Friday, 7 May 2010

The Proclamer

Often when marking assignments for the courses I teach I can tell when the student has typed in the question to Google and clicked on the first response provided. Not because I have actually bothered to do this myself, but because the response provided is so utterly generic and boring. They write the assignment in their sleep, and I mark the paper with an annoyed grimace, another semester of their HECS debt wasted. Nothing pisses me off more than banality. Be bold, be brave, but never be boring.

The people who inspire me currently are interesting and above all atypical. Some I know some I don’t, but I have never been guilty of sugar coating the truth. Every opportunity I get I either write or tell people how I feel about them. Over four years ago I wrote a letter to my favourite political columnist at the time Matt Price, political sketch writer for The Australian. He had written an article bemoaning the lack of young talent coming through on both sides of the political divide saying that the new generation of politicians lacked conviction. This inspired me to write a reply, a portion of which said:

I have long been a fan of your columns, and wish to say your mix of wit, commentary and insight is something I rarely find in the opinion pages these days. I particularly enjoy your Saturday columns, which profile parliamentarians…. My main purpose for writing this email today was to demonstrate that there is light at the end of the tunnel, however slight it may appear. I am an idealist at heart. I want to become a politician because I have seen both sides of life. I know what it is like not being able to fend for oneself. I know the struggles one has to face on a physical, emotional and intellectual level. Therefore, I see it as my duty to advocate these struggles; on behalf of the many people I know who cannot communicate them. Thank you for writing columns that continue to inspire, educate and entertain me. I look forward to reading many more in the coming years.


The sad thing about that letter was that there were no ‘coming years’. Just eighteen months after I wrote this letter Matt Price was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. He died four weeks later; just 12 hours after Kevin Rudd won the 2007 election. As funny as it sounds I still miss him and his columns every time I look on a news website and are subjected to the ilk of Dennis Shanahan, Glenn Milne or Andrew Bolt who act as mouthpieces rather than commentators. Matt was the type of writer who could both demean and praise a politician in the same sentence. His wit is greatly missed. Even though I never got a reply to my letter I am glad he got the chance to read it because he was gone before I knew it and I needed to get all that off my chest.

Some people find the fact that I don’t just praise people, I idolise and worship them (friends, idols and creative heroes all included) incredibly annoying. One of my greatest fears is that these people, or I, might be gone before I get the chance to fully express my true feelings towards them whether I know them personally or not, so I do it every chance I get. Sometimes expressing these feelings to people who aren’t ready to hear them can create awkward situations and they can be uncomfortable, but at least what I have to say is out in the open rather than burning inside me in forms of inexpressible anger that burst out uncontrollably. Am I sometimes guilty of overreaching by expressing emotions that others aren’t ready for? Often. Do I over exaggerate these feelings? Never. I can’t keep any secrets about my feelings. It is impossible for me to hide them. There either on the page here, or in my journal, or shared with my closest allies. Although I watch many television dramas and movies that centre on unrequited love, I never understand why either or both parties don’t have the guts to tell each other how they feel. I have trouble avoiding going to the highest point that I can find and proclaiming my affections (whether they be professional, recreational or romantic) to anyone within hearing distance.

I know most people internalise such allegiances, but even when I try and stop myself I just can’t. I am like Lloyd Dobler holding up that ghetto blaster in Say Anything..., but instead of In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel it would play You Wouldn’t Like Me by Tegan and Sara (Naturally). Whether any of my various Diane Court’s climb out of their windows is entirely unpredictable because as the opening line of the song says:

I feel like you wouldn’t like me if you met me… but don’t worry there’s still time

1 comment:

  1. Hiya Todd
    Many of us were stunned by Matt's sudden death. He wrote in such a way that those of us teaching politics always knew he had a way to get to even the most disengaged of our students. Anabel is close, Samantha Maiden is trying hard. Maybe the frustrated visionary ought to turn his hand to the job?
    But your other comments here too are important--we need less bullshit and faux compliments and more honesty and genuine care for those around us. It shouldn't take losing friends suddenly to jolt us into such care and compassion. You are right to do what you do Todd, we follow your example. Regards, Donna

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