|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: October 28, 2004
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.
In that last year of school, your family were scattered and things were not really good on that front, but you were still able to perform well and get a good result. Why do you think that was?
I need to ask you a question, sorry ... [laughs] ... Do you want me to throw in about Miss Stoppard because she was important. But we've done her.
Yes, we've already got her. Yes ... [interruption] ... Oh, the whole of the last year ... okay, so we do want to know about Miss Stoppard. That was one of his notes, that we hadn't got it. So we'll do that. We're still rolling aren't we? So I'll ask that question again.
In your last year of school, with all the problems that were going on in the family, did you still manage to do well?
Yes, but not probably as well as I could have done. I think I did well in the beginning because this was my last year at school. I had become a prefect ... I'd become the tennis captain. I ... sort of ... I started to feel I belonged again, and also I had a teacher who was quite wonderful. I had a chemistry teacher who I remember was called Miss Stoppard, who was a little busy woman, who used to turn a chemistry lesson into an absolute Aladdin's Cave because she'd branch off from talking about ... copper to telling you ... to talking about Shakespeare, or she'd start talking about feminism. And somehow or other she would tie it all together. So lessons with her were amazing. They were very intellectually stimulating. And um ... I really loved her and she believed in me. She used to stay behind and coach me ... so all that was going really well until the bath fell through the floor and my mother realised that she had to do something. She went off to London. My father was in the north of England. My brother in Africa ... and there was I, you know, having to go and board with a friend, and my little brother, my baby brother, was staying with relatives.
And I became angry again. Not as angry as I had, and not as sulky as I had at ... when I was at ... earlier at school in Australia when we went back to England. Not as delinquent. But I became ... I felt, well what's the point, you know. Just when I'm starting to really work well, and I had made this plan ... this happens, and I'll go to London, I'll lose my friends, what's the point of doing anything. And it gave me a very strong awareness of how important it is for kids to feel they have some kind of control over their lives. Because when you feel you are totally helpless, then I think it can either drive you into deep depression, or you can become rebellious. And in this case I kind of ... I didn't become depressed, but I stopped trying. Now, I didn't stop altogether, like I had done earlier, or I didn't cheat the system, but I certainly didn't work as hard, and therefore I didn't get the marks that I wanted to do medicine. I got a County of Middlesex scholarship which took me to London University to do science. But it really wasn't where I wanted to be because I knew then that I wanted something to do with people. And so I went down to London to join up with my mother, and gradually we all came together again. But there, what I decided to do was to study at night to still try and get these marks to get in to do medicine.
But I had to earn a living as well because the scholarship wasn't very much. It was a minor scholarship, and I went to work at the Northern Polytechnic in Holloway Road, right next to the gaol. It was a very grim place to work. It was a very old Victorian building. It was covered in soot. The labs were grimy. The science teacher who was kind of in charge of the labs ... I remember had the most terrible pink false teeth. I mean, pink gum false teeth which kept falling down, which shouldn't have mattered, but to me as a kind of 18-year-old, it did somehow. And ... and I really felt I had no empathy with the subject, which was the most important thing. I just hated every minute of it. I seemed to be full of hate. And I realised that at the end of that year, I hadn't been to any lectures at London. I had done my job sort of fairly grudgingly, and I was no nearer getting a scholarship and doing medicine than I had been at the beginning of the year. Furthermore I was beginning to realise that I probably was on the wrong path anyway. I'm not sure about that one. And so then I made the decision to leave ... with fairly drastic consequences.
What were the drastic consequences?
... I became depressed ... I went to bed ... no, I didn't. There's something else. Fairly drastic consequences ... I tried to go to the ... I tried first of all to escape. I went to the south of France to look after some French children and I enjoyed that but I kept thinking as I scrubbed the floors ... because they were ... it was during the war in Vietnam and the husband was a French ... an army officer, a doctor in Vietnam, and they hadn't much money and I was scrubbing the floors, and I thought really I should be using my brain. I've got to get back to England. So I got back to England and then I just didn't know what to do. I got a scholarship to go and work on Vogue, and I went there for my kind of interview to see what I was going to do, and I hated the whole environment. And they were all very elegant and I wasn't. And ... so I went to bed for three months, which is quite drastic really. I mean, I wasn't in bed all the time, but I didn't get up in the morning. It was classic depression.
