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A friend of mine remembers a reception during an Adelaide Festival of the Arts. It was a large gathering: visiting musicians, singers, actors and writers, members of the Adelaide establishment, people from the university. The hosts were Ninette and Geoffrey Dutton. My friend, a visitor from Sydney, was struck by the Duttons’ confidence and sophistication. They were a handsome couple, she recalls, entirely at ease with the famous people who had come to the Festival from many parts of the world.
Last year, Geoffrey Dutton published his autobiography, Out in the Open. It contains a detailed account of a patrician way of life: a life of considerable privilege and sufficient means to enjoy the benefits of fine houses, frequent travel, good cars, and a network of friends and acquaintances spread around the world. I suspect that nowadays many would regard such life as fundamentally un-Australian; and yet, for all that, both Ninette and Geoffrey were (and remain) proudly and uncompromisingly Australian.