Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 02:27 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 15 Aug 2018 | 02:27 | SYDNEY

An anecdote about Bob Gould


Sam Roggeveen


23 May 2011 11:50

Legendary Sydney bookseller, left-wing activist and Labor Party identity Bob Gould has died.

I met Gould once, in the mid-90s, after stumbling on his famously shambolic Newtown shop. Among the seemingly random stacks of books, a couple of cats wandered around, greeting customers. It was that kind of place.

I made the mistake of selecting a volume by the conservative intellectual Frank Knopfelmacher, which I took to Gould at the register. For my troubles, I got a short lecture about the evils of the Right, which soon evolved into what seemed an utterly incredible tale of Gould's role in one of Australia's very rare acts of political violence, the 1966 attempted assassination of Labor leader Arthur Calwell by Peter Kocan. Gould actually put his account of the affair into print:

Way back then, when Kocan was a very disturbed young right-winger indeed, he attempted to assassinate Arthur Calwell during the bitterly contested "Vietnam" federal election of 1966. In my lifelong "Forest Gump" persona, I happened to be standing nearby, at the back of a meeting against the War in Vietnam, which Calwell had been addressing at Mosman Town Hall, talking to Barry Robinson and Wayne Haylen, when Kocan fired the shot at Calwell. Kocan ran away, Robinson, Haylen and I gave chase, hurtled off down the hill and finally caught him. We then handed Kocan over to the coppers. Wayne was actually the bloke who tackled him, as I remember it, but I am imortalised in the caption of a photograph of myself in Russell Ward’s book, Australia Since the Coming of Man, as the bloke who captured Kocan.

Here's hoping Gould's Books survives. Sydney would not be the same without it.

Photo by Flickr user peregrinari.