(Observing the obligatory obituary tradition that the second someone dies, they were "a gentleman")
THE great newsdesk in the sky has claimed another one.
While Jim Waley has remorselessly staved-off death for another year despite no-longer being cryogenically perma-frosted to his Channel anchor chair, elsewhere in journalism a company of fine young men and women has lost a good man.
Dozens of us abandoned our posts today, from across metropolitan Perth, to pay our respects to Alun Jones.
He was our training and editorial manager, a long-time chief-sub, a colleague, a friend, a mentor, a grammar Nazi, a complete pain in the f**king arse, a chain-smoker, an enthusiastic newsman, and a gentleman.
Today, with the aid of a Led Zeppelin fan in an orange curtain, we buried him.
Our Editor-In-Chief delivered a heartfelt eulogy (despite the obvious disadvantage of being South African), touching on many of the reasons why we were able to hold Jonesy close to our hearts at the same time as wanting to pummel him over with the brick he kept on his desk with “The last resort” written on it.
He touched on the way Jonesy will never leave us because the bastard has infiltrated our computer system. Every time we write “impact”, we’ll have “(effect?)” jump up on our screens uninvited. Every time we write “due to” the computer will change it to “because of” (which is great in a sentence like “Mrs Johnson was due to have a baby in December”).
Every time we write “conducted” the computer will angrily ask “(with a baton?)” and each time we condescend to use the phrase “will see” the magical footnote “(with eyes?)” will pop up.
I cannot begin to express how fucking annoying that is.
Or how annoying it is to not be able to use “according to” or “following” in an opening sentence. Or how frustrating it is to HAVE to give BOTH points-of-view within three opening paragraphs, even at the price of explanation, in the interests of balance.
But the fact is, Alun Jones IS the style guide inside each journalist he has touched, trained and worked beside.
I owe him a particular honour.
I admit I liked the man from day one, even though it was popular to bag him out. In my first week he helped me secure a page three lead about a computer spammer operating in our area. I had been out of the industry for a few years and we bonded as he patiently re-explained why I couldn’t say some of the things I had wanted to say [including using words like “c**t” (vagina?), “w**ker” (owner-user?), and “a**ehole” (exit here?) as adjectives].
Two weeks later when my permanency was announced he was the first to congratulate me. He shot me through an email that said “I think that’s about the fastest move from casual to permanent I can ever recall”. He’d been with the company for ten years. It was a compliment indeed.
Over the next year I would often roll into his office for a chat, for advice, or even to watch him roll a ciggie whilst replying to three emails, two phone calls AND answering my inane query.
He would always tell me “there are no dumb questions” - his invariable reply to my oft repeated pronouncement at his threshold, “Al, can I ask a dumb question”. He would always diligently and patiently give a full explanation, even if I’d long since forgotten the question, lost interest in the answer, felt inclined to disagree, or had fallen asleep.
There aren’t enough men like that around in our industry. I cherish the one or two who are.
Alun Jones helped make me a better journalist. And that’s more than some who should be able to say that are able to claim.
Jonesy and I also had a great personal understanding. After his death, a note about his judgment of my character was passed to me by someone who visited him regularly in his final months. It wasn’t work-related. It was his assessment of me as a person.
I had no idea he had paid so much attention.
And now I wonder if I paid him enough attention. Personally, that is.
The world is a little sadder (and media law a little trickier to navigate) without Alun Jones. But as the monk told us today (between rock music parables) we have to be glad of the time we had.
If I was James Blunt I’d be writing a song right now.
If I was Jim Waley I’d be clawing Ellen Fanning’s eyes out.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
(Observing the obligatory obituary tradition that the second someone dies, they were "a gentleman")
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
CHIVALRY: Not dead
I just thought I would regale you with a little story of what happened to me this morning. While making my way from the bus stop to work sans umbrella, I stopped at the traffic lights to get even more saturated by the incessant and, quite frankly, completely unneccessary downpour. I found myself standing next to a man with a large brightly-coloured golf umbrella and thought to myself "why the f*ck do I not even own an umbrella? What a muppet", when I noticed the man had tilted said umbrella to shield me from the rain. I looked over at him and smiled and he said "It looks like you've been drenched enough already this morning - which way are you heading?" He then shared his umbrella with me almost all the way to work, apologising that he wasn't going any further. I didn't see which door he ducked into but I can only imagine he was one of those guys from the HBF "good people aren't so hard to find" adverts. It's just a shame he's not my future boyfriend. That would be a good story for the grandkids. However I say to you Chivalry: definitely not dead!
PS: Singletons: read the feature in today's Oz. Apparently men want what we do. Are you serious? Where the hell are they then? Urgh.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
I plan to do this regularly... just for fun. This is my end-of-financial-year statement.
