|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: December 8, 1993
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project. Each transcript page covers one videotape (approximately 35 minutes). There is also QuickTime video of the full interview available. To play the video, click on the icon in the right hand column. In addition, each question in the transcript is linked to the video. Clicking on a question will play the video from that point. (Help with this feature.) Optionally, you can download the video file for offline viewing (approx. 10MB).
The interview has been left it in its original state so that you can get a sense of how the conversation developed. The repetition of some questions, or a question followed by another question, is often due to the end of a particular tape or some other interruption, and has been indicated at the appropriate place in the text. There has been minimal tidying up of the text so that the flavour of the encounter has been kept.
What did you choose to write your PhD thesis about?
Patrick White, of course.
Why was that?
I had discovered Patrick White, or rather he discovered me one night when I was teaching. It was the night before school speech day and we were putting out all the prizes and I noticed there this book called the Tree of Man, so I flicked through it. I took it away. I sat up just about all night which is a thing I very, very seldom do. That book absolutely gripped me and I was hooked ever after. I think when I left Australia ... Well yes The Solid Mandala came out when I was in Toronto and I managed to persuade the University of Toronto, which was very fuddy duddy and usually wouldn't allow you to write a thesis PhD on a living writer ... I managed to persuade them to allow me to write a PhD on his work and then I had a whole raft of supervisors because nobody knew anything much about Australian literature or about Patrick White, but the first one was an American, who said, 'Well, you've gotta write to Patrick White'. I said, 'I don't have to write to Patrick White. Let Patrick White get on with writing his books and I'll write about him'. However, this man persisted, so the letter I wrote to Patrick must have more or less said to Patrick, 'This is nonsense. You get on doing your writing and I'll get on writing about you'. So he liked that, and we know that Patrick had a thing about nuns anyway. So he wrote back to me and was extremely helpful, and when I got back to Australia, having done my finals exams to get on with writing the thesis, he came to see me. And this is one of the wonderful stories of life. There I was, living in Kirribilli, and in those days, there used to be, oh, ten, twenty people. We used to call them 'poor men', who would come begging for some food or a cuppa every morning, so one of the chores after dinner in the evening was we all set to and cut sandwiches, so there'd be cut lunches there, you see, and as soon as the side doorbell would ring, you would pick up a sandwich and rush to the side door and give it to this poor man. Well, of course, guess who rang on the side door? Patrick. And that ... that I think was the beginning of the fact that he thought this was an all right place and he was a very ... I didn't ever know him well. But he was always very, very kind to me. And it was the best thing ... one of the best things I ever did, because I find that my view of life is ... or certainly my view of Australia, is largely coloured by Patrick White. I just think he's a wonderful writer and the world is full of people of course. I mean it's divided into two: those who can't abide Patrick White and those who think he's wonderful, and I'm one of the latter. So, I had a great time writing my thesis. Usually people get very bored. I had to write my thesis. In those days there was none of this nonsense about having time to write theses. I was also tutoring at the University College in Melbourne and teaching part-time at the Catholic Teachers' College, as well as writing my thesis, so it was just as well I enjoyed writing it. [Laughs] And I remember in the middle of it also, some ... the sister who taught the senior English and History in Adelaide got ill for the last term, so I was ... was sent off to teach the Senior English and History in the last years ... last weeks before exams while continuing to write her [sic] thesis. However, there we are, but it was because I enjoyed it so much. It was quite fun, really, doing it.
You teach at the University of Western Australia, where you got that job despite the fact that you're a nun. Is the fact that you're a nun, does that influence or affect your life as an academic?
I think it affects the way I see the world. I mean, some of my colleagues, not so much the ones that know me at work, because they know that ... that I'm relatively normal, but certainly my critical writing has a theological slant and that's unfashionable and that's often suspect. And I think a lot of people don't think much of me as a scholar for that very reason. And I also think that probably I'm ... as a critic, I'm usually far too kind. I don't like writing about books that I dislike, because I think we academics have tenured jobs and a permanent income and most writers live in a very vulnerable and fragile way, and it doesn't behove me to tear to pieces the work of a writer. Leave that to other people. I like to be positive in what I do. And I suspect that that's affected the way I behave and the way I do my teaching and my writing because I ... unashamedly, I think that critical writing is a very minor art form, and I do wish I could have gone on and been a poet, but there we are, I didn't have the ability. But I think that it's a great thing to be able to mediate between books, which are sometimes rather complicated, and readers, and help them to enjoy things and also help to understand more what the world is all about. And unashamedly, I'm interested in values. I mean, they don't have to come labelled Christian values, but I like to see works which can open up our possibilities as a human being, to help us to understand other people ... can help us see evil and contest it and so on and so forth.
