Fully Flushed Friday Raffles

“It was said of Caesar Augustus that he found a Rome of brick and left it of marble. It will be said of Gough Whitlam that he found Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane unsewered, and left them fully flushed.”

Neville Wran

From Laurie Oakes’ book Power Plays: The Real Stories of Australian Politics:

Happy 80th, Gough! Now, about your funeral

16 July 1996

Here’s a cheerful thought for Gough Whitlam as he celebrates his 80th birthday – a spectacular funeral is being planned for him. Not that anyone is in a rush, mind you. Fortunately, the great man is in such robust health that official approval of arrangements for a state funeral fit for such a legend will very likely not be required until well after Prime Minister Mark Latham, a former Whitlam staffer and protégé, moves into the Lodge. But it is best to be prepared. Something special will be called for – not at all the sort of thing that can be thrown together overnight. So an informal group of family and friends has been discussing the matter, on and off, for some years. The plans are stowed away in a file kept by the former prime minister’s eldest son, Nick. Big, wonderful, over-the-top plans, like the man himself; mostly serious, but with an element of tongue in cheek, as you’d expect.

Winston Churchill issued instructions for his own funeral. Whitlam is not that involved, even though the plans are of Churchillian proportions. In fact, apparently he goes uncharacteristically quiet when the matter of funeral arrangements is mentioned in his presence. But he has made one major contribution: his wishes on the music that should be played are part of Nick’s file.

* * * * * * *

So . . . the funeral plans. One of the pieces Whitlam has selected is Va, pensiero, the slaves’ chorus from Verdi’s opera Nabucco which gave expression to the Italian people’s aspirations for liberty and self-government. Va, pensiero became the theme song of Garibaldi’s followers during the Risorgimento – the uprising to unite Italy. The second piece he has nominated is more esoteric, but no less Whitlamesque – The March of the Consular Guard at Marengo, by an obscure French composer, celebrating one of Napoleon’s great victories. Whitlam was fascinated by Napoleon even as a child, but his sister, Freda, once told me that it was not so much the warlike side of Napoleon that appealed to young Gough as the French emperor’s civic achievements and the legal system he established.

Abraham Lincoln’s funeral is the loose model for what is being planned. The idea is that the main ceremony would be held in Sydney Town Hall, after which a catafalque bearing the coffin would proceed to the historic Mortuary Station, built in 1869 and heritage-listed. Lincoln became the first president to lie in state at the US Capitol rotunda before being carried home to Springfield, Illinois, by train, with stops along the way for people to pay their respects . . .

Not surprisingly, the funeral will be private. But I bet the memorial service on 5th November will go close to breaking records for attendance:

This evening, then, let’s charge our glasses and drink to the memory of one of Australia’s greatest-ever prime ministers. Let’s have music, dancing, merriment, and celebration of the light that has been, and the light that will come again as long as the men and women of Australia keep the faith.

(Image Credit: Australian War Memorial)

(Image Credit: Sydney Morning Herald)

(Image Credit: Bytes)

(Image Credit: News Limited (sorry))

(Image Credit: ABC)

(Image Credit: Courier Mail)

(Image Credit: SBS)

(Image Credit: ABC)

(Image Credit: Wentworth Courier)

Ave et vale Gough Whitlam

200 thoughts on “Fully Flushed Friday Raffles

  1. I declare this raffle open, get your numbers here and win the fortune you deserve, yes folks it’s time, it’s time for you to win, someone’s gotta win it may as well be you.

    As we farewell Gough Whitlam who gave this country a sense of humanity, humility and a sense of humour (I remember) when I was young –

  2. Reserved numbers :-

    2gravel – 3, 37, 152

    Razz – 26, 78, 91

    Hunter – 97, 114, 129

    Aguirre – 83, 86, 88

    ajcanberra – 13, 84, 110

    Barry J – 72, 117, 135

    BK – 17, 23, 29

    Logan – 41, 43, 143

    brianmcisme – 11, 14, 80

    BSA Bob – 64, 142, 164

    Catalyst – 18, 82, 147

    Florence – 46, 79, 107

    foreverjanice – 66, 90, 125

    gigilene – 2, 7, 112

    gorgeousdunny1 – 30, 40, 51

    HaveAchat – 4, 34, 141

    ian – 25, 102, 103

    leonetwo – 58, 148, 173

    Leroy – 47, 98, 169

    msadventure2 – 16, 27, 54

    muskiemp – 24, 36, 99

    Ned – 61, 101, 106

    Syd – 68, 96, 113

    obione – 118, 138, 158

    orangefox – 74, 93, 128

    Patriciawa – 69, 70, 71

    Political Animal – 5, 28, 67

    puffytmd – 57, 76, 122

    meoldema – 21, 77, 144

    granddragonette – 9, 124, 139

    Scorpio6to2 – 19, 31, 39

    shadylady51 – 48, 115, 172

    socksfullofsand – 10, 12, 53

    TLBD – 6, 116, 126

  3. I give you our future DPM the one and only Barnaby. Tony Burke.posted this with his regular email.

    “…you actually get the money until the department decides that you are not allowed to get the money, and at this point in time. So you keep on getting the money, you keep on getting the money, until such time as, on the application being assessed, they decide you are not eligible for it. But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved, you actually get the money straight away.”

