The Godfather: Peter Corris on brushes with fame Part 2
Continuing from last week, here are some more famous and notable people I have met, however briefly.
The Feminist – Germaine Greer said some complimentary things about my writing on a TV program so my publisher invited her to launch a Hardy novel at the Adelaide Writers’ Festival and she accepted. I’d heard stories about her from members of the Sydney Push for years before The Female Eunuch was published in 1970 and I was prepared to be awed. No need; she was friendly and unassuming, no longer the glamorous firebrand who’d gone toe to toe with Norman Mailer, but impossible not to like, especially when she said such nice things about my book.
The Tennis Player – I was among a group of journalists who interviewed John McEnroe after he’d won the Australian indoor championship at the Hordern Pavilion at some time in the 1980s. As I wrote in my article, tennis is about opening up spaces and penetrating them. McEnroe, with his loosely strung racquet and its trampolining effect, was a master of this from the baseline, mid-court and (a rare thing now) the net. He seemed a little tense, perhaps worried about being questioned about his on-court manners, which had been well under control, relatively speaking, during this event. But things went smoothly. I asked him what he did for relaxation between matches. He paused, then grinned. ‘I do a lotta pinball,’ he said.
The Footballer – I got the Swans’ (and the AFL’s) champion goal-kicker Tony Lockett’s autograph for a friend. I was covering a golf tournament at the Lakes course and had decided to watch the warm-up pro-am event. We hardly spoke; Tony scribbled in my notebook. He was a huge figure, over 1.8 metres and close to 120 kilos, playing in a group with women’s champion Karrie Webb. Lockett teed off with a respectable drive that finished just off the fairway. Webb, of medium height and probably weighing in around 55 kilos ringing wet, easily out-drove him and finished on the short grass.
The Soldier – I was in the presence of, rather than met, General Võ Nguyên Giáp, the commander of the People’s Army of Vietnam. Fred Hollows had arranged to meet him and a few of us tagged along. He was a small, grey, dignified figure sitting among a few other people in a spartan sitting room. He’d obviously been briefed on Fred’s activities and greeted him warmly. I stood by and all I could think was that this was the hero of Dien Bien Phu. It was like seeing Wellington in the flesh, years after Waterloo.