X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Diary Australia

Diary

1 December 2012

9:00 AM

1 December 2012

9:00 AM

It’s now a year since I moved from Sydney to a rural village outside Canberra, a city of great natural beauty where violent crime is rare, the traffic works, and people are still courteous and return your phone calls. I love the place but, be warned Australia, you will soon be exposed to a year of chest-thumping events to mark Canberra’s 100th birthday. The organisers say their ‘promise is that after 2013, people will never look at Canberra in the same way again’. Centenary creative director Robyn Archer AO said she could have blown the $30 million budget on one concert by the Rolling Stones but chose instead to stage a series of events that would have a lasting legacy. Hundreds of Stones fans immediately tweeted urging her to reconsider. I hope at least one lasting legacy might be a greater recognition of the many splendid national treasures to be found here. One event I will attend is the launch of a new book, Treasures of Canberra by Betty Churcher AO, former director of the National Gallery in which the best of these cultural riches will be documented and illustrated.

Book launches are becoming less common in Australia with the closing of more and more bookstores, but surprisingly bookstores are thriving in Germany, principally because German publishers will not permit books to be distributed in discount stores like K-Mart. I learned this over lunch this week with Selwa Anthony, our most powerful literary agent. She’s been busy signing six-figure international publishing deals for Australian female authors including her current star, Kate Morton, our most commercially successful author since Colleen McCullough. Aspiring male novelists, on the other hand, have a much harder time. Despite the availability of e-books, young males are reading less fiction because online media provides too many distractions. Selwa says that, to be published, their novels need to have a strong female character in order to attract women readers. One readership area that is growing quickly is truck drivers and grey nomads, who have become big buyers of audio books. An observation of the late Gore Vidal comes to mind: ‘The world doesn’t need more writers, it needs more readers.’

[Alt-Text]


Getting a novel published, like most other endeavours, depends largely on who you know. Selwa has unlisted numbers and does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. She has always been a champion of Australian writers but she does all her business through networking and personal connections. Because of our friendship of 35 years, I asked her some time ago to take a look at a first novel manuscript by my step-son, screenwriter Steve Worland. It was a thriller called Velocity about a hijacked space shuttle landing in the Australian desert. Steve’s original screenplay of the story was rejected in Hollywood as being too expensive to make, but ironically that might now change since Selwa persuaded Michael Joseph to publish it and it has become a bestseller. This use of personal connections was exactly how the first James Bond thriller came into being. The publisher, Jonathan Cape, hated Ian Fleming’s manuscript for Casino Royale and he only agreed to put it out as a favour to Fleming’s brother, who was one of Cape’s travel writers. This week I see the boosters for the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, have predicted it will become the highest-grossing movie of all time. I hope, for Steve’s sake, the pattern continues when Velocity finally gets filmed.

This year’s Walkley Awards are at Parliament House where I will be presenting a prize on behalf of sponsor Sentia Media. No doubt the main subject for discussion on the evening will be the departure from the industry of so many great writers. As a professional observer of mass media for almost 40 years I am intrigued at how big media companies are struggling to meet the challenges of the new media marketplace. One of my mentors, the great broadcaster Brian White, advised me early in my radio career to make sure that I presented a radio show people would feel they must not miss. More recently, the former News Limited Australian CEO, John Hartigan, said that to survive newspapers need to continually surprise and delight. While the major newspapers still dominate the ‘town square’ and set the daily news agenda in Australia, dropping so many good writers and sub-editors and syndicating so much content has made much of their copy these days dull and predictable.

I see a Queensland mayor has scrubbed the ‘welcome to country’ acknowledgement to indigenous ‘custodians’ of the local area but I doubt it will be enough to start a movement to end what John Howard so accurately described as ‘the black armband version of our history’. SBS TV’s World News Australia, made up from sources from around the globe, now carries a ludicrous final note giving a nod to the traditional custodians of the land ‘on which this bulletin was produced’.

I once had a great aunt who suggested I might have a land rights claim. She believed our family’s traditional farming estates in England had been taken from us when we backed the wrong side in the Civil War in the 17th century. She used to urge me to claim rights to a large slice of Hampshire and demand an apology from the British government ‘to begin the healing process’. Unfortunately, I wasn’t eligible for the legal aid necessary to lodge the claim. For the benefit of our humourless ‘New Puritans’ who rush to protest, not for themselves but on behalf of those they believe will be offended, let me clearly point out this was a joke.

Ian Parry-Okeden is a journalist and former broadcaster, and a former owner of Media Monitors.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close