Best wishes for Christmas and 2020. I shall be off for a few weeks, but I commend the list below. The season of good will is also the season of pay back and catharsis. My Mum said I should have one every day.
Stay safe and watch out for the smoke.
Annual Awards 2019
Film of the year
The Irishman – an epic in the good old style with three of the best screen actors around.
Sporting events of the year
Two resurrections – Steve Smith and Tiger Woods.
Winx made a lot of people happy – including me, for winning at her last start the day after the Wolf joined his ancestors.
Mesut Ozil. The German, Muslim, Arsenal footballer who stuck it right up President Xi, and who thereby gave the supporters of Israel Folau something to think about – an experience that they may find exhilarating – or, perhaps, intimidating.
Book of the year
Bending Toward Justice, Doug Jones; Finding My Place, Anne Aly; and Trials of the State, Jonathan Sumption. (Curiously, the first two authors are intensely sane, but each had two prior marriages.) (I read Carlyle’s The French Revolution for the seventh time, but that does not fit these criteria.)
Business head of the year
BHP is the biggest shareholding in my small fund, in no small part because of my respect for Andrew Mackenzie, the outgoing CEO. His education record is formidable – in Scotland, England, and Germany, and in three disciplines; he has a remarkable business sense and capacity to lead; most importantly, he can still behave like a ‘merely decent human being’ – to quote a line from The Russia House. ‘Leadership’ is a facility that is subject to more bullshit than most others, but Mr Mackenzie has it – in spades. And he has shown it not just in BHP but at large – in a community that cries out for it – and to the consternation of those dolts who know nothing about business because they have never been involved in running one and because they have not seen the change in the role of business in our community.
Lawyer of the year
Lady Hale of the UK Supreme Court, for herding the cats and striking a blow for the rule of law and common sense and common decency with a single joint judgment. And because she was once a barmaid and because she wore that brooch. The U S establishment has not produced it at that level – although the impeachment civil servants looked to be impeccable.
Reporter of the year
Nesrine Malik. I would not give her any cheek at all. Seriously bright. She is from Ethiopia or thereabouts – the cradle of mankind. She is both imperious and imperial – and with a delicious and imposing sidelong glance.
Columnist of the year
Joe Aston. For serving it up to people who deserve it. With a special mention for his gutsy libel lawyer.
Artist of the year
David Rowe. Easily. Cartoons are something we do well. And they are a very necessary guard against depression or madness.
Newspaper of the year
Financial Times. Producing good newspapers is something that the English do well. This paper oozes professional decency. Its views on Johnson are not dissimilar to those of The New Yorker on Trump – but it is not so overtly on a war footing, or so incessantly feeding the beast. No prize for the worst.
Victims of the year
Those who voted against Trump, Johnson and Morrison; closely followed by those who voted for them.
Mediocrity of the year
ScoMo. Can someone tell him that there is a world of difference between volunteers’ facing death before killer fires and sending crack armed forces against unarmed refugees and then spitefully repealing a law to simplify the refugees’ getting medical aid – and then putting a plaque on your wall to celebrate – in all humility, of course – your own downright heroism? ScoMo is a BYO sandwich board – nothing more; nothing less. He is a ventriloquist’s doll, an organ-grinder’s monkey, and a pencil box with vocal chords. And if you ever meet someone who is happy to be called a ‘quiet Australian’, could you please be so kind as to let me know? Because we just might have the world’s best practice prize galah on our hands.
Comparison of the year
The New Zealand PM and the Australian PM on national disasters.
Musical event of the year
Jonas Kaufman in opera concert (Andrea Chénier); the MSO Choir and the Brahms Requiem; and my recent acquisition of the Glyndebourne CD set of Billy Budd and my recent re-discovery of the Karajan Boris Godunov.
Symptom of our time
Boeing killed people because money meant more than the safety of you and me. It then put out unrepentant spin to hold its share price. For a while the U S government went along with it to save money and face. No one will go to jail.
The slutty evanescence of Twenty/20 cricket. And, no, I will not love her in the morning. As fulfilling as Chinese takeaways in the Fifties.
The Joseph Stalin Award for Bastardry of the Year
The repeal of Medivac. They did it because they could.
The Geoffrey Boycott Award for Utter and Unlovely Predictability
Anyone from the IPA or Murdoch Press – Brownie points for the quinella. The IPA in Parliament come from Mars, boy wonders with no experience and less judgment, full of front and emptiness, signifying nothing. Paterson and Wilson are names to conjure with. They are true Princes of Bullshit.
Hypocrites of the year
The whole federal parliament. They pray to start their day and then devote themselves to letting down the same God whose Son would be appalled because they do know what they do. It is sad to see believers – or so they say – shred their Gospel to schmooze with womanising liars who are so transparently in it for their amoral selves and then turn their backs on refugees – many fleeing from a mess that we had a hand in creating. Their bizarre response to learning and pollution suggests that they have no children. Or that they have been bought. God save us.
Sad sack of the year
Gerard Henderson, the Prince of Sadness in eternal pursuit of the Prince of Darkness – Aunty. Has driven more people from religion than Savonarola or Mike Pence. This is a very large statement.
Ratbag of the year
Rowan Dean. The embodiment of the ugliness in us all down here. Loves to leer, jeer and sneer at those he regards as inferior. The ghastly price that we pay for not having a conservative press. Actually likes Trump, Johnson and Morrison – although his team – yes, team – preferred Dutton. Dean makes Bolt look like a tame also-ran.
