So what does it take to get a standing ovation in this country?

Ever since I’ve been being invited to the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes I’ve regarded it as a great privilege to attend – even if I have to fly myself to Canberra and back. Almost invariably the people who win the prizes are just turned on by what they’re doing, hugely good at it and a lesson to us all. My favourites are the prizes for school teachers.

My favourite this year was Brooke Topleberg a primary school science teacher. The video above is instructive but the speeches are usually even better – alas, though they were filmed they’re not up on YouTube from what I can see.

Anyway one highlight was that Brian Schmidt was a guest and we got to show our appreciation for his recently awarded Nobel Prize. But blow me down. Now I don’t know about you but I reckon winning a Nobel Prize is worth a standing ovation. I looked around and couldn’t see anyone standing. And to my shame I stayed down myself.

I often find I feel like giving standing ovations when I really want to show how fantastic I think something is. But usually don’t want to look silly so wait – and then the moment passes. Anyway things changed at my daughter’s final music concert. The musical director Mrs Cousins had been desperately ill and indeed in a coma for many weeks a few months previously – it was literally touch and go. But she’d made it through and had recovered enough to be presented at the concert. As she hobbled up to the stage I thought “bugger this” and just rose to my feet and clapped. It took a surprising few seconds but a few more people rose and then the thing was pretty much done and dusted with most people giving her a standing ovation.

Anyway our newest Nobel Laureate did at least get a pointedly lengthy bout of applause when he was presented to us at the dinner and in the break after entree I circulated and asked most people I met “So what does it take to get a standing ovation in this country?” What is it with our concern for conformity – we’re not an ungenerous lot? Everyone agreed and some said they’d wanted to stand but had done what I’d done.

But this story has a happy ending. After the main course Brian Schmidt was invited to address us – which he did with great aplomb. And as he was introduced I simply stood up in my place and gesticulated all around to get up off their arses and show the guy how happy we are about what he’d achieved. And as I looked around it was clear that I wasn’t even the first one to stand.

Another standing ovation successfully delivered!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tel
Tel
10 years ago

A few scattered leaders in a sea of followers.

No doubt your inspiring trend will catch on and before you know it, everyone will be getting standing ovations.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

The trick is not to provide seats.

John J
John J
10 years ago

Jeez, it’s only a Nobel Prize. It’s not like he beat Federer or something.

ennui
ennui
10 years ago

john J
Spot on – unfortunately!

On the other hand, I’m not sure where the line is drawn re standing ovations.
Obviously Nick feels he does – but I’m less confident. Though in support of Nick I think Australians err on the conservative side on such occasions.

Perhaps, sadly, it is ingrained in our character. Tearing down tall poppies, inhibited in the giving of recognition to intellectual talent etc, is an Aussie characteristic. All downside but perhaps redeemed by our egalatarian/cynical(?) view of democractic processes. Demogogues will not be successful in this country! But there may be a better balance!

Mango
Mango
10 years ago

Good on you, Nick.
One of my New Year’s resolutions for this year was to compliment others. I often thought to myself, ‘That was very interesting/ entertaining/ thought-provoking/ generous/ [insert other adjective]’ but I only rarely pass on my appreciation. This year, I decided to do so, even if it meant cynics might think I was doing it for self interest or some other reason.
It seems that many people appear more than ready to provide a critical opinion (I don’t mean a well-worded critique, rather, when people just need to point out minor flaws in an otherwise wonderful piece of work) so I wanted to balance that out a bit.
And your standing ovations is a great way to balance out our ‘tall poppy syndrome’, so well done.
And while I’m on the subject – I very much enjoy my visits to this blog, even though I rarely comment to say so. It’s both thought-provoking and interesting. Thank you!

paul walter
paul walter
10 years ago

“Sing of the Dignity of Man (woman, in this case)”.

Steve X
Steve X
10 years ago

What is the correct thing to do for Australia’s Ignobel winners? While sadly neglected the Australians in the team of Lewis, Darby and Maruff surely deserve some kind of dinner or something?

Should Melbourne bloggers get together and organise something?