As a Brit I’m as surprised as anyone about my reaction to the death of Jacintha Saldana. Waves of anger and reflection have enveloped me over the past 48 hours ever since I heard the breaking news on the bus on my way home. I think there’ll be many Brits who might remember where they were `when they heard the news about Jacintha Saldana`.
I would like to add I have family in Australia including a beloved sister. I have been there too so it’s with a heavy heart I have to write this.
It’s curious to see the reflex actions of those on social media. First, there were many Australians who deplored the situation. There were also a number though who, I imagine in a set of reflex actions, started lashing out with all sorts of arguments.
The reflex actions I can summarise as:
1. `It was only a harmless prank – no one could have foreseen that someone would kill herself`
2. `She must have been unstable to have done that – it couldn’t just be about the prank`
and 3. `those whinging poms are at it again`
The problem with them all is that WITHOUT THE PRANK NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.
Those who plead the first reflex action I simply ask `give me your works number – I will give it to 2dayfm and they can prank you when you least expect it`. Funnily enough, the many Australians that say this, don’t take me up on the offer.
To those who quote the second reflex action I say ironically `Whom amongst us WOULDN’T phone up a hospital, pretend to be someone’s relative and then ask for personal details?` It’s like saying `there must have been something else wrong with you to get that depression after you suffered the burglary`.
The third assertion, of `whinging poms` is probably the most idiotic of all.
Let’s make it clear – for a Brit unless you have family in Australia or are particularly into certain sports or soaps you don’t think about Australia from one month to the next. You’re not alone – most countries, barring China and the States, are in a similar position. That’s why when these things happen you have to be very careful how you handle the situation.
Australia is perceived by many Brits as being a land of sunshine, straight-talking and bluntness. `Let’s get to the point and say what we mean and feel` is the kind of image that goes around.
I’ve always found that too good to be true and it is. Rather like those Big Brother contestants who swagger in saying `I’m gonna say it as it is not gonna lie` sure enough as soon as someone tells them some home truths about them they suddenly start protesting. In reality it’s a big bluff – `I’m scared that’s why I’ll hide behind a boorish brash front`.
And so this whole perception, simply by one suicide, has been blown out of the water. The reaction is often the revelation. Brits have now learnt that Australians are as fragile and frightened as anyone else; the mask is gone and the game is over. I don’t particularly care how 2dayfm treats Australians and let’s be clear it’s pretty sadistic yet the feeling for some Brits is this – you had the temerity to call a British hospital, pretend to be someone’s close relative, find out medical information and for a laugh broadcast it on the net. It wasn’t even any old person but a relative of the head of state. You then compounded this by waving about the brag as if it were a rabbit caught in the outback.
You then have the audacity to say `it’s only a prank`, `it couldn’t be the whole story` or `you’re just a whinging pom`. Fair enough – I wonder how you’d like it if some trashy broadcaster here called Julia Gillard’s relative in the same way and acted in the same manner. Then when the nurse committed suicide gave exactly the same excuses?
These two young people (goaded on by people who should have known better) have trashed your image and it’s time to make amends. The reaction by the radio station and Julia Gillard does you know favours. It’s not `messages of sympathy` that we want but apologies, resignations and effective demands from Australians to take 2dayfm off the air.
It’s clear that that isn’t going to happen – thus I will do the only tiny thing I have in my power and that’s boycot all Australian goods until I am satisfied that action has been taken to my satisfaction. So no usual Aussie bottle of wine for me this Christmas or indeed at any other time of the year. Is that blunt, frank and straight-talking enough for you?