Recently I had surgery (not plastic) requiring a general anaesthetic and one morning I woke up with aches and pains. My doctor wasn’t available so I rang my local hospital emergency department and I was put through to a woman who said,
“We can’t really give advice over the phone so you can come in or see your doctor, or I can put you through to the medical advice line. Which would you like?”
I said to her, “What is the medical advice line, is that recorded information, or do I speak to a doctor?”
And she said, “I don’t know, I’ve never rung them.”
I said, “What?” and she repeated, “I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to them.”
Lady, you’re working in customer service at a major hospital, perhaps with sick and vulnerable customers; surely it would be helpful if you knew some details about the advice line?
“What do you want?”
I was so furious I hung up on her. I couldn’t believe she would say that to someone so obviously seeking help. I was in pain but lucid and close to the hospital, what if someone who is very distressed rings her and she says that?
When I calmed down I rang back and spoke to a different operator who put me straight through to a Health Direct registered nurse. We spoke for 14 minutes, she opened a file, gave me great advice and took all my details.
Why was the first one allowed anywhere near the phone? What annoys me most is that she was as clueless as Tony Robbins when talking about the MeToo movement.
Who do I complain to? There is probably only one poor woman answering the phones because her colleagues have been made redundant, and clueless lady was probably just an executive with no real hospital experience who happened to be walking past a ringing phone at the time. Do I call an ombudsman? The hospital chief executive? The local paper? Or just whinge about it on social media?
If I was paranoid I’d think the state government were trying to run our health care system into the ground, strip our services to bare bones, so idiot pollies can privatise our hospitals. Where can we find politicians with vision? The ones we’ve got are spineless. I wish I could say it is going tibia okay.
We say I love you, and if we’re still together on Boxing Day, Easter Wednesday, the day after the kid goes back to school we may survive as a couple by detaching from your teen’s nightmare behaviour
Your son looks like Elvis but he sings like a drunk footballer
I adore you but your brother’s second wife’s extended family will poison me slowly with their frozen coleslaw
I’d really like to grow old with you but your son’s new girlfriend has a voice that curdles milk and I can’t bring myself to help you raise her kids
Your touch is tough to resist but the complaints from your mother and her coven of neighbours about my cooking have reduced my brain capacity
You soothe my jangled nerves but your child’s penchant for snakes is a reptile too far
I really like your daughter but another netball match will kill my will to live
I love you but I can’t add another mother in law to my collection
Shakespeare described step parenting best:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom
Last night as I stood on the land of the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation cheering AB Original on stage as the opening act for Midnight Oil’s homecoming, I realised that we’ve come quite a way from the 1980s. I first saw Midnight Oil live when I was 16 years old and they changed the way I viewed the world.
They may be white boys from the white bread northern beaches of Sydney but in the early 80s for many of us white bread teens from the suburbs they were our introduction to what was actually happening to indigenous Australians. I learnt nothing of Aboriginal culture at school, I was only taught about the white invaders. So many of us had no idea of the atrocities and abuse committed by white governments and their White Australia policy; Midnight Oil opened our eyes to what was actually happening. The Oils were writing Australian songs and telling our stories and I’d never heard anything like it.
And those biceps. I will never forget standing near the stage at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and watching Rob Hirst drumming. Uh oh! My first musician crush, setting myself up for a lifetime of being attracted to players. Sigh.
Last night, as we waited for Midnight Oil in the shadow of the glowing Deutsche Bank sign, I thought of how the Oils have sung about many big companies that have raped our planet, and how we need protest music more than ever. When they played Blue Sky Mine I thought of the hideous she-devil Bishop defending James Hardie and making a dying Bernie Banton wait for compensation. This year she was briefly our Acting Prime Minister.
As the crowd roared from the opening bars of Armistice Day, I thought there is nowhere else I’d rather be right now. When Peter Garrett spoke of stopping the giant Carmichael mine and the carnage that Adani could bring to the Great Barrier Reef, one idiot in the crowd behind said,
“Shut up and play the music.” Only a moron comes to a Midnight Oil gig and demands that politics aren’t mentioned. Before I had a chance to tell him to go home and listen to Kylie Minogue, the band came back with more raw, punching rawk:
I see buildings, clothing the sky, in paradise
Sydney, nights are warm
Daytime telly, blue rinse dawn
Dad’s so bad he lives in the pub, it’s underarms and football clubs
Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac
And no one goes outback, that’s that
You take what you get and get what you please
It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees
I love that Midnight Oil are a band with strong political opinions, and musically, they were simply brilliant. They’ve done so many shows this year the band is tighter than ever. And they were backed by the incredible Hunters and Collectors horn section. I don’t know what painkillers the injured Jim Moginie was taking but his guitar playing was inspired. I’d forgotten how good they are live. The waves of screaming energy and excitement kept coming as my hips reminded me how their music made me feel in my teens.
Today my body aches, but my heart is filled with the thought that perhaps I’m not the only one who cares about changing our world.
