I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


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!


David Thornby said...

I'd think it unusual if you hadn't formed some kind of proprietory feelings; I don't know many academics with boundary-less objectivity -- I think the ones who are completely objective are either bored or new to it.

I'm not surprised, either, that there's a dissonance occuring with a sudden concatenation of JH and the Object of Study. It's a bit like finding out that your second-hand bicycle is only in such good condition because it was previously owned by the school bully; two things you've had more-or-less emotion-charged relationships with in separate boxes suddenly tipped into the same compartment; nobody's comfortable with that until they're used to the new arrangement.

Then again, maybe you're just subconsciously concerned that, as antipodeans, we're getting a raw deal on the swap. Not, I suppose, that there are too many who wouldn't look inadequate in a seat recently vacated by Hillary.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I like the call-to-arms (so to speak) tone of 'Sit down and finish the damn book'. If only we all got fired up enough to sit down and finish the damn book, whole new forests would have to be planted.

I smell a rat with this whole Howard/Garter story, though.

(So to speak.)