Sunday, 29 May 2016

No knowing now how long mum has to go

A nurse at the nursing home called me this morning to tell me that mum was not responsive and had not been able to get out of bed. They wanted to know if it was OK to call the ambulance and get mum taken to the hospital again. I said it was fine. They told me later in another call that mum would be taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital but this plan was changed, when I spoke with my cousin, who had phoned the nursing home herself for information. They were actually taking her to Ryde Hospital. This is the seventh time for mum to be admitted to Ryde Hospital since we moved her to Sydney 18 months ago.

My cousin had called the nursing home to find out more about the onset of the infection this time. Mum had been due to start taking a new type of oral antibiotic but the nurses had realised that mum was allergic to it. For this reason the only option was to get the hospital to bring their significantly greater resources to bear on the problem.

I arrived at the hospital later in the morning and after going into the Emergency Ward I spoke with a doctor, who discussed with me the implications of mum's advance health directive (AHD). I had gotten a copy of this document the day before and had scanned it and emailed it to my cousin, who works as a physiotherapist and often works in hospitals. The doctor talked with me about the options available and I told him that I had thought a lot about what to do if the drugs stopped working for mum. In effect, mum would be put in a ward and given palliative care to ensure her comfort, but more intrusive methods of maintaining consciousness would not be performed.

The doctor told me that I was holding up well in the circumstances, but it's been clear to me for a long time that this kind of process would be inevitable at some point in the not-too-distant future. The truth is that mum is burning the candle at both ends. Because of her blood disease (myelodysplastic syndrome) she takes medications that make it more likely that she will contract infections, so when it comes down to it you're trying to do two things that are basically incompatible, with the same body. And then there was the cellulitis in her right leg that was causing constant problems.

Today I stayed in the building as long as possible but it was getting late and I had to get home to do some chores and get ready for the next day. The plumber is coming in the afternoon tomorrow to try to fix the mixer tap in the shower in the second bathroom. I will try to get up to the hospital tomorrow morning to see how mum is getting along, but for the rest of today she's going to have to go it alone. In the end we're all going to be alone anyway. We face the end alone just as alone we face the many trials during our lives that really test our mettle. Sleep well, mum.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Mum chipper despite antibiotic resistance of infection

I went up to the nursing home this morning not knowing what I would find. Yesterday the GP had called me on the phone to tell me that the most recent antibiotics mum had used would not work because the infection in her leg is resistant to them. That went for both the IV antibiotics and the oral drugs. He also said that there was one more oral antibiotic drug that might work, and he would start mum on a course of them. But the nurses realised later that mum was allergic to this drug..

Nevertheless, mum seemed to be quite well when I went into her room. While we were talking to my brother on the iPad the nurse came to change her leg dressings, and despite the fact that we were talking with my brother I waved her in so that she could start immediately. She had said that she could call back later to do it.

The right leg is the one that is badly infected and there are two adhesive bandages: one on the right side of her lower leg, and one on the top of her foot. Both bandages are covering sores and the one on the foot seemed to be weeping in part of the sore. The leg itself is not as red and hot-looking as when I had seen it during her most recent hospital admission, but it is still pretty affected by the infection. It is the one that has stopped mum walking with me to the park.

We were talking about a faerie book that had come out in the 70s, when I was a teenager, which was a kind of catalogue of dwarves and elves. I asked my brother about it and he went online to try to find it, although he couldn't. Mum said she had elves in her room. I think she said this in reply to my statement that the book was so remarkable, for me at the time, because it so scientifically classified all these imaginary creatures. Mum said she had elves among the leaves she collected from the park and brought back inside. She's the only resident to bring assorted leaves off the ground back into the nursing home, so she's a bit remarkable herself in that way.

