Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye

Gonzo Meets the Press #32 November 8, 2011

Tom Krause (aka Gonzo) is producing his last Meet the Press show this Sunday,
heading off to hipper pastures and a full-time writing career. He has a novel on
television to finish rewriting and a blog to keep refreshed.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

And write and write … until I fold.
The first two lines are, of
course, from T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, one of
the great poems of the 20th Century about one of literature’s most famous Old
Farts, J. Alfred, who did not think the mermaids would sing to him. The third
line is mine as I contemplate the end of my three decades in television and a
return to writing full-time at a much reduced rate (possibly none!).
Meet the Press is moving to Melbourne next year, but I’m not. I am also leaving the show a bit early as I have to have my
left artificial hip redone – I had both hips replaced 24 years ago – as it’s
squeaking. All the plastic is gone and it’s metal scraping against metal.
Unfortunately I watched 7.30 on the ABC last night, and a
report by John Taylor about faulty hip implants, including a profile of
42-year-old nurse, Stuart Cain, whose third artificial hip replacement could be
his last. The ASR hip implant, made by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson,
was his first and it has been recalled. But poor Stuart wound up with cobalt
poisoning, as the hip replacement leeched dangerously high levels of the
silver-white metallic element, ironically used in treating cancer when it’s in
isotope form!
And I found myself flinching when the report showed an x-ray of
a second, different hip replacement for Stuart, which had failed because a
titanium rod had snapped from his femur. I have a titanium rod in both of my
femurs! I should have listened when the lovely Leigh Sales said in her intro: “…
and a warning: this story contains pictures of medical procedures.” Leigh later tweeted to me:  “Tom, good luck with the book! And the hip.  I should have had the B/A: “But for Tom Krause, everything’s gonna be just fine.”
My surgeon told me he wouldn’t have to remove the titanium rod because it’s “a
bugger” to dig it out from all the bone which has grown around it for the past
24 years. And it’s only the top swivel part, which has lost its plastic, which
needs replacing. But it, too, has a lot of bone around it. Let me leave it there
before I scare myself to death.
I will return to my farewell. I love literature and writing and I have fallen in love with my blog, even though
hardly anybody reads it on this Meet the Press website. I am taking it to the
blogging service, WordPress.com, and calling it
gonzomeetsthepress.com if you wish to follow my adventures in hipper
pastures (and read my awful puns like that one) and see if I actually ever get
my novel published. It was rejected by three different publishers nearly ten
years ago, and when I read it again eight months later, I could see why. It
needed work and I have done a bit of rewriting in between a lot of television
producing, at Channel Nine, Sky News Australia and the Ten Network.
Now I no longer have an excuse to not finish the novel (I’m too busy, television is very
time-consuming, have to stay on top of the news, etc – all excuses I have used
in the past! The only good one left is having to help my wife mind our beautiful
grandchildren!), and will have to rewrite it to my satisfaction. But my blog
will help keep me focussed.
Writers have to write. In a recent documentary shown on SBS, the Peruvian writer and winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for
Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, said it best: “For me, writing is like
breathing. It’s a constant, daily activity. I can’t conceive of life without
writing. For me, to live is to write.”
I must remember that, as I’ve often used the quote by the 19th Century American newspaper editor, Horace Greeley:
“Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it.”
But as I pursue this possible writing-only career (always leave the door
open to other options, especially in this digital media age!), I will have to
remember another quotation, from the Roman poet, Juvenal, the author of the
Satires: “An inveterate and incurable itch for writing besets many and
grows old with their sick hearts.”
And that gives me an opportunity to return to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and ask the same questions as
Prufrock did, after admitting he was growing old:
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

But I can still hear the mermaids singing.
Tom Krause is the supervising producer of Ten’s Meet the Press. His views are his own; always have
been.

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