And I also ate and I ate and I ate and I ate until in the end of ... was about 15 or 16 stone. So I was a big girl. And ... my mother was really rather desperate. And she said something which triggered me. I don't ... I think there was an accumulative kind of change happening within me, but she said, ‘Why don't you go and work for a man with an interesting job. If you don't know what to do yourself, find a man who's got an interesting job.’ And I remember it completely galvanised me, and I thought, ‘I want the interesting job.’ And out of that came the acceptance of what I really wanted to do ... was to be a journalist, to be a writer, to be a broadcaster, to be in that line of work. And in the past I had always rejected it because I was very shy, and I thought I can never have the confidence to bowl up to people. And I thought, well, I have to now, and so I wrote to about 50, 60 newspapers and got two or three replies, and the first one that interviewed me was the Kensington News in the royal borough of Kensington, and I got the job.
And it was actually a marvellous job for somebody to get when you're beginning in journalism because it was at the centre of everything. So I used to go to the theatre in the West End, and I'd go to ... traffic accidents and murders and all sorts of things. And I'd also go and proofread and the type was set, I remember, behind the building in a place called Rabbit Row. And we used to wheel the frames around in wheelbarrows. And on about my first week I nearly ... not my first week, first month, I nearly lost the job because I had done my first lead story, which was about civil defence, and it was how the Queen supported the civil defence and ... it had gone in with the lead headline Queen supports CD ... civil defence. And I had proofread my first lead story and the slug up the top and I had let it go through as Queen supports VD. So it sold out immediately. It was successful in one way. But I had a very good relationship with this woman editor who really trained me, helped me.
And who else was on staff?
Nobody. Th ere was ... there was Barbara, who was the editor, and I was the reporter, and rather indifferent proofreader. And so I learnt an enormous amount, and I think the location of the paper made that possible as well because where else would you get, at the age of 18 then, on a newspaper, the opportunity to go and listen to Gielgud and write a theatre criticism about it. And ... it was very ... it was very satisfying. I remember my first day at work when I came home literally running down the hill to my parents’ house and just sort of singing and jumping and feeling elated because I knew it was what I wanted to do. I felt extraordinarily happy.
What was she like, Barbara the editor?
She was ... a woman probably in her late 30s. She was married. They didn't have children. She was the only woman editor in England ... and she was very competent. She loved her work. She was enormously supportive. She was funny. She was just very good for somebody like me who was just feeling their way. And she was also ... she was a teacher, so she wanted to help me learn. And she did this.
Do you remember what would you ... what would you say were the most important, the most central, of her messages to you as a young writer?l
I think one of it was an indirect message which was enjoyment. So if you're not enjoying or involved in ... or sensitive to ... if you're going ... for example, I covered the Christie murders which were horrible. But if you're not ... if you're not responding to who you meet and to where you are, then you're not going to be a good writer, because that kind of is going to come through. It's going to block that message of interest and excitement between you and the reader. I did a lot of feature stuff. The second one was particularly stuff about checking your facts, which I wasn't very good at. So she was ... so that was an important message. But it was that involvement with people. It was that interest in the community, and what are we going to do this week. And ... and generosity of spirit that she had. I think she was also very strong on respect of the person you were interviewing. So ... there was an awareness, I had an awareness, and I think had it instinctively anyway. That you didn't interview someone in order to destroy them. And ... and you know, so there was an ethical ... she had an ethical framework from which she operated that permeated the whole newspaper.
How do you think you can know on the first day that you've found your metier?
Because you feel it in your blood. You sing. Your ... you feel alive. You feel your limbs are tingling. Your head is awake. Your ... you just feel full of exultation. And I never felt anything quite like that again. It was very strong. And subsequently, in my career, it's quite interesting looking back because I've had a very long and a very varied career in which I've spent quite a bit of time ... doing, working on various government commissions and committees and boards, and I've chaired some of these and I've been involved in policy work at a very senior level. And I will do this for a while and it will exercise a different part of my brain, and I will be fully involved, and I'll enjoy it. But I can't stay too long doing it because I start to fret, I start to feel deprived, and I have to go back to writing or filming again. And that happened at the film school ... where I had ... I felt after a certain time that I had to go back to my own work.
Working on this very small paper, did you become ambitious to move into something bigger?
