Tuesday, September 9, 2008

For the levels, can you tell me your name and title, please.

Could you speed it up a little, sir?

The other day I mentioned a recurring nightmare where I’m interviewing Alexander Downer. For some reason, halfway through the interview he leans across the table and tries to strangle me*.

That got me thinking about all the pollies I’ve interviewed; the good ones, the cunts and the just plain awkward. Here, for the benefit of history, is the Ramon Insertnamehere Guide to Famous People who have talked to Me.

The good ones. I’m probably biased but the Labor chaps always seemed more approachable. Bracksie came across as a lovable goof and Beazley impressed me with his obvious intelligence and passion. Even Alexander Downer, with a habitual expression on his face of “what-ho, you media chappies” was usually pretty relaxed.

The awkward. Xanana Gusmao was a fascinating man to talk to, the years of suffering and struggle there on his face but fuck, he was frustrating to interview.








I had thought it was because English wasn’t his first language but he spoke like that all the time. I’d hate to be stuck behind him if you were trying to order a beer in a pub.

The bad. John Howard clearly regarded the media as a pack of uppity, insolent tradies and Tony Abbott had the dead, black eyes of a shark but the cunt of cunts was Peter Costello.

A vicious bully, a nasty sneering prick, it should come as no surprise that opinion polls consistently rated Costello as marginally less popular than a rat-poison enema. The Gallery’s Cult of Costello always baffled me and I’m confident the Costello memoirs will tank, leaving Melbourne University Press and Louise Adler looking like a pack of dills.


*I can't recall Alex actually trying to strangle me, but it is a nightmare I have had.


Leilani said...

I'm getting this image of Xanana talking like Adam West's Batman. That's not such a bad thing.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Bit of a pain in the bum when you're trying to put together a 15-second grab for the radio news though, leilani.

Perseus said...

Though I didn't interview him as such, I have chatted to Howard and he seemed sort of easy to talk to. Kroger was the worst political figure I have ever spoken to... he's kind of, you know, liquid. Or something. He gave me the creeps. Beazley is the friendliest I have chatted to.

I'm very impressed you met Xanana (I know how to spell it, I just don't know when to stop). Whether he talks slow or not wouldn't bother me. The guy may as well have a tattoo on his forehead saying, "I'm interesting."

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Kimbo is regarded universally as a lovely bloke and decent human being.

Probably why he failed as opposition leader.

Melba said...

i shook bob hawke's hand at gallipoli in 1990. it was weak and limp, which pretty much put me off him, even though i'd been rah rah so pro hawke in '83. hazel had a more manly handshake than bob, and she waited for me to untangle my jumper which caught on the wire fence as i reached for her. she was really nice about it.

Jamie said...

I was 16, on work experience at ABC radio news, wearing a skinny leather tie that was the style at the time and lugging about half a ton of Sonypro tape recorder on my right shoulder when I interviewed Margaret Thatcher during a walk through of a city arcade.

This says more about the level of the ABC's funding and staffing even in the halcyon days of 1988 and the COS's willingness to get me out of the office than it did about my skill as a door-busting teenage Martin King.

I opened up the interview with that time-honoured classic, delivered in a breaking voice - "So, how are you enjoying Australia so far?".

Mrs Thatcher saw the fear in my eyes and spent five minutes talking about the delightful weather, Melbourne's wonderful wide streets and its thoroughly charming people as half a dozen very impatient spooks stood around, their steely eyes darting across the crowd.

At the end, she shook my hand and I thanked her for her time.

She might have been a feared and reviled leader but she displayed a kindness that day you rarely see in a pollie.

Julia Gillard was officiating at an Australia Day service in Melton two years ago, when the question on everyone's lips was whether she was running for the leadership. It was a baking hot day and the press pack was standing out in the sun waiting for her to finish the official part of the day, which was running horribly late because the north wind was playing havoc as the council workers set up.

She made sure we were shifted out of the sun and into an old cottage in the park there and frell all over herself apologising for keeping us waiting before telling us she was pulling out of the contest. I wished she had run.

