Diary Australia

Diary: Andrew Bolt

15 December 2012

We’re off overseas again but this time the children really are excited. After many years I’ve relented and said yes to the United States. NBA games for the boys! Harry Potter World for my daughter! Movie studios! The Seinfeld tour! ‘Finally we’re going to a place where they speak English,’ notes number three, the youngest and most phlegmatic. No one had to spell it out for Dad. They’ve never been this up about Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Hungary and all those other places filled with art galleries and museums staffed by people who speak non-English.

Sigh. Somewhere between my childhood and theirs, someone built a bypass. All roads no longer lead to Europe, but to New York. I played soccer, hoping to be the next Pat Jennings, and religiously watched Brian Moore present English soccer on The Big Match. Money from my paper round in Darwin was spent on second-hand Agatha Christies. But my 12-year-old, a Houston Rockets fanatic, can name the starting five for just about every NBA team, and checks the results every day on the internet — when he’s not watching The Simpsons or Modern Family. He has told all his friends about the games we’ll see in the US, but when I first took the children by boat around Amsterdam — look, guys, your grandparents lived close by these very streets when they were your age! — they were so bored they played Uno. I feel rejected.

The price of my surrender is that we first celebrate Christmas in Holland with my relatives. I can’t wait. It’s said the Eskimos have a dozen words for snow, being so familiar with the stuff. The Dutch, one of the most domesticated of peoples until recently, have their own almost untranslatable vocabulary to describe the various kinds of social cosiness they’ve long specialised in. Gezellig is the best of them, implying lots of cosy pleasantness indoors, with the easy familiarity Jan Steen famously captured in his paintings.

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I expect that will make Christmas more Christmassy than last year, when we went to the source of it all. A Jewish taxi driver didn’t dare take us all the way into Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem, and it was raining to drown Noah. Soldiers ambled over Manger Square with that pregnant purposeless typical of overstuffed Middle Eastern security forces. The biggest icon was a three-storey high portrait of that kleptomaniac terrorist Yasser Arafat. Interesting it was. Christmas it wasn’t. ‘Happy Christmas,’ a wandering clout of local youths yelled at us.

To be frank, I am glad to leave Australia for a spell. There’s an unpleasantly strident tone to the political debate. A new viciousness. I know, I know — I’ve been right in there, too, hurling grenades and shouting of slush funds, spin and broken promises. I plead justification. I wouldn’t be so critical of Julia Gillard if there wasn’t so much to be critical about. I feel like the bloke who jumps in to wrestle the man-eating crocodile and comes out covered in mud. I blame the crocodile but I’m still dirty, and resent it.

Gillard is even busting up friendships. When I left the ABC’s Insiders two year ago to start The Bolt Report I parted with host Barrie Cassidy on excellent terms. Tears were shed. He said kind things about me and I wrote even kinder things about him to his boss. But now? I’ve been dismayed by Barrie’s open barracking for Gillard, and his airy dismissal of her disgraceful role in the AWU slush fund scandal. Is his friendship with Gillard’s boyfriend clouding his judgment? Barrie in turn has written of the public being ‘badly let down this year’ by pundits too critical of Gillard. Unlike me, he’s too nice to name names, but there aren’t so many anti-Gillard pundits around that he needs to.  Damn you, Julia Gillard! I need a new Prime Minister who — as Barrie’s old boss Bob Hawke once promised — will ‘bring Australians together’. Starting with Barrie and me.

While we’re away, builder Brett, his team and his dog will finish the new garage with a mini-flat above for our 18-year-old. It’s our cunning ploy to keep him at home while giving him more independence. Yet I again seem at odds with mainstream culture. It’s a feeling I often had as the son of migrants who ping-ponged around the more remote parts of Australia, and it got worse in some ways when I married. For instance, I actually loved my mother-in-law and found mother-in-law jokes — long a staple of Australian culture — a bit off. Today, stratospheric house prices have made a joke of the one million grown children who won’t leave the family home. They are the new mothers-in-law, and comic Trevor Marmalade has even made commercials for Lawson’s bread giving tips for driving them out of the nest. He’s from Dutch parents, too. He should know better.

