Clive James

Television was my introduction to James. My first impression was, ‘how did a portly, bald Australian with an accent this nasal get Britain eating out of his hand?’ I watched on – then read on – and figured it out.

This entry was posted in Australian Story. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Clive James

  1. Cynic of Ayr

    Years ago, Clive commentated that rather strange sport of the Japanese – some sort of pain enduring thing.
    This particular time, competitors were dressed as bats, hung upside down, and dozens of cockroaches poured down the leg of their pants.
    (I did say it was strange.)
    Anyway, Clive described them as, “The inverted, cockroach infested, bat imitators.”
    I still suffer the body damage from the laughing I endured. I’ve remembered those words for nigh on fifty years.

  2. Zyconoclast

    I have distant, fond memories of his ‘Postcards From…’ series.
    I wonder how well they would stand the test time if viewed again.

  3. Infidel Tiger

    Our last and final public intellectual gone.

    It’s all selfies and anal sunbathing from here.

  4. Pyrmonter

    A fine fellow, and productive until the end (New Statesman has something form him in a recent edition).

    And someone who is being remembered fondly by people of all political and cultural stripes: a rare thing in these tribal times.

  5. Tezza

    Clive’s essay “Mass death dies hard” is brilliant on many levels and as usual, funny too. It’s great to see it reprinted at the GWPF site in Clive’s memory.

  6. I_am_not_a_robot

    His Cultural Amnesia is an entertaining read.

  7. John64

    Vale Clive – a great man. But he shouldn’t have inflicted Margarita Pracatan on the world.

  8. ACTOldFart

    There were 4 of them, Australians who made a splash in the international world of ideas and comment in the 1960s and onward. Now 2 of them, Robert Hughes and Clive James have gone, leaving Barry Humphries and Germaine Greer. It makes me feel old, and it doesn’t seem that there are any replacements.

  9. Young Freddy

    Unreliable Memoirs is just side-splitting, that yarn about the go-cart! Cultural Amnesia is a “must read”, I haven’t muscled up to Inferno yet.

  10. Tom

    My first impression was, ‘how did a portly, bald Australian with an accent this nasal get Britain eating out of his hand?’

    It’s amazing how far you can go with a fierce intellect levened by self-deprecating humour, of which Australia is still the world capital, in spite of the language fascists, who have made political correctness the ascendant expression of our cultural cowardice.

  11. Infidel Tiger

    No book has ever captured Australia better than Unreliable Memoirs.

  12. Terence Brennan

    Unreliable Memoirs an absolute classic.

    Clive turned up at Sydney Uni O Week wearing his school blazer with I think they were fellowship badges rampant on the lapel.

    He also once remarked that he was often amused to call on Germaine Greer in her digs to find the author of The Female Eunuch showing her abundant skills as a seamstress turning up a hem or somesuch.

    How he described his mother’s grief upon the death of his father; survivor of a Japanese POW camp only to die in transit back to Oz, will live with me forever.

    God Bless you Clive. You are now with your long lost Dad and your Mother who is now with her family complete.

  13. thefrollickingmole

    He was a clever and funny bloke.
    Clive James on TV was a highlight.

    Their ABC this morning was tut-tutting over “you wouldnt/couldnt say or show what he did and how awful but funny his show was.

    Awful people.
    The worst.
    Believe me.

  14. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    He never forgot the angled sun dancing in extraordinary glitter on Sydney’s summer-blue harbour, his eternal ‘crushed diamonds’. I hope he had this vision in his mind at the last as he said he would, leading him home. On certain magical days when our antipodean sun hits that note it will serve to conjure him still.

    And then there is the ominous sound of the lid of the dunny bin flying loose as the clip gave way on the tripped dunny bin man in ‘Unreliable Memoirs’.

    No two images better capture the Australia he knew and loved, and the magnificent son of Australia that he was.

  15. The BigBlueCat

    Clive’s take on F1 was always a hoot!

  16. Roger

    Their ABC this morning was tut-tutting over “you wouldnt/couldnt say or show what he did and how awful but funny his show was.

    Meanwhile, the ABC reports that a majority of its viewers – via its Australia Talks survey – believe political correctness has gone too far.

    Even ABC viewers are getting sick of the sanctimony.

    Anyway, vale Clive.

  17. Leigh Lowe

    Infidel Tiger

    #3246990, posted on November 28, 2019 at 11:53 am

    No book has ever captured Australia better than Unreliable Memoirs.

