It’s a funny business writing a weekly column. I would say I envied those who effortlessly churn out coherent, comic and clever pieces each week, except I know that, for the most part, it is far from effortless.
Column writing is a little bit like childbirth; no one talks about the really icky bits, like the stitches after you’ve been split from there to breakfast.
Not that I would know, mind. This is just one of the things I do not share with many of my fellow columnists – children.
In many ways, I’m the anti-columnist’s columnist. Not only do I not have children whose little lives provide delicious fodder and familiar touchstones through every stage of development, but I’m also about the least political person on earth.
Starting with the premise that any politician who answers to party and/or factions cannot be considered entirely their own man or woman or therefore completely relied on to keep their word and uphold espoused philosophy, my attitude toward modern governance is equally pragmatic.
Unlike many of my more polemic columnistic colleagues (dare I mention Andrew Bolt?), it takes an awful lot for me to work up a head of steam.
When I do it usually blows up in my face because a decimal point or decade is misplaced in fury and everyone of the opposing view seizes on this small error as proof of my argument’s absolute incompetence.
If I should say, for example, that refugees and asylum seekers – most specifically, mothers and children – should not be held in detention, this has no credibility and is just bleeding heart, small “l” liberal sookiness.
Then I lose the desire to argue further because I don’t even much like children … unless they are nicely contained behind razor wire fences.
Now, of course, I am being flippant … maybe even sarcastic.
DON’T YOU KNOW, MS HARRIS, THAT SARCASM IS THE LAST RESORT OF THE DEFEATED MIND?!
It’s weird this column started like another recent column, with my thinking about chickens.
I was musing on how column ideas kind of hatch out and my thoughts returned to Big Red, Little Red and Collingwood and what comes first, the chicken or the egg; the topic or the tale.
Some stories unfold themselves quickly and naturally, but others kick around in your brain forever and it’s only an unformed vignette of 50 words and not a fully-fledged story of 550, but still the idea for the story – like children in detention – keeps crying out for release.
One such column seed came to me when Julie Andrews last came to Australia way back in 2013. I kept thinking I would love to rewrite the lyrics of My Favourite Things for an Australian audience.
But as time has gone on now I really want to write them for a non-sexist, non-gender-specific, non-ageist, all inclusive multicultural audience so children behind razor wire might understand why their parents risked their lives to come here but, you know what? I’m stuck.
I have never got beyond “Bull-nosed verandahs and Grafton jacarandas”.