Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday whinge

Some dot points arising from the last 24 hours:
  • The Miles Franklin Literary Award is for a certain kind of novel. The criteria include specifics of subject matter: the book should address 'Australian life in any of its phases'. Whether or not one approves is immaterial: that phrase is in Miles Franklin's will.
  • 'Criteria' is the plural form of the singular noun 'criterion'. 
  • Trashing women for getting old and then turning round and trashing them again for availing themselves of surgical retread procedures is a particularly vile and stupid form of misogynist hypcrisy. NB misogyny is not practised only by men.
  • 'Antarctica' is neither spelled nor pronounced 'Antartica'.
  • If you have told a woman in her 70s and a man in his 80s that they must be available to speak on the phone to the Magistrates' Court at some point after 2.15, then you do not let them sit nervously waiting for a call for the rest of the afternoon and then tell them the next day, when one of them finally rings up to ask what's going on, that Oh yes, the hearing took place and the divorce went through, it was all very straightforward and we didn't need to ring you up.
  • At least one senior federal minister is in urgent need of media (re-)training.  
  • If someone orders a hot chocolate, you don't give them the one that just happens to be sitting around behind the counter. You make them a fresh one.
  • If you are a successful writer and someone asks you to write a Foreword for their book and you produce a languid, self-indulgent and equivocal two and half pages, you are doing the book more harm than good despite the fact that it has your name on the cover. If you didn't want to write an introduction, you should have just said no.


Mindy said...

Sounds like it's been a rough 24hrs for you. Did you ask for a fresh hot chocolate?

Mindy said...

Okay, you've got me with the Miles Franklin one. Does someone not like Truth or isn't it an Australian enough novel? (Haven't read it yet).

Anonymous said...

Did you hear the RN story about the Anare club too? I was driving the car and kind of swerved at every mention of Antartica. Maybe it is their club in-joke?


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Su, yes, that was it all right.

It's not so bad when people who've spent time there do it (though very surprising, considering how often they must have seen the word written down), because presumably most of them don't work professionally with words and speaking, but I was shocked that an ABC newsreader should have made a mistake like that.

via collins said...

That's a month's worth of fair complaints, your antennae are in superlative form clearly.

I do feel very badly for the aged person who copped what they did. Staggering insensitivity, and indicative of.....something or other.

BwcaBrownie said...

empathy from me to the people inconvenienced by that promised phone call rudeness, unfortunately that type of incident is all too common.

commiseration to you on a rotten day of ultra-aggravation, especially the hot drink, which might have been OK if they had said it was free of charge. So many retail assistants FAIL to grasp the fact that The Customer brings their salary through the doors.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I'm being precious and not totally serious about the word thingies, of course. But the hot chocky incident did throw me a bit, and the person behind the counter wasn't sufficiently dextrous with his English for me to want to hassle him about it, so I just paid and drank it and shut up. And the octogenarian waiting in vain for the phone call about his divorce hearing was none other than Papa Cat, who at 83 continues to go on living his life, and I know about the four-hour wait by the phone because I was there.

Mindy said...

I assumed he must have been waiting to give evidence for someone else (or was that another conversation?). How awful, at least he had you there for moral support. I would have assumed that a quick phonecall would have been made after it was all over just to let them know. Or if indeed they were needed they would be at the hearing.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Mindy, because of one of the factors in the application they were supposed to 'attend' the hearing, but apparently in legalese this means they have the option of sitting at home and being rung up by the court, which they both, in their newly separate abodes (thank God), opted to do. The letter they both received stated unequivocally that they would be rung up at some point after the time for which the hearing was scheduled. And yes, you'd think a quick call even if it had gone through without needing to speak to them would have been nice, wouldn't you.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Mindy, sorry, didn't answer your question about the Miles Franklin. No, not about Truth. I saw at least three or four different references, all on that one day, to the Miles Franklin that in one way or another disparaged that famous phrase about 'Australian life in any of its phases' in Franklin's will. The fretting away at that criterion comes from a mindset I just do not get. A prize is a prize and its parameters are set by the person who endows it. The only literary prizes properly susceptible of debate about their terms are the government-funded ones.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I'm with you on all of these, but so so much on the MILES - what is with that? 'Oh this old-fashioned award has some quirky requirements that we have decided don't suit our modern lifestyle so we're just going to go get the WILL overturned so it is identical to a bunch of other perfectly available awards'. Get over it. There are awards out there for left handers, for women, for novels with positive depictions OF women. So they're quirky. So launch your own award (the rhetorical you, obviously, PC) and stick your name on it. 'Australian life in any of its phases' outrageous! What could she have been thinking. I'm guessing she was thinking exactly what they think she was thinking. I hope that will was watertight.
wv lisln - a combination of lisle (stockings) and lisn to what I'm telling you - MF from beyond)