Recipe of the year
Roast vegetables – peel and cut vegies to size (say Dutch Cream or Kipfler potatoes, carrot or parsnip, and zucchini) – simmer on boil for five minutes – place into colander and coat with olive oil and toss with salt, pepper, seasoning, flour and thyme – transfer to roasting pan after melting duck fat on the hob and then lightly repeat the coating process and toss – cook in oven under dripping roast meat. Reserve vegie water for gravy (for which I cheat).
Restaurant of the year
Tsindos. OK – I am biased in favour of the Greeks, and this place in particular, but I have been going to that site for more than forty-five years, and any restaurant that puts up with and survives the Deplorables deserves commendation from on high. Comfort food for the ages. If you go, tell Harry I sent you. And wait for the curious look.
Wine of the year
I normally stick with my own, and my own regions, but Bordeaux Chateau Meillac of 2012 for $25 from Banks’ Fine Wines is very acceptable – and it was good to be reminded of that solid old trouper Redman 2013 Coonawarra Shiraz in something like the old Rouge Homme livery.
Aggravation of the year
The continuing despoliation of Shakespeare by miss-casting his plays to make a political point – we need to think about resurrecting the law of blasphemy.
Anything to do with the Mayor of Box Hill (aka our P M) – although Prince Andrew was a late and inspired challenger with an inside run on the rails.
Error of judgment of the year
My resigning my membership of Melbourne Storm and joining Melbourne Rebels. The former then barely lost a game. The latter then barely won one. (I know how Collingwood supporters feel – I was there in 1964 when the D’s won their last pennant. With my Mum. And I am in the process of spreading the curse from the Melbourne Redlegs to the Boston Red Sox.)
The Australian Christian Lobby applying publicly collected money to aid a member of the entertainment industry to sue his employer for millions of dollars because they and their supporters were put out that his religious fanaticism led him to denigrate those who differed from him. The bad taste press thought it was terrific.
And see also Victims of the year and Comparison of the year, above.
Find of the year
Marnus Laberschagne and the Malmsbury Pub – under new management.
Star turn of the year
Anita Hill and those other civil servants who gave evidence before the Congress and whose courage and integrity showed up their political masters for the ratbags they are. She and they gave us hope that the U S may recover from this catastrophe.
Hardest falls of the year
The whole Republican Party, but especially their soi disant leaders – gloomy, scared old white males bereft alike of integrity and courage – especially those two goons who always turn up behind the same shoulder of Water-mouth McConnell.
Reminiscence of the year
Catherine Deneuve and Juliet Binoche in the one movie. Just as well they didn’t rope in Emmanuelle Béart as well – they may have had to issue a health warning for fading old men – like the Deplorables (et pour moi aussi).
Realisation of the year
In a two party system of government, it takes two to tango. And if the opposition isn’t up to it, you can end up with a mess like ours – or England’s or America’s.
Bullshit of the year
This magnificent vote is a reassertion of national sovereignty and national will.
It is a powerful boost to the cause of Western civilisation at a time when it is struggling, and widely seen as under attack.
This is an epic moment in Britain’s long national story.
Johnson is that rarest of leaders; he has bent the arc of history to his will.
The author of the Brexit political project, Nigel Farage, is the other figure who was most influential in this result. His electoral pressure transformed the Conservatives from a Remain Party to a Leave Party.
Farage stiffened the spines of the Conservatives and then stood down in the seats they were defending to maximise the pro-sovereignty vote.
No smiley koala stamp for guessing the paper or the journalist. And the poor fellow has crumbled even further since this one.
Australian of the year
Sam Kerr – for being herself, for being the best, and for staring down our worst trait – the adoration of mediocrity and the fear of the novel.
The oncologists at the Prince Alfred Hospital for adopting a philosophical response – nay, a mature or adult response – to the Liver Function Tests that come their way every three weeks in the blood tests that precede each session of immunotherapy. They also get an elephant stamp for keeping me above the ground.
And most of all, and clear over-all winners, the nurses at the Alfred and elsewhere, for being the crown and cream of the best healthcare system in the world – by the length of the bloody straight at Flemington. My gratitude knows no bounds. A safe reservoir of grace and decency.
Aspirations for 2020
My staying above the ground, so delaying my reunion with the Wolf.
Those of us who believe that we might have been privileged to have done something useful fighting back against those pygmies – those gnats straining at a camel – who are just plain jealous.
Trying to bring Sharan Burrow back to help try to right the ship. I had a bit to do with her at the MFB. I quickly developed a great respect for her. She is one of those straight shooters that you quickly sense that you can do business with. You can see her now on the BBC telling Spanish coal miners that there are no jobs on a dead planet – an inevitable truth that wholly escapes our government – whose minds close at shopping lists and power bills.
Michaelia Cash sacking her hairdresser and fashion designer and then retiring from public life to some very quiet place; not necessarily of the kind that Hamlet commended to Ophelia. (And while I am there, that Danish prince is a lesson of the dangers of feigning madness.)
ScoMo following his ancestors in the mediocrity bloodline – Little Johnnie and Bro Tony – and getting fired by his electorate. That would for me constitute irrefutable evidence of the existence of God.
The Demons either putting up or getting put down – if it was good enough for the Wolf, it is good enough for a football club that has been near death since it incurred the curse of Norm Smith.
My getting a standing ovation at the 2020 Brisbane Ring Cycle of Wagner for being noticed for the number of acts I have missed – currently aiming at five out of thirteen – or, as John Steinbeck said of the returning Tuna fishermen in Cannery Row, being ‘embraced and admired’ – but we may forego the twenty-five foot string of firecrackers so nobly presented by the immortal Lee Chong of the general store. If you let them off in Parliament House, would anyone notice – or care?