So you see a moral purpose even in fiction writing and in poetry?
If you interpret moral in that very large way. You see I was influenced. When I was an undergraduate the vogue of Leavis was just ... just beginning in Melbourne. Sam Goldberg was one of the very, very, very bright young academics at that time. And it did influence me. I mean, once a Catholic, always a Catholic. You're always, I suppose, a moraliser in the sense that you continue to have a fairly strong notion of good and evil. And I think also my experience growing up during the war affected me. I remember being absolutely bowled over when the revelations appeared of what had happened in the concentration camps of the Holocaust. And also, rather oddly, I thought that Hiroshima was the most terrible thing which had ever happened. You know everybody else was saying, 'Well, isn't it wonderful, we've ended the war'. And of course, I had no brothers. So I didn't have any man directly involved in fighting that war. But I remember writing an aghast poem, not one of my major works. I remember the opening line, 'Oh God, that men could hate like fiends and blow one another to bleeding lumps of flesh ...', or something. You can see the level of the poetry, but the sense of evil, and of the evil of war, somehow or other got at me, and I've always ... the more I read about it I always admired those good Germans in the 1930s. That's sort of been a model for me I think. And then, when I was in North America during the ... the civil rights movement when I was in Chicago, and I used to walk ... I wasn't supposed to: I used to get off the bus and walk about four blocks through the black quarter around the University of Chicago, because I liked looking at things and seeing what was going on. And I was perfectly safe in my religious habit, because the church in Chicago was great. When the other white people moved out, they didn't. They stayed. And little black kids would come up and say, 'Hi, sister, my name is Steven, what's yours?' It was fine but ... and then the Vietnam War, I ... I just think, look evil is a very real possibility, that is that kind of destructiveness, and we can easily go along with it. Most of those ordinary Germans just didn't want to know what was going on, and so they did nothing. So I think that the thing I can do ... I'm not ... I'm only good at a few things: I think I'm good as a teacher, I sometimes write well critically, other times I don't, I flop about, and I think that's my contribution, just to add to our awareness of the way the world is and how things are going.
When you write critically, you write critical works, you say that you like to find the positive, and you like to show a sort of enthusiasm for the writer. Don't you think it's possible to point out what's negative or what isn't working in a book in a constructive way?
Yes it is. Yes, I like doing that. And we're only talking there about reviews. I don't like doing reviews as much as long extended explorations of a book, because in a review you don't have much space. You usually have to do it on the run, and I'm perfectly delighted ... I remember one of the things I really liked doing [was] a paper attacking The Thornbirds. Now I enjoyed that very much. I mean, that's fair game, something like that. But say a new, young writer - many of them can be crushed because their first work perhaps isn't what it might be. Yeah, sure, but I do like to be positive. I think that there is a school of criticism in which the critic shows off her or his cleverness at the expense of the work, and I ... personally I don't regard that as ethical.
As an academic do you enjoy the side of your work that involves writing and research, more than the side that involves teaching?
No, I ... I like them both. Sometimes the writing can be really very very tough. When you've got something ... I've got something I'm trying to review at the moment and I can't quite work out really what I want to say, and that's very hard work when you sit down there in front of that empty page. I think teaching is nearly always a sheer delight. Occasionally you can get a tutorial that doesn't gel. You can get somebody in that group who simply doesn't like me. I mean, I always say to them in the beginning, 'You know I'm a bit wacky, and if you don't want to stay in my tutorial, please don't, because then it doesn't work'. But normally I think that it's ... it's just great, because you learn as much from the students I think as they learn from you, though they don't realise that. And it's wonderful to see a sense of trust growing up in a group, and many of the people I teach later on become good friends.
But even if only one person in the tutorial doesn't like you, that makes the whole thing not work?
Well, it doesn't have to. But if it's a positive dislike, it can affect the tone. Or [if] somebody sits sullenly and doesn't approve or won't contribute, that also can make a difference. But usually, you see, we've got to, I think most universities have this. We've got a good system. If they don't like their tutorial, they're allowed one chance to move elsewhere. And most of us encourage them to go. It can be rather difficult because there're some people who are not very popular tutors, and other tutors find themselves with a very large class, which also means a great deal of marking, and so on. But we're defended against that a little bit. We can't fit more than at the very most about thirteen into our rooms. I mean, we're ... we're spoilt in our university that we are still teaching in those relatively small groups. Soon, we'll have to give that up, but then I'll be gone by then, fortunately, and I think the tutorial system is just marvellous: to get with a group of people, and being able to really explore particular issues. And mostly they're getting even better nowadays. Mostly they come prepared. And yes, I make sure that at least somebody's prepared. Somebody has to lead that tutorial.