    Haven’t read it for years.
    Time for a re-run.

  18. C.L.

    Meanwhile, the ABC reports that a majority of its viewers – via its Australia Talks survey – believe political correctness has gone too far.

    Yes but they immediately set about scolding and denigrating that majority.

    From the report:

    That said, the older you are, the whiter you are, the male-r, the poorer and less educated, the more likely you are to feel strongly about this, the data shows.

  19. Cenobyte

    “Meanwhile, the ABC reports that a majority of its viewers – via its Australia Talks survey – believe political correctness has gone too far.”

    I always thought ‘Political Correctness’ was a pejorative term.

    Who in their right mind would be ‘pro’ a belief system that is a negative?

  20. Single handedly brought the Australian IQ into 3 digits. We’re now back to 64, just below Sierra Leone.

  21. Infidel Tiger

    Peter Fitzsimons is now our greatest living public intellectual.

    When he dies, the banner passes to Waleed Aly.

  22. Chris M

    It’s all selfies and anal sunbathing from here.

    And

    When he dies, the banner passes to Waleed Aly.

    There seems some connection here, can’t quite shine light on what it might be. Meanwhile will look into… reading CJ’s book.

  23. Roger

    When he dies, the banner passes to Waleed Aly.

    The only public intellectual to ever win a Gold Logie!

    Yes but they immediately set about scolding and denigrating that majority.

    Some of Annabel Crabb’s best work!

  24. JC

    Peter Fitzsimons is now our greatest living public intellectual.

    When he dies, the banner passes to Waleed Aly.

    No it doesn’t. It passes to Mike Carlton. Both national living treasures.

  25. Squirrel

    Clive burbling around Berlin in a Trabi was priceless, and this effort is wickedly knowing –

    “The book of my enemy has been remaindered
    And I am pleased……”

    and eternally relevant (particularly to retired politicos)

  26. Roger

    The Dumb (featuring the aforementioned Annabel Crabb!) is celebrating the life & work of Clive James.

    It’s like a vegetarian extolling the virtues of a blue steak.

  27. Tracey

    Watching those great New Year’s Eve TV specials he did while nursing our NYD hangovers was a ritual for my brother and me. I’d forgotten about him in the Trabi, Squirrel, glad you mentioned it. Those Postcard From … shows were great too. I loved Unreliable Memoirs but to my shame I haven’t read Cultural Amnesia. Will rectify that first chance I get.

  28. Oh come on

    One of Clive James’s many talents was unearthing bizarre and hilarious videos from obscure places and broadcasting them. He was basically a one-man YouTube in that regard.

  29. Oh come on

    I mourn the glory days of the cultural cringe. When Australians recognised and rejected the deeply mediocre dross that declared itself our cultural scene, and the most talented of us got as far away from it as possible.

  30. Infidel Tiger

    Forgot about that! Clive’s New Year’s Eve specials almost made that terribly over rated night worthwhile.

    Yes, must buy Cultural Amnesia.

  31. C.L.

    Robert Hughes was somebody I admired and was influenced by. I started reading his books on art many years ago and loved the way he wrote like a man who knew. The whole post-structuralist, relativist project was still popular then (the 1980s and 90s) – especially amongst reviewers and essayists of culture. But Hughes rejected all that, it seemed to me. His oeuvre was well-founded definitiveness. Remember Culture of Complaint? That was prophetic.

  32. C.L.

    Check this out …

    Enquiry Into the Beats: Robert Hughes and Clive James Interview (1959)

    Bob Hughes begins, Clive introduced at 2:28:

  33. It’s all selfies and anal sunbathing from here.

    Mars 2022 or bust.

  34. PoliticoNT

    Hang in there Mate

    Plotting huddled in a Cambridge flat
    Unsightly crater on your forehead
    You may think the end is near
    But we dearly hope for more.

    Fight it Clive
    Fight for life
    There’s more to write
    More to live for
    Remainder your enemies, not yourself.

    The tango may elude
    (We suspect you only learnt it for nefarious means)
    And there’ll be no more dalliances
    But your eyes will twinkle merrily
    At the memories

    We forgive your impulses, for
    You gave us many things, especially Japan
    Ah, Japan!
    As a salaryman lowers a live crab into his underpants
    We marvel at your love for the people of the Land of the Rising Sun
    Such love

    Yet such sadness over a lost father
    (You hide it well)
    And you ache for Sydney, her sea and sun
    But do they ache for you? No.
    London, without which there would be no Clive James
    Is your true home

    And it is there an unexpected innings lies ahead.
    A nightwatchman’s master class delivered under extreme duress,
    A fighting stand of wit and clever word play;
    Spun out, one oxygen tank after another.

