Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baying at the moon ...

(Above: the dynamic Chidley, who even scored his own biography at the ADB here).

The pond always fancied itself on its knowledge of legendary loons.

Everyone's heard of strange cases like John Harvey Kellogg, and the Eternity Man is now a down under cliche, what with Martin Sharp, an opera and sundry docs under his belt, and the pond has always had a soft spot - it must be soft - for William Chidley, a true dinki di proponent of the flaccid penis downunder (there's a paper on William Chidley and his eccentricities here, may be slow to load).

Then blow the pond down if someone comes along and introduces Dr. William Whitby, an eccentric in the pond's home town who somehow had escaped the pond's notice.

Well as always a little googling will fix it, and here's Simon Chapman on "one of the more memorable characters in the Australian tobacco control landscape".

As well as the link provided yesterday, you can download one of Whitby's books here in pdf form - might take time to load.

The pond doesn't spend enough time amongst the cranks and the weirdos and the UFOlogists, which is wrong, even if the mainstream media is full of cranks and weirdos parading their obsessions for all the world to see.

Speaking of weirdos, how fitting that  Paul Sheehan should come along and distract us, just as the pond was starting to get excited all over again by Chidley and his flaccid penis theory.

Sheehan spends his entire column today proposing that Queen Elizzabeth should retire because Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has decided to make way for younger blue blood (Elizabeth must follow Beatrix and bring in new generation).

Along the way, it what is a totally tedious and tepid exercise in royal mania, Sheehan offers up this observation:

If the Queen stays on until she is 90 it will be a vote of no-confidence in her eldest son ...

No confidence in the talking tampon?

We love Chuck dearly at the pond, he's to royalty what Chidley is to sex, but ain't it grand that blather merchant Paul Sheehan has just realised that nobody much relishes the prospect of Chuck ascending to the throne, and many would dearly love to find a way to skip a generation.

Chuck is an ongoing source of comedy, as when The Guardian noted that he'd updated his website with FAQs about his views on architecture, boiled eggs and alternative medicine (oh okay it was Stephen Moss channeling Chuck, but you get the drift).

On a more serious note, last year ended badly for Chuck with a fuss about the non-disclosure of sundry letters sent to ministers explaining some of Chuck's finer insights into the world. (The Prince Charles letters cover-up only makes his views seem weirder).

Grieve admitted yesterday in the House of Commons that the letters contain the prince's "particularly frank" and "most deeply held personal views and beliefs". We have an idea what those might include: the prince has reactionary views on architecture, is keen on homeopathy and has often displayed a woeful incomprehension of science. But I'm now wondering what else he has sounded off on in 27 letters to seven government departments. 
 Since the letters cover only a seven-month period in 2004 and 2005 – which shows how long the Guardian has been trying to have them published – I'm wondering how many more of the prince's wacky opinions are nestling in files and drawers all over Whitehall. The fact that even a tiny fraction of this correspondence is deemed too controversial to be released speaks volumes about the problems this busybody royal has created for ministers.

While The Guardian was the rag that got its nickers in the biggest knot about the absent letters, others had their fun, and the UK Terror dug up Nigel Farndale to write up The secret letters Prince Charles sent to Tony Blair's government:

Dear Mr Blair, 
Please forgive my intrusion upon your time, but I gather that as part of your bid to “rebrand” Britain as a “young country” you have been hosting “Cool Britannia” parties for “pop stars” and “Brit artists” at Number 10 Downing Street. 
Now I know that I do not enjoy a reputation for being terribly “with it”, but I do feel strongly that we in this country are in danger of placing too much emphasis on popular culture, “Brit Art”, “Brit Pop” and so on, and not enough on the glories of our cultural past: the paintings of Gainsborough and Turner, for example, or the music of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and, my personal favourite, Sir Hubert Parry. 
If you wanted someone more “up to date” at your parties, you might consider inviting my friend Sir John Tavener. He may not be “cool”, but at least his music does not make one’s ears bleed. 
I don’t want you to think of me as a “stick in the mud” — one is quite partial to the music of Leonard Cohen and The Three Degrees — and I have, as part of my royal duties, been obliged to sit through a number of “gigs”. Phil Collins. He was one. And The Duran Duran. And that fellow Chris de Burgh caterwauling about some lady in red. Ghastly, ghastly, ghastly. I could never understand why my former wife insisted on playing his records at full volume all the time at Highgrove.

And so on and on, with one exasperated reader below the piece commenting King Charles III: The republican movement's secret weapon.

Poor old generally grumpy Sheehan never seems to have heard about the rumblings, proposing that the Queen's desire to stay on and prevent Ministers being inundated with letters from Chuck will:

...invite infirmity into the image of the monarchy, and confirm a sense of insecurity around the royal succession.

What a silly goose. So long as Chuck hovers in the wings, that's always going to be the case.

Sheehan proposes a date of February 6th, 2017, the 65th anniversary of her reign and a few months before her ninetieth birthday, as the time for Lizzie to step aside.

What makes him a royal courtier capable of dispensing sensible advice must remain a mystery, perhaps only understood by the few Fairfaxians who bother to read him.

