Archive for February, 2015

Strange meeting

February 24, 2015

One night last week, in the early evening and after the post-work rush, I took a lift from my lofty workplace to the ground. One man, probably a bit older than I, was already in it. It was just us two.

At first he seemed to be reading something. He eyed me quizzically for a moment and then spoke.

“Did you go to Gordon West Primary?”

“No. I went to West Pymble. But my mother taught at Gordon West.”


My mother was the librarian. I probably nodded.

“Did you go to Barker?”

“No, but I did go to Artarmon.”

That might seem a bit of a non-sequitur but not, I think, to him: it was my explanation of where he might have known me – when we were both taking the bus to Gordon Station to our respective schools.

He told me his name; I told him mine; we shook hands. We talked a little more about West Pymble and West Gordon. Oddly, he was a little vague about the name of the street he lived in, but he did lay claim to living on “the poor side” of Ryde Road (that’s the east side, though I don’t think there was much in it).

My curiosity whetted, I found a picture of him on Trove in a Women’s Weekly story about Daffodil Day at Gordon West Primary in 1964.

Aided by the captions to the picture, I can recognize the man in the boy. I’m pretty amazed that he could recognize the boy in me.

First-night crowd

February 19, 2015

The scene: row C of the stalls in the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the SOH just before the opening of Faust. The row is full save for two seats in the centre.

A woman enters from the right to take one of the seats. I recognize her immediately as I have previously sat next to her in those seats at one of my rare first nights. Longe blond-ish hair tops off an outfit in a style I can only generally describe as superannuated-hippy-bohemian. A woman of similar style enters from the left. Affecting surprise, she calls out: “Oh, hello, Gretel.”

Quite a good joke really: obviously they had come together but the position of their seats dictated different doors. Also quite a good entrance.

At interval, prominent Sydney defamation barrister, Clive Evatt, who sat behind me and has a propensity to unwrap his sweets just after the music starts, engaged Gretel in conversation. What about what the Telegraph (or it could have been the Herald) had published about her? Gretel said it was a very poorly researched piece, but they had since apologised. Clive demurred: apology or not, it was worth $200,000. He, too, could have been joking.

I’m not really crazy about the first-night crowd, but it was fun to see a self-declared Sydney icon keeping up appearances.

One law for the rich

February 13, 2015

Gina Rinehart has obtained an order for preliminary discovery, entitling her lawyers to preview the upcoming episode of the TV series concerning her (which is presumably coming up to the bit where she hounded Rose Porteus through the courts in a second inquest into the death of Lang Hancock – an episode rightly described by then WA Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, as “a savage waste of public resources”) in order to decide whether to seek an injunction against its publication.

Back in 2010, Wendy Hatfield, about to be defamed in an instalment of the ‘Underbelly’ franchise, did not fare so well. She was refused orders for preliminary discovery concerning that series. The judge held (and the Court of Appeal upheld) that she had to wait and see and get damages afterwards if she was defamed (which she was).

Perhaps Rinehart’s lawyers learnt from where Hatfield’s lawyers failed, but it is difficult to escape the conclusion that there is one law for the very rich and another for the rest of us.

Which is probably a truism, if you think about it even a little bit. Even if I am affronted, I shouldn’t be surprised.


Justice Garling’s reasons finally (24/3) published.  On a cursory reading, it looks like Channel 9 was hoist by its own publicity, which suggested, amongst other things, that while everyone else should stay in on Sunday night to watch the program, Mrs Rinehart might like to go out for dinner.  I don’t find his Honour’s distinguishing of the Wendy Hatfield decision quite so convincing.