    And with the arrival of each new autumn
    The would be obituary crafters
    Will stop panting for your demise
    And simply pause to read, and enjoy.

    Your night is not yet silent.

  35. PoliticoNT

    (The above) written five years ago when it seemed we’d be without Clive much longer (than we were eventually lucky to have him). Reading his book Brrm!Brrm! (many times) effectively taught me how to read.

  36. Tracey

    For those like me who lack the space for more physical books Cultural Amnesia is available as a Kindle addition. Not the same but I’d prefer to read something worthwhile on a screen than not read it at all.

  37. Tracey

    Edition not addition. How embarrassment 😖

  38. P

    C.L.
    #3247313, posted on November 28, 2019 at 9:01 pm
    Check this out …
    Enquiry Into the Beats: Robert Hughes and Clive James Interview (1959)

    I go back a bit further, but this is more like the voice of Clive that I remember from the summer six week school holidays 1952/1953 when we had both just finished our first year at High School.

    It was a memorable time for me riding our push bikes around Moorefield Racecourse with Clive and his friend Doug, and then meeting up later and sitting for hours in the shade the Coral trees of the old St Patricks graveyard, discussing everything from why my friend was always doing the ‘Cats Whiskers’ with the wool in her pocket, and me when I would bring out of my pocket, Jacks.

    The graves had been removed and loam had replaced the area. We would however dig in the sandy loam and listen to Clive and his spooky stories. He had a marvelous imagination even back then.

    I could say much more, but tonight I pray for the soul Clive James.

  39. Leigh Lowe

    Infidel Tiger

    #3247136, posted on November 28, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Peter Fitzsimons is now our greatest living public intellectual.

    They are running adverts on high rotation for his Cap’n Coook book on 3AW.
    I wonder if early figures are poor?

  40. Cold-Hands

    Clive James reads his farewell poem, Japanese Maple

  41. Natural Instinct

    ACTOldFart

    #3246977, posted on November 28, 2019 at 11:32 am

    There were 4 of them, Australians who made a splash in the international world of ideas and comment in the 1960s and onward
    .
    .
    If I heard correctly last night on the ABC. Leo Schofield called them the “right wing four”.
    If your a hater, you’ve got to hate.

  42. Herodotus

    A real Australian education would have to include Blinky Bill, Smiley Gets a Gun, Forty Fathoms Deep (and other Idriess books) as well as Clive’s work.
    Although he was a dickhead, the late Bob Ellis once wrote a gem of a monologue on what “success” used to mean to the average Australian. Can’t find it now.
    As we watch the nation subside into a political swamp or quagmire of PC, there remains one way of being in touch with the disappearing Australia. Get right out of the cities and go bush.

  43. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Apologies for putting up after midnight some light-hearted personal commentary on this thread thinking I was on the Open Forum thread. I was using my phone where it is not always easy to tell.

    Sinc, maybe you can remove these few after midnight comments not meant for this thread, as they do not suit this thread at all, which should stand in memorial to Clive James.
    Many thanks. Lizzie

  44. ACTOldFart

    If I heard correctly last night on the ABC. Leo Schofield called them the “right wing four”.
    If your a hater, you’ve got to hate.

    And if you are a mediocrity like Schofield, you’ve got to mediocritise

  45. Tator

    IT,
    remember the 1990 NYE special with Clive, especially the running gag with Yasmin Arafat, the Palestinian beauty who was man of the decade for the 80s.

  46. Pickles

    Having watched a lot of Clive’s TV, read a fair few of his books and articles over the years and now digested acres of obits, I summarise his life thus:

    Lost his father in WWII without knowing him, brought up by his mother, school and university in Sydney. Went to England and hung about with Cook, Hughes, Greer, Humphries, Beresford and Pythons. Drank and smoked for Australia, Cambridge, writer, poet and broadcaster. Woke up to the global warming scam very early on and relished in the ridicule of it. Knocked the back out of Leanne Edelsten for a dozen years, his performance in that regard lionised by her. Died at 80. A life well and truly lived, an icon for us all.

Comments are closed.