Chuck would be 68, and by the reckoning of any commoner, already three years into being an old age pensioner, and presumably even dottier than he is now, and yet somehow Sheehan thinks his plan will avoid inviting infirmity into the image of the monarchy.

Has he not the slightest clue about Chuck?

Has he the slightest clue about himself?

Meanwhile, it's a little late in the week for Hendo spotting, but the pond feels the need to draw attention to Mark Latham's latest excoriation of Gerard Henderson in Crikey - Latham's Henderson Watch: 54 mistakes and counting. (behind the paywall)

Some might think there are few reasons for Latham to exist, but Hendo bashing, which Latham conducts with the vigour of an eel-bashing with an axe handle, must be one of them, as he too urges that Hendo, aged 67, hang up his clippings file and video replay button, and retire to a suitable, DLP-funded nursing home for a life of carpet bowls, letter writing, parlour games, more letter writing, origami and the odd spot of correspondence:

Can you bear it? In a single paragraph, Henderson made not one, not two, not three, not four, but five errors. He had the wrong date (November 24), the wrong interview (a “door-stop”), the wrong Tony (“Abbot”), the wrong quote (“would appear to be”) and the wrong conclusion (implying that Abbott’s accusation was the equivalent of a traffic infringement when, in fact, the alleged breach of the law was of a criminal nature). The only thing he got right was the Prime Minister’s surname — as the saying goes, a case of small mercies.

It's essential reading for Hendo watchers, though the pond is distraught that Latham prefers to call the Derryn Hinch-loving Hendo Australia's most notorious pedant, living in Hendoland ... will the world ever recognise Hendo as the perfect incarnation of a modern day pompous, preening, prattling Polonius?

And finally the pond must make note of the announcement that has sent the commentariat into a tizz, into hysteria and fainting fits, and sent all the warrior ants rattling around the nest.

Poodle Pyne was up in arms, shocked and outraged, and refusing to dance to anyone's tune, not the media, not the Labor party, not even a kindly pensioner offering a poodle a bone, while poor jolly Joe Hockey was sent into a frenzy this morning on RN, such that the pond feared it might be the first example of a heart attack recorded live on radio in lieu of a political announcement.

Naturally the pond turned to  the Panpa newspaper of the year, the one time heart of the nation, the rag that helps you Think. Again, for a fair and balanced view of the PM's punt.

Troy Bramston was aghast:

Gra Gra was appalled and rushed off to check the state of any Swiss bank accounts he might have:

The token academic naturally made the only choice possible:

And Dennis 'the tie' Shanahan thought Gillard was dead wrong:

You have to admire The Australian, such a well-oiled machine, always with a ready phalanx of the commentariat, standing by to wheel and soar and turn on a dime, and always with such a remarkable unanimity of opinion, like a sky full of starlings, or sparrows farting ...

But for some reason, the editors determined that Shanahan's piece didn't deserve a photo. So please allow the pond to remedy the deficiency, with a shot of the grey haired one wearing a fine tie and elegant if broad pinstripe suit.

How outraged and shocked they all were that Gillard had stripped them of at least a six month supply of columns speculating about when the election might be called ...

It won't stop Abbott from maintaining the election campaign that he's been running - and started running again this week, and intended to keep running until the date when the election was called, when he'd start all over again. Nothing will stop Dr No saying 'No'.

Nor will it stop the Ruddster if he thinks he sees an opening, though the news that Robert McClelland was going for good sent a surge of joy through the pond (Rudd heaps praise on Robert McClelland as PM remains silent).

But watching the commentariat sob and moan and snivel and cry as one of their very favourite toys was snatched away from them - ending the possibility of endless wanking and non-stop speculation - is a joyous thing, whatever it implies for Gillard and the Labor party.

Now they'll have to do something completely foreign and utterly alien and extremely difficult ... take a look at Tony Abbott's actual policies assembled by his bedraggled team ...

Meanwhile, the news about the election date will be a one week wonder.

Oh and don't worry about an enduring, anything other than superficial analysis of Abbott. The commentariat will always find something else to write about - and what's the bet it will feature the impending apocalypse for the Labor party ...

Look, see how they whirl through the air, in perfect unison ... though perhaps they could consider a new tie ...

And now, because it's time to get back to life, and enjoy a little quiet time, how about this astronomy picture of the day, an animation of the rising moon.

You can find it here, and it runs 3'45". A little meditation and reminder that there's more to life than the commentariat baying at the moon ...


  1. The power you have DP is astounding. On the Oz website the staunch mind-numbing Dennis Shanahan reported on Gillard's announcement of the election by video. The white beard was most distinguishable for such an undistinguished man. How did you force him to shave for the above photo?

  2. Meanwhile, did you see the headline of Andrew Bolt's page in the Hun today - as subtle as a sledge hammer!

  3. It's mysterious, isn't it higgs boson, but I'd saved the snap of Shanahano up from a little while ago because it was such a nice tie. Clearly he's been allowed to degenerate over the break by Angela, and there needs to be reckoning.

    And oh no Anon, say it ain't so, the Bolter is back? Time to do a bolt ...


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