Clive James, as he himself admitted, took longer than expected to leave us, but that doesn’t make waving goodbye to him at the corporeal departure gate any less poignant. There aren’t many writers who feature on my shelves as heavily as he does: when I heard the news on Wednesday I counted twenty volumes, a couple of them omnibuses, which have survived my purges of recent years where books by other once-favoured writers haven’t. Several of those have appeared since he was diagnosed with leukemia in the early 2010s, filled with ruminative poems on mortality and memory that sparkle in the sun like the Sydney Harbour he loved.
The BBC reported yesterday that Australians will remember Bob Hawke for breaking a beer-drinking record and being a good bloke, which was a pretty feeble eulogy. Australians will remember him for a bloody sight more than that.