Reading: Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue. I borrowed it off Lindsay. I was finding it interesting until he started talking about the Australian vernacular and now I'm not sure how well researched it is. Still, it's good to know that "fuck" was once less offensive than "cad", and has been around for five centuries at least.
Watching: Family Guy. I may have just purchased three entire seasons. Honestly, don't go shopping with Beverly, she will not stop you spending at all.
Listening: Still on the MC Lars bandwagon. Love his stuff soooo much.
Downloading: Dirty pictures, as ever. lol.
Website du jour: I'm reading a lot of blogs at the moment. Blogs are the new black. (see list at side).
Café: Exomod in Mt Lawley has taken over from Soto and Cino as the place to be.
Pub: The Flying Scotsman has replaced all others as my prefered drinking spot. Again, Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley.
Club: Hmm... well I went to Connections last weekend, so I guess there. I'm on a Geisha siesta (how multi-cultural!).
Eating: Dad's cooking. Moving back home was pure genius. Dad is a very enthusiastic cook.
Drinking: Have just discovered the Boost Juice counter at Garden City - my new haunt. I never thought I'd be a southern suburbs mall rat. Cest la vie. Such are the highlights of working in Myaree.
Wearing: My fantastic new "Gazelle" Adidas sneakers. I bought them purely because they say Gazelle, as in Thompson's C**t Gazelle. Now I feel I have Emma Gant with me whereever I go.
Last show: Dusty, The Original Pop Diva (my review at http://ontheworldstage.blogspot.com/)
Next show: I'm going to see The Carnivores at The Playhouse, by Black Swan on Tuesday, methinks.
Can’t wait ‘til: Daniel returns from Sydney for three weeks for his holidays and his 21st. I have no idea what to get him yet, but rest-assured he will be spoilt. I also have a week's holiday in there, so we'll get to hang. God, I miss him SOOO much.
Lately I have been: Moving stuff into my Dad's place and cleaning my old flat so it can be rented-out.
Most recent scoop: No scoops of note, but great interviews: MC Lars; Irina Baronova; Ben Folds.
Most recent purchase: A cute brown, cream and green striped jumper. Regrettably it's from Cotton On, which means I can't really wear it to anywhere gays are likely to be. Someone once told me Cotton On was the worst thing ever to happen to the way gay men in Perth dress. I'm inclined to agree.
Want but can’t afford: To take myself, Daniel, Lindsay and all the crew to Mauritius for two weeks of sun, mohitos and cabana boys.
Need but can’t afford: To fix my car. I have panel-beating to do and I need to fix a puncture and replace the aerial (which some bastard decided to snap off for me... so now I have a clothes hangar accessorising my vehicle).
Last nice act: I cooked dinner the other night for Dad, Lindsay and myself.
Last bad act: Spending money I don't have on things I don't need (though I blame Beverly for that).
Bad news: Alun Jones, CNG training manager, self-confessed grammar Nazi and all-round nice (if pedantic) guy died after a short battle with some kind of tumour. We will see (with eyes?) his funeral conducted (with a baton?) on Thursday arvo. (Just some inside jokes for the CNG crew there).
Good news: MC Lars' Download this song is belting up the charts... Nova is playing as I type these very words.
Goal: To get to the UK before the end of the year, having made a fantastic and authoritarian documentary.
How to achieve it: Work hard and focus.
Yesterday I: Went shopping with Beverly. Ran into Stuey Mac and Lisa C.
Right now I should be: Unpacking and sorting more of the stuff I have dumped here in Dad's house.
Later today I’m: Doing what I should be doing right now. And hopefully seeing Lindsay for coffee to find out how it is she didn't make it home last night. (She called at like 7am to see if I wanted coffee, otherwise she was going to bed. LOL).
Tomorrow I’m: Going to work to polish-off my page two lead and start writing the early stuff for next week's paper.
General mood: Generally very much ecstatically happy. It's sunny and the birds are singing and the music is good and I have every reason to be over-joyed.
It would be better if: That were true. LOL.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I don't know what FMA is, but I'm rather excited about the idea of a bush speaking in a rose garden. It all sounds a little somewhere between Alice In Wonderland and Lord of the Rings to me. (Mind you, I'd be even more impressed if it was a burning bush).
Monday, June 19, 2006
I celebrated by bringing up my lunch.
Today, finally, I moved out of my flat. I say finally because the process has taken me three full days.
And today, the third of those days, I projectile vomited against the wall of my shower recess.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves… I have a story to regurgitate.
Two and a half years ago I bought myself a place to live - Chateau Guildford Road Embankment. It sounds frightfully grand, but really it’s just a first floor flat in a Maylands complex. Nevertheless, it was my first little home of my own. I redecorated, painted, re-did the floors and window furnishings and so on. Oh… and I put in a new shower screen because my boyfriend managed to break the last one (I doubt he did so by disgorging his a steak pie at serious velocity, as was a possibility today).
