Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

If I die I hope it won't be in Melbourne. The chief obituarist of a Melbourne morning paper takes a dim view of me, and since the London Daily Telegraph pioneered the custom of pissing on the recently deceased, the Melbourne obituarist is pretty likely to do the same to me. A couple of years ago he wrote an autobiography in which he impugned my patriotism in a rather nasty way. It's quite a fat autobiography, as are usually the memoirs of uninteresting people -- the women who talk longest on the telephone are invariably women who have nothing to talk about.

Anyway, I suppose this little prick's obituary is already on file awaiting the distant date of my demise, and all those people in my home town who thought I was nice will learn what an ingrate I was, turning my back on the Australian cultural renaissance and seeking cheap fame and fortune in distant and unimportant countries.

'H ow's ya day been so far?' On a recent visit to Sydney I found a lot of people apostrophising me thus. When at first I began to tell them in considerable detail, they glazed over, and by the time I was describing my first bowel movement of the day they admitted that the question was entirely rhetorical and they weren't in the slightest bit interested in how my day had been.

Annoyingly, however, the words lodged in my mind like an irritating tunelet, and now I say it all the time to people in London and New York, including strangers on the street.

'How'syadaybeensofar?' has almost replaced 'notaproblem' and 'noproblematall' as one of the most popular phrases in the Austral language, rivalling the English 'bear with me'. I am surprised that this all-purpose British exculpation does not appear on those yellow road signs which block traffic all over London, although there is never to be seen a hard-hatted workman with whom we have to bear toiling behind the barricades. I see many of these untended excavations on taxi journeys as I move at the pace of a cripple, and at the cost of hundreds of pounds, through the thrombotic streets of London.

Last night my taxi driver told me how much he hated Ken Livingstone. 'Fancy London havin' a mayor who keeps fuckin' lizards!' exclaimed Mr Fitzgerald as we crashed up and down those Himalayan ambulancejolting speed bumps. I had plenty of time to learn his name since you can get quite pally with a taxi driver during the long journey from Berkeley Square to Great Marlborough Street. ''E wants to abolish the Knowledge now.' Since London is probably the only city in the world where taxi drivers know their way around, having the Knowledge does seem a somewhat snobbish and elitist accomplishment discriminating against idiot and foreign drivers, and it would really get up the nose of a miserable little ratbag like Ken.

Iam packing for Las Vegas, where I am doing some sort of a Christmas show in a hotel casino called the Luxor. The Luxor is a glass pyramid, probably constructed to discourage suicides. Apparently a lot of people who lose their money gambling in Las Vegas jump out of hotel windows, but at the Luxor they would just slide gracefully to the ground. Dame Edna was interviewed about this gig by a girl whose CV revealed that she had a Masters degree in English literature at a South Carolina university. Edna told her that the Luxor Hotel and Casino Complex had in fact been excavated in Egypt and been brought to the desert state of Nevada, where it was reconstituted stone by stone. …

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