She told my brother that she doesn't mind dying, and that she'll just slip away. I think she said "slither away" at one stage, which was funny for us because my brother keeps snakes in his house. She said that she will just slide away when her time comes. "I don't mind," she said. "I have lived long enough. How old am I?" I told her she was 86. "Yes, well 86 is quite old enough, I think," mum added. We'll have to see how these latest antibiotics work. There is another option for her if they do not work, but I think it might be a bit intrusive for her. According to her advance health directive it might be a bit too much for her to handle. I can just imagine the fuss she would make if the hospital staff started to put a line into her neck.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Sometimes a stranger is the best person to listen

I went into the GP's office this morning to get a referral for my psychiatrist, and also to get my right ear irrigated because it was clogged and my hearing was being affected on that side. While the doctor was syringing my ear to get the wax out of the canal we chatted about my mother and her situation in the nursing home. We talked about how mum has cellulitis and whether a nursing home was a poor environment for infections generally, but he said that cellulitis is brought on by physical inaction and low resistance to infection due to old age. I mentioned that I sometimes felt guilty about my mother's cellulitis because I thought that nursing homes might be bad environments for cleanliness. He said it wasn't necessarily true.

I also talked about how I had brought mum to Sydney from southeast Queensland in December 2014 following her diagnosis for dementia in March of that year. He said that looking after someone with a degenerative mental illness like Alzheimer's can be tough. "We all like to think that we will look after our parents," he said, "but sometimes it's not always possible." He sounded quite calm and neutral about it, so I had no reason to doubt him. I am sure that he talks with a lot of people about their elderly parents in the course of his daily work. So it made me feel better.

Then I told him about how, in the middle of 2012, I stopped freelancing because looking after mum was taking up too much time. I told him of one week around that time when I had to take mum to the GP every day for a week. I have always wondered if giving up journalism was a wise move, because now I feel the lack sometimes of a guiding principle in my life. I mean, I go and see mum every two or three days in the car but at other times I might sometimes feel like I am at a bit of a loose end.

It was relaxing to talk with the doctor while he was engaged in the essentially simple task of irrigating my ears. It was quite intimate and personal, and I felt as though I had his complete attention. I don't think he minded that I talked to him in this way during the procedure. He seemed quite relaxed about it. He said that it is a novelty for people to live as long as they do nowadays. Even 20 years ago people were dying ten years earlier than they do now. I had ventured that in the previous generation people were dying at age 65 or 70. So we were on the same page essentially. He also said that because humanity is quite a recent form of life, evolutionarily speaking, we have not really yet worked out how things like old age should be organised.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Book Chat, Episode 4

Books talked about in this episode of Book Chat:
  • Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe (2015)
  • To Hell and Back, Ian Kershaw (2015)
  • Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver (2012)

Monday, 23 May 2016

Book review: Everywhere I Look, Helen Garner (2016)

I seem to remember this book being talked about on TV by Leigh Sales as a book replete with positive stories but I have to admit that, for me, this strange little miscellany resembled nothing more than a collection of bric-a-brac. All very entertaining, I'm quite sure, but it's not something that has a solid core that you can easily address in a critical appraisal like the one you are currently reading.

To be quite honest the pieces that appealed most to me were of an autobiographical nature. I've not seem diary entries being used in this way by a reputable non-fiction author before, so it was something that strikes me as being out-of-the-ordinary. But I loved reading about Garner's children and beloved grandchildren. She is, of course, the age of anyone's nanna, and is well qualified to be telling people what she thinks of little Tom or whomever she is charged with keeping an eye on at any one time. There is a deep humanity at work in these whisper-slight vignettes, small slivers of time and action that capture something of lived experience in a fresh and engaging way.

Elsewhere in the book we find some of the reportage for which Garner is probably now most famous. She has spent many, many hours seated in courtrooms taking notes and observing the proceedings in camera. Here you will find some new pieces - though short ones - to add to her well-known catalogue of writing on crime and the darker parts of the human soul.

I was sometimes terribly moved while reading this book. Often I would skip quickly, with a sigh, from the end of one piece to the beginning of the next, eager to discover what new gem Garner had chosen to display for my entertainment and instruction. The difficulties of other people's dogs, the problems with being of a certain age and female, or the wonder of small boys who say outrageous things without even meaning to. Life is a puzzle. But you'd have to say that despite the irregular construction of the whole the parts are very much worth the reading. And finishing up with a tour-de-force on the non-linguistic medium of ballet serves to highlight most forcibly the rare quality of Garner's art. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Mum is back in the nursing home

Mum looks happy in this photo I took today at the nursing home but she told me almost as soon as I walked in the door that she "didn't want to go for a walk today" because of her leg. She said that yesterday had been busy, and she had walked a lot. Which was not true, although she had been brought back from the hospital yesterday. She had evidently got things a bit confused.

