Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, November 22, 2004
Reader JK wonders if I heard our Gastropod interviewing Boyer Lecturer Peter Conrad. Negative. Auntie's choices for Boyer Lecturers range from the sublime to the ridiculous and from hearing his first lecture I concluded that Conrad was, outside his own field, as close to the bottom as, say, Eva Cox, my personal dross standard. Conrad is pretty unreadable as a writer, and sounds much the same.

But fortune favours the lazy bugger, and reader BW not only listened to the Adams-Conrad stroke-fest but recorded what he heard:
Did you hear the sneering references to Gerard Henderson by the inimitable Adams, 18/1? Instead of using the careful moderate questioning of Henderson regarding Peter Conrad's views about Australia in his current Boyer lectures [SMH 17/1] as a basis for a discussion, Adams merely discovered that Conrad had never heard of this well-known Australian intellectual, assuring him that he didn't like Conrad's views.. That was enough apparently!

With typical Adams' partisan juvenility, this was followed by a chummy 'interview' which failed to question ANY of Conrad's superficial views seriously. Adams insultingly allowed Conrad to refer ignorantly to the unknown Gerald [sic] Henderson several times without any correction, reducing what could have been a serious discussion into a sniggering smear against Henderson, DESPITE nothing of this man's views being treated at all, let alone with any respect!

Conrad came across as a smart alec expat poseur willing to sneer at a leading Australian he simply did not know at all, even by name!

Some Boyer Lecturer!
Phillip Adams mixed with Peter Conrad. Sounds more like a recipe for compost than a programming decision of a national broadcaster.