Six Degrees of Separation

This week I reread “Goodbye Jerusalem “ the 1997 book by Bob Ellis. In fact it’s the second book of Bob’s I’ve revisited recently. I also picked up the more contemporary and less controversial 2010 Ellis tome “Suddenly, Last Winter” (An Election Diary)

My copy of “Goodbye Jerusalem” (a survivor of the original release pulped due to a legal issue involving the Abbotts and the Costellos) may well be valuable if Bob signs it before he dies. Comrade Ellis is that type of famous Australian.  Many people say many things of him and he’s not even dead yet. Neat trick that.

TV Producer and Logie winner Ian McFadyen wrote on his site under the title “Night Thoughts on Jerusalem” that he “first learnt of Bob Ellis in the late Seventies. I knew him by name only, as the author of the play The Legend of King O’Malley and was surprised when a friend assured me that he was regarded as a genius amongst Sydney’s political/intellectual push. She told McFadyen “Women want to have his children.”

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For my money, and I know him by phone interview only, Bob Ellis always looks like he’s in a slow motion  hurry  possibly heading  to or returning from  the wake of a yet another terribly famous Australia actor/ALP stalwart or sundry other notorious person whom he’s known for years…You wouldn’t know who Bob Ellis knows.

In “Goodbye Jerusalem” Bob brilliantly demonstrates  Kevin Bacon’s guarantee of a group of players connecting a nominated individual to Kevin Bacon in as few steps as possible. In “Goodbye Jerusalem” Ellis takes up the challenge and prunes Bacon’s concept further….to THREE degrees of separation.

And the example is this uniquely Australian Trifecta.  Bob is close to singer Kamal who corresponded regularly with Sir Donald Bradman right up until his death (the Don’s). Bob’s father lived next to the Darcy family in East Maitland and sparred with the young Les and Bob worked with the man who made Phar Lap the movie. It could be a Quadrella more than a Trifecta but….as Bob is wont to say often…”and so on, and so it goes”.

And in any chapter Bob can also use up all of his allotted six steps. An entertaining Ellis after dinner Six Degrees of Separation story involves the late Robert Hughes (art critic not sit-com actor). Bob Hughes’ brother is the Q.C. Tom Hughes, whose daughter Lucy is married to money bags MP Malcolm Turnbull, whose Auntie is the actress Angela Lansbury, whose father was the British Labour leader in Britain in the 1930s.

A kid who grew up in my street was presented with the “Tommy Woodcock”  strapper trophy (for the strapper of the Melbourne Cup winner) by the visiting Princess of Wales after his charge What A Nuisance won the big two miler in 1985. He later met actor Tom Burlinson who played Tommy Woodcock in the movie Phar Lap. Didn’t really need the Princess of Wales step in that series but it’s necessary in order for me to seamlessly segue into the musical version of Bacon’s theory… Herbert Farjeon’s 1927 hit   “I’ve danced with a man who’s danced with a girl who’s danced with the Prince of Wales”

 Another book I have read more than once is Frank Hardy’s “Four Legged Lottery”.

  • Frank Hardy’s grand-daughter is the writer Merieke Hardy who has a female dog named Bob Ellis and a tattoo which reads “and so on, and so it goes”. Three degrees of separation!!!  
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