I’m not naming anyone, I have been told not to break the rules. I don’t know them, Yea Right.


  26. What are the rules?

    Mustn’t fraternize with the enemy!

    Phill stands condemned for liking me.

    No leftie comes to his aid - except me. Good old Frank.

    The point that Judd fails to understand is that you can have differences of opinion with someone over politics, but still remain civil and actually enjoy their company!

    This is what civilized people do.

    They discuss. They rib each other. They argue. But they remain civilized and do not condemn one another.

    We’re not all blind, narrow minded ideologues.

    Some of us are quite amusing and sparkling of wit.

    Judd can go back to what he does best, ankle-rooting. I’ve a dog that does that. A poodle.

    Phill and I can continue to discuss the merits of tossers and wankers until the wee hours despite Judd’s wowserism…

    • Frank… Jesus mate don’t give em any ideas about how society works. Heavens to fucking Murgatroyd, they’ll start a revolution.

      Discussing wowsers is what I live for Frank…But there are none on this blog, just ask.

      • I never figured you for a coward Phill, a lot of other things but a coward.

        I’ve called you out twice, and twice you’ve run.

        Your mate Frank might be “slime, pure and simple”, but you sure are quick study.

        Fucking disgraceful.

        • How can I be slime? Phil and I have not exchanged bodily fluids. Hell, I don’t even have a snapshot of him to stick in front of my computer. We haven’t emailed each other or even gone on a date or held hands or snogged each other!

          Get over it Judd! You aint my type. I’m never going to snog you!

          I find you repulsive. Please stop stalking me and sending me specimens of your catamite lotion.

          • It’s quite amusing really watching you get all chummy with phill. Never had many dealings with the pigs before, have you Frankie? I’m sure you think you have phill feeding from your hand. You foolish old man.

            “Don’t worry mate. Just take the rap over the knuckles and plead guilty. It’s only a small bag of dope. You’ll just get a warning. Maybe ten hours Community Service, tops”.

            • See 4 Corners last night, steve? Pigs look after their own, as well as lying and law-breaking if it suits their purpose.

              They ought to be held to a higher standard of judgement, given the responsibilities they shoulder, but as far as I can tell, most never fail to live up to the stereotypes.

              Notwithstanding lipsticks and pretension, they’re still pigs.

              And yapper’s pleading for relief from Judd’s attentions? That’s some hoot, given Effie’s penchant for trolling others who’d prefer he crapped elsewhere.

              • I don’t have a TV, but I’ll take a look at 4 corners in the morning. Always fun watching some filth on the Filth.

                Ever noticed that when a pig dies in line of duty, they close down an entire city to let the funeral procession through? At least fifty pigs on bikes up front, helicopters overhead, roads closed off, TV crews, and medals awarded. But if a citizen dies at the hands of a pig, nobody gives a fuck.

              • There talks a man with a grudge against authority. Been arrested a few times have we?

                That’s what happens when you yapp to much instead of listening.

                • You disappoint me phill. I expected to be sodomised by your policeman’s baton, or at least sprayed with capsicum. I even stashed the bong in anticipation. I guess you realised you need to execute those warrants before midday. The money is in the brown paper bag. :wink:

          • Get up off your knees Frank.
            It’s undignified seeing you this way day after day,

            Stand up, dust yourself off and look at the world anew.

    • Frank, don’t blame me for any probs here, I don’t care from what side anything humorous come from…
      I loves youse all, but not the mean and nasty trolls, who come here only to make mischief and to create discord…

    • You are irrelevant, Frank.

      A waste of space.

    • Nothing, but nothing beats a good western.
      Judd as Will Kane, Doug Quixote as Tom Doniphon, Chris Hunter as Ethan Edwards.

  27. Oh, my crazy ischemic heart! Do boys/men get that? That thrill of Chris/Jeff? I mean. The thrill of being reminded of Hayworth, or Nico or Natasha K or Debbie H?

  28. Dear Bob

    I’ve admired you since the time when King O’Malley was the freshest thing in Australia. Waiting for your column in next week’s Nation Review was a thing worth waiting for. Your blog is an essential companion to my daily orange juice and vegemite on toast.

    Autopsy on a Dream is a worthy addition to the library of a dozen films about the tortured history of the building. Your voice gives authority to it in the same way the voice of John Huston makes it possible for an atheist to get through Dino de Laurentiis’ film, The Bible. It captures the emotions of the time and it rides on a lyrical script. But it contains some dodgy history. The line “Sir Eugene Goossens thought of it first” is one example.

