John Flaus looks like an animated Bert Tucker painting. The voice? It recalls the vocalising of a mallee root if, of course, a mallee root could speak. I’ve known John on and off for half a century and remember with pleasure our barneys, private and public, on various television programs on which we disagreed. And come to think of it, we disagreed on most of them. To this day I cannot account for his rapturous response to Chuck Connors in a quasi-fascist TV series called The Rifleman. Yet it’s his paradoxical attachments to improbable TV series and features that have made him such a useful critic. Far, far better to be confronted and even irritated by the quirky views of a Flaus (or a Bob Ellis or a Pauline Kael in their time) than to be bored silly by someone who agrees with you. I’ve always liked the fact that John is predictably unpredictable.
Now, suddenly, we’re both old blokes for whom the candles on the birthday cake take on the appearance of a funeral pyre – and who lack the lungpower to blow them out. Happy 80th John – and The Rifleman was total crap.