When I arrived in the room this morning the acute post-acute care (APAC) nurse from the hospital was there with all her gear but she said she couldn't administer the IV antibiotics because mum had taken the cannula out of her arm. Mum remonstrated that she must have taken it out overnight, when she was asleep, but the fact is that mum usually forgets that she has to keep her cannula in, and because it annoys her she just picks it out of her vein with her fingers.

Later, the nursing home nursing staff came down to mum's room to talk with me about this, and then later still an ambulatory doctor came by the nursing home to put a new cannula in mum's arm. She was efficient and only got a little blood on the arm of the chair where mum's arm was resting. I mopped the blood up with wet tissues. I left not long after this so I didn't witness the APAC staff coming by again to administer the IV antibiotics, but I did watch one of the nursing home nursing staff put a bandage around the cannula in her arm to prevent mum from picking it out again.

Mum and I chatted however and sang silly songs so that mum laughed a bit. We did get onto my brother in Texas on the iPad but he was asleep when we called so we rang off soon enough and let him get back to his rest. In general, mum was in good spirits today, and showed again that the hospital treatment had been efficacious. Of course, the effects of the IV antibiotics will wear off in time and then who knows? Mum turns 87 in October and as things stand she looks likely to reach that milestone, but further than that it's hard to say with any certainty what will happen with her health-wise.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Mum feeling better in the ward

Mum was joking and laughing when I went up to the hospital to see her today. Her condition since yesterday had improved considerably, and staff told me they would probably be discharging her tomorrow. The plan was to continue the IV drip in the nursing home using APAC staff (staff who are attached to the hospital but who do their work in other locations, like private homes and nursing homes).

While I was visiting, mum's lunch arrived and I watched as she ate the whole thing: the chicken with sauce, the green beans, the mashed potato and mashed pumpkin. The exception was the chocolate pudding - a kind of mousse in a sealed container - which she kept a spoon for in case she decided to eat it later on. (She cheekily stowed the spoon away to hide it under the bedcovers, but then showed it with a smile to the orderly when he came by to collect her tray.) I ate a pie and an egg-and-lettuce sandwich from the kiosk outside. There was also coffee, which is quite decent.

But she was being quite silly while I sat there sending messages to people and reading them out to her, when people replied on my phone. The cloud had blown over, and blue skies were visible again. Who knows when she will have to be back in the hospital for treatment of an infection, however. It's impossible to say.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Mum back in hospital for treatment of cellulitis

The deputy manager from the nursing home rang me at about 8am this morning to tell me that mum's leg wasn't responding to oral antibiotics and that they wanted my permission to move her by ambulance to the hospital. I agreed straight away, because I knew how bad the leg had become: red and hot and uncomfortable. "Poor mum!" I thought.

About an hour later the hospital rang me to clear up some things about the advance health directive (AHD); they had pointed out that mum had specified in it that she didn't want antibiotic treatment or intravenous saline. I told them to rather go ahead with these treatments so as to cure her infection.

I had a meeting scheduled at home for later in the morning and didn't get up to Ryde Hospital until almost lunchtime. Mum was awake after I parked my car and walked to the ward the staff pointed me to. She looked at me with her big, gentle, Yoda eyes - giant orbs in a pale face - and said she was feeling ok. I went out to get a pie and a cup of coffee. I bought a coffee for mum as well, and she had some when I got back to my place beside her bed. I spoke with two young doctors about mum's situation and they said the cellulitis is treatable; the confusion with the AHD had derived from the definitions it used about mum's physical state. Rather than terminal, she was suffering a condition that could be treated. At least I confirmed that it was the 2014 AHD that I had helped mum prepare that we were all talking about.

