My friend Annie is a longtime listener to Aural Text, the book show on Melbourne’s RRR that’s hosted by Steve Grimwade and alicia sometimes, two very old friends and artistic colleagues of mine. In the course of their co-hosting duties Steve and alicia have never once – as far as I know – alluded to the fact that they are partners, so when Annie found out that they were partners, she was a little confused by this omission. She thought it was a little odd somehow.
Now, Steve and alicia’s personal relationship is not particularly relevant to their roles as co-hosts of Aural Text, but Annie was right in pointing out that knowing that they are partners does change the way that you interpret their on-air relationship. It’s a little bit of extra knowledge that subtly affects the way you think about their professional relationship. Not in any bad way or anything, but it’s there – you know? At the very least it provides a bit more context in which to interpret their behaviour.
As far as I know Steve and alicia have never hidden the fact of their relationship from anyone – they simply interact with each other in the same way that any professional colleagues would in the performance of their duties. That professionalism is important – any relationshippy intimacy that spilled over into their on-air interactions would seem kind of wrong.
I mention the above because there’s a similar thing going on in the current debates about The Monthly and the sudden departure of editor Sally Warhaft amid accusations of editorial interference from the magazine’s board and publisher, etc, etc. There’s been enough dissection of the events elsewhere, but one thing that has struck me is that one of the most vocal supporters of Warhaft, in terms of talking to the papers, has been Gideon Haigh.
Now, it’s pretty widely known in writerly circles that Haigh and Warhaft are former partners. It’s mentioned right off the bat in this article on Crikey. Obviously they have also had a professional relationship in that Warhaft has been Haigh’s editor, particularly within the context of his articles for The Monthly. What’s interesting, though, is that that Crikey article is the only public acknowledgement I’ve been able to find of their personal relationship.
I’m not saying that this fact has been deliberately withheld from anyone, and I’m definitely not saying that there’s anything dodgy about the interplay between Haigh and Warhaft’s personal and professional lives. Its not strictly relevant to the debate about Warhaft’s departure, but it does add something to the context of Haigh’s defence of Warhaft, and I think that its omission is worth noting.
[EDIT – 2/5/09 – Ah. Haigh himself has made a point of elaborating on his relationship with Warhaft in his essay in the Insight section of today’s Age. And now I notice that the news section is referring to him as “supporter and former partner” in an article also from today. Speaking to a mutual friend this morning, he told me that lots of journos actually don’t know about Haigh and Warhaft’s history, so the question probably just didn’t come up when Haigh was initially approached and asked for a few quotes on the whole muckamuck. I stand corrected.]