You know those weeks when you feel down for no good reason at all? I was having one of those. And it made no sense because everything was OK: I was healthy, the weather was fine, the internet was working, mandarins were on special – those nice, easy-peel ones that disrobe in one easy motion. I like them. They’re so eager to please.
SBS World News presenters Ricardo Goncalves, Janice Petersen and Anton Enus.
But a few tiny niggly things were irking me and nothing could cheer me up. Music didn’t help: I put on some jaunty jazzy tunes to lift my spirits but I just wound up listening to sad classical stuff – anything in a minor chord with aching strings and an unresolved coda that people play at funerals, yeahhhh, let me wallow in it.
Comedy sure didn’t help: a friend asked if I wanted to see the new Mike Myers movie so I went along because I needed a laugh – but turns out it was the movie Halloween, about a guy named Michael Myers who stuck knives in people’s necks. That just made me worse. No Austin Powers gags. Not a single “Oh behave!”
Even my beloved couldn’t cheer me up. Last night she gave me a big anti-misery pep-talk: “Come on Danny, you’ve got people who love you. You’ve got everything you need. Snap out of it!” And I looked her in the eye and said, “You don’t know me! You don’t get it! I’m complicated and sensitive and burdened by the agony of existence!” But I only said that inside my head. Outside my head I said, “Yeah you’re right, you’re always right, I’m better now, you really helped, love you.”
Then I slumped off and flopped in front of the TV, dressed in the alluring uniform of the glummish – a dirty grey T-shirt, camping socks, and a pair of pyjama shorts worn back-to-front with the buttonfly at the back so it hurt to sit down, which was exactly how I wanted it.
I switched on the TV and up came … SBS news. There was a news story about the Indonesian Lion Air crash with scenes of body-bags and grieving. And just when I thought I couldn’t take it any more, they jumped to another story about the Pittsburgh synagogue murders with footage of funerals and memorials.
And just as I was about to burst out crying, they jumped to a news story about Donald Trump with a close-up of his face. And just as I was about to violently expel the contents of my gut through every body-orifice, they jumped to stories about sick Nauru children, a dismembered Saudi journalist, Third World climate change disasters. And story by story, all my niggly non-problems got chipped away until I couldn’t even feel my pyjama-buttonfly-backside-pain any more.
SBS news is Sad Bloody Sad News. And it took all that sadness to de-sad-ify me. To make me think about all the people in the world who are really doing it hard. The grievers, the refugees, the Yemenis, the Syrians, the Venezuelans, the refugees … and the SBS newsreaders themselves who have to read all that news, watch all that footage, and pre-announce each story with “A warning: this report contains distressing scenes”, even the stockmarket segment.
It’s one of those jobs you can’t escape: you have to carry the horrors of humanity home with you each day after work, just like police officers do, and colonoscopists. SBS news sorted me out. It forced me to flip my mood around. And at the same time, my buttonfly pyjama shorts.
Danny Katz is an Age columnist.
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