Why Marriage Is Nice

Dear the Internet,

I don’t want to go on and on about marriage equality – after all, it’s going to be passed eventually in Australia, bring people nothing but security and happiness and make exactly zero difference to anyone else.

However, there’s an argument that gets used a fair bit – heck, Mark Latham used it on The Verdict only last night as a way of telling gay people to stop annoying him about the issue, which is what reminded me of it – which is that you don’t need a piece of paper to validate your partnership.

And that’s absolutely correct, just to be clear. You can support marriage equality as the removal of a pointless piece of discrimination without feeling that you need to enter into it yourself, or necessarily support the institution. I know plenty of people that don’t see the need to do it themselves, and it makes no difference to the strength of their relationship – and neither does it mean they can see any reason to deny others the option simply because they don’t need it themselves.

However, I’d like to explain why I am a fan of marriage. It definitely changed things – just not between, y’know, the two people that got married. We were pretty damn into one another before we got hitched, and we remain so today.

Seriously, best day. How goddamn good to we look? Amazing. Photo by Anna Kucera

Seriously, best day. How goddamn good do we look? Amazing. Photo by Anna Kucera


That’s because weddings aren’t just about the people that wed, as I learned in 1989, the year my mother and stepfather got married.

Both were sole parent to three children apiece, families they’d created with their late spouses.

He’d moved interstate to be with mum, which wasn’t an easy thing for his family, and was living next door to our house so things were still very separate. The plan was that we’d all live in the one house after the marriage – and I, as the eldest, had already kinda figured that I’d be there for a couple of years at the absolute most so had the least to lose from the arrangement.

It was a volatile time for all eight of us, with the marriage bringing up a lot of fairly predictable grief for the six kids aged between seven and seventeen who had lost parents and could see their lives once again changing dramatically.

Even so, we six kids did get along pretty well among ourselves, even if there were differing levels of enthusiasm about blending our families, and a few excitingly dramatic screaming matches (But there was also Press Gang and Degrassi Jr High – yes, ABC’s Afternoon Show with James Valentine/Michael Tunn, you were the scaffolding upon which our family’s fragile bond was constructed.)

The wedding was very nice – lots of family and friends and people saying lovely things – but much to my surprise, something fundamental changed in the wake of it.

I didn’t think my relationship with Lance would change all that much at the time, since I really liked the guy and was glad he was marrying my mother. But my relationship with my stepfather’s family changed dramatically – his sister was now my auntie, his parents were now my grandparents, and most importantly his children were now my siblings. These people were now going to be part of my life for the foreseeable future. And something just… clicked.

I’m not going to pretend it was all smooth Brady Bunch sailing from then on in, but the struggles that followed were those of a family. And not to put too fine a point on it, the six of we sibs are still stupidly close. It helps that my brother and sisters are all amazing human beings, admittedly, as are the growing number of in-laws and children that have joined the tribe since.

I felt the same thing in May when I married my wife: there was a shift in my relationship with her brothers, her parents and (especially) her nieces. That’s because when you’re a kid there’s a fundamental difference between a chap being some-guy-that’s-seeing-your-Auntie, and being Your Uncle – not least because it makes clear that this person will be sticking around, and is another adult that can be relied upon.

And of course the other way for kids to know that someone’s there for a long time and can be relied upon is, you know, for them to be around for a long time and be consistently reliable. Again, the paper doesn’t change things – but we’re a species that responds well to symbolism and ritual. I still melt a little bit inside whenever my nieces call me Uncle Andrew, even if it usually means I’m about to run around the park with one or more of them on my back.

Also, as I made clear at the time, outside of weddings how many opportunities do you have in life to stand up in front of all the people that you adore most in the world and say “seriously, how good is love?” Not nearly enough, if you ask me. And it’s something well worth celebrating.

So: can we get this stupid niggling civil injustice sorted out, Australian Parliament? That’d be great.

Yours ever,


Sydney book launch, another lovely review, shameless attention-seeking

Dear the Internet,

So the Sydney Morning Herald have reviewed …Captain Abbott – more specifically, they ask the author Anson Cameron to review it – and he was very, very kind indeed.

In fact, the review is both glowing, and also really beautifully written: I wish I’d come up with a metaphor as strong as “politics is a black swamp that breeds this type of animal, a place from which another Abbott will soon stumble, breathing his repetitious dreck. The Captain was just the latest political reptile to dig his way to the sun from the depths of the compost in which those eggs are, even now, incubating.”

(And yes, I do write for the Herald – as you probably realise, and which they acknowledge in the review. However, I don’t write for the Weekend Australian and they also reviewed it positively, and with great style, so th… hold on, am I the thing that News Corp and Fairfax agree upon? ANDREW P STREET, UNITER OF WORLDS!)

APS, earlier

APS, earlier

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Tuesday December 1st and would like to enjoy the pleasant experience of watching TV’s Marc Fennell – you know, the author, broadcaster and genuinely lovely human being that’s on SBS, Triple J and loads of other things – have a chat with me at Gleebooks, you should book yourself some tickets because I’m assured they’re selling at a healthy clip. And yes, I’m as surprised as you.

In case you’ve not read the acknowledgements/blame chapter at the end of the book, it was Marc that very kindly convinced me that I could write the thing when I was first approached by Allen & Unwin and was certain that I couldn’t possibly do it. So he’s significantly culpable, really. Indeed, on the night I’m basically going to accuse him of being Accessory to the Book.

I will also be signing copies the book, so bring it along if you already have one and want me to deface it, thereby significantly diminishing its resell value.

And not that I’m wanting to bring a venal, commercial element into this discussion, but Xmas is coming up and my publishers have inexplicably rejected by suggested advertising campaign “The perfect gift for the lefty in your life, or the conservative type that you’re obliged to buy something for and want to annoy”.

So instead I will quote Peter Humphries’ review at Amazon: “it is well crafted very funny and all the things in it can be referenced as fact , this will make a great CHRISTMAS Present.”

You make a strong case, Peter Humphries on Amazon. A very strong case indeed.

Yours ever,



Here's the book cover! If you pass by a book store and see this, put it at the front of the display.

Here’s the book cover! If you pass by a book store and see this, put it at the front of the display, and then knock all the other books on the floor.

Well, The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott is out in stores now – seriously, I’ve seen it with my own eyes! – and I have literally zero idea of how well it’s doing beyond seeing people post photos of their new purchases on Facebook and Twitter. Which I appreciate beyond all measure, might I just add. Please don’t stop.

In the event that you feel like praising and/or complaining about the book on Goodreads, please do. Here’s the link: let your restless muse take flight!

And the first review was at The Weekend Australian by Richard King, and it was very reasonable indeed. And the comments, predictably, are hilarious.

There’s also an interview with me at The Clothesline, the arts and culture portal from my former hometown of Adelaide, in which you can correctly assume that every ellipsis is me rambling for minutes at a time. Dave Bradley did a fine job of editing me down.

And if you’ve read the book and thought “I wonder if this jerk has a website” then yes, I do and this is it. I know, I expected there to be more here too. But: if you check out the View from the Street page you’ll see that I write five – FIVE! – freakin’ columns a week for Fairfax, because I am relentlessly writerly.

Speaking of which, I’m going to start putting some of my older pieces on this site because I’ve discovered that all the utopian claims that The Internet Is Forever is a filthy lie and that the majority of the pieces linked in the Word Jockey Archive are dead. So that’ll be an ongoing project, as I am horribly disorganised.

And look, if you’ve read the book, thank you so much. I genuinely hope that you found it interesting and amusing.

(Or incredibly infuriating. Either’s fine.)