Why do you enjoy teaching? Why do you think you're good at it?
I'm interested ... I think I'm interested in people. I'm interested in ideas and, you see, I'm lucky to be teaching subjects which really interest me. I've always been fascinated about being Australian, and teaching Australian literature is very exciting and when I first arrived at UWA there was no course in Australian literature and there were a group there - Dorothy Hewett, for instance was one of them, and good old Bruce Bennett was one of the leaders and Peter Cowan was with us then, and we were agitating to have a course in Australian literature and the favourite retort of some of the others was, 'Oh, is there any?' Anyway, we got a course established and it soon became the most popular second year course, and they flourished ever since. And it really is fascinating because the way I teach I ... it seems to me that there's always an interrelationship between a literary text and the larger social and cultural context, so that's great fun, and the students, I think, mostly, find it quite interesting. Well, just that. And then you can ... if you're lucky enough you can build up quite a good group feeling. I like to think that they will go off and they will have coffee together and help one another, because I'm ... I'm absolutely convinced that in the humanities anyway, learning is co-operative, and you really need to share and talk to one another and I just like that. And then I ... also, I'm a terrible exhibitionist. I do like lecturing. I don't think lecturing is a good means of teaching. I think it's a way of the lecturer showing off, because when you get back in the essays and exams, which we don't have now - at least I don't like [exams] ... you get back garbled versions of what you said in lecture, you realise how people just don't hear and don't listen, but it's a nice way to prance around and show off and develop your ideas.
Have you always enjoyed showing off?
I think so, yes. I mean, even when I was a child I wanted to be a teacher. I used to ... [INTERRUPTION]
Have you always enjoyed showing off?
Yes, I think I have. I think it's partly having been that only child and being obviously so loved and so spoiled. I was perfectly prepared to perform for anyone. I remember one of my party tricks was my father had taught me Baa Baa Black Sheep in French: Baa Baa bebe noir, A tu du a laine ...', [?] and I used to love doing that for all and sundry. And I do think that people tended to dote on my every word for a while. So why not? It's ... and I always think that teaching is a kind of performance and I used to ... I wasn't fond of dolls, but I do remember lining up these dolls and teaching them. So I mean, it's just ... just the way a person is, I suppose.
You liked teaching even as a child. You were also, even as a child, beginning to write poetry, weren't you? So what happened to that ambition?
Well, I went ... I did a semester at the University of Chicago en route to Toronto, because I think at that stage Toronto didn't have a semester system and it was ... We'd left Australia at the end of February and as you know, they're academic year doesn't begin 'til August or so. We did go up to Toronto and do a summer course, but there was a semester at the University of Chicago, which was actually marvellous, because it was quite a university, and there was a creative writing course. So I took that, and I think I said yesterday that the person responsible for the prose was John Cheevers, and the person responsible for the poetry was Edgar Bauer, and there were people there from all over the States who really were very talented indeed. And I see no point in being dishonest, and I realised I really wasn't much good, so what was the point in going on scribbling? Why not do ... find out what you're really good at? And I think I probably am quite good at teaching, so I decided to go on with that. And then of course, teaching, school teaching, was all right. You had time off when you could cultivate your poetry, but as an academic if you take it seriously, you don't have time over and above that, because if you're not teaching, you're doing your research and your writing, and scholarly writing is a very different kind of operation from writing poetry, with all that receptivity that's involved. Very, very occasionally now, I feel a poem coming on, and I'll do something with it. But there's not the time to work on it and to perfect it, and I don't think that was who I was meant to be. I mean, who knows when I retire, when I'm an old lady in my rocking chair with nothing else to do, but in the meantime, I don't ... I'm sorry about it. It would have been nice to have been a good poet, but I don't think I was, and there we are. We get on with it.
So you really accepted the assessment of your work that was offered you at Chicago.
