John Laws, apparently, has done some Questionable Things. Although for the life of me, I can’t remember what these might have been. That is, of course, if I do not count the salient and truly awful memory of his poetry. If you have never read these perverse stanzas; do not! Take it from this unsteady student of literature: they rest somewhere in between a particularly hormonal e.e. cummings and the smell of sick.

Nonetheless, John Laws has done some Questionable Things. You’ll be reminded of these in coming days.

John, who today announced his retirement, has had his hoary membrane pierced by the smug cutlery of Media Watch more times that I’ve stolen stationery from media organisations. For every ill-gotten ring-binder in my cupboard, he’s been investigated by some toothless communications authority. He’s a Bad Man, apparently, and the sort to whom both the Left and the Clever have always, rather inertly, objected.

Discarded by the Left and never Clever, then, I am qualified to give this man an elegy.

As one who has made an uneven living as a radio broadcaster, it was always quite difficult not to be impressed by Laws. There were the rumours, of course, about his Solid Gold Neumann U87. Precious metal or no, this mic was always rocked by an unparalleled vocal warmth. You can’t fake the perverse love a true jock has for his audience. Laws’ affection for The People, let me tell you without cynicism, was real.

What was also genuine, apparently, was his revulsion for Alan Jones. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m easily wooed by anyone who finds this ersatz neocon “thinker” less than arousing.

For years, like just about everyone, I did suspect that this public enmity had been constructed for the papers. Alan played a prowling Paris to Laws’ more vocal and talented Lindsay. But, joy, in 1999, I finally met Mr Laws and became fairly convinced that the stoush was real!

In a haze of Zoloft, I had written an awful book about overcoming depression.

In a haze of Arapax, I began an author tour. And so it was that I found myself in John Laws’ Green Room at Foxtel sitting with a fellow guest who, it appeared, had even greater need of serotonin than I.

It was the smiling Mr C, AKA Tom Bosley, from Happy Days. He wore sunglasses, refused to engage in anything approaching civil conversation and would NOT write the word “frisky” when I asked him for an autograph. This, I decided, was not a herald of delight. If Mr Cunningham had turned out to be a pr-ck, then what of the towering Mr Laws?

I had no need to worry. Laws won me within milliseconds. He was engaged, he was polite and, even without the Neumann, he retained a voice that shook my ovaries.

And then, when we had finished, he asked me, “Helen, what do you think of Alan Jones?”

I told him primly that I preferred not to think of him at all.

Then, a stream of enchanting invective began to pour from his million-dollar mouth. I did make notes, but I cannot share them with you.

If only your poetry was like this, John. If only.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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