MR Anne Summers, sometimes known as former Sydney Writers Festival honcho Chip Rolley, will not take up his duties as editor of The Drum for another month or so
, which must demonstrate even more than the pleasure of waking up every morning next to his former boss at Ms
magazine just how much luck one young man can jam into such a short and blessed life. There he was, hardly more than a teenage Texas tumbleweed trying to make it in the Big Apple in the Eighties, when he lucked into a job at the proto-feminist monthly. Eyes met across an editorial floor, hearts beat faster and, while Summers' magazine sank into a sea of red ink, love took wing and soared.
It is a beautiful story. Having failed in the US, Summers and business partner Sandra Yates returned to Australia, where some people can be very easily impressed, especially at Fairfax. Summers wrote those wonderful pieces for which she is so well respected, sharing with the Silly's audience all the special perspectives of her fascinating view of the world. When Bill Clinton came to town, for example, she told of choking back tears
. He might have been a rapist
, almost certainly is a rapist
, but he's a rapist of the left
so that makes him OK, even to a professional feminist.
Yates, too, was kicking on, landing board gigs and scoring the chairman's job at the SWF
. She did it with aplomb, presiding over the festival that makes sure 99.9% of guests are ideologically sound and fully fit to be revered by the sort of people who believe that visiting literary leftists lecturing rooms full of the local variety represent the exchange of ideas in its most pure and noble form.
It was certainly a coincidence that Yates' former business partner's beau just happened to be installed on her watch as the SWF artistic director -- just one of those strange outbreaks of happenstance. We can only imagine Summers' pride, however, at seeing young Chip make something of himself. If you have ever watched a nanna delighting in her grandson's first steps, that must be some small tremor of the joy she felt.
Now Chip is about to move on once again -- and, as ever, the pieces just seem to fall into place for him. Not only did he jump straight from the SWF to a nice, secure ABC salary as Drum supremo -- a job that was briefly advertised and must have drawn hundreds of less-qualified applicants -- he will have the satisfaction of supervising towering talents like the all-hearing Tim Dunlop
, the forever couth Marieke Hardy and many other deep thinkers like, well, this one
And Chip's luck -- he is the Gladstone Gander of the literary set
, for sure -- knows no bounds, as anyone who peruses the reader comments beneath this article
will quickly realise. There is nothing wrong with the article itself, mind you, which quite correctly observes that newspapers taking their cues from the likes of Summers are too busy circling the biscuits to notice normal, average, sane readers turning away in disgust. The Drum commenters, though, they might be Summers' great grandchildren, banging on at great length about everything that is wrong and morally deficient about Andrew Bolt. According to those commenters, Bolt endorses "the worst aspects of Australian society", profits from "the politics of envy" and manufactures "appalling smears" which are said to be "typical" of him. Also, the ABC site announces, it is "proven" that he "makes things up". Then there is this: "People like Andrew Bolt ... usually want any person with a contrary
view to their own put in gaol with the key thrown away."
Throw in accusations of telling deliberate lies and, if Andrew has the stomach for it, it would seem he has grounds to proceed against the ABC for libel.
But that won't be young Chip's problem, as the slanderous comments have not been published on his watch.
Some guys have all the luck -- and Anne Summers for breakfast as well.
For more on the perspectives and views young Chip will be bringing to The Drum, see Gerard Henderson's little backgrounder