Author: Brian Matthews

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Cricket's assault on Australian racism

    • Brian Matthews
    • 26 March 2015
    11 Comments

    During the West Indies 1960-61 tour of Australia, Frank Worrell and his predominantly black team transfixed Australians from coast to coast and, without any missionary intent, struck a resounding blow at the White Australia Policy, which was still in place. This jubilant, exciting story prompts questions about today's masses, who enthusiastically support harsh, and arguably racist, treatment of asylum seekers.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Negotiating climate deniers and plovers

    • Brian Matthews
    • 26 February 2015
    9 Comments

    Call me paranoid if you like, but as I walked away, affecting a nonchalant strolling gait, I knew, I just knew, that she was a climate change denier and was daring me to argue the point. Had I hesitated one more moment, I would have been regaled with statistics about the mild coastal summer and other utterly benign climatological phenomena.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Pop up shop of poetic pollie horrors

    • Brian Matthews
    • 29 January 2015
    9 Comments

    We all have these abruptly resurfacing images and references that pop up unannounced. For example, Treasurer Joe Hockey’s musings on the poor, who don’t drive very far – ‘O scathful harme, condition of povertie’ (Chaucer). And the rich, who are ‘lifters’. I was invaded mentally by Yeats’s ‘Surely among a rich man's flowering lawns.’ Without pain and with cigars and smirks of self-congratulation. 

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    How Phillip Hughes' death moved the nation

    • Brian Matthews
    • 04 December 2014
    4 Comments

    Greg Chappell has already made the comparison with the response to Princess Diana's death, but it goes back further than that, to John Donne, for example, in 1624: 'No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main'. Death haunts the newspapers and the airwaves. Just? Not at all. Every now and then, we cower and weep before Death's undiscriminating might.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    David Cameron's shirtfronting impotence

    • Brian Matthews
    • 06 November 2014
    4 Comments

    Some aspects of the English/Scottish independence referendum confrontation rang interesting bells for Australia. But British PM David Cameron has had to tread cautiously on foreign policy to avoid adding grist to the 'Yes' campaign's mill. Not so Tony Abbott, for whom strutting the world stage works a treat to lift the pall of governmental confusion and unpopularity.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The enemy in my kitchen

    • Brian Matthews
    • 09 October 2014
    2 Comments

    I have always prided myself on my capacity to do some heavy labouring in my spare time, but a serious back injury put a stop to most of that. Michael doesn't mind though. I point at the pizza oven and its need for removal. 'Well, mate,' he says, 'it's dressed in black and it's totally masked and unidentifiable. It wouldn't be allowed into Parliament would it?'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Encounter at the gate

    • Brian Matthews
    • 11 September 2014
    6 Comments

    I'm standing at the front gate, about to go for a run when he swings round the corner. He speaks in a deep, modulated voice that seems to run on like a quiet stream. Just when you think you might answer, the flow smoothly resumes, and he is an adept prince of the non sequitur. 'Ever take a short cut through the cemetery?'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The shock of the news of Kennedy and Nixon

    • Brian Matthews
    • 14 August 2014
    3 Comments

    Last week, when I heard a Margaret Throsby interview with Nixon's White House Counsel John Dean, I immediately remembered in startling detail where I was forty years ago. It was high summer, a beautiful warm day in Oxford. I was strolling along the banks of the Thames through a leafy camping ground; a voice, tragic yet culpable, retrieved from an unseen radio on 8 August 1974 in another country.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Abbott and co. working from Orwell's playbook

    • Brian Matthews
    • 17 July 2014
    20 Comments

    Life in Orwell's Airstrip One is graceless, demeaning and inhumane for all but those entitled to preferment. Surveillance is increasing, ruling-party secrecy and monopoly on information is rigid, refugees are demonised and language is reduced to sound bites and slogans. The leadership is disjoined from and cynical about the natural world. Just as well it's fiction because it sounds awful doesn't it?

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  • EDUCATION

    Philosophy professor's cavalier interventions

    • Brian Matthews
    • 19 June 2014
    4 Comments

    On his own admission, Australian poet, essayist, philosopher, naturalist and storyteller Brian Medlin left the publication of his life's work to his last few years, but his passions, gifts and lyricism were set free in an extraordinary correspondence he conducted with British novelist Iris Murdoch. Their letters cover more than two decades and, with both writers terminally ill, are marked by love, wit, subtlety, argument and insight.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Waiting room blues

    • Brian Matthews
    • 22 May 2014
    6 Comments

    In the specialist’s waiting room, I usually while away the hours with quality BYO literary fare. But one day I had left my book in the car, and I searched the reading rack for reading matter on subjects more interesting than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Australian holiday. Succumbing at last to extreme boredom I got up, slid Soap World from under its ragtag competitors, and all was revealed.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Rhyme and ruin in Tony Abbott's court

    • Brian Matthews
    • 27 March 2014
    11 Comments

    Thomas Wyatt, poet and prominent figure in the court of Henry VIII, found life there not only perilous but repugnant and dreamed of escape. There is much that Wyatt would recognise in the court of Tony Abbott: the obsessive secrecy, the suspicion of foreigners, the cruelty, the ecclesiastical connections, the dames and knights, the aggressive Anglophilia. At least he wouldn't have had to encode his unease in poetry.

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