Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Summers in Winter



IT WAS an effortless transition when young Chip Rolley left behind all he had done to make the Sydney Writers Festival what it is and slipped with unfussed grace and certainty into the editor’s chair at The Drum, a job that might have been made for him. Wit, intelligence, insight, a record of stellar achievement – all those recommendations would be taxed as the new editorial supremo set about making his mark, which he did with characteristic aplomb. As visitors to the national broadcaster’s opinion site may have noticed, all articles, like this one, are now preceded by a bold-faced sentence or two which summarise what is to come and, very often, feature very few spelling mistakes. As Web Diary’s finalincarnation withered and vanished, the first real step toward government support for quality journalism has been taken. Thanks to Chip’s innovation and the taxpayer’s largesse, the craft of Margolian boldening will live on.

The weight of such responsibility can be a burden, however, sometimes putting the squeeze on other, earlier obligations for want of time and stamina. The signs are that this is happening right now in the Rolley household, where it is apparent that girlfriend Anne Summers is missing her prodigy’s guiding hand and counsel. Consider the evidence, which is conclusive.

Just a year or so ago, Summers’ literary output touched every base, as her Monthly expose of Andrew Bolt and his toxic lineage makes clear. Bringing to bear her awesome thoroughness, Summers revealed that Bolt’s mum lived as a 12-year-old in a Dutch town with a Nazi mayor. Further, she tracked down the columnist’s long-ago girlfriend to paint a picture of a man whose mistreatment of women falls not too far short of the O.J. Simpson standard. It was quality journalism, as all the other quality journalists agreed, and Summers was feted for the triumph of her tenacious probing.
But how much of it was her own work, eh? This question needs to be posed because there is something missing, almost fishy, about Summers’ profile of toothy Tanya Plibersek, which appeared in last Saturday’s Good Weekend.

However did Summers neglect to mention that Plibersek’s parents fled Slovenia after World War Two, when those who sided with the German invaders were being hunted down by Tito’s partisans. If Bolt’s adolescent mother-to-be’s exposure to a Nazi mayor was worth mentioning, surely Summers should have hinted, if not highlighted, the parents’ immersion in the fascist cesspit.

And there are worse oversights, much worse. Had Summers checked the archives she would have been able to include the fact that, in an Adelaide courtroom, a certain Mr Plibersek from “the Mildura migrant camp”,was named as having slept with another man’s wife. The first names do not quite match, but not to worry. Quality journalism means making connections, and Summers is very much the quality journalist, so much so Australia Post has issued a stamp in her honour.


Many purchased. Few licked.


Or is she? Surely, and with no less certainty than she brings to her own exposes, we can easily suppose what has happened. With poor Chip up to his neck in bolding initiatives, a very large salary to be justified and The Drum’s escutcheon in need of burnishing, the youngster just did not have a spare moment to sit down with his squeeze and stop her inscribing for the record what amounts to a string of senior moments. For example, early on in her Plibersek profile Summers draws a picture of the dire poverty in Oyster Bay, where the future Cabinet member was raised. Mum had to use a washboard, Summers relates, and there were few TVs in the neighbourhood, which seems a dubious assertion given that it is the Seventies she is writing about. And it grows more suspect a few paragraphs later, when we are led to share a warm family memory of 3-year-old Tanya atop Poppa’s lap as the family gathered around the telly in their hovel.

This is serious stuff, this failure on Summers’ part to bang all the required gongs in quality journalism’s temple of truth. If Chip cares about his partner, really cares, he should stop reporting for work at The Drum. Few would notice and, if they did, who could deny that Summers has reached the stage where she needs full-time care?

