Desperate times for Australian literary legend Bob Ellis

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As Bob Ellis continues his battle with cancer, his daily diary, Table Talk, continues to reflect Bob's legendary acute observations of modern Australia politics. IA presents this week's highlights and talks to his wife, Anne.

IA READERS would be aware that Bob Ellis, best described by Andrew Clark at the Australian Financial Review as a '73-year-old blogger, playwright, scriptwriter, speechwriter, novelist, book and film reviewer, libel writ magnet, serial book pulper, political candidate, Labor stalwart and all-round troublemaker' continues to defy the odds after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer eight months ago. 

Bob’s wife, Anne, gave Independent Australia the following update yesterday: 

It became clear towards the end of last week that Bob was just getting weaker and weaker to the point where he could hardly write or move around. A blood test on Friday and then a CT scan on Tuesday and other symptoms made it that the liver cancer was resurgent, and also in the affected lymph nodes. Within an hour or so of the CT scan, it was decided that we would go for the new immunology treatment called Keytruda and do it before Easter. Because Bob’s cancer is quite rare, there are no trials relating to it, but we can buy it treatment by treatment, aiming for four to start with.

 He had the first one yesterday, and strangely began to seem a little better. He asked for a pillow to write on and sushi and Easter eggs and felt really hungry for the first time for a while. He is in bed, and I just asked how he was feeling and he said ‘Pretty good’. We don’t know if this will work and we don’t know if it will be deceptive, like the first series of the chemo, and seem to be working and then will fail. But it is really the last option. Had he gone on as he was, it seems likely it would have been a matter of weeks or perhaps a month or two. 

Anne also mentioned that the cost of the Keytruda treatment was very expensive ($4,479 per treatment) and that she was taking on additional work to pay for it. 

If you'd like to help, you might like to consider making a contribution by subscribing to his blog, Table Talk, here. 

During his long battle with cancer, Ellis's Table Talk (republished as a regular column in Independent Australia) has continued to diarise Bob's observations of modern Australian politics. We've selected a couple of of the highlights this week: 

Turnbull getting too clever by half? (posted 22 March 2016)

I'M HAVING more tests today. My blood count has gone has gone up and my liver count may be getting dangerous. If it can’t be turned around I may have weeks to live.

It’s probably worthwhile assessing where things are at politically.

Morgan, the accurate one, has Labor on 50.5 and either tied or winning narrowly. Turnbull’s contempt for Morrison and his repudiation of the need for a surplus, ever, and his retention of Abbott’s worst policies, and Abbott taking credit for them, show how poor a politician he is and how little control he has of the rabble underneath him. There has to be scandal of sorts, or a stuff-up, three times a week. Is this enough to put Shorten over the line? Perhaps. Perhaps.

It were good if there were a Nauru scandal that engulfed Dutton, or Morrison. Or Brandis’s office for letting Man Monis through the wire.

There is a "mad dog" thing about Turnbull. His need to be too clever by half.

If I live till July 2 I may see the end of him.

Time will tell.

After Sinodinos (posted 24 March 2016)

SINODINOS HAS devastated – again – some Central Coast MPs and Baird – again – has declared the NSW Liberal Party must ‘take its medicine’.

This is at the same time as the Man Monis enquiry has shown the police in that State are a pack of wackers, and they could have been killed while they bickered and misremembered history.

It shows that Baird, the smartest operator among them, is not in his perfect mind and leaves us wondering is any intelligence left in that party room now Robb and Macfarlane are gone. And where the intelligence, in numbers over fifty, has gone.

Is Sinodinos smart enough? Turnbull seems not to be. Morrison certainly isn’t. You wouldn’t ask Dutton to coax a cat out of a tree.

Or if Turnbull knows what he is doing through April. I would have thought so. But he seems to have lost the thread.

It was perhaps forever thus, and exactly like this in the Turnbull Reich and the Republican movement, like this when he was first Opposition Leader.

Day by day he seems sillier and sillier.

And we will see what we shall see.

Again, if you'd like to help defray some of the costs for Bob's cancer treatment, you could help by subscribing to his blog, Table Talk, here. 

Worth watching this verbal tapdance between Bob Ellis and Tony Abbott on becoming PM with Bob ever the master of the riposte. (Part 1)

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