Ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low… 

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It’s a dance-free “Seven Days” with IAN MEIKLE.

I WENT to a show that was sold out twice; firstly, as under the covid-safe four-square-metre rule, then as restrictions lifted before showtime, another burst of tickets were sold under the more relaxed two-square-metre limit. 

Ian Meikle.

It was good to be out and it had been a while since I’d seen/heard any live music. It was the “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” show at the Harmonie German Club and dancing at that time was verboten. The 10-person ensemble could feel our pain and renamed one of the Motor City hits “Dancing in the Seats” instead of “in the Streets”. 

We were seated in long, beer-festival tables that seemed about four steins wide with 14 seats apiece. I was in a party of eight and a couple of my free-at-last friends were decidedly twitchy at the number of people at the show and how close everyone was. 

Not for a moment do I think the club was over the headcount for its front-door-to-back-door total area divided by two square metres per person average limit. But at no time, save for a trot to the toilet, could I honestly say I had the mandated space around me.

At the end, the band foolishly said it was okay to dance and that they wouldn’t tell anyone. A third of the room sprung to its feet, including the promoter who dashed to the side of the stage, making throat-cutting gestures and brought the show to a discordant halt, the house lights confirming that it was goodnight to Motown.

Amid a short ripple of sullen booing, one was left to wonder why the show’s management was more worried about being in breach of the no-dancing directive than the public health risks of concentrating so many people in the hall.

BALANCING the morality of things we used to take for granted has been the challenge of this whole crazy year. 

The virus fear hangs over the city (every city) like the bushfire smoke of last December, but unlike that gagging, suffocating air, we are learning to live with COVID-19. Our public health and government response has been a credit and while they’ve seemed slow to let us get on with things, we are a blessed community with so few cases and (and I hate to say only) only three deaths.

For many people in Canberra the virus upset has brought little more than inconvenience (the overseas holiday postponed, kids stuck at home, no going to the office). For others in hospitality, tourism, retail and media the months since March have been an unparalleled purgatory. Our neighbours have lost their businesses, their jobs, savings, self respect… 

And “CityNews” was heading down that laundry chute, too.

Ironically, as the March phone calls chorused with advertising (our only source of income) cancellations, the website was being read like never before and the paper was never needed more.

We had a big audience, but little income. The federal government’s JobKeeper program kept our brilliant team together. For that we are grateful. 

Through the darkest days we also got valuable financial and moral support from readers. We got donations – large, small and all welcome – from people we knew and people we didn’t. It all went gratefully to the frontline of maintaining our survival as staff hours were cut and salaries constrained.

We didn’t miss a single published deadline, but more importantly we didn’t lose a single staff member. We’re all still together.

This is a group of professional media people that stands very tall in this town. But I want to make mention of two to whom I am related and without whom I doubt we would have navigated the coronavirus storm. 

My son-in-law James Anderson (as managing director) and his wife, my daughter, Kate Meikle (as a director) were an inspiration; James delicately keeping pressure off advertising clients in strife and arguing furiously with banks, and Kate tirelessly filling in forms and chasing federal government grants available to keep listing media afloat. 

She was very successful and we finish this unprecedented (sorry) year with more journalists than we started it and more advertising consultants. We’re going to give 2021 our absolute best because… ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough. Bloody Motown!

Hay, hay, it’s Christmas… 

  • NOTHING says Christmas like hay bales. This creative use of circular bales that welcome travellers as they enter Bungendore from Queanbeyan is the work of local butcher Paul Darmody.
  • USING some convoluted index involving the number of Christmas trees and Santas, website has declared “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, starring Jim Carrey, the most “Christmassy” film of all time. Second was “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” with “Love Actually” at third scoring the highest points for volume of “Christmas tree appearances”. Bottom of the list of 15 classics was the musical “White Christmas”. Alas, not making the cut at all was a personal favourite, “Bad Santa”. Bah, humbug. 

Ian Meikle is the editor of “CityNews” and can be heard on the “CityNews Sunday Roast”, 2CC, weekly 9am-noon.  

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In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

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Ian Meikle
Ian Meikle is the owner and editor of "CityNews".

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