Well, nobody said it. There was no real assessment. There weren't marks, but I could see that in comparison with the work that the others were doing, mine was pretty poor stuff. It's largely what I call the drainpipe school of poetry, you know, pouring out my own sorts of feelings. I really didn't have much sense of the craft and the art, and so there we are. I mean, I think it's sad, and I would have liked to have been, but it's ... I really don't have any great regrets. I think it's better to be honest with yourself, and that's why sometimes I'm a little bit unkind about people who insist on the fact that they are true poets or true novelists, when it's quite obvious that they're not, and they really ought to realise that themselves.
Do you have to be good at something though, in order to want to do it?
You don't. But I think I do. I think I have to feel that it's a good thing to be doing. That may well be part again of the Catholic puritan in me, and possibly the religious. I think that, as far as I know we've only got one life, but who knows? It would be fun to come around again, and I've got all sorts of interesting ... I mean, since I believe in the resurrection, I presume that there's another life and I hope it will be great fun. In fact I nearly killed myself on a country road a few years ago and I was in a ... went ... it was a gravel road and there was no sign. There was a bend but it proved to be a hairpin bend and the gravel was loose and I didn't slow down enough, and there I was proceeding towards a telephone pole, and I thought this is fascinating, I'm going to die, and I'll see if it's all true. It was a wonderful feeling. I was rather disappointed, in fact, when we bumped into the telephone pole and I wasn't dead. And you know, the other side of my brain did all the right things, like going with the skid and steering it a little away from the telephone pole, and so forth. So ... but as I was saying, if you've only got one life you may as well live it as fully as possible. I remember being very much taken by Sartre's point that in your own life you ... each of us, draws your own portrait. So I think it's a good idea not to muck about too much, but to draw the portrait that's really there and do what accentuates the positive, in that way.
The idea of a nun as a teacher and as an academic and as ... or even as a poet, if you'd chosen that road, is one that we're quite familiar with. The idea of nun as political activist is less part of the conventional idea of a nun. You became involved in caring a great deal about various political causes. In fact, some of the major political causes of your time. And I wonder how that happened. How did that begin, that interest in politics? And how did it develop?
Well, of course, from my father. Then also, as I was growing up, two of my friends were involved with newspapers and I ... even as a child, I followed World War II very vividly. I and my best friend, who's father was a newspaperman, we used to draw cartoons about the war. I'm not good at drawing but we used to do these things and we took a very, very vivid interest in ... well I suppose, look, I remember the summer of 1942 when Singapore fell, and I remember playing at school, and kids used to play sword fights and we thought the war was just one big picnic. And of course Melbourne wasn't really threatened but there were air raid drills, and there was talk of our being evacuated, and we thought that [that] was a picnic. But I suppose, oh a little bit later, I began to ... I was a little bit older then. What was I then? I would have been thirteen in 1942. But I also began to be aware, because of brothers of my friends - older brothers who went away and some of them got killed and later some of them came back as wrecks ... I was really interested in it all. It was partly my interest in history and I really did think that Hitler was monstrous and I had a very clear view of that. And then Hiroshima shocked me very profoundly. And then, of course, when I went to university, it was a very political time. There were these men who'd come back from the war and the history department was political, and I remember the Putney Debates we had to study particularly - the debates of the Parliamentary Army after the death of Charles the First, debating what sort of society they would have. So intellectually I've always had that real interest in things. Also, my kind of Christianity has always said that you can't just sit back and pray, you're responsible for other people and you have to do what you can do and, you see, I wanted to go ... When I was in North America, with all the civil rights activities and the anti-Vietnam activities ... I didn't join in that because I wasn't Canadian, I thought it's none of my business, but when I got back, yes, I did want to get involved in the anti-Vietnam movement and I went to various debates and things like that, but I wasn't allowed to go to the moratorium. And then, well shortly afterwards when I came over here, I also joined the university branch of the Labor party, the ALP, and there was the great Whitlam era - the great and glorious era when, at last, the one and only time, we had a politician who was a statesman, who took us out of Vietnam, who reordered our ... reoriented our foreign policy, who did good things about education, though to be fair, Menzies had already done it. To me it was ... it still is a golden age, and I know I romanticise it. And the deposition of Whitlam was one of the most dreadful days of my life. I hadn't realised, because Whitlam seemed to me to do all the things that seemed to me to be what Australia was all about. And then, not only the deposition, but then the majority voted against him. I was overseas at that time. I just could not get over it. Another terrible blow came when I was in Holland. I voted in London at Australia House, and