Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, December 27, 2002

How did this creep get a gig with Auntie:

"America is a spiritually defined country. It creates the conditions that protect the possibility of a search for knowledge, conscience and spiritual development within its borders. It is probably the most beneficent world power that has ever existed on the earth."

Oh, right, through that New Dimensions back-window.

AT THE WITCHING HOUR each Saturday night, when most of us are making that mysterious transition from drunken hero to hung-over sub-human, Auntie’s Radio National persona passes through its own transmogrification, from Grande Dame of Australia’s ethereal salon of high-minded conversation, to – what?

To whatever, that’s what.

Whatever is whatever you wish to believe today.

Any questions may be asked, but no answers questioned.

Whatever is the New Age.

And when the year passes into its own witching, in the lacuna between Christmas and New Year and the time of recovery beyond, when bricklayers lay no bricks, the New Age moves into Auntie’s full daylight as New Dimensions. The dark moon ascendant at mid-day. Does it shed any light?

Here is its profession: Intimate conversations with many of this century's leading thinkers and social innovators. In the oral tradition of story telling, each program presents original and stimulating ideas about mind, body and spirit, and the connection to self, family, community, environment and the planet.

No false modesty among our New Age intellectuals.

Uncle is sorry to report that you have already missed the program on The Shaman as corporate leader.

Imagine this: You're asked to deliver a message to your CEO in the boardroom. As you approach you hear the sound of drumming. You cautiously open the door and on the floor, surrounded by burning candles, you behold the CEO and board of directors lying, flat with their eyes closed, being drawn into the rhythmic beat of the drum. Are you hallucinating? No. All is well.

I get it! This is a meeting of the Enron directors. Or HIH, with Rodney Adler making a presentation.

Richard Whiteley, author and corporate shaman extraordinaire, is leading them on a journey to find their power animals. The corporate culture as we have come to know it may never be the same.

Power animals? They standing for Parliament, Tonto?

Don’t worry if you missed it, there’s lots more coming. At the stroke of twelve this Saturday coming, Kim Jong Il permitting, you can have your boring world shattered by the following: Now in these times, no-one can deny that our world is interconnected. A new era has dawned. And the challenges upon us all to enhance our relationships at every level.

Set that alarm-clock. Wake the neighbours!

And, don't forget the mid-day series!

Thursday, December 26, 2002

It's not confined to the decaying churches of Europe. The decaying members of the old left exhibit the same symptoms.

Talking with Auntie's Ramona Koval, playwright Harold Pinter demonstrated that it is possible to live 72 years and learn absolutely nothing.
Pinter finds the rhetoric of a "freedom-loving" West perplexing.

He has never met anyone who was "freedom-hating". In fact, he can not conceive of anyone so morally deformed.

Then again, our Pinter was a conscientious objector against Hitler's war, on his own report.

Still, the folk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival thought him a beacon. So does Auntie.


In a Unity Ticket not seen these last 450 years, the Pope and the head of the Anglican Church have both opposed an attack on Iraq.

Henry VIII will be spinning in his crypt.

TONY BLAIR was yesterday accused of "moral surrender" over war in Iraq - by his own priest.

Father Timothy Russ hit out after the Blair family attended his Catholic church near Chequers.

After the service Fr Russ, a family friend, told the Daily Mirror violence and loss of life are not God's way to solve the world's problems

It sure suits some other people, though.

If he's asked, Uncle can suggest some candidates for Saddam Husseins human shield against foreign aggression.

Ethical minefield dogs face transplant pioneer.

Alternatively, fierce attacks face plastic surgeon.

Consultant plastic surgeon Peter Butler has called for public discussion before he attempts to graft the face of a dead donor onto a burn victim or someone suffering from face cancer.

Editor of Britain's Bulletin of Medical Ethics Richard Nicholson, says the idea strays too far from medicine's Hippocratic roots.

"My gut reaction is that we are pressing too far, too fast with ideas that impinge on our understanding of what normality is," he said
without apparent irony.