Yes, I don't think I was at the beginning though, zealous ... but I knew that I wasn't going to stay there. I had no particular goal. I think I wanted to go and work on one of the major papers or to work for the BBC but I hadn't ... I was too busy in those two years enjoying what was happening. Then I went ... at the end of the first year I went to Venice on my own to cover the Venice Film Festival. I managed to get a couple of assignments from the Overlander and the South African Outspan, and the New Zealand Overlander, or something like that.
Your editor didn't mind you taking them?
No, because I took my holidays to do it and she thought this was, you know, good experience. I wrote to these papers and offered my services as a film critic, and sent some clips I'd done. So I got accreditation to the Venice Film Festival. And I remember I hitchhiked to Paris with a cadet from the Daily Express who was working on the newspaper for a while. The two of us went. And Denis came from Jamaica, and wore very short white shorts, and a very tight white singlet, and was very black, Denis, and very beautiful and quite wonderful, and no, we weren't lovers but we were great friends. And my mother, who was amazingly encouraging in my adventures, encouraged me to go, and we hitchhiked to Paris and then I caught the overnight train to Venice, and I went to two days of the Venice Film Festival, and then I fell in love for the first time with a young Greek lawyer who ... who I met on the ferry going to San Marco. And I never went to any more of the film festival. And what's more, I came back to work a week late ... having rung up to say I was not able to come back, without explaining it. So that wasn't a very good thing to do. And then she really ticked me off. Quite rightly, and she said, you know, ‘If you ever do that again, you'll lose your job’, and I was very crestfallen. But I was so in love then ... [laughs] ...
Until this happened to you in Venice ...
A good choice.
... what had been your experience of boys?
Very little. I had ... I'd had a boyfriend who was a ... a medical student at St George's Hospital in London, and who went off to Vietnam and we had a kind of lachrymose parting where we kind of canoodled and, you know, danced all night long and that kind of stuff. But we hadn't taken it any further than that. At the last minute before he went to Venice ... Vietnam, he wanted to marry me, and I knew that wasn't a good idea ... so I was fairly green, really, and I remember turning up in Venice ... on the first day and staying ... going to San Marco to have an aperitif or something, because I knew that was the smart thing to do. And having been told, again by Nanny ... see she keeps coming back in my life ... that you must never trust foreign men, and that they wear co-respondent shoes which are brown and white or black and white, and they keep their money in a purse. And there was I sitting ... I was quite blonde and milk-maidish then, and I saw these brown and white shoes standing at the table next to me and he was a foreign man who was trying to pick me up — which wasn't Aristides, who didn't wear shoes like that. But ... I was quite naïve and I was also very young ... in the sense that I wasn't emotionally mature. Aristides didn't have a lot of English. He was on his way to Cambridge to do a postgraduate law degree. He was quite a bit older, about 16 years older. I think he thought I was older than I was, and I thought he was younger. And I ... you know, it was my first love affair and it was ... I was ... it was a very wonderful experience, especially in a place like Venice.
However ... when we got back to England and he followed me, and I remember he sent a postcard from Paris saying, 'I kiss you all over,' and my father found it and he was absolutely ropable, and he said, ‘Who's this chap?’ And I managed to kind of deflect him, but when he turned up in London I couldn't handle it. He was suddenly ... he did seem to be very foreign. He kept his money in a purse. He was very passionate. My mother ticked me off for being unkind to him and I tried to pull out of it. And in the end he ... he just gave up. And I kept on seeing him two or three times throughout my life. It was a love affair that actually lasted about seven years. It was an on again off again Charlie number. So it kind of interfered with my newspaper career for a while.
Have you had many occasions in your life where you've had that pull between your personal life and your career, where you've decided in favour of coming back late?
I have never come back late again. Ah ... that was, you know, that was a lesson. But I certainly have ... yeah, I have tended to follow my personal life often at the expense ... sometimes at the expense of my career. So when I met my husband, my then husband, Ellis, he was on secondment to the BBC in London, and I was actually doing very well in England by then. I was writing for the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly. I was writing for some major American periodicals. I was broadcasting for the BBC. I was only about 24, 25 when this started to happen. I was living in Fleet Street above a pub, an old pub in Fleet Street, and my career was all set to be highly successful. And then I met Ellis and we fell in love and he wanted me to go back to Australia, and a few months later I did. So I ditched my career, and then found myself in Australia without any career. So that was the first time.
Let's then pick up and get you into the next phase of your career. After you came back from Venice, you came back to Kensington, but what happened out of that, that evolved you into the next stage of your journalistic work?