Later, I spoke with one of the ward's nurses, an older woman than the young doctors, who had years of experience evident in her lined face and accommodating smile. I fed mum some of the lamb-and-pasta with broccoli that appeared soon after. I filled out a communication form that would help ward staff in case of mental deficit such as delirium. I offered mum sips of her cooling coffee. When the visiting hours elapsed I left the ward. It was just before they were to move her bed from its location in the transient section to a more permanent place in the ward. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Some leg dramas for mum at the park

When I got up to the nursing home this morning I could hear protesting coming from mum's room even as I was walking down the hallway. The nurses were looking after her right leg, which has bad cellulitis, and she was making loud remarks as they did so. They only stayed a little while after I arrived and then I got onto my brother in Houston using the iPad. We talked for about 20 minutes, just silly stuff about snakes and bears, before we had another visitor, our old accountant, who was there visiting another resident and had dropped by to see mum as the opportunity arose. He was in the room for only about 10 minutes before he had to leave too, then I got mum ready to go out to the park.

We made it to the park and I was heading to the second bench but when I turned around mum had already started off on the grass heading for the first bench, so I changed tack. We sat for a while but there were no dogs to watch. When it was midday, and time to leave, we got up and headed back across the grass but mum soon started to protest about her right leg. We got to the corner of the street, on the footpath, and she said her leg was very tired.

I sat her down on her walker, on the seat and, facing backwards, maneuvered the machine across the road and onto the opposite footpath. Then I turned downhill, still facing backwards, and guided the machine down toward the gate. Mum's feet were juddering along on the footpath on the heels of her shoes but she didn't seem to mind. I asked if they hurt but she said, "No." When we arrived at the gate I got the walker with mum on it inside the enclosure and put on the breaks. Then I told her to wait until I went inside and found someone with a wheelchair who could help us.

Hurrying inside, I asked the lady who was staffing the front desk if there was anyone with a wheelchair to help us, and pointed out that I had left mum outside. She went around the counter to locate a wheelchair in the cupboard but there was not one there. Then she happened on another staff member who she asked to help us; he quickly went upstairs and came back promptly with a wheelchair. I went outside to wait with mum. When the staffer arrived we got mum out of the walker and into the wheelchair, and brought her inside and up to the first floor, where they had set all the dining tables for lunch. We got mum into a spot at her normal table. I went back to take her going-out things to her room. I came back out in a few minutes and said goodbye to her.

She said to me when we were outside that she didn't mind not going out to the park. I had mentioned absent-mindedly that it might not be possible to take her out again while her leg was so sore. It would be a shame on her account if she were not able to go out any more, but it's tough if you have to go to all the trouble we went to, to get her back inside. In future, as it may be, I might have to borrow a wheelchair from the staff and take her out in it, rather than have her walk with her own walker and her sore right leg.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Who cares if books are coming back, I have an ereader

Well here we have another learned boffin being wise in hindsight - if this article on ereaders versus printed books had been published five years ago it might have had some merit - and pronouncing on the death of the ebook. For myself, I love my ereader. I used to go to the bookstore and buy half-a-dozen books at a time, and maybe get around to reading three of them, if I was lucky. Now, with social media, I buy books that have been recommended by people I know and I read almost all of them.

The other great thing about the ereader is that I don't have to store bloody great slabs of books on shelves - which have to be bought and delivered as well - because everything fits inside the ereader itself, and that takes up no space at all.

Ereaders are also easier to read in bed; they're lighter and more handy; and they don't have to have bookmarks added because the books are marked electronically when you stop reading with a simple tap of your finger. Turning pages is a snap - you just tap on the page at its margin - and then you can put down the thing when you're done and go to sleep.

What makes me so annoyed with the kind of superior reverse shamanism embodied in the article in question is that anyone could have written it. There's no great revelation about the fate of books. There's no forecasting and deadly accuracy to make it shine. It's just a bit of fluff beaten up with a few random facts to make the author sound interesting. It's the worst kind of opinion. I call it humbug!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Mum is doing ok

When I arrived at the nursing home this morning mum was asleep on her bed. She sounded drowsy when I woke her up as I came into the room. She complained of her right leg, which has been giving her problems due to cellulitis. This was as she was putting her feet on the floor and walking to her orange lazy chair. That's where she sits when I call my brother. I called him today and we chatted, the three of us, for about 20 minutes. It was a bit silly.

The silliness continued when I took mum outside for a walk to the park. We sat on the first bench because the second one was already occupied; schoolboys were playing soccer on the playing field in the park. I started talking in a thick French accent. I said I was a tough dockworker from Marseilles. Mum punctuated the discussion by spitting occasionally on the ground; she does this sometimes, I'm not sure why. Anyway, we sat in the park for about 25 minutes then headed back inside. They had set the tables upstairs for lunch and I left mum there to wait while I put away her going-out things: sunglasses, her hat, and her woolly jacket.