    The Goossens’ story ignores the forty-year agitation for an opera house. We can overlook early soundings say in 1910, when Dr Leger Erson, the Labor candidate for Kooyong, advocated cures for the neurotic Australian by encouraging the consumption of fish and wine and the establishment of a national opera house. We can dismiss as mere agitation other calls for opera houses in Sydney and Melbourne during the next four decades. And we can ignore what actually happened in Melbourne. But what we can’t dismiss are the policies and efforts of the McKell, McGirr and Chifley governments from 1941 to 1952, during which time land was earmarked, specific design proposals drawn up and sums of money laid on the table. McKell appears to have driven the agenda and Cahill and Heffron were in the mix.

    Goossens said in mid-1947 that Sydney needed “a fine concert hall for the orchestra, with perfect acoustics and seating for 3,500 people, a home for an opera company and a small hall for chamber music.” But other visiting ABC celebrities had said much the same thing, including Eugene Ormandy in 1944.

    Goossens and Cahill were critical players and deserve our gratitude, but they were only riding their boogie boards to the beach on a big wave that had built up. If McKell hadn’t become Governor-General in 1947 he probably would have been the JJ Cahill in the story. On the other hand, we could have ended up with a different performing arts centre than the one that was built. We were fortunate that World War II stalled the momentum.

    If this line in the film doesn’t reflect what actually happened, maybe there are others that deserve closer scrutiny? http://www.twf.org.au/search/sohkaleidoscope01.html

    • …and a sad end in Australia for both Goossens and Utzon; both had to leave. I believe Goossens’ career was ruined, and I don’t think Utzon ever came back to Oz.

  29. Reply to Judd. October 23 4.21pm
    Hey Judd,

    Why The Burial of Count Orgaz?

    I noticed that DQ had written of his admiration for the music of the Baroque, so I guess I was being a little instrumental. I could have used a Cezanne just as well. The way his work prefigures abstraction.

    I also love really love El Greco’s painting. I’m not interested in the religious theme. Rather, El Greco’s pushing toward something new, while mining the past. The flattening of the image and the “diptych” allusion speaks of medieval iconography.

    His “modern” brushwork and use of colour creates a rupture with the past. The splitting of the canvas also speaks to me of the rupture to come between God and man.

    The work contests the contention that there is nothing new. That culture is fixed. That there is a definitive progression from the primitive to the sophisticated to the decadent (and derivative).

    Unfortunately, DQ didn’t bite- the scoundrel!

    I’m actually a sucker for the American painters; Rothko, Motherwell and co.

    • Giotto? Yes, Cezanne prefigured cubism. Rothko might be a bit much for DQ, he’s battling it out with mindless rolls of paper at the moment. Helen Frankenthaler - Essence Mulberry?

      DQ didn’t bite? DQ is a busy dobermann, ranging up and down the kennels, snarling here, snarling there. How come he doesn’t get locked in for the night like the rest of us ankle rooters? I mean, I’m not complaining, I get my scraps - but that studded collar of his, seriously…

      • chris, it’s getting a bit too snarly here…maybe it’s because Bob has taken a break from writing about politics,and the ‘boys’ don’t have an enemy anymore, and therefore instead of fighting the Libs, they take their anger on each other… :?:

        I thread carefully, trying to avoid ‘minefields’ :neutral:

        • “One must be so careful these days”

          TS ELiot - The Wasteland.

        • Hi Helvi!
          I agree with you about the suppressed anger of some of these old dudes.

          Some of the arty stuff I find interesting from my perspective and worth reading as I am sure a lot of the other followers of this blog that don’t feel the urge to comment find as well.

          Devouring the posts from Mr Ellis and some of the bona fide responses.

          But it does get a bit off-putting when some seem to be itching for an argument-blog for blogs sake sort of stuff.

          Mines bigger than yours is boring.

      • This is what I love about life; you head in one direction and end up in another.
        Yes, yes, the delicately beautiful Giotto. Fancy a big butch thing like you having a thing for Giotto!

        See, you start off in one direction and you end up not knowing whether CH really looks like Jeff Bridges and Judd, Robert Mitchum.

    • What did you want me to bite, K.bites?

      Art holds a fascination for me. Last time in Europe I spent the best part of three days at the Louvre, and another day at the Musee D’Orsay, and at Marmotan Monet.

      Other days were spent in Grenoble which has a fine collection of modern art, at the Uffizi in Florence and at Dell’ Accademia in Venice. Not to mention two days roaming around Pompeii and Herculaneum.

      I think the works which most appealed to me were by Goya; there is something about the way he used the light.

      Of the impressionists, the series of Monet’s increasingly abstract paintings of the Nymphae (waterlilies) is to me mindblowing. One can only be in awe standing before the original oil on canvas.

      • Yeah, Turner has that ability to dissolve the “real”.
        Goya is fascinating. Prefiguring Warhol by getting the rich to be painted in grotesque glory?

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