How a foreign minister’s memoir morphed into a political version of Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bob CarrPolitical memoirs are not renowned for being a scintillating read. But the publication this week of Diary of a Foreign Minister, written by of Bob Carr, the undertaker-faced former Labor premier of New South Wales, who spent a scant 18 months in his “dream job” as Australia’s globe-trotting foreign minister, proved to be a headline grabbing event. But for all the wrong reasons.

While a few papers and TV commentators did look for the political meat among the 500 plus pages, particularly an insider’s view of the catastrophic internal feud between former Labor Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd and the power of the Jewish lobby on the Australian Labor Party, most dwelled on the unexpected array of trivial, boastful and just plain peculiar entries.

The diva diaries of Bob the bewilder was the Sydney Morning Herald’s front page headline.

Bob the Snob: Diary of a first class tosser shouted The Daily Telegraph.

Here are some of the notable revelations from the book already dubbed “Bridget Carr’s Diary”:

I soar above the mundane and serve my country.”

Actually, I am the best chairperson I know – well, Gillard is pretty good – and suffer the lot when trapped at meetings with slow-moving and uncertain people in the chair … I’m the best chairman I know.”

On sitting alongside Obama and Putin at the G20 leaders meeting: “I cannot feel humble. Interested, curious, of course. Just not humble.”

On flying business class: “Business class. No edible food. No airline pyjamas. I lie in my tailored suit … Eating plastic – no ceramic – food, passengers lying in cribs, packed in business class, a design that owes a lot to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

On international political leaders: “John McCain is younger and more sparkle-eyed than I might have expected. Plastic surgery? Two days earlier I noticed something about the skin under John Kerry’s eyes, smooth and slightly discoloured. Today at lunch retired US ambassador Frances Cook … explains … navy secretaries, congressmen, senators take cosmetic-surgery holidays in Thailand or South Africa.”

And “Any time with Hillary (Clinton) is pure champagne, pure quality.”

There are numerous references to his diet and health routine, from the man who has: “more energy than 16 gladiators.” “I think I’ve begun to put on weight, maybe the MET-Rx protein blend I’ve been drinking. Last night I slept from 11pm to 6am, only waking once and enjoying nutty, technicolour dreams. No Normison: wonderful. Foreign minister thrashes jetlag. Keep up the weights in hotel gyms despite a creaky right shoulder and kept up the Pilates and abs work on the floors of hotel bedrooms. Must eliminate all sugar. Must eliminate all bread: ‘no flour, more power’.

And: “My ambition is to have a concave abdomen defined by deep-cut obliques.”

Diary of a Foreign Minister by Bob Carr is published by New South Books.

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