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A Local Man ePub

"A Local Man: a play about Ben Chifley" is written by Bob Ellis & Robin McLachlan. It chronicles the last days of Chifley's time in Australian politics and was really very interesting, stirring up quite a few memories.The play is set in June of 1951 following the double dissolution of parliament in April of that year. I can remember at the time that my father was very pro-Menzies; the Liberal (conservative) party leader. Chifley was a Labor man through and through.
The play is actually set on a Saturday afternoon and opens in the kitchen of the Chifley's home in Bathurst (a country town west of Sydney) and the radio is playing the theme song of the Children's Session "Old Mother Hubbard, and Jack and Jill, andTom the Piper's son…". My sister and I were both keen listeners to the Children's Session (later the Children's Hour) but I am almost sure that it was only broadcast on weekdays, never on Saturday. According to Wikipedia (always a rich but often inaccurate source of information) the Children's Session was 6 days a week and I think that the playwrights must have stopped their research here which is pretty lazy. On the internet, I found a forum for people who had been Argonauts (members of this club) which revealed a week-day only Children's session or Argonauts Club as it was also known. As a result of all this I have joined the Friends of the National Film and Sound Archive and wasted a great deal of time. Anyway, if I ever meet Bob Ellis again I'll have a word to him about this inaccuracy in his play. Ex- Argonauts at my local book club also confirmed the weekday-only time slot.
Chifley was a remarkable man who never moved into the Lodge, the official residence for prime ministers of Australia, preferring to stay in a simple hotel in Canberra. He felt that the Lodge was far too grand and extravagant for him.
Another interesting thing I learnt from the play was that Chifley used to drive from Canberra to his home in Bathurst through Boorowa and used to attend services at the Catholic church in Boorowa on the way. He was from an Irish Catholic family but married a Presbyterian girl in a Presbyterian church and was therefore ex-communicated. He still went to church but had to stand at the back and didn't partake in mass or confession for all the years of his life after marriage. I think this kind of thing has eased up these days.
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