Pauline Hanson is 10 times more stupid that you think. I spent 45 minutes with her in the back of a Federal Police car riding between the airport (such was the concern for her safety at the time). It was nigh on impossible to get anything useful or articulate for her, even with svengali David Ettridge feeding her lines from the front passenger seat.

As for some of the others...

Rudd: Dull and repetitive. See also Smith, Stephen and Swan, Wayne.
Howard: Standoffish.
Beazley: Wordy but generous.
Allison: Pointless.
Nelson: Outwardly warm and friendly, but a little shifty.
Whitlam: Austere comedy gold.
Kennett: Full of himself but at times funny.

Jamie said...

Wow. Sorry about the novel. My commenr was longer than the post...

squib said...

I wasn't in that game for very long but the only person I felt privileged to meet was an old woman who had taken milk every week to a Jewish family in hiding during WWII. That took some guts

(About a week after the article, some anonymous prick sent me a letter saying the holocaust wasn't real)

Jamie said...

I did a yarn on Eric Butler from the Australian League of Rights years ago that landed the little suburban I was writing for on a list of "sympathetic" publications. Fairness and balance are not always a journalist's friend...

Perseus said...

Lyn Allison, Jamie? You know I get defensive when people attack my beloved Democrats (except for your favourite Jess Healey... open slather there).

Thatcher: Soft spot for young boys you think? There's an angle.

I think Hanson is mind-numbingly stupid, so if she's even more stupid than I think, then she is inconceivably stupid.

I won a competition to meet Charles and Di when I was 15 (25 words or less comp.). Charles was fun. Di was an empty vessel.

Jamie said...

Perseus, Thatcher is only human.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

If Di had lived, she would have been remembered (if at all) as a dim-witted, minor English aristocrat.

So dying was a shrewd career move for her.

Perseus said...

Yeah but the thin black leather tie over-rules humanity.

No excuse for that Jamie. No excuse.

Did you wear it with a bright yellow or pink shirt as well? And a woollen V-neck? Baggies? Ciaks? Did you buy it at Westco?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Oh and Costello the Yellow has just popped up on the TV news.

My colleagues are wondering why I'm hissing "cunt, cunt. cunt" at my computer screen.

Caroline said...

I interviewed lots of NSW state ministers of yesteryear and the odd federal polly. I had the esteemed pleasure several times interviewing the then Minster for Gaming and Racing, Richard Face. Dick Face. Geddit, geddit. That was the highlight of interviewing him, just snickering “Dick Face” to myself.

Pauline Hanson was as dumb as indicated already in this thread. I interviewed her on three different occasions. On one of those occasions she asked for my advice on where she could buy some shoes.

David Oldfield was lizard like and one of the creepiest people I have ever met.

Bob Carr got around doing a street-walk with a press pack following him, completely caked in make up for the cameras.

Cheryl Kernot was just plain rude.

One of the nicest pollies I ever met was former NSW Health Minister Craig Knowles.

Later, when I was involved in election campaigns as a member of the ALP, I got to meet all the usual bigwigs that we wheeled out for campaign stunts. The highlight for me was the time I got to drive Bob Hawke to the airport when we were done with him. He was quite personable and asked me “aaargh, what do you do for a crust, love?” He also offered to answer my mobile phone for me when it was ringing in my handbag in the back seat. I declined because I didn’t want the former PM fishing around in there, potentially pulling out any stray (unused, of course!) tampons etc that were lurking in there.

Jamie said...

Derryn Hinch just flashed into my mind for some reason. Some musky, dusky reason...

Perseus said...

You turned down an offer from a former PM to answer your phone? would KILL for that moment. "Oh hi Mum... yeah, driving... oh, yeah, that was just Bob Hawke... Anyway, how's Dad?"

I'd risk a used tampon for that.

Anonymous said...

Derryn Hinch just flashed into my mind for some reason.

I got Bob Hawke channelling Rick Mayall, playing with Caroline's tampons saying "Mousey, mousey, mousey".

Desci said...

I'm with Jaimie. There was something undeniably feminine about the comment.