I think that experience of travelling and hitchhiking, which was quite safe then, ... I decided I wanted more adventure in my life, and at the end of two years, on the newspaper, I left and I spent about a year hitchhiking around Europe — sometimes with a companion, sometimes on my own. Again, it's interesting. I was quite scared while I was doing this, but I was determined to be independent, and again I had the support of my mother who nevertheless, if she didn't hear from me every week, was on the point of ringing Interpol. So it was probably quite hard for her. But looking back, it wasn't — I mean, it wasn't unsafe in the way it is now. I stayed at youth hostels. I went back to the south of France. I picked grapes. I worked for a French economist in Paris. I happened to turn up at a magazine called Réalité, which had an American and French edition, and I turned up just as they were looking for an assistant, an editorial assistant. And I worked in Paris for six months. Then I hitchhiked to Germany where I lost all my money, and ... I had to work in the canteen there at the railway station to earn some money, and I got to Denmark and I sold blood in Denmark.
So I was being fairly independent, and fairly adventurous, life was then. And ... I was picking up friends along the way. I was quite safe in the way I travelled. I wasn't unduly stupid. I remember having a lift with a French doctor who gave me a long lesson in how I should dress, and show off my bosom more, and then invited me back to his apartment because his wife was away. But when I declined politely, polite again, he ... he was very gracious and took me back to where I was staying in Paris. So there was a kind of reasonable code of honour if you were hitchhiking then. And I met some extraordinary people through that. Then I found myself in Sweden where my elder brother by now was living. He'd married a Swedish girl who was a nurse in Eritrea, when he was in the army out there, and he had gone back to Sweden to live. And I spent the winter in Sweden, where in order to earn my fare back to England I taught English to a Swedish family. And the father owned a joke factory, and I used to spend my time packing cardboard skeletons in cellophane boxes ... cellophane bags and boxes. And that was how I earned the money to come back to England by a cargo boat. So I spent a year, in other words, sort of footloose doing a little bit of writing, the occasional film festival.
Why did you come back?
It was very cold in Sweden. I found life quite stuffy there ... I had run out of money. My brother was, who is lovely, but was quite disapproving at the time of his younger sister who had turned up with a ... I think I had dyed my hair black and I had a Napoleonic haircut. It was in the days of existentialism and ... what's her name? What's her name? You know ...
Simone de Beauvoir?
Yes. Shall I pick that up?
No that's alright.
Anyway, it was in the days of existentialism, and so that I hung around Simone de Beauvoir and I was very much in that sort of cult. And I was dressed in black all over. And I remember I got a ride in a cement truck and it poured with rain and I got covered in cement. And I arrived at my brother's like that. And so I decided Sweden wasn't the place then for me to live and I came home.
And what did you do when you got back?
Well, I then had a feeling I wanted to get back onto newspapers, and to take my career a bit more seriously again. And that I needed to get a job. And the first thing that I did was go and work for a secretarial agency while I looked for a job ... I got sent to various people like Randolph Churchill, who was drunk all the time and quite difficult to work for. I got sent to Elizabeth David, who was also quite difficult to work for. And I didn't do shorthand, but I managed to write very quickly like this and nobody could see what I was writing. And I then got sent to a woman called Barbara Wace, who was the first woman war correspondent to cross into France on VE Day. And she was looking for somebody to help sort her files and do some letters for her. And she looked at me writing and after about two minutes, she said, ‘You're not doing shorthand.’ So she picked me immediately. And that ended ... I ended up staying and I worked with Barbara for four or five years as a kind of partner, a junior partner, which was a fabulous opportunity for me because she introduced me to American writers and journalists. She gave me all sorts of opportunities. We did a lot of travel writing, a lot of feature writing. It meant that I got into the BBC, and I got experiences that I might never have had, or might have taken very long to have obtained. So, again, like a lot of things in my life, things happened, unfolded before me and I was usually able to grab them and to, you know, seize the opportunity.
And during that period, you said that as well as her doing written journalism, she was also working for the BBC. Was this your first experience of broadcasting?
