Monday, 2 May 2011

Alan Fitzgerald

It was sad to learn of the death of Alan Fitzgerald, that extremely rare thing in Canberra - a funny man. He was a writer for The Canberra Times, but there is something about the design of that paper that has made me unable to ever read it, so I am not familiar with his columns there. However, I am sure the guide my mother was given when we first came to the capital was written by him. It contained the invaluable advice that 'it is a social blunder to live in Narrabundah', (a suburb of Canberra). I have endeavoured to live by that dictum ever since. The other thing I remember by Fitzgerald that still makes me laugh is his guide to the euphemisms found in parliamentary valedictories. They included the following:

Found himself at ease with all levels of society: a bore

We shall not see his like again: these days people like him go to jail

A real Australian: an utter philistine

Uniquely gifted: no talent

Uniquely qualified: left school at 12

Gregarious and fun-loving: a drunk and womaniser

Fun-loving but serious: solitary drunk

Never forgot his origins: chips on both shoulders

Specal vision: took LSD

Advocate of law reform: wanted everyone to take LSD

Poorer for his passing: died owing money

A born raconteur: spent all his time telling filthy jokes in the Members' Bar


  1. Alan Fitzgerald was in my English 101 class in the 70s. He was an older student - "mature age". He wrote in his column at the time that he felt so mature he feared he would over-ripen and rot at any moment.

  2. Which just proves that I should overcome my prejudice and read The Canberra Times - but I suspect it has overripened and rotted by now istelf, so I may as well not break the habit of a lifetime (what was English 101, by the way? In my day, it was English 1A and English 1B [that last one was Piers Plowman and the Medieval English Lyric et cetera, the first one had rather more DH Lawrence than anyone should really ever have to read])

  3. Oh yes, you're right (she says nervously, knowing she's been found out)... but I really DID do English at ANU, just struggling to separate my culturally confused education.

  4. I thought you were sneakily displaying the fact that you are more youthful than me - they probably changed the course names the year after I left.

  5. "We shall never see his like again - sorely missed, said what he thought without fear or favour", truly reminiscent of the song "I did it my way"! God bless you, sir!! From your namesake in Sydney, Alan Fitzgerald. (PS If at last you dont succeed, become a pessimist like me". Al. July 2011.