Monday, June 2, 2014

one of our favourite expats

Clive James, now 74, may have emphysema, leukaemia, and not long to live, but it seems his irrepressible cheekiness is … well… still irrepressible.

Despite his illness, he spoke at the Australian and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts in London on Saturday. His aim, he said, was to impress Tony Abbott's daughters. 

James himself would probably appreciate The Australian’s report  – a report that tells us he appeared “wearing black trousers, a black skivvy and a brown jacket…an ensemble in pre-war Hitler colours”, The Australian accompanying their report with a photo of him clearly wearing a tie.

His TV show brought us things like this snippet from 1987, long before the internet could share them with the entire world in a matter of hours. 

One thing people will still be denied when they see things like a picture of Knackers Crackers is his unique commentary… no one is a better exponent of the art of alliteration, a better purveyor of puns, or has a better sense of the absurd.
Clive James on Television was reality TV at its best.

James is a multilingual lover of all things Japanese; amongst other things, he says, the Japanese are great lovers of puns. 
No episode of Clive James on Television was complete without snippets of the Japanese TV show Endurance.

Here, contestants found themselves in a hot hunk of desert near the Nile, leaning against sheets of metal that had been baking in the sun…

… encouraged to stay upright by the careful placement of cacti.

The idiotic challenges issued during Endurance were unbelievably over-the-top, sometimes to the point of cruelty that could have made one cringe – but didn’t because contestants were free to give up. Perhaps it was contestants’ willingness to “stick at it” just made the silliness funnier.

James is a prodigious author, and although his droll wit permeates his writings  I must confess I never managed to finish Unreliable Memoirs, nor did I ever bother to try any other books he has written. Perhaps it was because his mobile eyebrows and bemused smile were missing from the word picture.

Just as well Clive prefers Tony Abbott’s daughters to Tony himself, because I’m sure the humour would be wasted on our Minister for women’s affairs.


  1. I loved his shows too. I didn't know he was sick. I don't read enough news.tuttut

    1. It's easy to read too much news, diane. It takes me about 2 mins to flick through the Hun, and I avoid TV news broadcasts. There is only so much one can take.

  2. I absolutely adore Clive James - his wit and insight are things to marvel at, envy and enjoy.

    1. Well put, Kath. [I'm not sure you are far behind him, mind!]

  3. I did see an interview a short while back.. hopefully he'll be with us for a while yet but I can only imagine what his dying words will be, something drole that's for sure FC :)

  4. I just know he has arranged for Maria Pracat-a-an to be part of his sendoff.

  5. Ann, I have no recollection of seeing her at all and so had to GoogleTube her. What a treat - Thank You!
    Clive's comment "She never lets the words or melody get in her way. She is us, without the fear of failure." is [typically] incisive.