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Anzac drama honours stories of survival

Date

Peter FitzSimons

The Fitz Files

<i>Illustration: Reg Lynch.</i>

Illustration: Reg Lynch.

The opening episode of Anzac Girls on ABC last Sunday night was Australian drama at its best – historically based, wonderful acting, beautifully shot. The key character is Sister Alice Ross-King, played by Georgia Flood, and though the production is inspired by real people, rather than being a blow-by-blow account, I can tell you there was a real Nurse Lydia King at the Dardanelles, and I’ve written extensively about her in the book I’ve just completed on Gallipoli

Signing on as an army nurse, via  Prince Alfred Hospital, she was in the thick of the action from the first, aboard the hospital ship Sicilia.

“I shall never forget the awful feeling of hopelessness on night duty,” she recorded in her diary one night in the bowels of the ship, as the flickering lanterns threw a ghostly light over 1915’s answer to Dante’s Inferno. “It was dreadful. I had two wards downstairs, each over 100 patients and then I had small wards upstairs – altogether about 250 patients to look after, and one orderly and one Indian sweeper. Shall not describe their wounds, they were too awful. One loses sight of all the honour and the glory in the work we are doing.”

She survived the war, married Lieutenant Gordon Carter of the AIF’s 1st Battalion, who had landed at Gallipoli at dawn on  April25. Their first son was born nine  months after Armistice Day, 1918, and he went on to become a mighty Rat of Tobruk. He is my Uncle Ted of Tamworth, he’s as fit as a trout, and he turned 95 on Thursday! 

(The second episode of Anzac Girls screens tonight on ABC at 8.30pm.)

WHERE'S THE FURY?

The other high-quality piece of work on the ABC this week was the Four Corners report by Quentin McDermott concerning the systematic cover-up by the Catholic Church of pederast priests. Among other things, it documented how, in 1997,  the Catholics  did an internal investigation and determined that Father Peter Searson, of the outer-Melbourne parish of Doveton, was  “guilty of sexual abuse”. This is the same man of whom Cardinal George  Pell said at the Victorian inquiry last year: “I totally reject the suggestion of [a cover-up.]”

What I don’t get is why the rest of the media doesn’t seem to care. The third most powerful figure in the Catholic Church, an Australian, proved to be lying on an issue of abused kids and it is no story? I don’t get it!  

STORY OF THE WEEK

A man goes to see the doctor. The doctor asks, “What seems to be the trouble?” The man says, “Doc, I’m depressed. I can’t sleep sometimes, I can’t eat, I feel down and irritable most days. I don’t feel happy anymore.”

The doctor nods and says, “I’ve got the perfect fix for you. In town tonight is the great clown Pagliacci! He’s hysterically funny and will make you laugh till you cry. You will experience a joy unprecedented.”

The man bursts into tears. The doctor, confused asks why. 

Doc, I am Pagliacci.”

(Vale, Robin Williams. Lifeline 13 11 14)

SECURITY NOT SO ALERT

On Sunday afternoon, reader Allan Marsden was driving past the private jet terminal at Kingsford-Smith Airport when he noticed the sleek lines of the United States Air Force jet that had just brought Secretary of State John Kerry and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel here for their visit. Being something of an aviation buff and a stickybeak, he stops the car, and walks up to the security fence ... only to see a police car pull up a couple of minutes later.

Oh ... Gawd .

Is he about to be arrested?

The cop gets out. Walks up to him. Takes out his camera.

Starts taking photos.

Of the plane. 

“Ummm,” says our man, “I thought I would be arrested doing that?”

“Why?” says the cop, bemused. “It is only a plane?”

Gotta love this city!

THEY SAID IT

“You’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘jump’.’’

The late, great, Robin Williams on Good Morning America, three years ago, talking about giving in to addiction.

“I can hardly walk, let alone talk ...”

A teary Jill Wran, after landing in Sydney, to be confronted by journalists wanting to know her feeling on her daughter, Harriet – who reportedly, jumped, to on an ice addiction – being arrrested arrested on murder charges.

“Everyone in New South Wales, everyone in their electorates, has a right to feel appalled, angered and betrayed.’’

Premier Mike Baird about his fellow Liberal parliamentarians, Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell, nailed this week in ICAC.

“I don’t think any parent wants a son with a disability. Parents want their child to be healthy and happy and be able to do everything that every other children do.”

David Farnell about his disabled son, Gammy, left in Thailand with his surrogate mother.

“The very first thing I had to do was to get into that Tardis, and I’m thinking, ‘oh my God, this is the actual Tardis’, except of course it’s not bigger on the inside; it’s actually smaller. And it’s quite chilly as well. I think in future I’m going to have a little electric fire and a kettle, and some beverages.”

Peter Capaldi on being the new Dr Who. (I’m told this is important to some people.)

“I feel I can’t leave without a commitment from the government to release all children from detention and to resettle them in a safe and nurturing environment. All people fleeing persecution have a right to seek asylum, it is legal to do so, and the Australian government has both a legal and moral duty to care for asylum seekers, especially children.’’

Catholic Sister Jan Barnett on Facebook before being among those arrested at federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s electorate office in Sydney on Wednesday.  

“If I was born half as charming as you, the rest of the world could kiss my arse ...”

David Letterman in an interview with Colin Firth.

“So he rang the bell, but my antipodean nanny wouldn’t get up because she’s anti-monarchy, so I had to go down in my slippers and bathrobe ... He asked, ‘What do you do all day?’ which I thought was just nerdy. I said, ‘What do you do all day, Prince?”

Courtney Love, about when Prince Andrew – a noted git from London – came to visit her in Los Angeles. And let’s hear it for the nanny!

“Adam Scott has been a big mover, shooting a 66 to shit in a share . . . to sit in a share of 10thth place, four shots . . . sit four shots off the pace . . . that’s where he SITS.”

 Sports announcer Tim Gilbert on Weekend Today.

“If any other country went to war killing as many civilians, women and children it would be named a war crime.” 

Malcolm Fraser, last month, on the shelling of Gaza by Israel.

“[Not everyone in regional areas] can hop on cows and ride into town.” 

Senate crossbencher Ricky Muir, having a go at Treasurer Joe Hockey’s poorly received comment that poor people drive less.

“Fumble. Bumble. Tumble. Stumble. Mumble. The Abbott govt embraces all the umbles. Except Humble.”

So tweeted @PhillipAdams_1 I wish I had said that, Oscar.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

 

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