26 April 2012

The Clive James A Current Affair “affair” affair

by Matt Rubinstein at 3:50 am

Not Clive James's House

This blog only occasionally traffics in gossip and salacity, and I don’t want to make a bad situation any worse, but I’m so appalled by A Current Affair‘s appalling interview of the appalling Leanne Edelsten by the appalling Martin King that I am compelled to express my horror and outrage (why doesn’t appal have a noun?) the only way I know how. 

I’m not going to link to the report just in case that would even minutely increase some financially-relevant metric for that execrable program, which frequently tempts me to turn in my passport or at least disguise my accent, but never so much as now. 

Ms Edelsten is the ex-wife of disgraced “medical entrepreneur” and former owner of the Sydney Swans Geoffrey Edelsten, and also of Edelsten’s lawyer, which isn’t the least bit relevant. The other night she clambered down into the ACA cauldron of slime and announced that she had been involved in a long affair with a mystery figure who was revealed after a minute to be Australian writer and media commentator Clive James, who is a friend and neighbour of this blog (though this blog has never met him). There followed about fifteen godawful minutes of Martin King pretending disapproval of Ms Edelsten’s home-wrecking ways without even trying to contain his prurient glee, while Ms Edelsten repeated his every schoolyard question two or three times before answering in coy tidbits like someone trying to teach a dog some abominable trick. All this was padded out even further by cutaways to the places in Sydney they allegedly met and hooked up, with archive footage of every leer or knowing wink James ever delivered on television. 

ACA then apparently brought Ms Edelsten to Cambridge and filmed her dropping in on James at the “squalid flat” where he has allegedly been banished. As we know, Clive James is now in his 70s and is (we hope) recovering from leukaemia. In the footage he looks pretty bewildered as he tries to have what looks like an intimate conversation with Ms Edelsten, who is leading him around by the arm like one of those nurses who kill all their patients for their pensions. It’s very hard to watch. 

“It’s not very nice for Leanne to discover where Clive is now living,” Martin King intones. “From this – to this, a dingy basement apartment in Cambridge.” The first this is the house pictured above, which is supposed to be Clive James’s house, but it isn’t. His house isn’t far away, but it’s not in this picture, or any of the pictures. The defensively shuttered windows shown in close-up aren’t his windows. Not that I think people’s actual houses and windows should be shown on television, but I’m not sure that showing the houses and windows of other people entirely is much better. Plus, if they’d shown the right house then I might have been able to see my own house on TV. On A Current Affair! But it wasn’t to be. 

If rest of the story is more accurate than the local geography then I’m not too thrilled with Clive James either, partly because his wife of four decades is by all accounts awesome and accomplished and is very movingly—if obliquely—described in his memoirs, but mostly because Ms Edelsten comes across as quite an objectionable person and the relationship as she describes it is toe-curling and hideous. But what standards of integrity and taste can we demand of our poets and critics, let alone the people who help us laugh at Japanese game shows? In short: why is this on television? No, don’t tell me, I know. 

One Response to “The Clive James A Current Affair “affair” affair”

  1. Peter Howell Says:

    If you live near-by maybe you could help Clive out?

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