Yes, and I remember she had been asked to do an assignment for Holiday Hour it was then called, for the BBC. And she couldn't do it and this was how we worked. So they accepted me and I went off to do this Holiday Hour program in Northern Ireland with a producer and a sound guy, and I think me and maybe someone else. And I had never broadcast before and I suddenly realised I was very nervous. And I was in the middle of a ballroom with all these people who were there on some kind of packaged holiday, and I had to find someone to talk to for my first interview. And I picked the friendliest looking man I could see who turned out of course to be profoundly deaf. So in a way that kind of, that made things much easier because after that, I managed to converse with him, and from them on it sort of freed me up. So I did a certain amount of broadcasting then, and a bit of film scripting.
Was this in television or radio?
This was in radio initially, and then I wrote a couple of screenplays for documentaries, scripts for documentaries. And one television drama script ... so it was fairly varied but the emphasis was on writing, was on feature writing.
And what brought this great partnership to an end?
Um ... I met Ellis. You know, I ... Ellis was a broadcaster with the ABC, a very well-established broadcaster, and he was in London on furlough and he was working for the ... doing some work for the BBC, and he had an introduction from a German woman artist, German-born woman artist who I'd known as a child living in Perth, who had been a very profound influence on my life. And she said, ‘When you get to London you must look up my young friend, Anne.’ And that's how I met Ellis and we did a certain amount of work together, documentaries, we did a couple of documentaries in Holland, and we did another one in Italy ... that was the beginning of what started out as a partnership and ended up with my following Ellis back to Australia in order to get married.
How old were you when you met Ellis?
I think I was about 26.
And how old was he?
He was 16 years older than I am, so 42.
And were there any complications for you at that time?
Well, there were because ... he was married. ... [Can we stop here because I don't want to go into all this for the kids. There were because he was married and he had ‘a wife who didn't understand him’. We're not rolling are we?] ...
... [Yes, we can stop now and you can talk about it because if it's an issue for you, we should sort it out.] ...
Ellis was a very experienced broadcaster. Did you learn much from him doing these joint documentaries?
Yes, I learnt a great deal. I think he gave me a lot of confidence in that area. He was ... he was very good as a teacher always, Ellis. And ... so, and also it was a pleasure to do a whole documentary with him and to be with somebody ... the fact that he was older, more experienced. He was a very civilised kind of person to be with. He was ... he was very patient in that kind of situation where he was teaching ... and, you know, I found that was terrific ... a terrific experience. On the other hand I was also anxious because although he never kind of tried to seduce me, it was obvious that he was very attracted and he was very intense as a person always, Ellis. And he used to say, right from the very beginning, that I was going to change his life. And I used to think, but this is ridiculous, and you're married and you've got four children. So stop talking like that. And as the friendship developed ... and as I came to know him better, I suppose some of those anxieties ... and they were very real anxieties because this intensity was very extreme.
And I remember I used to come back from having dinner with him, where we wouldn't even have touched hands, but ... where I would come away with a headache. And I would say to a friend of mine, you know, I really feel anxious. I never took him home to meet my parents, which was interesting because I took everyone else home. And my parents had open house on a Sunday. I think I felt somewhere tucked away that they mightn't approve of the relationship. They would have liked him, and he would have been very charming. He belonged to that class or breed of Australians who were sent overseas to be educated. So he had been at school in England for two years. He went to Bedales School in England. And he then ... he spoke with quite an English accent. He was one of, again, that happy band of tight-knit broadcasters who sounded very English, not Australian.
And so there was always this level of anxiety. And then I remember we went to Holland to work together and it was in Holland that he actually proposed to me, and he said that ... he had said some time back that he and Hetty were living separately, his wife, and that he would go back and she would be delighted, because they were living separately. Part of which was true, they were living separately ... what I didn't know was ... was that he had also asked someone else to marry him. He told somebody, the Countess of Chataleuse, Angela, who he had been at boarding school with, and he had looked her up again. He had last seen her when he was about 13 or 14. And he had found Angela again. So he was kind of courting me and courting Angela, and Hetty was back home, and there was this whole extraordinary scenario that was developing which ... no wonder I felt slightly anxious. But I didn't listen to my intuition. Um ...
It was an emotional one. I think because I found ... I found him very beguiling. I felt safe with him. But on the other hand, because here was this older charming man who was looking after me, and ... I had just come out of saying goodbye to Aristides, so that was the end of that relationship. And I used to tell Ellis about it and he used to listen, and Barbara was also away, so nobody was around when all this sort of courtship was going on. And I felt I could ... we had common interests because he was a broadcaster. He was interested in politics. He had a great knowledge of music, and so I had good conversations with him. And he wasn't trying from the beginning to rush me into bed, like it seemed to me most other young men were there, and it got boring unless you found it not boring. And I gradually got lulled into a sense of security. And then he sent me a telegram saying, 'Hetty quite agreeable, will you marry me? Will you marry me? Will you marry me?' And I cabled a telegram back, 'Yes, yes, yes.' It was much more fun when you had telegrams.