I’ve loved living there but decided to move out to save money – especially as my plans to relocate to the UK are becoming more and more advanced. I figure I was going to have to move out sooner or later, so why not sooner.
But can you guess where I am right now? Where am I sitting as I type this?
Yes, that’s right. I live with my Dad. I’m in his spare bedroom, at my computer, draining a goon-bag and looking at the piles and piles of boxes and bags and absolute sh*t that are stacked up around me. I’m too tired to do anything about them and I now won’t get to them until Wednesday night at the earliest. *groans*. I’m too tired because it has taken me those aforementioned three days to move out. Two days lugging crap and furniture and all of today to clean.
Enter the vomitus.
I have made a startling scientific discovery. I plan on writing an exhaustive paper to the appropriate learned society.
I have discovered that mixing very large quantities of CLR Clear and household bleach on the bathroom floor in a bid to clean the tiles does remarkable things to your lungs.
In fact, it strips them of oxygen completely and then introduces you to a bizarre new way of coughing. It’s a deep cough that not only comes from the depths of your lungs but also the pit of your stomach. Literally. It literally brings the contents of the pit of your stomach with it before announcing its arrival all over your freshly Pine-O-Cleaned shower screen.
And the mix didn’t work.
Curiously, I can’t remember if I cleaned it up before I left the house and gave the keys to the agent.
That should be a nice surprise for someone.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Would you believe there is a brouhaha brewing over whether the new Superman movie, Superman Returns, portrays the caped crusader (is that the right superhero slogan? They're all interchangable to me) as "too gay".
The first point I make is, Superman can never be too gay. But according to news.com.au, Director Brian Singer (who IS gay) has had to defend his incarnation after prominent gay media in the US labelled Brandon Routh's Superman a "gay icon".
(Though I can understand and applaud the casting... Routh looks great both in blue lycra AND as a mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent).
Apparently there is an outcry because Routh's Superman isn't tough enough and his Clark Kent is a bit wet and foppish. The article said young boys needed their super heroes to be tougher than that portrayed. They reckoned young men - the target demographic - would turn away from the film.
Earlier this month they announced the new Batwoman would be an openly lesbian character an no-one batted an eyelid. But then, I guess that's unlikely to turn young men away.
Apparently Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane is a bit of a ball-buster - even if she does tend to need a bit of rescuing occassionally - and she doesnt get all gooey over Superman, who has been away for long enough for her to get knocked-up and spawn.
The thing I'm most looking forward to is seeing Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther. The man is the best damned actor in Hollywood. That hasn't stopped the criticism from the purists though... probably the same twits who are upset Daniel Craig has been cast as James Bond. I'm sorry darlings, Christopher Reeve wasn't available to do the film... you're going to have to live with this.....
.....what a shame.
Anyway, it all seems like a bit of a publicity stunt to me. Since Brokeback Mountain creamed it in at the box office Hollywood has discovered gay is the new black.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
WHY is everything nuclear so fucking good in the mind of John Howard?
I don’t know what the Prime Minister is thinking, but EVERYTHING is nuclear - whether its energy or family.
Headlining the news everywhere today, gay marriages and the nuclear energy debate. I copped it in the car on the way to work, and again on the way home.
He obviously did a lot of thinking on during his recent trip to America. What a coincidence that Mr Howard should consider vetoing the Australian Capital Territory’s civil union laws at the same time as his buddy Mr Bush is supporting plans to ensure gay marriage is regarded as unconstitutional in the US.
He wasn’t even home from the States when he first mooted a nuclear energy debate – totally derailing the last 30 years of progress and debate towards exploiting renewable energy sources.
The exciting thing is, I know what it’s all about. I know what the problem is.
The problem is, our ideological Prime Minister is confused. He fears the wrong kind of nuclear meltdown. He figures homosexual unions will destroy the nuclear family.
I have a newsflash. The nuclear family is long since dead. It is a 50s anachronism as far removed from the reality of the current situation as Mr Howard himself.
The nuclear family did not survive the atomic revolution and as far as I am concerned, NO NUKES IS GOOD NUKES.
And homosexuals were there at the beginning of the nuclear age: You may recall the little aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was called the Enola Gay.
A happy coincidence.
And if the Prime Minister is so into the nuclear family can he explain why his refugee and immigration policies are designed to tear families apart? Or why he refuses to say sorry for the destruction of the perfectly-happy-in-situ nuclear Aboriginal families of the Stolen Generation? Or are Aboriginal families the wrong kind of “traditional”? Or how exactly the new industrial relations laws, which are seeing people with totally dependant family members able to be summarily sacked without recourse, help keep families together?
Maybe he plans to give all those people jobs in nuclear power plants?
Maybe he plans to force homosexuals to work in the power plants without protection… on the assumption they won’t be breeding and having families in any case?
Okay… so that’s about as credible as Gretel Killeen’s endorsement, but you can never be too sure with this Government.
(Image from slugtales.com)