Friday 22nd of August 2014

game of tone .....

game of tone .....

from Crikey …..

Arise, sons of privilege.

Just when you think things simply cannot get any crazier, they do. I thought our right to be bigots was just about as wild as things were going to get, but how wrong can a girl (maybe more of a dame) be? Now four Aussies a year will become knights and/or dames if considered sufficiently worthy by our esteemed (if somewhat unpredictable) Prime Minister. I guess it just goes to show that while you can take the boy out of the UK (as Tony Abbott’s mum and dad did in 1959), you can’t take the UK out of the boy - or the 1950s, for that matter.

To be honest with you, I have rather enjoyed these recent mediaeval shenanigans. Sometimes to stop yourself crying you really do have to laugh, and people have been having an absolute field day of hilarity in response to Abbott’s imperial proclamation. You can choose your own tweet of the week from this cornucopia of witty offerings collated by BuzzFeed. My personal favourite is number 18. Some of the more po-faced among us have been complaining mightily about "cheap shots" like these, but frankly, what do they and Abbott expect?

Indeed, that is the sad side of these absurd new honours. The first two recipients - Dame Quentin Bryce and Sir Peter Cosgrove - are both outstanding Australians with real and important achievements under their very different belts. They are two people who deserve to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, thanks to their ridiculous new honorifics, I now can’t actually hear either of them mentioned without giggling.

Far from honouring Bryce and Cosgrove, I feel as if Abbott has unwittingly made a mockery of them.



from Mordor .....

from mike carlton …..

Last week's column about knights, dames and the Queen at breakfast had monarchists howling for my treasonous head.

"Your ignorance about the royal family is there for all to see," wrote one angry reader. "The Queen would not butter her own toast. They have servants to do it for them."

Gosh. I hadn't thought of that. The author was anonymous, but the email had a strong whiff of Brigadier (retired) to it, perhaps from the Southern Highlands or one of the north shore's lesser pocket boroughs like East Lindfield or West Pymble. Then again, it might just have been Professor David Flint incognito.Advertisement

A woman fretted that I might do something frightful when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge turn up later this month. "Mr Carlton," she began. "During the forthcoming royal tour, it is to be hoped you will keep your mouth very tightly closed, as we do not wish to be seen as a country of bogans ... for a short period of time please refrain from your boorish, uncouth and, at times, ignorant comments."

Again there was no address, but she signed it "Mrs A. Wright", which I would have thought was a touch bogan itself – using the honorific and all that – but there you go.

You can never be too careful with protocol. Or the grace notes, whatever they might be. Last week I was dismayed to hear the Prime Minister refer to the wife of the new Governor-General as "Lady Lynne."

Bad clanger, that. As even 15 minutes in front of Downton Abbey would inform you, Lady Lynne could only be the daughter of a Duke, Marquess or Earl. For a knight's wife, the correct form is "Lynne, Lady Cosgrove." It's not the end of all we hold dear, but if Downton Abbott is going to inflict more of these toe-curling anachronisms upon us it would be best to get them right.

The Latin I put into the mouth of the Pope also got caned. Look, for someone who scored a mark of nine out of 100 in my year 9 Latin exam, I thought I did OK. I never actually got past Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres – all Gaul is divided into three parts – the less than fascinating opening line of Caesar's Gallic War blockbuster. And as the Latin teacher acidly told me, two of those marks were for neatness and one for spelling my name correctly. Any fault belongs to Google Translate, not me.

The royal rules of etiquette

The rules for hobnobbing with royalty are ironclad. Happily, I have been leaked a cabinet document instructing ministers how to behave when Wills and Kate are here. It is worth quoting, in case you bump into them.

1) At first meeting, ministers are to bow low from the waist. Our sole lady cabinet minister, Julie Bishop, should curtsey by bending the knees outwards as fully as possible and sweeping one foot behind her. These gestures should be practised before a mirror to avoid the social disaster of toppling headlong at the royal feet.

2) There is no requirement to bow or curtsey to his royal highness Prince George of Cambridge. As he is only nine-months old, a respectful tug of the forelock will suffice.

3) Ministers should not begin any conversation. Their royal highnesses may, if they so wish. There must be no mention of sport. While Prince William will one day be our king, it must be remembered that he always cheers for the home country and will not welcome any suggestion that England's recent Ashes tour of Australia was a disaster second only to the fall of Singapore in 1942.

I hope this helps, especially the bit about not opening the chatting. I learnt that from Jim McClelland, the late Labor senator who, finding himself at a Canberra reception with the even later Princess Margaret, naturally sought to be agreeable.

"How's your sister?" he asked politely.

Margaret, who had taken a gin or three against the heat of the Canberra summer, was frostily unamused.

"Still Queen," she snapped.

Lording It Over The Monarchists