Not much time, but time to try
On a sunshiney day at an outdoor gig in a park by the beach in Cronulla, I met a Palestinian man who had come to Australia last year for a better life for his family. His wife and four beautiful children said hello but it was he who needed to talk. To a clown. There is something about wearing a red nose that makes people open up and share their stories.
I told him I thought he was very brave to leave everything and everyone he knew behind to create a life in a new country. He told me in Australia he had hope for his children’s future. He believed that they would have a better life here. He said,
“In eight months we have achieved a lot.”
I told him I thought that it took a lot of courage to start life in a new country, but as I said it, I felt a dread that I’ve never experienced before. I hoped to God that dumb rednecks would not ruin his view that Australia was a peaceful place to be. I hoped that no one made nasty remarks or commented on his accent. I couldn’t bear to mention to him that racism is rife, as I could see a few metres behind him a woman pushing her child on a swing with a southern cross tattoo on her neck
I want an Australia that doesn’t lock people up and torture them because they dare to seek asylum
I want to vote for politicians who consider people in their policies before posturing politicking bullshit
I want uneducated rednecks out of parliament
I want a beautiful Australia where real estate speculators haven’t bought up and ugly-fied every building that happens to overlook a beach.
I want to live in a country that recognises that love is love.
I want aboriginal people recognised in our constitution.
I want $300 lunches to be abolished while people are homeless and kids are going to school hungry.
An end to reality renovation shows
I want to meet this lovely man’s children in 20 years and say, “Your mum and dad wanted you to live in safety so they gave up their friends and family for you to have a chance.” I hope they have a wonderful life, I hope they don’t get teased for their accents. I hope their mum and dad find great jobs and they grow old together, free of war.
And I hope his kids don’t end up voting for idiots
Back in my day….
No one was allowed on a bus with a pram unless it was folded when I had babies. There were no special pram parking spots on buses or trains. But back then women didn’t think that spending two grand on a pram was a good idea because people actually believed they could one day own a home within four hours of Sydney, so they put the money towards their mortgage instead. Now everyone under the age of 50 in NSW is stuffing their faces with expensive avocadoes and craft cheeses because the idea of actually buying a car or a house in Broken Hill and commuting on overcrowded public transport and congested motorways is too much.
Rage is all the rage in our part of the world. Segue rage, bike rage, parking rage, WestConnex is raping my suburb rage, Saturday night there’s nowhere to go out and my rent is so high I can’t afford a social life anyway rage is all part of living in Sydney.
And the Bernard Salt groupies who voted for the anti-science numbskull pollies currently in power continue to negatively gear, tut tut and invoice government departments for their opinion. Sigh. Anyone else looking forward to the Sydney property crash?
This morning Brandis is threatening to stall the same sex marriage debate if he doesn’t get his way. Unchristian Porter, Corgi and the other right wing rednecks all advocate butting out of people’s lives, except when it comes to telling people who they can marry. The problem with the Lieberal Nationals being elected is that the balding white males who run the party don’t want the world to change. The system works for them, it has made them rich. If we want a just political system we have to get rid of these dinosaurs. At least the independent parties are passionate about creating a fairer Australia.
I’m a yes person. I’ve done infomercials for washing machines, how hard can politics be? I thought. But after running in Joe Hockey’s electorate last year, I now know why women last don’t last too long in parliament. Hanging out with blue-suited number crunchers having endless discussions with accountants is more than this koala could bear.They reminded me of living in Britain in the late 80s when Dragoness Thatcher was in power.
Politicians are overpaid, and also the dullest people on earth, they receive far too much attention. How do the political journalists do it? How can they watch the games of preening and self-congratulations and emotional manipulation and not want to bash heads in? How can they listen to the well-rehearsed sound bites and faux sincerity all day and stay sane?
My acting teacher Hayes Gordon said, “I don’t regret doing cigarette ads, I don’t regret alcohol ads but I regret teaching the politician Robert Askin how to be charming on camera so people thought he cared.” The Liberal party feed their candidates self-confidence pills so they believe they are the masters of the universe. That kind of self-assurance is breathtaking. Last year I found myself seduced by people whose policies are abhorrent. The Libs are so good at faux sincerity it’s like watching Tom Cruise acting. You start to think he’s actually a nice guy even thought your logical brain knows he’s a Scientologist and that he dumped our Nickers so he must be an arsehole.
I know this is unusual, but as a politician, I wanted to be transparent. I thought I was the prodigal daughter returning to North Sydney to save the electorate from the Liberals. But I wasn’t even a contender, the old boys club has too much money and they want it to stay that way. I know how Ricky Muir feels.
Now the idiots want to strip funding to carers while wasting millions on a plebiscite. I’ve been a single mother living on a small income for years, I know all about financial planning. Shonky Mal Turnbull may not know how to be a leader, but he could get a few single mums in his cabinet, then he’d be able to pass a successful budget.