Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Literature : Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

TWO WEEKS IN LILLIPUT

Steve Vizard

On the 29th of October, 1998 I sent the following letter to Steve Vizard and Eddie McGuire. It was a response to Steve's book Two Weeks in Lilliput, which dealt with the Constitutional Convention.

I'd travelled on the plane with Steve and had a great yarn. Unfortunately the book was very partisan.

This an abridged version of the letter

Dear Steve

A picture of Gulliverian splendour sitting at home in front of the fire, rifle perched on the arm, hound at the feet and a Pro Hart on the wall while the computer fired out clichés, alliterations and quotable quotes......

So much of what you say is inaccurate and self indulgent and some of it ever so nasty. To chastise me for having railed against the ARM dream team is a joke. Apart from one light-hearted reference to Eddie McGuire finding time to read The Constitution (he did, after, all tell The Age he hadn't read it) in between a round of golf at Portsea, and the general observation that some ARM people "needed to think politically" (eg, address prior occupation, etc, in The Constitution), I said nothing of a personal kind about any of you.

Your old school mate, Tim Costello, was relentlessly sardonic ("It's more than a game, boys") in his attack on Eddie. It wasn't a question of whether someone was well known, but whether they wanted more than a flim-flam republic that mattered to me. I could hardly argue that I wasn't a well known person.

Watching you fire the ARM campaign with a burst of jingoistic waffle about eucalypts and vegemite, I just didn't think you were the man for me. Two Weeks in Lilliput confirms that. It is an abjectly partisan document. Although diced with humorous caricatures it sounds like a calculated attempt to demean anyone who stands in the way of what I called a "phoney republic".

As Mark Tredinnick from the University of Sydney bemoaned, "At our convention, the scope of the possible was too narrowly imagined. Politics of the conventional kind triumphed … now all the talk of the kind of nation we are to become, and how else we might be governed, has been contained, circumscribed, kept to the shallows of detail …….." ..... propaganda masquerading as satire is no substitute for intellectual rigor and imagination.

Nor is misrepresentation. To write that Eddie McGuire had me "just about over the line" to the ARM position only to lose my "troubled soul" to a lurching Paddy O'Brien, and that Eddie abused me with insults such as "get up, Phil, you hypocrite ….. you goose, get on your feet……(and) weak as piss, Phil …," when I (described most sensitively as a "recalcitrant dog") refused to vote with the ARM, is classic boys'-own piss-and-wind bragging. The latter claim, as a host of eye witnesses will verify, is untrue.

If Eddie had spoken to me in the manner you claim I wouldn't have sat like the "recalcitrant dog" you describe in the book. If I was anything like the grandstanding, fictitious character wearing the Coburg colours in the 1986 VFA Grand Final, one suspects I'd have asked young Eddie to step outside!

"Some people rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen," wrote Woody Guthrie. Behind a veil of self-deprecation, you've been up to no-good with your pen. It's a bourgeois trait to engage in the use of violent words while simultaneously decorating oneself with the medals of philanthropy.

......your utterances about my football background, my interest in Ireland and my politics reveal that you have no real understanding of the kind of person I am. I'm surprised that given Eddie was shown segments of the book they didn't end up on the cutting room floor......

Yours sincerely

Philip Cleary


 



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