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Tyaakina, lovely to see you! Yes, everything you say and more. I'm working on a post for the Readin' and Writin' blog called 'Miles Franklin and the Circular Argument' ('Oh yes I know the other awards have particular criteria but we should change the Miles because it's the big special important one.' 'Yes, and that's because it's endowed by Miles, who was a passionate cultural nationalist.' 'Oh yes but no but yes. I mean, you know, nationalism's old-fashioned.''Yes, that's because Miles died and left her will in 1954. Etc. May I quote you in said post? (Anonymously, pseudonymously or real-nymously, your choice.)

Mindy said...

That's ok PC, I just assumed you were busy and had a wander around the literary blogs on your sidebar. Found an interesting conversation on the MF from June where someone made that very argument early on. Also read some interesting comments by a C.O. Some of these literary types do a nice line in derail (very interesting derail nonetheless).

I can't see what is wrong with a prize that focuses on Australian life. It's not as if there is a lack of other prizes that big name authors can win; and if the want to win the Miles Franklin they can write a book about Australian life.

Also, is writing about Australian life necessarily nationalism? Someone could do a Monica Ali Brick Lane style book about Australia and not be accused of nationalism while still meeting that criterion surely?

Mindy said...

Someone has slain Barry Gibb (Bee Gees) with a badly placed comma.

"It will be the first time [Robin] Gibb has performed the songs on tour without his two brothers Barry and Maurice, who died in 2003."

Tatyana Larina said...

Yes, I agree about the Miles.

Franklin left practically all she had towards this award, she was quite frugal and didn’t have an easy life, which makes any attempts to change the terms of the award quite off-putting.

I don’t see that continued adherence to the very broad definition stipulated in Franklin’s will is an expression of nationalism or a narrow focus on exclusive localism. Miles was passionate about supporting Australian literature, and it seems to me that need hasn’t entirely disappeared …

Also, I’ve read somewhere relatively recently that some body (and I can’t remember the details) was intending to invest additional funds into the bequest to make the award more substantial (as $40 000+ is not a good reflection of the award’s standing). I’m not sure if there was any mention that this could allow changes of the original terms, but I hope that wouldn’t be possible.

Please let us know when your piece is finished, PC.

Just regarding the points from the post, the last one is awful …

Tatyana Larina said...

This was the article I was referring to (

This bit is interesting:

"‘I am not ruling out seeking to change the terms of the will.’’ To do that, however, would require a court ruling."

It's scary to think that a person can leave a bequest, stipulate the terms, which the trustees can change, potentially.

Ann ODyne said...

not completely off-topic, involving cats and writing:
Andrew Lloyd-Webber has a Turkish Van swimming cat, and
'At £400, the pets are expensive, but Lloyd Webber's proved particularly costly.
When he was a six-month-old kitten, Otto clambered into the maestro's computerised grand piano and deleted the entire score for his sequel to Phantom Of The Opera.
'I was trying to write some new music, he jumped on to the computer and destroyed the entire score for the new "Phantom" in one fell swoop,' he said.
Computer technicians were unable to recover the work.
Still, the composer is said to be besotted with the delicate animal.
Asked who is his greatest love, Lloyd Webber said: 'Madeleine [his current wife] and I'm very fond of my cat.'

so a man who receives song royalties of £100,00 per day, wasn't smart enough to click Save every 5 minutes

Zarquon said... for all budding Australian novelists.

Legal Eagle said...

Hmm, PC & Tatyana, beware, you're going to inspire me to do a legal post about how difficult it is to change the terms of a will.

Basically, courts are very chary about changing the terms of a will (or a will trust) because they want to effect the testator's intention. Obviously, the testator is not around any more to object.

If Miles Franklin wanted to leave her money for that purpose, then they should bloody well administer it for that purpose. It shouldn't be about its reputation and prominence, it should be about promoting what Miles Franklin wanted. GRRR.