Paul Watson has noted , stylishly, that a feature story in yesterday’s Oz looks, on the surface of it, to be a strange fit with the brief of the nation’s daily newspaper. That thought had also occurred to me.
The gist of the story is pretty unremarkable on the face of it, though there is that whiff of “flamboyant lifestyles” which is to New Ltd as truffles are to porcine foragers.
Gordon Stewart a wealthy, 75 year old Sydney lawyer, who is hardly a household name, cheats on his wife with another considerably younger party in an apartment that he owns in Darlinghurst The other party is a 31 year old hairdresser named Jason. Or as the Oz would breathlessly have it, “a hairdresser by trade, Mr Harvey relishes hardcore partying and has a penchant for interior decoration.” Naturally.
Jason claims that Stewart had orally promised him the apartment as part of their – uuhh – deal which Stewart describes as “naughty mucking around, once or twice a week.” Mercifully, he doesn’t elucidate further. Jason claims they were a couple and is reported as saying he was faithful to Stewart and “not a slut” – though what this highly subjective self-appraisal is supposed to convey isn’t clear. Jason’s reported idea of coupledom – passing round canapes at parties and purchasing “expensive artworks and antiques” (not, one assumes, from his hairdressing income) – evokes a rather post-modern take on the concept, but, no matter.
Stewart on the other hand insists that he spent every night with his good lady wife in Edgecliff and just let Jason move into the Darlo Muckarounder because Jason was having trouble paying his phone bill and needed to be close to a work assignment in North Sydney. At this point you’d be tempted to ask who cares – except perhaps for Mrs Stewart – and why this this story has made it into Mr Murdoch’s organ.
Enter Michael Kirby.
Stewart claims, in a burst of hollow-sounding solicitude, that he gave the rather more celebrated jurist – and former friend – a key to the apartment so that he could “relax” therein. The Australian helpfully points out that the Kirby “palatial” residence is also in the eastern suburbs and thus generously allows readers to draw their own conclusions about what “relax” might mean in this context. They’d no doubt prefer it if they were as prurient as possible.
For what it’s worth, my conclusions are that the story was run for no other purpose than to smear Kirby by highly tangential association with a set of circumstances to which he is so peripheral as to be otherwise invisible.
But you’d probably already guessed that and hey: what else is new?