The Fitz Files

<em>Illustration: Reg Lynch</em>

Illustration: Reg Lynch

Seriously, do the monarchists have the first clue? One does not wish to be unpleasant in this festive period, but I confess to being gobsmacked this week that the national convener of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, Professor David Flint, has launched a petition saying the Queen should be the one picking the governor-general, not the PM! That is, the PM would provide a selection of names, and then Ma'am would choose. How do we make sure there are no closet republicans among them? Why, make the selection a ''sir'' or ''dame'' and, according to Flint, a quietly republican potential governor-general would have to refuse the honour, and then be caught red-handed! Genius, prof!


True-blue spirit

Still on the book promo tour, TFF has spent a little time in the Blue Mountains lately, where it was noted to me that the most devastating thing about the bushfires for the wider community has been the loss of an estimated $20 million of tourist trade from people who mistakenly think the whole place has been burnt to a crisp and is not worth visiting. As to those devastated families who have been burnt out, it has been touching - at a time when immigrants are being demonised by certain sectors - how much money has been donated by Australia's multicultural community to what is a fairly strong Caucasian enclave, with mayor Mark Greenhill noting in the Blue Mountains Gazette that $50,000 for the Mayoral Relief Fund came from the NSW Chinese community, $25,000 from the Vietnamese community in Burwood, $10,000 from the Sikh community and $10,000 from the mayor of Ipswich, Paul Pisasale, who led his city through the 2011 floods and who flew down from Queensland for the day to offer his personal support.


A real wag's tale

Look, there are shaggy-dog stories, and there are dog-eared shaggy dog stories, but this one - sent in by a reader this week - beats them all.

Here's how her yarn goes: ''An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of. He calmly came over to me. I gave him a few pats on his head and he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.

''An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks.

''Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful, sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.'

''The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with six children, two under the age of three, and he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?'''


Joke of the week

Paddy texts his wife: ''Mary, I'm just having one more pint with the lads. If I'm not back in 20 minutes, read this message again.''


This old house

And so to the holidays. Now, if I may be forgiven this self-indulgence, on Christmas Eve I will, as ever, be in the beach house built by my grandfather in 1923, to which he took my great-grandmother. My mother enjoyed it, as did my siblings and nieces and nephews. My niece's daughter thus marks the sixth generation that has spent the cheeriest of summer days there - and there will be about 21 of us Fitzes waking up there on Christmas morning, boasting about 550 such mornings between us. Do we have a postwar record for most number of Christmas mornings for one family in the one house? Do your worst!


They said it ...

Let the little children come to me; do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.
The Catholic Church's barrister, Peter Gray, SC, at the royal commission on child sexual abuse. It did not go down well with  victims.

If you don't have sex with me I will kill myself and you will always know that it was your fault.
What paedophile priest Father Francis Derriman said to children, according to victim Joan Isaacs, at this week's commission hearings.

[Ending production in Australia] reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the industry faces in the country including the sustained strength of the Australian dollar, high cost of production, small domestic market and arguably the most competitive and fragmented auto market in the world. 
Dan Akerson, chairman of General Motors. 

Who knows, who cares. I'm over it.
A Holden worker, on Channel 10 News on Wednesday evening as he exited the Adelaide factory, on what the future held for him. His sanguine attitude placed him in a tiny minority.

There is nothing fundamentally new here. Nor are the complaints. Nor is the attempt to exercise political influence to restrict us.
ABC chairman Jim Spigelman defends the national broadcaster against attacks from "conservative" critics and announces external audits to assess any bias in its reporting.