30 comments:

  1. I grew up in Oyster Bay a few years after Tanya Plibersek, and I found the references to the area in Anne Summers' article somewhat strange. The lovely suburb that provided me with a very pleasant childhood is painted as some kind of poverty-stricken slum for the poor young urchin Tanya Plibersek. Summers quotes Plibersek in this passage:

    **************************
    Plibersek was born in 1969 and grew up in Oyster Bay, which was then a bush suburb filled with fibro cottages and returned-soldier housing. "The roads were unpaved. Kids played in creeks, catching tadpoles and riding their bikes," Plibersek recalls. "Few families had TV sets or cars until much later. Mum washed by hand, with a scrubbing board. The baker and milkman called daily."
    *************************

    1) I have no recollection of the roads being unpaved. In fact, Sutherland Shire Council have on their website a very helpful series of historical aerial photos of the area, and the 1970 photo clearly shows that all roads in the area are paved. The previous photo available is from 1961, and it does show that 2 or 3 dead-end streets appear to be unpaved at that time.
    You can see for yourself:
    https://mapping.ssc.nsw.gov.au/Sutherland/

    2) There are not a lot of creeks in the area for kids to play in, but plenty of bays and inlets along the Georges River. Maybe these are what she is referring to. But kids catching tadpoles and riding their bikes sounds like the sort of thing kids would have been doing. And it sounds better than sitting inside with eyes glued to an XBOX360 or Playstation3 game

    3) Even in the 70s it was an extremely pleasant middle-class area. Yes there were many fibro houses, but this is fairly normal for Australian suburbs in the 70s. In fact most of the fibro houses in Oyster Bay were sturdily built and are still standing. The idea of cars and TVs being rarities in a slice of middle-class Australian suburbia like Oyster Bay in the 1970s is quite absurd.

    4) Plibersek's mother may well have washed by hand with a scrubbing board in the 1970s. Who knows? If she did, she may well have been the only person doing so in Oyster Bay. But like the rest of this tale of woe, I find it hard to believe.

    5) I don't ever recall a baker calling daily, but I can confirm that the daily deliveries by the "milko" continued in Oyster Bay at least until the late 1980s, so that part of the story is correct.

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    1. Sounds to me that Summers had a seniors moment and wrote about her own childhood back in the 1940's. My own mother used a wash board in the 1950's but even with a migrant background coming from Eastern Europe, she realized the potential of an O'Malleys washing machine back in the early 60's and used it and the rubber hose to good effect on my teenage sister if she came home late on Friday night.

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  2. You can rest assured there won't be a postage stamp in your favour, you tedious fool and wanker.

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    1. For my part I consider Professor Bunyip's masterly expose of this tedious fool and wanker worthy of a postage stamp in his favour, and wearing a crown.
      But I suppose if we didn't have fawning no questions asked wankers like yourself then what could we complain about?

      Delete
    2. C’mon out from behind the troll screen, Hammygar of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It's OK. You can reveal your daring pseudonym to us.

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    3. This is quite an amusing put-down, up there with "I fart in you general direction". (You were being funny weren't you?)

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    4. This part:

      "Further, she tracked down the columnist’s long-ago girlfriend to paint a picture of a man whose mistreatment of women falls not too far short of the O.J. Simpson standard."

      was complete and utter bullshit. Utter bullshit.

      Delete
  3. Alas, I had to donate a page view to the old baby-snatcher's website to indeed confirm that the stamp you've reproduced was not a product of a fevered Bunyip's imagination. Good grief! We, the humble citizens of Australia, have, with the apparent imprimateur of the national government, deified an old feminist with wanting scruples and morality as a "legend". I have a good mind to inform a real national legend, Mr Humphries, of this miscarriage of justice just in time for his next last tour.

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  4. I read the Summers/Plybersk with growing amazement and,in truth, disbelief.Poor little Tanya, deprived of all the good things of life while a child. The whole article made good garden mulch.

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  5. I love her wealthy-leftie smirk. It says it all.

    Good work, Prof - great to see you back.

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  6. Walter Plinge of Coffin BaySeptember 26, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    Another of those amateurish and irritating photos where the photographer has the subject supporting his or her chin with a fist. A cliche that is, to use another cliche, well past its use-by date.

    Or perhaps Miss Summers needs assistance to prevent her jaw dropping with incredulity.

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    1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.September 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Nah Wally. She needs assistance to hide her crinkly old turkey-gobbler neck. Get out and proud, Anne, I say to her. Show your age. He loves you for yourself. Or do you doubt it?

      But then, my neck is as yet smooth and not dropped away from my chin. Maybe I would change my mind if it was. Personally, if I was her, I'd wear a ruffly collar and change hairstyles - she'd look younger and less formidable with a hint of a fringe and shorter upturned hair. Case study: Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall.

