Carolyn Moynihan and I recently resolved to run more articles which put a smile on the dial, a spring in the step, a song on the lips, etc. But smiley-face journalism is hard work. The best-read articles on MercatorNet, or any other magazine, make readers boil with rage. Righteous wrath has few rivals as a propellant for reaching lift-off velocity into the blogosphere.
Anyhow, my resolution didn’t survive a train trip to work yesterday.
As anyone who went to the Sydney Olympics knows, the rail system here is a marvel, almost Swiss in its efficiency. As anyone who stayed on afterwards knows, standards have dropped ever since.
After a coffee with a friend at Wynyard, I found confusion on the platform. A recorded voice on the PA system helpfully informed the crowds that services would be interrupted next Sunday for track maintenance. The voice did not venture an opinion on the current interruption.
Finally we were directed to take a train to North Sydney (across Sydney Harbour, past the Opera House, for non-Sydneysiders) where we would catch a bus. We waited about half an hour on the Bridge while the train inched forward to North Sydney. There we rushed up to the buses.
We collided with three thousand other work-bound commuters waiting on a narrow footpath. And no buses. A few harried railway workers were making hoarse and unintelligible announcements and gesticulating to the right. We shuffled along, hoping for the best. After half an hour or so, a bus did arrive. I was nearly the last one to board. At last I was on my way.
I overheard the driver telling a passenger that his last trip, normally 10 minutes, had taken an hour and a half. All of us standing in the aisle looked at each other and rolled our eyes. Then came an announcement. The trains were rolling. Passengers were moving. The ones who missed the bus, that is. Not us. We were stuck in a colossal traffic jam.
Have you ever watched this scenario unfold in the movies? Breathlessly boarding the last train from the doomed city, the fleeing hero and his girl escape the savage avengers. While they halt in a mountain pass, the camera shifts to the city – the cavalry has arrived; the city is safe. The camera shifts back to the train -- engulfed by an avalanche; the hero and his gal are kaput. Ah, fate!
But let me don my smiley-face. With the exception of a well-groomed young woman who let fly with a few choice expletives, no one complained. No one at all. Half of the stranded passengers were updating Facebook or listening to music. The other half was zoning out, staring zombie-like into space. It was still inspiring to see how heroically Sydneysiders behave under adversity. They can cope with First World Problems with the best of them. Or was it that none of them really wanted to get to work?
Anyhow, not to worry. I did get here eventually.
So far this week we have posted three stories, none of them of the smiley-face variety, I’m afraid, but all quite informative. Carolyn Moynihan summarises the finding of a major report on family breakdown and religious belief. From Belgium, Tom Mortier has written a moving account of the euthanasia death of his mother – which should be required reading for the politicians who want euthanasia in Tasmania, as I explain in my article.