The sounds of silence

Gonzo Meet the Press #33

The sweetest sound in the world for a TV producer is applause from the crew in the control room after a show.

It doesn’t happen very often, but it did for me last Sunday after my last Meet the Press program on the Ten Network.

I really wasn’t expecting it, especially since the crew usually wants to get away quickly to enjoy the rest of their Sunday. And not only that, but the lineup producer, Adam Raskall, and his wife had made some lovely crumbcake the night before, and he heated it up in the microwave and served it with ice cream. And the chief of staff, Chris O’Keefe, had asked me a week before what sort of wine I liked. Funny, but the crew gave me two bottles of good shiraz.

I didn’t have much time to chat with the crew as there was still some thank you emails to send to the interstate crews, a transcript to sub and email to the press gallery and publish on the website, post on Facebook and Twitter and email to the media adviser to the shadow minister as well as to the other guest. There was also a cab waiting outside for a panellist to get to the airport, but neither of the journalists needed one. I had to sort that out.

I said goodbye, and was really chuffed when several of the crew, including the floor manager, Ruth Constantine, rattled their keys, a traditional farewell for an outgoing member of staff. I was still there six hours later, but they were saying their goodbyes early.

And then the send-off had an emotional touch when I opened up an email from the crew, via one of the Director’s Assistants, Rachel MacInnes, who thanked me for thanking them after every show (To be honest, I have missed a few), and responded as I often do, by saying: “We dips our lids to you.”

It meant a lot to me, and I replied in kind. The thanks came from the crew, the workers, the people who show up early on a Sunday morning and do their jobs. They are the people who count.

I was watching earlier tonight the joint press conference by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and the President said he got along well with the Prime Minister because she had a quality that Americans admire most in their Australian friends; she was “down to earth, easy to talk to, and who says it like it is, straight up.” Thank you, Mr President, for being so honest, and I only wish all managements would learn from that. Alan Joyce from Qantas, for example, could try talking to the workers at their level, “down to earth,” and if that was the case, I doubt that the airline would be having as many industrial problems as they are right now.

When I came to Australia from the United States 40 years ago, it was a much more egalitarian nation than it is today. It’s why I fell in love with the place and one of the reasons I am still here.

Julia Gillard is down to earth. As I said in a post earlier this year, if her minders and the media and the politicians allowed her to be herself, she would do better in the polls. She is now relaxed and comfortable in her job, and has had some wins, the most prominent, of course, the carbon price bills. Julia has become Julia again. Surprise, surprise, she is doing better in the polls.

Which brings me back to that sweet sound I mentioned above. I think the other sounds that are echoing around the world are in the Occupy Wall Street movement which police are trying to break up in city after city. What those protesters are asking for is an end to the sounds of silence.

Remember the words of Paul Simon who warned that “silence like a cancer grows.”

The Sounds of Silence could be the theme song of a movement that is only going to get stronger the more the authorities try to suppress it:

“And the people bowed and prayed

to the neon god they made.

And the sign flashed its warning

In the words that it was forming

And the signs said: ‘The words of the

     prophets are written

on the subway walls

And tenement halls,

And whisper’d in the sounds of silence’.”

3 thoughts on “The sounds of silence

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