      Spot on satire, Prof. Great to have you firing up again. I would lick your stamp in appreciation any day!

      Delete
  7. Fairfux did not note Ms Summers was a former adviser to a Labor prime minister when it published her "Her rights at work" speech. Why has Media Watch been silent on this clear breach of media propriety?

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  8. Anne Summers has already instructed young Chip on the kind of stories she wants to see more of on the taxpayer funded Drum website since Chip got the top job:
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4260680.html

    Its stories of that caliber that get your dial on Aussie stamps!

    Can I also add that I would love to see a Bunyip commemorated on our next stamp issue rather than the usual suspects like the headline-seeking Germaine Greer etc...

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  9. Tovarish Summers neglected to say tovarish tanya worked 16hours a day ,7days a week from age three? How she was ducks of her school? How she led a student communist revolt at uni ,and got a pass to get rid of her?how she is aotential loider of the loiber pardee? Very Remiss Tovarish.in another age it could have meant the Gulag!!

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  10. Oh please:

    "Tanya remembers sitting on her father's lap watching TV when she was three or four and recognising Gough and Margaret Whitlam stepping off a plane. "Dad, he's a good man, isn't he?" she somewhat precociously said. And the kids talked politics with each other."

    As you do when you are four. Why, I distinctly remember beating up other children because their parents voted Liberal, even though they never spoke of how they cast their vote in the darkened cardboard booth (we were so poor we couldn't afford electricity where I lived).

    There's more:

    "To understand Tanya Plibersek, says her husband, you have to understand her relationship to Jane Austen. To say she is a fan is like saying the sky is blue. Elinor Dashwood, the heroine of Sense and Sensibility, is Plibersek's favourite character..."

    Tanya carriers a copy of the book everywhere. In fact, she's ploughed through five editions. On the plane, in the train, in her brain. She even called Gough "Elinor" once, and although he smashed her to the floor (Gough is a tall man, you understand), our Tanya grew from the experience.

    I wish I could write and research like Anne Summers. Why, I'd be, yes, an "Australian legend".

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  11. Well done Prof. Hot on the heels of the kicking given to Abbott is a puff piece on Plibersek. As you have done, it would be interesting to have noted how Plibersek's story would have been treated if she were Abbott. The sexist material in her campaign office, rumours etc of any substance would have all been seen in a completely different light. Fairfax must take us for mugs.

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  12. I read this article and the whole time I kept wondering if it had been actually written by Plibersek herself. It certainly came across as masturbation.

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    1. Me thinks, O Nameless One, that no matter what was written, you just had the need to use the word "masturbation" regardless.

      Great article, Prof, very well written!

      Delete
    2. It arguably was. Summers could be no more than the means of distribution, just as the testis does not actually enter the vagina to release spermatozoa.

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  13. The cretinous puddle of necrotic goat drool (i.e. Plibersek) is obviously building up her "lived in the back of a car" hardship credentials after the fashion of Kevvie Rudd, perhaps in the hope of becoming Leader of the Parliamentary ALP and maybe even Prime Minister one day.

    I suppose one can be grateful that she's having this bullshit spread by someone else and thus attempting her task with at least one degree of remove. A shame for her that, if Anonymous at the top of the list is right, it's all bullshit.

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  14. Is that really Anne Summers or Jonathan Holmes impersonating Dame Edna?

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  15. She is a singularly repulsive woman to look at.
    Just sayin'.

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  16. I am frankly confused by the Summers stamp.
    Which side is it intended that one "moisten" ?

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    1. Her name and the word "moisten" in the same sentence engender images which should send even the hardest-bitten libertarian seeking a reliable method of selective memory-erasure.

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  17. Oh, look. She supplies a photo and a Real name.
    Unlike some bloggers who hide behind some fanciful tag, remaining untouchable.
    Gee you're brave.

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  18. PROF
    Usually enjoy your slant on the "luvvies"---one correction .Slovenia was NOT a fascist cesspit(perhaps Croatia fits the bill), the Slovenes fought the Germans ,poorly,and most , my father included, ended up as POWs.etc

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  19. Did Tanya claim to have burnt her bra AND her underpants? One up on Kevni's brother if so.

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