Look, I know Annabel Crabb thinks that she’s pretty funny, and I admit I often get a laugh out of some things that she writes about Brendan Nelson (or Brenda as we call him in the ALP), but the comment in this story about me having a man crush on Hugh Jackman is a complete fabrication.
This is hard to write, because I really admire Hugh, but I have to be honest with you all, he’s not scintillating company. We spent the day together at the SCG because we were both invited by Cricket Australia, I only went because I felt obliged to. I mean I was in Sydney anyway, so I didn’t have much excuse and Tim Gartrell told me that Howard’s passion for cricket was one of the few things people liked about him, so I need to extinguish that by taking over the cricket loving mantle. So anyway, we’re at the cricket and at the end of the day I said to Hugh “we should share a meal sometime”, I was just being polite of course, growing up in Queensland you soon learn that it doesn’t do to be seen as being ‘up yourself’. Anyway, Hugh says ‘That’d be great” and before I’m even back to Kirribilli House Therese is on my mobile saying that Deborra Lee Furness has been on the phone organising a time for dinner.
I’m not really up with the whole celebrity thing so I called Peter Garrett and asked him to help me make things run smoothly, he suggested we invite Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban over as well so that it doesn’t look like Hugh is getting some kind of special treatment. I asked one of the guys from ASIO to get me Nicole’s mobile number and Pete set the whole deal up.
I was really apologetic to the staff at Kirribilli, we were supposed to be having a quiet time without any official engagements, but they were all really great. Apparently the Howards used to make ridiculous demands of them all the time, just for a laugh. Once Janette even told one of the staff to get her a grape flavoured Slush Puppy at 3am because she had been kept awake by John snoring off a liquid dinner with Piers Ackerman, or so I’m told.
Saturday night rolls around and Hugh is just talking a million words a minute. He’ s all ‘Australian film industry’ this, ‘arts grant’ that, innumerable mentions of his production company, it was a real hard sell. Deborra Lee looked a bit embarrassed to be honest, I think she just wanted to come for the view. I didn’t know how to get him to shut up, thankfully Pete could see my pain so he interrupted Hugh and asked him “So what was the deal with Viva Laughlan?”. That pretty much took Hugh out for the rest of the night.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Hugh’s hugely talented and his heart is in the right place, but he’s just so earnest about it all. Pete told him to get their people talking, which I think made him feel better.
The night was otherwise pretty uneventful, apart from the staff having to divert Keith away from the cellar a couple of times. I hope that he sorts himself out before he becomes a father because parenting is a tough job.
So that’s the truth Australia, Hugh Jackman; great to sing show tunes with, not so much fun over dinner. We’re just friends.