Malcolm Turnbull and the goblet of fire
We had a discussion last night around the dinner table about whether the American actress Jennifer Lawrence could have taken her now world-wide-web famous tumble at the Oscars deliberately rather than accidentally.
One of my wily offspring wasn't quite so sure the moment was real.
Why on earth would Jennifer Lawrence fake falling over I inquired, certain that she could do no such thing.
Honest ... Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: ABC
I have myself face-planted in formal wear. The humiliation tends to linger. Who would manufacture a stumble in front of a global audience of God knows how many?
The highly intelligent rationale of my critically minded one was essentially this: Jennifer Lawrence has a brand built on plain-speaking, on being not unlike us, on being ordinary (in the extraordinary way one is ''ordinary'' when one is prodigiously talented and has bagged an Academy Award just on the other side of 20). So maybe she tripped just to be ''ordinary''. A positive side effect would be the spawning of a million memes – the requisite Twitter and Facebook explosions. Net effect? Global publicity. Everyone liking her more for her fallibility.
I was a bit unnerved by this clear-eyed assessment – absolutely certain it wasn't right, but unnerved nonetheless.
Stair stack ... Jennifer Lawrence takes a fall while on her way to collecting the Oscar for Best Actress.
Unnerved too, watching some people react somewhat cynically to the former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull on the ABC's Q&A last night. Turnbull was with a bunch of meaty panelists, and was having a jolly old time of it.
How the subject of being human came up, I'm not quite sure. But having been invited to express some humanity, Turnbull thought he might bin the standard dot-point formulations about what it's like to lose the party leadership, and tell the truth.
Malcolm Turnbull holds a press conference after he was defeated as Liberal leader by Tony Abbott in 2009. Photo: Glen McCurtayne
Honest and direct enough to make you look up at the person talking. Up in the control room at Q&A, they knew they had a moment. The camera angle was unsatisfactory. They switched angles, trying to get the shot tight on his face. It didn't quite work, because Turnbull forgot his TV technique and kept swivelling to address the questioner.
''There are a lot of people who have been destroyed by political setbacks and I could have been - it was very, very gut-wrenching, it was devastating. It's a devastating business, a terribly cruel business, politics. Because all of your mistakes and blunders are out there in the public arena. You've got nowhere to hide. There is not an ounce of privacy.''
Mr Turnbull reported that his family had got him through the lows. And the net effect? ''I am a stronger and wiser person as a result. Believe me it is a furnace, politics is a furnace, and it either breaks you or it makes you.''
The shadow communications spokesman appears these days in excellent health and temper; relaxed about the present and proportionately hopeful about opportunities that might be there in the future. He was sure he wouldn't be leading the opposition before the election. After that? Well, that was left open.
I thought it a particularly honest outing. No pretending it didn't hurt. No pretending there was no residual ambition. But resigned to the lessons life bowls up. A bit like a young woman tripping on the stairs on her big moment. Better that didn't happen, but just life – neither fiction nor disaster. Something requiring a bit of perspective and self-knowledge and resilience.
Not everything is confected. Sometimes life just happens; and we should respect that universal truth sufficiently to accept things at face value. Perhaps if we could do that we'd encourage people in public life to speak more honestly, and perhaps then there would be more healing and moving on.
Maybe if we can more easily accept that actresses just fall over and politicians periodically say exactly what they mean just because someone asked them then we'd get more ''real'' in our highly picked over, intricately parsed, imagined world.
Katharine Murphy is national affairs correspondent of The Age.