Sunday, February 23, 2014


Charlotte loved our kids. When you're one of those people who come with miniature people as a non-optional extra, it's wonderful to have friends who are as delighted with your kids' company as they are with yours, and Charlotte always was.

My favourite memory of Charlotte is New Year's Eve 2012, when we went, with kids in tow, to a fantastic party at her house. It was very much a grown-up party, but she was overjoyed to see us all, and our three had the time of their lives dancing all night with models and paparazzi. Late in the evening my son broke his glowstick and the stuff inside got in his eyes, causing much pain and screaming. So at five minutes to midnight Charlotte was in the bathroom with me, looking as preternaturally glamorous as a person can look, trying to wash glowstick juice out of his eyes and telling him it was going to be OK.

That was Charlotte. She was just as you thought she'd be, and nothing like you expected. She looked like she came from another planet, where people were cooler and more beautiful and never sweated. But the minute you spoke to her you knew how wonderfully, gloriously of this earth she was.

She was smart and funny and passionate and kind and absolutely ferocious in everything she turned her extraordinary mind to: television, writing, charity, friendship. She stood up for what she believed in a way that most of us can only envy - there was courage in her beyond what I could ever hope to possess.

Charlotte hurled herself at life like a meteor, consuming it in all its beauty and terror and drama and heartbreak. Once you knew her, you couldn't help but want to know her more, talk to her more, learn more about her - she was addictive.

I knew her, perhaps, better than most, and not nearly as well as some. She was a thousand things to a thousand people, and everyone will have a different story about what she meant to them.

What she meant to me was simply this: she was my friend. It's my friend I'll remember, and cry for, and it's my friend I'll be forever grateful for having the chance to know and to love. And in this time of grief and pain, I know that the people who are hurting the most are also the luckiest people of all, because they knew her, and that was a privilege so precious, and so rare, we can rejoice in it, even as we mourn.

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Blocking Policy: A Public Information

A lot of people these days are on Twitter. And a lot of those people who are on Twitter can get very passionate about things. These people mostly look like this:

One of the things they get passionate bout is being blocked. For those of you who aren't on Twitter because you're on some kind of reality show where you're only allowed to use technology from the 17th century or something, being "blocked" means another Twitter user has decided that they wish not to see what you tweet, to not allow you to see what they tweet, and to, in a general sense, cut off communications between your account and theirs.

Blocking can be very upsetting, obviously. It's never nice to be told you're not wanted, and so I understand perfectly when people arc up and get snitty about being blocked. I understand why they say things like "Oh I was blocked by Ben Pobjie - turns out he's too precious to take criticism" or "Ben Pobjie claims to support free speech yet he blocks me #irony". They don't say these things just because they're cretins - they say them because they are in a state of high emotion that makes them act like cretins.

What they want, most of all, is to know why. It's agony to be blocked on Twitter and have no idea of the reason - it turns one's whole life into a desert of shifting sands. Certainty vanishes and all is a fog of mistrust and anxiety. I appreciate this.

This is why I have decided to lay out, here and now, my Blocking Policy.

That's right, all my Twitter blocking is done according to a strict charter, which governs my blocking activity. Once you know what this consists of, I'm sure you'll have a much better understanding of why I blocked you, or why I'm about to.

My Blocking Policy is a five-point policy. Every single block I engage in is done for one or more of these five points, which are, and I can't stress this enough, the ONLY reasons I ever block anyone.

So, you know, if you've been blocked by me, it was because:

1. I don't want to talk to you.

2. I don't want you to talk to me.

3. I don't want me to be talked to by you.

4. Talking, in terms of the two of us, has become undesirable to me.

5. What I want is to do things which aren't talking to you or being talked to by you.

So there you go. I hope that's clear.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


So a few hours ago I walked out of the office that I first walked into in September, 2006.

It felt a bit like this:

Because unlike every other time I walked out of that office, I wasn't looking ahead to the next day, or the day after the day after tomorrow, when I'd have to walk back in again.

Thanks to my having fallen into a big sloshy barrel of good luck and snared the position of daily TV writer for the Fairfax newspapers, I'm now a full-time writer, and no longer a full-time not-writer. This not only means no more eight hour days of reading newspaper reports about suburban graffiti, rural bowls results and grey nomad caravan magazines, but it also means no more driving for 2-3 hours every day to get to work and back, all the time feeling a bit like this:

Such an earth-shaking epoch in one's life can't help but cause a bit of reflection. I started working at my "day job" in September 2006, which means I've been there for seven years and five months, approximately. As dedicated fans will know, my first published piece of writing appeared on November 8, 2007 - this means that my career as anonymous desk-slogger pre-dates my career as online opinion snarker by more than a year. I've been in that job considerably longer than I've been able, even in the loosest sense, to call myself a "professional writer". The fact that I can now not only call myself such, but not qualify it with, "oh but I also have..." is quite exhilarating and something of a relief.

Until 2011 my day job was actually a night job. This means that for around 3-4 years my writing was mainly done in the mornings, after staggering home after the 11pm-7am shift, or else hurriedly banged out at night, after I woke up, before 10pm, when I'd have to leave the wife and kids and drive to work.

Since I switched to days my writing has mainly been done in the evenings after a more civilised shift, but still. always, in the fog of after-work fatigue. I think it's a weariness a lot of writers know, of doing the job you care about in the little narrow slits of time in between the job that you need.

I'm hoping I can now be less tired, and more creative, and more energetic, and that therefore this year will bring forth many magical things from me, online, in print, and on stage and screen. Fingers crossed, anyway.

It is in my nature to forever be pushing to achieve more, so I see this as another step forward, but nowhere near a final destination. But it's a big deal, a huge deal, for me, and I am very very fortunate to find myself in this new position. And if you have ever read, laughed at, linked to, retweeted, listened to, watched, or commented on anything I've done, you've helped me find this stroke of luck. 

I'm really, really grateful to you all.