As someone who has also gone through the five-hour Col Allan lunch at Lucio’s as the official initiation at the Daily Telegraph, it was most amusing to read the following extract from The Latham Diaries.
The only difference is that our $500 booze-up, which finished with
bottles of limoncello at about 5pm, included current News Ltd executive
chairman John Hartigan and current Adelaide Advertiser editor Mel Mansell. Col even used the chauffeur to ferry us there and back:

Wednesday, 21 October, 1998

Lunch with The Daily Telegraph’s
Col Allan, Malcolm Farr and Piers Akerman at the swank Lucio’s in
Paddington. It’s a marathon session – these guys can really hit the
p*ss. They want me to write a weekly column for the paper and I’m happy
to oblige. It’s a good forum and, after the turgid prose of Civilising Global Capital, a chance to simplify my writing and message for a popular audience.

They have no problem with me also writing for The AFR
at the rival Fairfax stable – the audiences are totally different. This
way I’ll have all bases covered: the pointy-head audience in the Fin and the mob who read the Tele.
An ideal opportunity for political agitation from the backbench. Plus
I’ll be earning a few extra bob, much needed for the property
settlement with the ex.

The lunch conversation is a long way from policy debate. Running the Tele
is about good food, good wine and good hatchet jobs. These blokes have
scores of public figures they hate, and the purpose of the paper is to
do them in. I joined in the spirit, boasting that my first column would
out Bob Carr as a Western Sydney hater. When I worked for him he would
often say, ‘You must feel stupid living in Western Sydney, so far from
the coast.’ I won’t do it, of course, it was just the piss talking.

The
lunch finished at 5.30pm and then it was back to News Ltd for an hour
of work, blind as bats. Col wanted to kick on, but I bailed out. A
five-hour lunch is about my limit these days.

CRIKEY: Taking
Rupert’s coin was poor form as it was all done on Parliamentary time.
However, the column certainly provided Iron Mark with the perfect forum
to build his reputation and they were usually lively, thought-provoking
efforts. This extract also makes the point that many people are missing
in The Latham Diaries – parts of it are very funny. I spent two
hours in a cafe going through some of the earlier years yesterday and
the bar staff kept looking over wondering why this bloke was laughing
out loud so much. Don’t believe all the media rubbish, just read the
thing for yourself.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off