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Mummy, I hardly knew you - Barry Humphries

Features | By Barry Humphries

Barry with Louisa. Melbourne, 1934

She scoffed at his shows, called the maid common and hated vulgar flowers. But Barry Humphries still loved his mother

‘You see, Barry – not everybody likes you.’ My mother offered this kindly reminder one morning at breakfast 69 years ago. The morning edition of the Melbourne Argus was propped up against a Weetabix packet, and I was gloomily reading and re-reading a less than enthusiastic review of one of my early shows. The theatre critic, Frank Doherty, was a respected senior journalist and, moreover, I had failed to amuse him. It took a surprising number of years for me to apprehend that Louisa Agnes Humphries felt that it was part of her maternal duty to cast a sceptical eye on my theatrical attempts, to make sure I never got too big for my boots, and to make sure I realised that, one day, I would have to grow up and get a real job; a task I still pursue. Perhaps writing a column for The Old Fella is finally it! ...

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