Last Word – Kenn Lord


Brisbane actor, screenwriter and journalist Kenn Lord

Who do you think you are?

I’m an ordinary Aussie who was born Kenneth Charles Frewen-Lord on January 15, 1932. I turned into Ken Lord then turned into Kenn Lord when I became an author and discovered that I was not the only Ken Lord on the planet.

As Ken Lord, I wrote the social coverage, with pictures and words, for the Brisbane Sunday Mail from October 1987 to December 2009. I wasn’t on staff. I was paid as a columnist from week to week. I preferred that because it gave me an incredible freedom of independence and tested my ability to deliver the coverage with which I became so widely associated every week of my working life.

I was called arrogant, difficult, a pissant, a dickhead, impossible and a big-headed smart-arse. When I look back, I suppose I was all of those things from time to time.

It’s very hard to be nonchalant and unimpressed when you zap around – first-class – everywhere on the planet, supported and encouraged by the public relations demons who so desperately need what you can give them in print.

I was eventually done in by an editor. It hurt. I got over it.


What do you do now?

I write books. My most passionate achievement is the book I wrote about my Dad’s time in the killing fields of Gallipoli in the spring and summer of 1915.

I based it on the diary he left me when he died in 1967. He wrote it every day, in and out of the trenches, and it is filled with mind-bending accounts of the battles, blunders and blood of the Gallipoli war. In other words, it’s the duck’s guts, and serious war historians are not interested in it.

You can check out my other novels at


What did you do before The Sunday Mail?

I was, in turn, a department-store commercial artist and a smart-arse designer, director, writer, set painter and actor in the wildly flourishing theatre and amateur theatre world of Brisbane in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1966, I was part of the creative team that launched the Mark Twain and Living Room Theatre Restaurants, a successful venture that gave professional actors ongoing employment and the madly receptive Brisbane public a raft of artistic showbiz thrills from Tuesday to Saturday nights of every week.

After that, I moved briefly to Melbourne to write for Crawford Productions and to Sydney for Reg Grundy Productions. I did a really rotten radio show on 4BC with my wife Margaret,

became a father to my son and daughter and bought the fine dining restaurant on the ground floor of the Twelfth Night Theatre in Bowen Hills, Brisbane.

When my chef short-changed me, I learned to cook, took over the kitchen and chucked him out.


How is life treating you now?

 I’ll answer that with a minimum of bulldust. I have not grown old because I don’t want to. I never wanted to, so I resisted the on-coming urge to give in to the years.

Like most geriatric blokes my age, I have had cancer, chemotherapy, back surgery and a heart problem that could have been fatal but wasn’t. I think most people grow old because they think they should, or because they’re told they should. It’s nuts!

We’re all glorious when we’re young. We glow with the fire and promise of youth. We gaze up at the night stars and dream that we belong up there with them. When our dreams slowly die, the fires of youth die with them, and a kind of dank melancholy takes over. Suck up and you’re a dead duck. I didn’t do that.

I’ve had heaps of kicks in the butt. I’ve lost heaps of money on mad schemes, and there were times when things could have been bad, but with the never-ending life raft support of my wife Margaret, I have more than survived.

I don’t wear a hearing aid, walk with a cane, or need the help of a pacemaker. I gave up alcohol and cigarettes because I didn’t need them anymore and I do my best to suffer the idiocy and desperate mindlessness of our federal and state politicians.

In short, I live to live, and like most optimists, I believe that the Earth is still a pretty marvellous place. What’s more, I’ve seen enough climate changes to realise that the Earth still knows what it’s doing.