Scud Buckets

I grew up in a home where every weekday evening, after dinner and the rosary, Mum would retire to the kitchen table with a deck of cards for a game of patience or a newspaper to do a crossword, and the older kids would retire to their homework, the younger kids to bed ,perhaps after a bedtime story from Dad or an “Irish Lullaby” from Mum. My Dad would start his nightly serenade from his typewriter on the dining room table.

Equipped with other tools of the trade, copy paper, HB pencils and a “gum” eraser he would begin his preparations for the next day’s work by starting his editorial. My Dad was a journo. My Brother became a journo. Both of them became highly respected editors.

Every day my Dad would come home from work carrying his brief case absolutely loaded with every publication available from the Fairfax press. On Wednesdays, The Women’s Weekly was included. This interrupted Mum’s routine of cards on the kitchen table! These were the days when I enjoyed the Telegraph. I had to sneak read The Mirror which catered for the risqué news and the page 3 pin up (always) bikini buxom girl! The Sydney Morning Herald I never read because it was too difficult to hold up to read, it being a “Broadsheet”. The others were “Tabloids”. My Dad once expressed his disappointment that he “only edited a “Tabloid”, implying that the Broadsheet publications were somehow more worthy. My Father could have edited the local grocery catalogue and I would have thought it was terrific. It never occurred to me, until much later in life that broadsheet and tabloid were descriptions of layout.

My Dad worked on Saturday afternoons and as kids, we would go into the journalists’ work area while we waited for him to finish. Sometimes I’d get to sit in his Editor’s Chair. I loved sitting at a desk in the work area imagining I was a journo, like my Dad, ringing one of my little brothers on the intercom type phone, writing memos on the copy paper and yelling out “copy boy” expecting one of them to come an pick up my “copy” to take to the sub editor’s desk. I can still recall the smell of the place!

We were never, ever allowed to appear anywhere in the paper, no matter what the circumstances. One of my brothers was a top cricketer. Hardly a mention in the sports pages. Two of my siblings became School Captains at a time when these things made news, names, perhaps picture but not much else. My Dad would never, ever, allow the situation where nepotism might become a criticism. I was not quite as compliant, or perhaps I just got caught.

One day, while a student at the Conservatorium, in the middle of summer, when I had hip bones that still protruded after two years at boarding school and I was a bit of a looker, two friends and I were availing ourselves of the opportunity to cool our feet in the fountain in the park. A photographer approached us and asked if he could take our picture for the the evening paper. We obliged! “Oh he said, is your Dad the editor?” “Yes” was my reply.

That night my Dad sought me out like a heat seeking missile and boy did I cop it! Feet in the fountain! Against the law! “ You were breaking the law! You were identified! You could be charged. DO NOT EVER DO THAT AGAIN!” Suitably chastened and terrified, I sobbed my apology. My Dad gave me a hug. He also handed me the paper. My two friends looked stunning with their feet in the fountain. I had been edited out! But he also gave me a black and white print of the original picture, the three of us, smiling, happy, young, oh so young on a sparkling day in the sun! I was 18.

Which brings me to scud buckets! A scud bucket is something into which is placed, slopped or chucked all the crap that is not worth saving or keeping. Its contents usually end up in landfill, where they stay forever.

I am not a fan of the present deputy premier on NSW. However, it is an absolute disgrace that in this time of global emergency, on so many levels, his daughter, for no other reason than that he is her father, has been named, shamed, social media pics published by journalists who fill up their scud buckets every day for the sake of a byline that could lead them to a Walkley!!

Those scud bucket filler journos, pursued the story, uploaded the picture, harassed the deputy premier at his news conference. I wonder if any on them considered, for one second the impact on the young woman who, according to the Police spokesperson (who did not identify her or confirm her connection to a politician) commented only that she had received an infringement, had been compliant, behaved appropriately and moved on. I wonder about the impact on her loved ones. Her mother. Her grandparents, who would have to be among the most vulnerable in need of protection in this crazy time of pandemic. A reminder we receive every day in some form or other.

Once upon a time, a person I love and respect was subjected to media scrutiny for a prolonged period. It was agony. It was agony for my mother, my siblings, my husband, my children and theirs who were old enough to witness the tidal wave of destruction of relationships and support. It did not stop after my mother’s death and the deaths of two of my siblings. It took me to early retirement. The impacts have been enormous on me and those I love most in the world. Every now and again, without forewarning it resurfaces. Defaming the dead is ok it would seem. The dead can’t sue!

So I wonder what’s ahead for this young woman who did a stupid thing, thinking she could get away with it. Its a hell of a lesson to learn. Mind you, I am forever thankful to my Dad for the lesson he taught me. There were so many lessons he and my Mum continued to teach me.

In this day and age of “we’re all in this together” and “shining a light” where do we draw the line?

Anyone know the name of the limo driver? Anyone know the name of the three removalists? Anyone know the name of the nude sunbather scared by the deer?

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