After almost four and a half years as Crikey’s anonymous political editor Hillary Bray has today been unmasked by The Sunday Age
in a piece that moved the editor to tears as he read it to her over the
phone at 1am. This is Hillary’s initial reaction which we confess was
written before she knew what Australia’s only Sunday broadsheet has
published.

Nothing in the papers as usual today, dear? So that’s it, then? Not quite.

I
find I am thinking of… I find that I am thinking of the words that
begin the last page of the last decent Martin Amis novel, London
Fields. They come in a letter from a corpse:

“I find I am
thinking of the words of the exemplary War Poet: ‘It seemed that out of
battle I escaped…’ The poem is a vision or a premonition of death
(accurate, alas: his death was days away), in which the war poet –
himself a forced collision, himself a strange meeting – joins his
counterpart, his semblance, from the other side: ‘I am the enemy you
killed, my friend’…”

But the more I think about it the
more, personally, I blame Alfred Deakin. That’s right. Him. Him and his
Australian Settlement. He started it all. Just have a look at the
Australian Dictionary of Biography, where it talks about his visit to
London in 1900:

“Deakin made a remarkable decision on his
return. In London he had met Lord Glenesk, proprietor, and Nicol Dunn,
editor of the Morning Post. In November he accepted an offer to become
their ‘special’ or ‘Sydney’ correspondent, furnishing weekly letters
and occasional cables on Australian politics for ₤500 a year… An
anonymous Deakin was now to write an inner account of Federal politics
for a Tory unionist paper even as he was about to become a minister of
the Crown, and to remain one for most of the thirteen years of his
secret journalism. The money was useful and he persuaded himself that
it was his duty to supply an ignorant British public with informed news
and views on Australian politics. Later, in 1904-05, he was to write
unsigned articles for the London National Review. The letters and
articles were to prove vivid in style, intelligent in comment,
relatively free from bias and mildly critical of himself on occasions.”

And what about these pensees, from the diary of Auberon Waugh, as shared with the readers of Private Eye, for February 20 of 1983:

“Officials
of the Church of Scientology deny that their founder, Ron Hubbard, is
dead or incurably insane, although he has not been seen anywhere for
two years. Is this true or untrue? In either case, does it matter?

“None
of us can really be sure that we exist. My whole life, as this Diary
shows, is a lie. All the characters in it are invented, none bears any
resemblance to anyone living or dead. People who claim to find
themselves here, like the ludicrous John Pilger… must know that the
only real existence we can any of us claim is in the imagination of
God.”

How very sage. How very familiar.

Then
there’s the tiresome matter raised today in The Sunday Age about who
has actually authored all these articles, about what is actually meant
by “versatile political brand”.

When I consider them, I
find I am thinking of the very final words of London Fields: “It was
me. Always me. It was me. It was me.” But it wasn’t. I have no idea who
it sometimes has been.

Post-modernism can be a real bugger, can’t it?

Still, Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected].


A word from the Crikey editor

Another interesting column there, CHRISTIAN KERR.
At this point, we really should take the opportunity to remind you of
the sort of material that our versatile political brand has pumped out
over the years.

Hillary Bray on reinventing government

Hillary Bray on the tax war

Don’t be too charitable to the Greens – if only for the Hillary dinkus.

For humour – Hillary brakes the monotony: Sample 1 and Sample 2.

Some well-argued argy-bargy from both sides on Victorian electoral reform

Greens and Dubya’s visit

Reviewing the Greg Barns book on the Liberal Party

Peter Fray

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