I first lived in Holland as a 17-year-old and was soon checked by the remnants of the culture that had created such a bourgeois society. I was clipping my aunt’s hedge when pious Neighbour Nap approached, frowning: ‘Working on Sundays. We don’t do that here.’ This month three Moroccan teenagers from an Amsterdam club ended a soccer game by kicking a linesman, one of the dads, to death. The mayor of Amsterdam meanwhile unveiled a plan to exile anti-social citizens in public housing to what have been dubbed ‘scum villages’, where they’ll live in shipping containers and caravans. Holland is not quite so gezellig any more, and even my impeccably leftist relatives wonder if Holland’s flirtation with liberalism went rather too far. Of course, the mayor’s spokesman presented scum villages as an unimpeachably liberal scheme to defend, say, gays from ferals: ‘We want to defend the liberal values of Amsterdam. We want everyone to be who he and she is — whether they are gay and lesbian.’ I may have chosen the wrong place for a holiday from spin.

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Show comments
  • Jim

    You’re such a wanker, Andrew.

    • Not jim

      But not as insightful as you jim… We really wonder how you manage to contain your amazing intellect inside your own head. In fact next time perhaps you could spare us all and keep your insight where it is appreciated most… Inside your own mind.


        Oh dear! Methinks I know what side of politics and life you sit on! Guess, it feels good to anonymously make a snide comment but beware- can you write an intelligent sentence or two that would impress everyone else? I doubt it! But, I say thanks Andrew. Your fact finding, neat and clear items this year have made each day worth while.

        • Jimbo

          My anonymous response was no more brave or cowardly than yours, silly old voter. The irony is not lost on you, I’m sure.
          I admit my comment is snide, but no more snide than Andrew’s opinion columns where his mastery of obfuscation and wont to insinuate the most abhorrent of ideas run free. And you all lap it up in the most obsequious of ways.

    • shenzhenbob

      Good to hear from you Jim. Your assertion typifies once what once was debate in the Australian Parliament. The fact that you and millions like you in Australia believe that the appropriate response to something you disagree with is a personal attack or name calling, is the reason Andrew and his followers will find, that in spite of their crusade, things that are bad in Australia now, will get worse over the next few years. No election will save Australia. It is too late. The damage has been done, and still there are millions of Jims who will vote for the worst Prime Minister in the history of Australia. I left, and will not be back. I now live in what I consider to be a more democratic country. Whether it is or isn’t, it is better to live here than in Australia. I am sorry for those of you who have to live with the Jims!!!!

      • JohnO

        Where did you relocate to? I am seriously not wanting to live in Australia any more, I was born here in Australia and have lived here all my life…I don’t drink, I don’t watch ‘footy’, I detest ‘big government’ and am disgusted at the fat, slovenly, rude and welfare dependant nation of Jellyfish Australia is turning into.
        I have considered ‘selling up’ and moving to a very, very remote property and building a kit home and just waiting out the inevitable societal collapse.
        But if there is a place in the world where someone of my I.T industry experience and general knowledge and self reliance would be welcome, I would like to know..
        I am fed up with small ‘L’ liberal socialists :(

        • Shane

          Ditto JohnO,would like to know where to relocate as simply don’t trust the commonsense of the Australian voter anymore.

        • CameronH

          I agree JonhO, Our present situation stems from the tragedy of the election of Gough Whitlam. An even bigger tragedy has been the refusal of the Fraser and Howard governments to even attempt to reverse the welfare state constructed by Whitlam. In fact they have increased the power of the federal government with increased centralization which has made it simple for Gillard and her fellow communists to inhabit the bureaucracy and expand their social; engineering and destruction of our freedom and prosperity. I also wonder where I can go to escape the inevitable crash.

        • shenzhenbob

          Gee JohnO, you described my feelings about Australia exactly. China has a brighter future and a you will find lovely hard working people who you will admire, rather than loath, and who will be pleased to see you, even though you won’t be able to communicate with many of them. (The only thing wrong with China is their language.) You will not be able to become a hermit here. They all want to speak English so they will try to talk with you and that can be very rewarding. Let me know when you are coming, bobb4321@yahoo.com. I’ll meet you at the airport.

    • Kill Bill

      Ah. A Labor intellectual.

  • Stratocaster

    Talking of Barrie Cassidy – I once used to enjoy being in his company on a Sunday morning. Alas, in the last couple of years there is no room for the middle ground.

