Hurrumph!! now here's a test of academic somethingorother.
The Age reports a rumour that John Howard has been selected to join the Order of the Garter to fill Sir Edmund Hillary's vacancy.
Not this year, I wouldn't think; as you are normally supposed to be knighted first.
Heaven knows it's not that I expect the Garter to be given to a union organiser or a humble health worker or a poet, for example; and it's not that I expect I have much in common with many KGs. I am usually able to preserve a healthy scepticism and distance between the cultural work the Order does, which is deeply fascinating to me; and the political and ceremonial honour it bestows, to which I am completely indifferent.
So why does this prospect disturb me so much? The prospect of sharing an interest with John Howard?
It would be pretty amazing: the commonwealth members tend to be of the vice-regal kind (Sir Paul Hasluck, Sir Ninian Stephen), while former PMs are British (Thatcher, Major, Heath, etc.). And before you ask, Menzies was a member of the Scottish Order of the Thistle, a different ball game altogether. It would be an extraordinarily partisan act to select Howard, so I'm sceptical. But a little scared, all the same. I do believe I find I think of it as my Order!
Time to just sit down and finish the damn book, Stephanie!