keywords: Brian Matthews

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    How Phillip Hughes' death moved the nation

    • Brian Matthews
    • 05 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
    • 07 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
    • 10 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
    • 12 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
    • 15 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
    • 18 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
    • 20 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
    • 23 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
    • 28 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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  • AUSTRALIA

    The dawning of the Age of Unpleasantness

    • Brian Matthews
    • 28 February 2014
    7 Comments

    Joe Hockey's idea of an age of entitlement is shallow and facile. Announcing the end of an 'age' is just another way of obscuring the truth that you haven't the faintest idea what the hell is going on, or that you suspect what's going on but not how to influence, redirect or stop it. So you fall back on this persuasive notion of a great shift in the times. The next 'age' for those whose entitlement is disappearing will be marked by unpleasantness.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    The baleful life of Stalin's favourite actress

    • Brian Matthews
    • 31 January 2014
    7 Comments

    When her husband was arrested and imprisoned indefinitely as an outspoken opponent of Stalin, she became depressed and alcoholic. Film director Grigori Aleksandrov rescued her by choosing her to star in Moscow Laughs. She became his mistress, later his wife, a screen star and, perhaps most important of all, she attracted Stalin's benign attention.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Ghost of weddings past, present and future

    • Brian Matthews
    • 06 December 2013
    6 Comments

    Is there a spirit of place, a kind of psychological imprint that endows a particular location? There are spots along the Coorong in South Australia where, as twilight deepens, you could swear that wraith-like, dark figures are moving through the dunes. Recent events made me wonder if the legendary William Buckley lives on in that way on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula, where he lived for 32 years among the local Wataurong people.

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