  • Marni

    Enjoy your holiday Andrew – we miss you but understand you need to get away.
    All your friends on the blog will be here to welcome you back home. So have fun, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and tours.

  • FIFO

    Kids might like the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space museum Andrew. It is an aircraft carrier moored at a wharf in Manhattan. Has all sorts of historic military aircraft as well as the space shuttle Enterprise and a Concorde. Enjoy your holiday.

  • Elena

    Enjoy your holiday Andrew, have fun with your family and come back to us re-energised and ready to fight another day

  • sandra

    this was so refreshing– getting to know you a little– thank for sharing. You have very lucky children indeed

  • http://twitter.com/Buster083 Brock

    Merry Christmas, Andrew. Perhaps your children will discover your love for Europe for themselves in years to come- I’m 29 and visited in 2009, and now am tripping back as often as my mortgage allows.

  • Tom

    You are correct, Andrew. I will take a punt and say that Australia is now MORE polarised than during the Whitlam debacle. It comes only when you have a government so out of step with the aspirations of middle Australia. It will take years to heal after these nation-wreckers are thrown out. At least Whitlam was elected on a popular ideal; this mob’s modus operandi was a sleight-of-hand betrayal. The Australian voting public has learnt a valuable lesson about the cost of the indecision that gave us this expensive mess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roger-Vaughan-Carr/689897827 Roger Vaughan Carr

    A very pleasant read, Andrew. Very “Spectator” as in civilized, informative and thought (or should that be “dream”?) provoking. Thanks!

  • PeterS

    The days of having good leaders who bring all Australians together instead of splitting them apart are over. From now on I won’t be surprised to see this once great country of ours dissolve into a civil war. I say this with tears as I once thought this country was unique in the word. I was mistaken. I don’t really blame the leaders per se. I actually blame the every increasing numbers of non-thinking voters who put leaders like Rudd and Gillard there in the first place. Anyway, have a nice time Andrew and perhaps things will improve if Abbott wins the next election, which is not by any means a foregone conclusion. After all, as I said there are far too many non-thinking voters, and there may be enough of them by then to keep Gillard in power. If that happens we are doomed for sure.

  • shenzhenbob

    Good to hear from you Jim. Your assertion typifies once what was once could be called debate in the Australian Parliament. The fact that you and millions like you in Australia believe that the appropriate response to something you disagree with is a personal attack or name calling, is the reason Andrew and his followers will find, that in spite of their crusade, things that are bad in Australia now, will get worse over the next few years. No election will save Australia. It is too late. The damage has been done, and still there are millions of Jims who will vote for the worst Prime Minister in the history of Australia. I left, and will not be back. I now live in what I consider to be a more democratic country. Whether it is or isn’t, it is better to live here than in Australia. I am sorry for those of you who have to live with the Jims!!!!

  • MaxR

    I like your Mother In Law comment Andrew. M.I.L. jokes were something I would not tolerate either. Mine was such a kind, serving lady, the type you don’t see any more. The complete opposite of Julia and Co.

  • Paul

    As usual you are spot on Andrew. You have touched on some of the shortcomings of our Prime Minister. More generally, however, far worse than a string of broken promises and incompetent policy failures is the fact that members of the Government, with too few honourable exceptions, are artificially inflaming class, race and gender antipathies for base political motives. Divide and conquer is their motto and personal abuse of opponents and critics is their modus operandi. How shameful and what a disgraceful example for young Australians. In the meantime, forget about it during your holiday Andrew, and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  • KathyR

    I like that. I am a mother-in-law and must admit I worried about who my son would marry, but I am one of the lucky ones; she is wonderful. Have a nice holiday – I spent some time in Holland in 2009; great place, great people. The United States; also great place, great people. It is what you want it to be. Now, the Australian Government; that’s another story entirely – what a schmozzle!!

