Friday, September 15, 2006
Don't talk about religion, politics or history
A drunk in a local club and this humble scribe almost came to blows over the gripping question of whether a journalist is also an historian.
The row started when the history-loving drunk addressed me, "You’re a journalist, so you are an historian, aren’t you?"
I said I couldn’t answer his question because others, the readers, would have to judge my contribution to history before I received such a title.
Journalists certainly recorded history and used facts from history all the time, but no, I wasn’t automatically an historian.
One would think this was a fairly neutral response but somehow it squeezed his bile duct.
He then addressed the group around the bar table, one by one.
"What do you reckon? A journo is an historian, or not?"
The drinkers sensed trouble brewing and fobbed him off. But he kept on the case.
"I reckon a journo who is not an historian is a pretty shithouse journo," the drunk said, a few times.
I took a deep breath and said, "You work in stainless steel but I don’t tell you how to run your job."
This enraged him further and he moved toward me, angrily, "How dare you pretend to tell me how to conduct myself? How dare you…"
Things like this happen in the twilight world of drunken camaraderie. My career in journalism means I have been there a few more times than most but I am now too old to get into this sort of blue, even though age doesn’t really matter when the wildcard comes up.
The history lover skulled his drink and, mumbling profanities, went to get another, undoubtedly to return refreshed for a round of another type.
I took the opportunity to say to the group, "I have had a hard week and I knew someone would rub me up the wrong way here tonight. I should not have come and I will now go home."
A couple of the drinkers said, "Don’t go." But I said it was best for everyone.
This confrontation came to mind as I wrote the following post for the Redland Times, Cleveland, Queensland, Australia.