Butler says a face transplant could mean a deformity was spotted only at one metre away rather than 15 metres at present.

"I suspect they (the patients) don't understand how much of a rigid mask it may turn out to's going to be very difficult to get any of the nerves and muscles that control facial expression working again."

That's right! Just ask Simon Crean.

JOHN PILGER drowns on Barrier Reef holiday.

FREAK survives inevitable consequence!

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Ah, Christmas morning. A fresh day enlivened by the luxurious banalities of life.

The dog walked, the sloshing pool circumnavigated. The sun risen. Nothing discordant likely to intrude.

Until lunch time.

But you know that. It is probably dyspepsia and exhaustion that bring you to this page.

I console myself with the memory of Matthew Parris’s cogent explanation of why funerals are greatly to be preferred to weddings.

I know it seems like some contrarian conceit of the kind columnists are prone to, but the case is overwhelming

Only a blog-bore would reproduce so much text, but you can still read it on the Spectator’s site.

Uncle finds a strict analogy between Parris’s argument and his own preference for Easter over Christmas, former being the more satisfactory festival, even for an atheist.

Easter, combining the death and re-birth of the same and complete person, makes a much more satisfying subject for symbolism and celebration than the open-endedness of births, most of which fail to justify the hopes so enthusiastically invested in them.

Especially a birth celebrated by the inevitabilities, irritations and continuities of family life, which only the profoundly complacent can think merits such treatment.

If this were the mid-winter solstice Uncle could see the case for the kind of mindless celebration that consoles. Given the hemisphere we’re in, let’s abandon Christmas in favour of National Barbecue Day, when friends celebrate the lifestyle made possible by the climates of this blessed land. Any relationships closer than cousinage to be strictly excluded from this day’s festivities.

I am confident that the prattling Primate Carnley will hasten to embrace my idea once he realises the distress his congregation is causing the heathen majority by its selfishness; and I kill a few dozen Australians.

It’s no wonder we enliven Christmas with gift-giving, to co-opt the enthusiasm of the children. Who could bear it otherwise?

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Yes, Uncle is feeling that Christmas spirit of goodwill.

There’s too much accusation and bitterness flying around. Where is the spirit of healing and forgiveness?

You could wait for Auntie to begin broadcasting her New-Age nostrums for the intellectually-challenged in the New Year, when New Horizons returns like a January dust-storm.

If you can’t wait that long, join Uncle now in his Christmas charity work.

It’s time to rehabilitate sinners, whose depravity can be cured if they sincerely wish to be saved, and restore them to their proper place in society.

That’s right, I’m talking about those naughty scholars Henry Reynolds and Lyndall Ryan, recently convicted of molesting the children placed in their care. What can we do to help?

Here are Uncle’s options:

1. The Inquisition of Iniquity. We could persuade Wilson Tuckey, Peter Reith and Professor Bunyip to don the black hoods of God’s justice. Their task would be to compose salacious stories of what Henry and Lyndall might have done in their youth. This history would be made required reading in every curriculum-challenged university in the country. If, after twenty years, Henry and Lyndall can provide scholarly proof that they did not commit any of the deeds imagined by our ingenious tribunal, they will be eligible for entry into graduate school for apprentice historians.

2. The Phrase Perversion Test. Our two scallywags would be required to swap phrases in the following statement without changing its sense in any way:
"The evidence shows that Henry and Lyndall have fabricated evidence and misrepresented the rest to support a pre-determined view of Tasmanian history".

3. The Mud-bath of Death. This is more a trial than a test. Henry and Lyndall will be chained to a post in the deepest recesses of Auntie's Commune and subjected to incessant slurping and stroking from Philip Gastropod Adams. If they vomit it proves their hearts are pure. If they die with a smile on their faces who's going to complain?

4. Finally, for those of you without charity, even at Christmas, there is a fourth option. Leave them to suffer the social isolation that disgrace brings. You heartless wretches!

Over to you, gentle readers. Vote early and often. (When is back online.)