  • Cal

    Nice that you’re having a complete family holiday, Andrew, sure beats the worry of the backpack and copy of ‘Lonely Planet’. Parents are meant to be boring though!
    Loved the ‘Diary Entry’. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  • Bruce in WA

    Very nice piece, Andrew. Reality is what we live through while we are planning and dreaming about what it should be. I don’t think I really like the reality of the ‘new” Australia. I, too, have enjoyed both Europe and the USA. There is an undeniable attraction to Europe; some sort of feeling of historical awe, even a spiritual “attachment”. Yet the USA, particularly outside the mega-cities, is far more vibrant and alive. And the people I have met — hundreds from all walks of life and social strata — have been open, friendly, helpful and courteous. Despite (or perhaps because of) their political and financial woes, there is a feeling of “we can do it”. Unfortunately, there has been an upsurge lately of the “I’m entitled” generation in the US (and Australia), which can ultimately only be detrimental. Have a great break and a great Christmas. And have some gehaktballen met jus for me, along with a glass or two of jenever. Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

  • lavallette

    So is Dutch society providing the answer to the question, “What sort of society will emerge after the traditional Judeo/Christian social principles and disciplines on which European civilization was founded and flourished, are jettisoned for the sake of Atheistic Modernism?”.

  • meagankae

    I think the thing that astounds me each time I travel back to the USA after living there for ten years, and as I pack up my stuff to move back to San Francisco after having just got my greencard, is that no matter who is President, who has won the World Series (Giants fyi), is that every American is proud to be one.
    Every American loves their country with a passion and connection I have never seen or experienced in any of the other some 40 countries I have traveled to.
    I hope you get a chance to see and experience the country beyond the malls and the tourist attractions.. like a chat with a small town waitress in a local dinner who is working three jobs to pay rent and yet still believes in the American dream. It’s eye opening and such a contrast to the general sentiment in Australia. ~ safe travels

  • Jacko

    Enjoy – Particularly New York and the Kenny Kramer (Seinfeld) tour.

    I agree with your wise kids – After many European (struggles with the language) tours it is very nice to speak English (albeit with an American accent) for a VAY-CAT-SHOWN at least.
    Be careful with anyone who has the name “CARL” or did you mean Col, Cole, or KARROL?

    Anyhow it will be great for you to feel almost at home in the USA where “NO…” means “NO…”

    And before anyone gets too excited – “No Carbon tax means exactly No Carbon tax” in USA.

    – Like Australia will become in the near future under TONY………

    Best wishes to you and your Family from my family

  • http://www.facebook.com/glenn.gorephillips Glenn GorePhillips

    Though I seldom comment i have followed you, Andrew, for some years. My family circumstances, though different, are yet the same, and I identify with the uncomfortable moments you nominate. May the season grant you grace and your loved ones favour. And may the New Year bring us all gratification.

  • ridean

    Hey AB, make the flat over the garage your office. Leave the 18+ in the house. Trust me!

  • Ann

    Het is al lang niet meer zo gezellig. Project X-feest is het Nederlandse woord van het jaar 2012. In Vlaanderen blijven we lekker eten bij de Frietchinees.

  • Ann

    It isn’t really that cosy or gezellig anymore. The Dutch word of 2012 in Holland is Project-X-feest, a party with too many uninvited people. In Flanders we stick to Frietchinees as most popular new word in our language. Chinese restaurants have become less popular, that’s why Chinese immigrants start a ‘frituur’. Still cosy, no?

  • Troy

    Have a great holiday mate, and get ready for a big year!

  • Gordon Liddy

    The bigger story is the Watergate style cover up allowing Julia Gillard to get away with fraud. The lies and spin of her government standing over the main stream media biased to the left are so out of character for Australian politics. Shame you have lost your friendship with Barrie “scrotum face” Cassidy. Yet he is captured by the biased government in return for favors . The voters will see through the lies and spin to ensure she never gets reelected.

  • mags of Queensland

    Hi Andrew. I also dream of Christmases past. When a little toy and a bag of lollies was considered wonderful. Like most people in the early post war years, we didn’t ahve much but we did have the love of family and friends and Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year.

    Hope you and your family also have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to your return next year.

  • watcherfromtheshore

    “…This month three Moroccan teenagers from an Amsterdam club ended a soccer game by kicking a linesman, one of the dads, to death…”
    And of course, no one in the main media mentioned the beast by its hame…so it was obvious that the killers were “issued from the arabic diversity”….
    Have a lovely holiday and please give my regards to Geert Wilders.

