Author: Brian Matthews

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Swapping stories with a barracouta sage

    • Brian Matthews
    • 13 September 2013
    2 Comments

    'It was a strange business,' he said in answer to my inevitable question about how he had come by his injuries. 'I'm a professional fisherman. I've fished the entire South Australian and Victorian coast line for barracouta for 70 years.' The 'strange business' happened on his boat. 'We weren't even at sea. Me and Albie were just cutting up some bait when my eyes just went up into me head and I keeled right over.'

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Born-to-rule Bombers glimpse unprivileged reality

    • Brian Matthews
    • 14 August 2013
    11 Comments

    When James Hird, coach of the Essendon Football Club, says his club has a 'right' to play finals despite the ongoing drug scandal, he obviously means that the players have won enough games to qualify. But when you wed his use of the word 'right' to his often proclaimed love for the club and his aspiration to put it back where it 'belonged', 'right' starts to assume the force of due privilege.

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  • MEDIA

    Writing and rampaging with Christopher Pearson

    • Brian Matthews
    • 19 July 2013
    3 Comments

    Pearson and I scarcely ever agreed about anything, but I look back on the Adelaide Review's ragtag, cavalier youth with gratitude and affection. Likewise my time as a columnist with the brazen, short-lived Melbourne Partisan magazine. They were heady days, fuelled by rampant idealism, up-jumped confidence, booze, and the erratic, fortunate combination of various talents.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    History repeats for powerful Australian women

    • Brian Matthews
    • 21 June 2013
    14 Comments

    On the face of it, life for a strong, talented and ambitious woman in 19th century Australia was much tougher than it is now. Yet even Louisa Lawson, a pioneer of women's rights who was grievously discriminated against and derided because she dared to excel, was never demeaned or personally debased to the extent Julia Gillard has been.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    My theatrical encounter with Don Dunstan

    • Brian Matthews
    • 24 May 2013
    2 Comments

    One of the great monuments to the 'Dunstan Decade', the Adelaide Festival Centre marks its 40th birthday next weekend. It was the first capital city complex devoted to the performing arts, before even the Sydney Opera House. For me the anniversary triggers a flood of memories, including a theatrical encounter with Dunstan himself.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    A modest solution to Morrison's asylum seeker woes

    • Brian Matthews
    • 26 April 2013
    9 Comments

    If the Shadow Minister for Immigration had read Swift's satirical essay 'A Modest Proposal', a new front in his asylum seeker campaign would have opened up. Spurning Nauru, all he has to do is channel asylum seekers into hunting-specified NSW parks and reserves and let Barry O'Farrell's hunters do the rest.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    George Orwell's chicken feed solution

    • Brian Matthews
    • 01 March 2013
    4 Comments

    'On this day in 1939: Belgium signed a trade treaty with France, 71 people died in the Black Friday bush fire, and Orwell's chickens laid two eggs.' Orwell's domestic diaries seem trivial, but it is wrong to assume he saw his recording of vegetables, egg laying and other small-holder concerns as dwarfed by the great world. 

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Teaching literature to rock stars

    • Brian Matthews
    • 01 February 2013
    2 Comments

    He appeared in the doorway of my study one day in 1971 and asked if I was the one who was starting a course in Australian literature. His voice was soft and melodic, his accent beautifully Irish. Born in Belfast in 1947, he had grown up amid the horrors of 'The Troubles' and would in later years refer to himself as 'a recovering Catholic'.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Retirement home bureaucracy comes unstuck

    • Brian Matthews
    • 07 December 2012
    8 Comments

    Pam, 90, returned to her room to discover that three family photos had been removed from her wall by order of the new manager. Blu-Tack, it seemed, was expressly forbidden. Her complaints were met with a promise that the manager would consider alternatives. A few days later he came up with a 'solution'.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Supermarket witches and the Australian pumpkin boom

    • Brian Matthews
    • 09 November 2012
    13 Comments

    Last week saw many people all over Australia observe a ritual that is entirely imposed, bears the magic and irresistible imprimatur of the US, and grows out of nothing in our own history, traditions or folk lore. What significance can Halloween have for Australians about to embark on their hot summer?

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Historical precedents for Jones' Shamegate

    • Brian Matthews
    • 12 October 2012
    10 Comments

    The name Charles Hughes Cousens is not one that has been canvassed during the lamentable and often tawdry debate about the Alan Jones affair, but perhaps it should have been. Cousens' ordeal as the target of a treason-baying press lies in the distant but pointed background to Jones' assault on Julia Gillard.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Fuzzy thinking on obeedjunt wives

    • Brian Matthews
    • 14 September 2012
    15 Comments

    An old Dublin man once observed to me that my wife must be an 'oncommonly obeedjunt woman'. Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen's argument regarding the suggestion in his diocese's draft new prayer book that brides be invited to 'submit' to their husbands is equally fuzzy.

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