Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In the name of the father

Couple of years back, an old political buddy of my father's asked me, "What do you think of Trevor?" I replied, truthful to a fault, that I loved him and I hated him. It is with this violent ambivalence in mind that I find myself doing what what I don't want to do. However, after watching my brother getting crucified on Sunday, there's little choice.

It's October 2001, and it's my last night in Australia. Dad's been dead six months and I'm sitting on the roof of a Fortitude Valley backpackers having dinner with a Dutch goddess. The breeze brushes her hair as she says, "The world is mad."

A month later, I'm sitting on a shrink's couch in Ponsonby. It doesn't take too many sessions at $140 an hour to realise that I would get better value with a hooker, for all the good it does me. I'll just have to work it out for myself.

So I have some sympathy for the plight of Nicola MacDonald. However, it is clear that my brother is not the most balanced monkey on the jungle gym either. The aphorism about fools and money swings both ways here.

But the part I take offence at, is the way my brother was portrayed in the editing of the article. Like myself, my brother is deaf. The intent stare that John Hudson so gratuitously used footage of is a side-effect of lip-reading. It's weird and intense but not lethal. I do it too, as you can see in this Backbenchers' episode (I'm the green man in the audience).

Oh, how I yearn for straight-forward anxiety and depression! Add deafness, post-traumatic stress, passive-aggression, a messiah complex and Asperger's, and you've got enough baggage to get your own get your own entry in the DSM.

Being the child of a prominent politician, especially one who shone so colourfully as Trevor bloody de Cleene, is hell. The old man cast a shadow that neither me nor my brother may ever escape from. I see it reflected in Judith Tizard. I know similar things that Mark Gosche's, Jim Anderton's and Sue Bradford's children knew. It's enough to make you start your own religion.