  • Ivan Ackerov

    Thanks for your insightfulness, courage and persistence AB. Hopefully we’ll see a pleasing result some time next year. Could you answer a slightly off topic but very topical question for me? Should I send the following?…

    Redacted, Redacted, Redacted (insert appropriate name)… There are two types of people who will have received your Xmas brag sheet. Those who have been there and done that. Their view will be something like “tell someone who actually gives a sh*t”. Then there will be the majority who, for various reasons, may not have the financial means or the desire to lead such a vacuous life and then have the temerity to pontificate about it. They will probably just become more jealous and envious than they were after receiving last year’s self-worth proclamation. Trust me, modesty, humility, understatement and perhaps a genuine expression of your love and consideration for others might be more warmly received than your thinly disguised narcissistic self-praise. Regards, your well meaning, older (and, I hope, wiser ) Redacted (insert appropriate title), Redacted (insert your name)

    …or will the relationship be irreparably damaged?

    Merry Christmas and a happy 2013

  • Correllio

    Beautifully written Andrew. My very best wishes to you and your family for safe travels and a wonderful, gezellig Christmas. And yeah, damn you, Julia Gillard!

  • Bill in Oz

    I did not realize Bolt blogged in the Spectator. I thought his vile far right wing rants were only a blight on Australia.
    For people not familiar with the true situation here the govt. he despises is presiding over low unemployment, low interest rates, AAA rating from all the agencies and one of the lowest debt to GDP ratios in the world – a level Brits can only dream about.
    The side he, and the Murdoch press, supports has conducted the biggest, continuing, dummy spit ever seen in this country since the last election 2.5 years ago. The AWU “scandal” he talks about is nearly 20 years old. The PM, then a junior lawyer, has answered all questions put to her. Despite the opposition’s best efforts to smear her with anything they can find they have come up with nothing. This, by the way, is the 3rd “scandal” the opposition has concocted this year in their continuing efforts to bring down the govt. They deem this to be a more effective tactic than coming up with policies to place in front of the Australian people.
    Bolt also is a leading light in the “climate change is crap” brigade which is doing great damage to our national debate.
    I urge The Spectator to cease publishing his drivel immediately.

    • Stuart in Oz

      I second this motion.

    • Heyjoe

      “has answered all questions put to her.”
      you are a fool or a liar sir.

  • Bill in Oz

    My apologies to the good readers of this paper.

    Upon further research (I admit my knowledge of the leanings of “news” outlets is poor – or, perhaps naive, as I still like to think that journalists are meant to be unvarnished reporters of facts) I discover that you conduct a forum for rabid right wingers, therefore, people like Andrew Bolt, who, like yourselves, never lets the truth get in the way of a good story, are right at home here.
    I assume you approve of media outlets which splash accusations against people they don’t like on the front page of the Saturday edition – to be followed by a small comment on page 17 if the judgement in the case not only comes down contrary to their wishes but accuses people on their side of major wrongdoing.
    You probably also approve of party leaders who go in to bat for their men (you know – the ones implicated in the major wrongdoing by the judge) while admitting to not having read the judge’s comments. Of course he was too busy as he was in your country doing “important work for the people of Australia” – things like chatting to your Lord Mayor.

  • Tony in Oz

    Andrew, you are the crocodile, not the one rescuing us from it! You are the archetypical old white male whinger about everything and nothing, only you do it more eloquently and with more venom than just about anyone else. Life under Gillard really isn’t hell on earth. Well, mine isn’t, anyway. It’s tragic that yours so very obviously is.

  • mikeNZ

    Andrew, you are the canary in the mine, the problem is the hoi polloi aren’t listening!
    They still vote for Julia Gillard (read my lips) as Labour leader by voting for Labour.
    The gift that you are to Australia is not being appreciated by the very people who need protecting from the Julia Gillard’s of this world.
    This is partly because they are being teenagers (expecting a say in everything but not prepared to be adults and do all the housekeeping that needs to be done on a daily basis) and partly as Australia has lost it’s way and it’s moral compass.
    Basically you can’t have common sense without common values and they have abrogated their responsibility to everyone else to have a set of values and hold your leaders (parliament) to the same.

  • Paul Pietsch

    Andrew, i hope you and your family have a wonderful and happy holiday! I miss your columns and The Bolt Report!

  • john simpson

    andrew my wife is dutch thank god she is not like you a total nazi

  • Anniemee

    Ohhh Andrew, you are always right on the money, you must be blushing. God Bless you and your family, see you next year. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx I can’t wait!!! :)

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