    No matter how many time you read it you can’t get it to make sense.

  4. I tried to find a decent video of this, but there aren’t any, not of the whole thing. So you’ll all just have to listen.

    Smacka Fitzgibbon – The Adventures of Edward Gough Whitlam

  5. A little-known piece, The Ballad of ’75, from Roaring Jack, introduced by a young Clive Robertson (but don’t let that put you off)

  6. My best friend Michael Vaughan, who soldiers on gallantly with motor neuron disease, told me that he was at Gough’s 72 Campaign rally in Adelaide. It was introduced by Mick Young, featured Bob Hawke and Don Dunstan, but the star, of course, was Gough. He even enjoyed the great beginning. Pete Seegar singing The Ballad of Joe Hill. Dug this up from youtube.

  7. This is the only clip I could find (and one you found, I guess). Better than nothing, Leone, bad as it is

  8. Gigi, I sent that photo of Gough and the ‘Phillips’ girls to Fiona Phillips , the labor candidate for South Coast

  9. Lyrics for The Ballad of ’75, so you can sing along.
    A song by Alistair Hulett, 1982

    I remember the day I was no more than a boy
    Working in an oxide plant at the back of North Fitzroy
    Bert Gilchrist told the gaffer because Bert Gilchrist had the clout
    He said, “They’ve given Gough the bullet and the lads are walking out”

    And we walked right off that job while the gaffer held the door
    And watched it on the telly in a TV rental store
    It was one hell of a situation, the kind you just can’t gauge
    There was Gough on the steps of parliament house saying now maintain the rage

    In the year of the double dissolution
    Drinking in the streets gave way to doubt
    Australia voted in a revolution
    Then stood back and let the fat cats push it out

    There was violence in the air as I walked back home that night
    Everyone you’d meet was getting ready for the fight
    Saying “If they’re out for trouble then trouble’s what they’ll get
    We started out a colony do they think we’re a colony yet?”

    But as the weeks went by the anger turned to mild relief
    Locks were freed like magic and I watched in disbelief
    To see a scam so blatent so jacked up and full of holes
    And the people in their thousands endorsed it at the polls

    Some said they had it coming some were closer to the mark
    Who spoke about conspiracy sinister and dark
    But history records it and the story will be read
    How we let them take democracy and stand it on its head

  10. CK

    Thank you for our numbers, Razz and I have our fingers crossed.

    Great post for Gough. Pity the memorial isn’t on the 11th, but I guess it wouldn’t be respectful for remembrance day, although that didn’t worry the Libs 49 years ago.

  11. Given the decisions that were made this morning at my house, I have four weeks to find a formal outfit for two occasions. In order to support the incidents that led to that decision might I have 6, 13 and 42 (or whatever multiples thereof available) to go with my general incredulity!
    Thanks CKWatts

  12. Curioz – 42, 52, 60

    If I understand correctly I gave you 10 x 6 and 4 x 13, I hope that fits in with the parameters of your request.

  13. Did I ever tell you guys that many years ago – back round ’73 – I was the secretary for a working group at a Physics Education Conference at Edinburgh that Joan Baez’s father was the Chair for. Not at all to my surprise, he was a great guy to work with. No, I never got to meet Joan but I have spent many hours listening to her wonderful voice.

  14. Thanks CK, they will do nicely.
    Now for a cup of tea and to be reminded of the glorious observation

    When the news reporter said “Shopkeepers are opening their doors bringing out blankets and cups of tea ” I just smiled. It’s like yes. That’s Britain for you. Tea solves everything. You’re a bit cold? Tea. Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea. You’ve just been told you’ve got cancer? Tea. Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? Tea dammit! And if it’s really serious, they may bring out the coffee. The Americans have their alert raised to red, we break out the coffee. That’s for situations more serious than this of course. Like another England penalty shoot-out. ~Jslayeruk, as posted on Metaquotes Livejournal, in response to the July 2005 London subway bombings.

    And on days like today, it is also a cup of celebration!


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