Kerryn & Bali

It’s Thursday night and I’m at home (obviously), reflecing on a pretty amazing week.

It all started on Sunday morning, when news broke of the terrorist attack in Bali. When I woke, I saw the news on “The Insiders” about the attack. As details were sketchy, it took about 20 minutes of internal debate before I was sure about the enormity of what had occured. I was in at work within an hour, organising coverage.

As to the attack itself, the country is truly perplexed. “Did we bring it on ourselves by so openly supporting America or is it just the way things are now?” On Sunday night, John Howard appeared on Sixty Minutes. Even now he’s on television speaking. You can almost hear him thinking to himself, “I didn’t expect this. What the fuck do I do now?”. He looks like a kangaroo blinded by the headlights. Tragically, it’s been revealed the American consulate was warning Americans to get out of Indonesia a few weeks ago. The Australian Government was also told we were serious targets and it’s only today the Federal Government has asked Australians to leave Indonesia. I don’t know how the country will jump. Will the country seek retaliation or will we wonder whether or not 20 million people in this part of the world can really do anything about it.

Anyhow… on a brighter note. Last night I went to the launch of, “Kerryn and Jackie: The shared life of Kerryn Phelps and Jackie Stricker”, the new “tell all” book. According to the publishers,

“Kerryn Phelps is the controversial head of the Australian Medical Association. Jackie Stricker is Kerryn’s wife and executive assistant – a former teacher at a Sydney private girls school whose teaching career was ended when the couple were outed by a tabloid newspaper. This is a frank and fascinating account of their life together.”

The book launch was held at Aria Restaurant, presumably because it was the restaurant where Phelps and the former Federal Health Minister, Michael Wooldridge held their “kiss and makeup luncheon”, after their nationally reported “falling out”. The restaurant is located at East Circular Quay, on the doorstep to the Sydney Opera House. The room in which the launch was held overlooked Sydney’s Oyster Bar.

The view was spectacular as the opera singer, Deborah Cheetham (White Baptist ABBA Fan) performed some lovely arias. We were told that Deborah (and her partner, Maxine) are friends of Kerryn and Jackie’s. Another friend, stage performer, Todd McKenney (Boy From Oz) performed a toungue in cheek re-write of “The Lady Is A Tramp”.

Another friend, the broadcaster, Alan Jones, officially launched the book. Jones is a paradox. He’s a supporter of the arts. He spoke of the modern sophisticated Australia, where “opera can be sung at a book launch”, He told the crowd of the value of cultural diversity. He quoted the poetry of “John Donne”.

I also met Jackie’s mum and dad. They were quite candid. I asked her mum (aged 73, but looking 50), about her involvement in the book. She told me it was a much better book now than it was at the beginning and admitted that she had provided a fair deal of feedback. Jackie’s father seemed quite philosophical about the experience, telling me he felt a little uncomfortable being thrust into the media spotlight, but recognised the relativity of it all. He related the experience to that of Voyager 2, the spacecraft which took a photograph of the earth as it left the solar system, revealing a small tiny blue dot. He said, “You have to remember, we are just a tiny blue dot, but if you have a toothache, it’s the most important thing in the world”. I was told it was a “very Jewish” thing to say.

I haven’t actually read the book, so I don’t know if it’s a “good read” or not. Already it seems some in the media have tired at their “openness”, particular about the diffucult relationship with Kerryn’s daughter. “That’s more than I wanted to know” is perhaps the attitude of many Australians to people like this. One broadcaster I spoke to said complained about the level of detail, arguing, “they’re just not that interesting!” I’m not sure who the book is for.

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