The ABC’s Australian Story has been steering a dangerous course, somewhere between the Shoals of New Idea and the Reef of Lowest Common Denominator Sentimentality. Who can recall that awful Oz story hagiography on Pan Pharmaceuticals founder Jim Selim without lunging for their nearest vial of Kangaroo Poo and native beeswax anti-emetic? (Sorry, no clinical trial evidence available at this time). Were it not for my respect for eternal presenter Caroline Jones – “hello, I’m Caroline Jones and I’m 923 years old” – I’d never watch.
However, I’m very glad I caught the show on Hazel Hawke on Monday night. We all now know that Hazel has Alzheimer’s and is at the beginning of a long and pretty much inevitable decline into the awful isolation that is the concomitant of that disease. I thought it was bloody brave – typically so – of Hazel and her family to tackle it in a lowkey almost matter-of-fact way, designed to demystify and, OK, educate – but in a very engaging way.
It wasn’t in the least mawkish and in fact, said something profound to me about the indomitability of human spirit – Hazel’s in particular.