then I was in Holland when the results came out. And one of the leading Dutch dailies had a two-page analysis of Australia. Of course, I couldn't read Dutch but my brother-in-law and sister by this stage could, and they interpreted it for me. They had came to the conclusion that Australia was a profoundly conservative society, which of course is right, but I'd never thought of it that way before and that was another terrible blow because I'd always grown up with this dream of Australia as the ... the land of the new beginning, a ... a fair go for everybody. I mean, that's how I'd been brought up, and I'd always mixed with those sorts of people. So there I was and then here, under the great and the good Sir Charles Court, the Court Government introduced a bill which was going to make ... the Fuel and Energy Emergency Bill was going to outlaw strikes and would make every single unionist liable for thousands of dollars. I mean, it was designed to smash the trade unions. And I also knew a lot about German history, and that was one of the ways in which Hitler started. So I think I wrote a letter to The West, and again, that's my father, he used to write letters to the paper. So I wrote a letter to The West saying I didn't think this was a good idea, and of course the idea of nuns writing letters about politics stirred everybody up, and I think that's silly. I'm a citizen, and I also care about justice, and then Four Corners came over and did a story, and because there was this little nun, they filmed me. And then I also ... Because I'm a good speaker, I was asked to speak at various rallies: peace rallies, anti-Uranium rallies, environmental rallies, support of Aborigines. To me, they're all the one issue. And of course in dear little Perth, you meet the same thirteen or fourteen people involved in all of these causes, and of course we are then known as the terrible ratbags. So I made lots of friends there and in ... And I now think that demonstrations in this city are quite counterproductive because people just say, 'There they go again'. For instance, we gave up demonstrating against the American nuclear-powered warships, which used to come down to Fremantle, because the media invariably focused on somebody with a punk hairdo or else, I'm convinced that there were deliberately contrived scuffles. People would irritate or enrage somebody, and then the media would film this and say, 'Look, they call themselves peace activists and look at that'. So we've largely given up. The only one recently, was [when] the Aboriginal people here in Perth asked all those who supported them in the Mabo affair to march with them and we got about 10,000 people. It was, in my opinion, very badly reported by the West Australian. I went to that kind of thing. But nowadays I think we live in different kinds of time. But I don't see anything peculiar about that. See I'm not much good at anything else except thinking and talking. I'm not a practical woman. And I'd be hopeless as a politician. I really wasn't very good on the ABC ... and also ... because I'm not good at compromise. But you do what you can, because otherwise, what happens? You let it go by default. I mean, those good Germans of the 1930s had no impact in their time, but they ... people can look back and say, 'Look, somebody cared'. And I think the same thing now about the Aboriginal issue. I feel completely flummoxed like many other people. I don't know what we can do to stop this appalling, appalling racism and the madness of our present Premier, who thinks he lives back in the Nineteenth Century. I think he thinks he's shouldering the white man's burden in darkest Africa. But you've got to do what you can do. And it's my view that if one person influences one person in her lifetime, well that means that things still stay on track, and that a certain amount of decency still prevails. I mean, if you don't do what you can do, well, the nasties just go uncontested. But I don't find it odd. I think it's simply what I have to be as a Christian. Now I think I probably was a liberation theologian before liberation theology was invented, and I find their theology immensely stimulating and convincing because you see, I mean, Jesus was ... kept saying, contesting what was evil because he cared about people, and every person in my simple view is sacred as such. And if ... if some other person is being degraded or humiliated, then I think that affects all of us. I'm convinced that what we've done to Aboriginal people has damaged us as a people. Because of my sort of so called mystic streak, I think injustice damages people, and it makes for brutality and leaves a terrible burden, and I think many of us are still carrying that awful burden, because we won't face it. If you think of it in Jungian terms, think of it as the shadow. And if you refuse to face the shadow it haunts you forever. So, my sense is look, you know, let's do what we can. I don't think there's anything odd about it. I think it is odd in this place because as you know the climate can be a bit oppressive at times, and there's the famous West Australian tired feeling which afflicts people. And there's also this sense, I remember a friend of mine once saying, who left WA, and he said, 'Being in Perth is like thinking there's a large elephant standing on your towel and he won't get off', because there is a great deal of apathy. But there we are, you just do what you can.
There's a sense in which most of the causes you've been involved in has been about giving people freedom, and you say liberation theology appealed to you. I suppose that's one of the things that strikes people about you as a nun, because they tend to associate the church with restricting certain activities, rather than defending the right of people to do as they choose. Is there anything that you feel that you do want to restrict people in?
