Weekend Australian Columns
IT’S been a horrible few weeks in the world, and a hard time for sensitive people. The daily news has been so distressing and appalling that if I were not a journalist, I wouldn’t turn on or read the news.
As it is, I can’t read the papers over breakfast, or watch television news over dinner, as what I see often makes my stomach turn and I can’t digest my food.
Last week there were two or three stories that had me feeling ill and powerless, but I soldiered on, feeling dreadful: children hit by cars, abused, murdered, starving; the massacring of animals; revelations of torture. But something snapped one morning after one particular story: I was in the bathroom putting on make-up, then I was suddenly crouched on the floor, crying. My partner tried to comfort me but I said this to him, and I am saying it now.
I GREW up surrounded by music. Tchaikovsky and Beethoven were playing for much of my early childhood. My father’s family came from Europe and brought with them an old record player and loads of classical records.
My house was filled with the sound of great operas and symphonies. I don’t think in those early years that I liked any of it, although I was fond of Rachmaninoff.
As I grew older the music became familiar to me, and familiarity burgeoned into love. Now I feel deeply satisfied that I was given the opportunity to appreciate the genius and beauty of many classical masterpieces and much more. My father was musical and sampled every type of sound imaginable.
I think of this often as I try to expose my daughter to many forms of music: classical, folk and world music, each coming with its own rich history.
IT was a horrible story — every parent’s nightmare. A number of years ago the daughter of an acquaintance died. She was only 18 and had just finished her Higher School Certificate. She was a lovely, normal girl. It was her first trip abroad. She landed in Europe. And went to a club. Of course no one ever knows the details of these things, but her parents were rung in the middle of the night to say their daughter had died on the dance floor.
The autopsy showed ecstasy in her system. She’d been offered party drugs from what’s known in the industry as ‘‘a bad batch’’. The story, and those like it, are more prevalent than anyone could imagine.
Which brings to light a controversial issue. I’ve been battling with friends over my views regarding teenagers and drugs. (more…)
Olympic swimmer Kenrick Monk, recently broke down crying and admitted he invented a story about being hit by a P-plate driver as he rode his bike to training. Monk, who is 23, faced the media to confess to having made up the elaborate hit-and-run story to hide the fact he hurt himself when he fell from his skateboard.
‘‘I didn’t know what to do. I panicked, I freaked,’’ he said, tearfully explaining that he couldn’t tell the truth because he’d fallen off ‘‘something that a 10-year- old can ride’’. With the Olympic trials coming up in March, he had been too embarrassed to admit he suffered two broken bones in his elbow from such a stupid and irresponsible accident.
‘‘I lied,’’ say the spate of cheating men and women caught with their pants down each week. ‘‘I lied because I was scared, fearful, depressed, anxious, I had a sore tooth, a gammy foot. I lied to save you from having hurt feelings. I lied because it was in my best interests, wasn’t it, and if I didn’t you would have been angry at me. I lied and I will lie again. Everyone does it all the time, so why not me?’’ (more…)
I SAW a local store owner, whom I shall call ‘‘Sam’’, in the street recently. His shop seems empty a lot of the time. I politely asked how he was going and was met with an angry tirade about how no one comes in any more because X down the road had stolen all his customers away by offering uncompetitive prices.
‘‘Customers! You customers expect this and that. Everyone wants a discount. I haven’t had a holiday in ages. My supplier has upped his costs; I have rent to pay; I have kids to feed,’’ he raved as I stood there blinking.
I remember the last time I went into his shop. The chewing gum I bought was stale. I brought it back to the counter. He looked at the use-by date and said: ‘‘There’s nothing wrong with it’’, and handed it back. (more…)
US social worker and writer Jennifer Gauvain in her Huffington Post column recently wrote that 30 per cent of women ‘‘dated and eventually married the wrong guy’’.
She sent a survey to divorced women, asking: ‘
‘Did you know you were making a mistake as you were walking down the aisle?’’
Within days their in-boxes were jammed as close to 1000 women gave detailed accounts about why they knowingly dated and eventually married the wrong guys. (more…)
THERE have been several incidents of animals attacking humans recently. Several shark attacks; two incidents involving bears — one a polar bear attacking a young camper, and another bear and her cubs in Russia eating a young woman; there have been a spate of dog attacks; and elephants and tigers on rampages in India.
After most incidents the animals were shot dead. Even the bear cubs were shot for doing what their mum showed them to do.
I went into a state of grief over the shooting of the cubs and again with the polar bear, rare and precious as they now are. It’s not that I don’t feel profound grief for the parents of the children killed. As a mother of a teenager, my horror at the death of a child is unquestioned.
But where’s the justice? When people kill, they are given a fair trial. The judge hears about mitigating circumstances before a death sentence is pronounced. So let me argue for the animals. (more…)
I’M very curious about the issue of Jack the cat, who went missing before a flight from New York to California in August, sparking a severe social network backlash against American Airlines.
The cat had been checked in as cargo but at some point he got out, and owner Karen Pascoe was told that the cat had been lost in the baggage claim area. At first the airline was rather nonchalant about poor old Jack. But when Karen’s sister posted a plea on Facebook, the story went viral.
The airline subsequently launched a frantic hunt and pulled out all stops in a bid to avoid a massive PR disaster as thousands upon thousands of people joined the Facebook site in support and protest, and became Jack followers on Twitter. There were reports of a cat detective being sent by the airline to find the feline, and of people voluntarily going to JFK to search. (more…)
I WAS woken last weekend by a screeching drill across the road. Fair enough if you want to do a bit of home reno but not on a Sunday morning at 7.30.
Due to acoustics, given the height and proximity of terraced houses in our street, even the quietest noise reverberates. A conversation across the road is audible, so it can be presumed the fellow understood the implications of pouring such an unsavoury cacophony into the street. I guess when you gotta drill, you gotta drill. (more…)
Julia! I don’t want my tax money to go to a stupid media inquiry. to muzzle criticism against YOU! Hundreds and millions of dollars!! Can anyone imagine how many starving kids in Africa that would feed or hospital beds here! We are fed up. Send our tax money to Africa or to the struggling health/ education system!
Please join me in my outrage
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