It’s the last crossing of the day, a routine twenty-minute trip for the ferry that shuttles between the jetty at Sconser on the Isle of Skye and the harbour at Churchton Bay. A handful of commuters fills the car hold. I squeeze past the vehicles and climb to the empty deck. The breeze on this midsummer evening finds the churn of the wave, delivering a light spray and then a soaking.
Articles from Inside Story
The Oxford English Dictionary defines satire as “The employment, in speaking or writing, of sarcasm, irony, ridicule, etc. in denouncing, exposing or deriding vice, folly, abuses, or evils of any kind.” That’s fine if a little flavourless, but then most dictionary definitions are. Most but not all.
On the face of it, there was plenty of bad news for the climate in 2017. Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the 2105 Paris agreement and promised to reverse the decline of the coal industry. The Turnbull government rejected proposals for an efficient transition to a low-carbon energy sector, instead announcing a half-baked National Energy Guarantee designed as a lifeline for coal-fired power.
Imagine this. In the midst of a deeply unpopular war, the Australian government and its top general create a news event that puts them and the armed forces in a favourable light, even if it sends a risk-averse military on a futile mission that’s possibly the government’s riskiest undertaking of the war.
If it was recounted in a work of fiction it might satisfy conspiracy theorists, but otherwise strain credulity. Yet we now know how and why it happened.
Just a few weeks ago, the London Independent published a list of “the most dangerous places in the world to go on holiday.” Included in the top twenty danger spots, alongside Iraq, Syria and Somalia, was the small half-island nation of Timor-Leste, just 640 kilometres northwest of Darwin.
Hydra’s harbour, horseshoe-shaped and packed with luxury yachts, is like a toy version of the harbours on other Greek islands. Its streets are too narrow for cars, so horses, donkeys and the occasional hand trolley carry everything – tourists’ baggage, fruit and vegetables, bottles of water – up narrow white streets lined with tiny white houses.
Eileen Joyce lived before her time. Had she played the piano in the twenty-first century, her attraction to glamour and fondness for frocks might have worked in her favour. In the middle of the twentieth century, it obscured her talent and derailed her career as a soloist.
If her name is known today, it is most likely because we occasionally see it in the opening credits of old movies. For example, at the start of Brief Encounter (1946), we read:
I ran into Peter Singer recently – or at least we smiled at each other as our paths crossed in a beachside car park. Although we have friends in common, I didn’t stop to introduce myself. I was caught up in a conversation, but I also momentarily feared I might have mistaken him for somebody else: in a wetsuit, everyone looks a little bit different and a little bit the same.
In late February, Helen Garner found an email in her junk folder telling her she’d been awarded the Windham Campbell prize for nonfiction writing. Each year the prize awards US$150,000 to each of nine authors who write in English, regardless of nationality, across the genres of nonfiction, fiction and drama.
This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the ABC’s current affairs program This Day Tonight, heralded in the fortnightly magazine Nation as “the first full-scale confrontation between the old-school hard news and the new school, mediated through personalities.” To mark the anniversary, the ABC has made that first episode available on YouTube.