Private school ‘Fight Club’ sets tongues wagging

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Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH reflects on another week in the life of Canberra.

Even on the coldest, meanest July day in Canberra a dog poking its head out of a car never fails to amuse and lift the spirits of our columnist. He spotted this beautiful character at Cooleman Court helping its human locate a parking space. Photo: Mike Welsh

DESPITE the non-negotiable first two rules of “Fight Club”, there has been a bit of chatter about a version of the 1999 cult classic operating at one of our private schools.

Word is a fight club during school hours, complete with betting, but modified with boxing gloves, was flourishing on school grounds until being closed down. Those in authority have so far remained faithful to rules one and two, even if some students haven’t.

THE ACT maternity inquiry has heard harrowing stories from local women that have reportedly left committee members “visibly shaken as they sat through evidence, audibly gasping, clasping hands over faces and shedding tears”.

It’s reprehensible and beyond comprehension that such an inquiry is only happening now, given the well-documented toxic culture of bullying and incompetence that has pervaded ACT Health for many years.

DROPPED in the deep end, new Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith quickly found her stroke. Ms Stephen-Smith said she “welcomed the inquiry and the women’s evidence”, but soon reverted to standard spin: “Every day our hospitals and clinical staff strive to provide the best possible birthing services and to do this in a compassionate and supportive way.” No consolation for the unnecessary heartache endured by many while the official line of “it’s no worse than any other jurisdiction” was adhered to rigidly.

IF you think you’ve heard all the things we Canberrans regularly whinge about, think again, there’s a new one. At least new to me. Petrol prices, the tram, the bubble, the weather, old trees, new trees, pill testing, roo culling, parking and – the lifeless Jolimont Centre.

Senior “SMH” journalist Stephanie Peatling tweeted (possibly while waiting for a midnight bus): “Although I am a big defender of Murrays bus service, the Jolimont Centre does lack a certain joie de vivre”.

Many agreed with Peatling with tweets such as: “It’s a soulless place” and “It’s no Grand Central Station”. But some prefer the centre just as it is, posting: “Pleasantly unvarnished” and “I’d rather keep it cheerful and cheap than pay extra for a barista”.

LEGENDARY radio man John Laws reads “CityNews” or, at least, this column. Laws was “flattered” by a recent piece in which I rated Alan Jones as “a brilliant broadcaster second only to John Laws, with daylight third”. The nice thank-you note I received from the man once described as having a voice that would curl a frangipani, made my day. Still on making one’s day, the last time I spoke with Laws we talked about who would play him in the movie. Clint Eastwood.

ACT Police have issued a blunt warning to ram raiders after a high number of smash-and-grabs in the region. While playing down the recent spate of aggravated burglaries (18 so far this year), as “cyclical”, Sgt Shane Scott’s message is: “We’re looking for ya and we’re going to get ya”.

CHINESE stand-up Ronny Chieng slayed a sell-out Canberra Theatre crowd without, refreshingly, resorting to the stand-up’s lazy and cliched Canberra fall back of porn, fireworks and roundabout jokes. The 33-year-old star of “Crazy Rich Asians” now lives in New York City where he’s part of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah.

A PAINFUL anniversary of one of Canberra’s most horrific days was remembered on Saturday. It was July 13, 1997 that 12-year-old Katie Bender was killed after debris from the demolition implosion of the Royal Canberra Hospital rained down on more than 100,000 people gathered around the lake. Bender, who was more than 400 metres from the site on Acton Peninsula, was killed instantly when struck by a piece of flying metal.

 

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Mike Welsh
Mike Welsh is a serial blogger and former Canberra radio presenter.

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