And then I remember I told my parents. And my mother said, ‘How wonderful’, with tears in her eyes, ‘but I shall miss you.’ And my father paced the kitchen floor, and paced the kitchen floor for many weeks to follow saying, ‘How do we know? How do we know the man is not a rotter? How do we know he is going to marry you? How do you know? You can't go out there and live with him until you're married. It's alright in London. You can get away with it. But it's not alright in a small place like Hobart.’ Ellis was then working in Hobart. Ah ... he was programme director for the ABC in Hobart. And I just didn't listen. You know, because by then I was in love with him.
Do you think that the very intensity that worried you might have also been part of what attracted you to him?
Possibly, probably. He wasn't ... he also didn't make flippant jokes. He wasn't like the self-deprecatory Englishman who ... that I knew, the young man who was often ... made flippant jokes and never really addressed anything seriously. Whereas Aristides had been very passionate and very involved and also very intense, but in actual fact it was a much safer kind of intensity.
And what was not safe about this intensity in Ellis, do you think?
I suppose because I think he was an obsessional person, and this was something I didn't really realise ‘til ... ‘til I came to Australia. That as well as somebody who could be enormously protective and ... and love very deeply, there was also somebody who really was ... who was hugely needy. And who drew you in. So the thing that worried me was this sense that I was being drawn in to this person who kept saying, 'You don't know how much I need you, and how much you're going to change my life.' And part of me kept wanting to do this ... and so I was both attracted by the attention and the intensity but I was also quite frightened by it.
So when you got to Hobart, did any of your father's fears get realised?
Well, I came to Melbourne first. Ellis met me off the boat. I was a ‘10-pound Pom’. I came under that system. And I did a film about it. So although I was a 10-pound Pom, I had a boat deck cabin, which was rather good, and we made this film for the BBC. And when Ellis met me in Melbourne that was absolutely fine. It was a Sunday afternoon and we couldn't get any food except a piece of slab cake and a cup of tea. So, you know, it shows you the sort of shifts that have occurred now over quite a long time. And I met his friends in Melbourne, then in Sydney, and all that was terrific. And then we got to Hobart, where he was living in an ABC cottage next to the ABC building or near the ABC building, and we set up house there together. And at this point my father was quite right. Not in saying ‘how do we know the rotter is going to marry you’, because that was not an issue. But it was that we found ourselves, or I found myself, ‘living in sin’ as it was then known, in what was a very closed community.
And what was the effect of that?
Well, the effect actually was quite drastic because first of all ... nobody would talk to me so I had no friends. Hetty came from a very Establishment family, and it was quite true that I think that their marriage had become quite difficult, and that she was not ... that she was quite agreeable to the divorce, I think. I never really found that out, but I think ... she was always very friendly to me. Although I never met her but she used to write friendly letters. But ... I was beyond the pale. I was the wicked woman from Fleet Street, you know, who was living in sin. It really was quite crude and I think we came not long after Sidney Sparkes Orr. Do you remember the scandal of Sidney Sparkes Orr? And they tried to turn us into the next scandal, which was quite hard because it wasn't nearly as complex ... because there was I living with somebody I was going to marry, who happened to be older than I was but not all that drastically much older. And people would cross to the other side of the road. Ellis had cousins who were absolutely sweet to me but they'd say, ‘We can't ask you around with any friends until you're married.’
I had started to do some work for the ABC in Sydney. I worked out of the Sydney office. I was scrupulously careful not to work out of Hobart, or through Ellis in any way. But the then editor and owner of the Hobart Mercury, I think, was involved in, really, a campaign to write to the general manager, and to all the members of the Commission — it was a Commission then, wasn't it? Yeah ... saying that Ellis, his programme director, was abusing his work, his position by giving his mistress work on the air. And ... we were investigated without knowing we were being investigated. The ABC tried to send Ellis to Victoria, to Melbourne. They refused to give me any more work. I flew up to Sydney to confront Talbot Duckmanton, wearing a hat which I had bought from some shop. About the only time I've worn a hat.
[end of tape]