I think people should restrict themselves. I don't ... don't think that it's every any good to tell other people what they ought to do. I mean, I'm a great one for ... you know that Mary Douglas' distinction between two different sorts of societies: the grid and the group. The grid society imposes rules from outside. There's always preoccupied with the ... with fortifications and entrances and body's orifices, and is essentially defensive and it thinks of society as conformist and agglomerate. The other model of society, the group starts with the individual, with individuals associating freely with one another, and being the source of values for within themselves. Now it's not an absolute polarity. I mean I learnt my values from other people and I still get my values as being part of the believing community. But my sense of morality is that each person must make decisions and nobody else can make decisions for her. But if you ask me ... for instance I don't pronounce on the matter but I have ... I'm deeply troubled by abortion. Deeply troubled. Now again, I can see that somebody who's raped and so on, there may be reasons, but ... and I do not like and I thoroughly disapprove of sexual promiscuity. But how can anyone define what is sexual promiscuity? I mean, you know, it's ... it comes within the person. And I also loathe and detest bullies and loathe and detest people who live just for money and destroy other people's lives in order to make money. I've got lots of loathings and detestings. But I ... frankly I think Christianity is about setting people free to ... to respect other people and to cherish other people, and to enlarge their possibilities. That's why I like teaching. I mean, the medical profession heal people when they're sick, but if you're a teacher, you enable people to be more fully human and I think that's great. Of course freedom has it's limits. You know most of the time you have to do things that you don't really like doing, but then you are free if you say, 'Look, I don't really like doing this, but I need to do it to get from point A to point B, and so I choose to do it'. There we are. And I think the way most people now are worked upon by advertisers and so on to live just to satisfy their desires, I think that's the most awful kind of slavery and tyranny. You never really make choices for yourself. And I've always been exceedingly suspicious of fashion. I frankly don't care about clothes. And I'm a great sorrow to many people who are always wanting to dress me up, and I ... no I ... I like that business about 'consider the lilies'. There are far more important things in life than being preoccupied with these kinds of things. The most interesting thing is to be a human being, and to discover all the inner and outer possibilities that you have.
Is there a sense in which you've actually enjoyed being called a ratbag?
No I don't like it. I wish ... and it's one of the great trials of living in Perth, you know, I remember once getting on a bus and somebody saying, 'Hello Veronica'. I don't like that at all. I know people think I'm a publicity hound, but actually I just like to be me. And ... and I do care what people say about me. And I must say, the physical and psychic violence I find quite terrifying. When ... they've ceased doing it now, fortunately, because actually I seem to have gone quiet because there seems to be no way in which I can say or do things, but I ... In the past I used to get these awful phone calls telling me, their favourite thing is, usually from good Catholics, 'Get back to your convent and say your prayers', and telling me I was doing the work of the Devil. And full of violence and virulence. And same thing with anonymous letters. And I can't help ... I just quiver all over. I just couldn't ... I can't hack it because I've never known violence in my life. I'm an extraordinarily privileged person. I didn't know any violence. My parents obviously loved one another. And I ... I mean I ... okay I keep on, but ...
Did these people threaten you?
Well they call me an evil woman and all these sorts of things. But there was once, once, and I suspect it had something to do with our lovely State Government ... It was during the Noonkenbah thing and I was riding my bike, you know, in a secluded street down in Claremont and I always ride. It was night time and I always ride close to the gutter because it seems to me it's much safer there. So a car's less likely to hit you, and I've got a beautiful bike headlight, tail light, and suddenly somebody leapt out in a track suit, rubber gloves, mask, and knocked me off me bike. At first I thought he was going to rape me and I thought, now, come, come, he can't. He's in his track suit and all this, so I screamed and gave him a good kick in the right place and he ran away. I think that was done to frighten me. What I do now is, when I'm riding at night, I ride in the middle of the road as far as possible. Yeah, I think so. Otherwise it's a very extraordinary thing to do, unless the man was mad but I don't think ... I don't ... I don't think madmen wander round the night with ... in track suits with rubber gloves and there was almost ... there was almost a sort of antiseptic smell about this. He tried to get the rubber gloves over my mouth you see. So yes. So I don't like those things. I'd like just to lead a simple, peaceable life actually. And just be me. I mean, even yesterday I ... No we can't talk about yesterday, but even when people see me being filmed or something like that ... I remember when I was an ABC person and the cameras were all over the place and, you know, I could see my colleagues saying, 'Oh there she goes again, the publicity hound'. And I suppose I am silly to say, 'Yes', but, well, I always think that journalists have to earn their living, don't they?
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