When I got back to her table she was sitting with her head placed in front of her on the table. She does this sometimes. I'm not sure why. It's the same as when she gets into the lift, which has mirrors on three sides. Each time she gets into the lift she pokes her tongue out at herself. I tell her she should respect herself, but perhaps inside the nursing home she has lost some of that self-respect. Maybe she feels worthless. I don't know. I told mum as I walked away today that I would be back in a couple of days. "A couple of days?" she asked. "Yes," I said.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Book review: Farewell to the Father, Tim Elliott (2016)

This is a moving and powerful story of understanding and rebirth that comes in two parts. It is first of all the story of journalist Tim Elliott's father, who lived for years with depression and would probably have been diagnosed nowadays as bipolar. He was someone who in the end brings his own life to an end through an overdose of pills. This part is gruelling enough - though told with the compassion (for both the father and the young Tim, the youngest of four children) earned by living until middle age - but in the second part we must deal with the realities of Tim Elliott's own depressive episodes.

In this second phase of the book a lot of mistakes are made - often, as with the quantities of alcohol Elliott consumed, the same mistakes his father had made - but the process of growth and enlightenment brings him to a place where he is able to truly enjoy something that he has helped to build. He has three daughters and a loving wife - a woman he met when they were still at school, and who he split up with before going back and getting in touch with again in his late twenties - and a stable, supportive home life. He has a job he obviously loves doing (the journalist-turned-autobiographer seems to be something of a trope these days; I'm thinking of David Leser here, and his book, which I reviewed in 2014, To Begin to Know, which is also about the writer's father) and he obviously has attained a level of skill in writing that is uncommon and fulfilling.

(Though all-too-common in actual fact. They say that all journalists have at least one book in them. Considering the number of skilled journalists there are in the community, there must be a metric square ton of great stories just waiting to be written by these underappreciated members of our society.)

As someone, myself, who has fought to understand and come to terms with mental illness - in my case an illness that I live with personally - this second part of Elliott's book is particularly fascinating. There are many moments of great drama in it, moments that mark points of crisis, times of understanding, and periods of difficulty lived in all its turbulent colour. But there is also a lot of wisdom here in these pages as well. Elliott has tried to learn from the mistakes of his father - though as often as not they are mistakes he makes himself at one point or another - and we are also confronted with the stark fact that medical science has made gains in recent decades that can only be understood if we look back at the ways people coped with mental illness in earlier times. The drugs, for a start, are a lot better now. There is also a lot more understanding of the reality of mental illness in the community, which includes of course being able to sensibly discuss it with people so as to enable people living with it to continue to live in the broader community, and to live rewarding and productive lives.

I found reading this book a great joy. There is a tremendous quantity of drama in it, for a start, and drama always makes for great reading. (Great storytelling thrives on drama, and all journalists are taught to find it in each story they write in order to give the reader a reason to keep on reading.) But there is a lot more besides, and so this book can profitably be read by anybody, whether they have experience with suicide and mental illness or not. 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Smoke haze over Sydney

This is the view just now, in the mid afternoon today, but this morning you couldn't see any of the city's towers from the windows of the apartment. I got up and scented smoke in the air when I was still in the bedroom. Then I went out on the balcony off the living room and I could clearly smell the burn in the breeze. I thought this morning at first that they had had a fire in one of the foreshore parks down the street on the harbour, where they have trees and bushes, but as soon as I went online I could see from the news website that they had done hazard reduction burns the previous day in the Blue Mountains. The smoke in Sydney was the aftermath of that burning.

The view from the balcony at the moment reminds me of the Sailor Moon cartoon in the 90s, which often showed long-distance shots of city skylines, places of comfort and stability. The urban landscape in Japan as nirvana, a kind of promised land of peace and flourishing. (Which Japan is, to some extent. It still represents, to me, a magic country where strange and beautiful things can happen every day for no specific reason.) But seen in Sydney in autumn it had other connotations for residents of my suburb. At the corner, where the Terminus Hotel sits rotting peacefully, a woman was standing with her mother (I presumed; the elderly woman had a wheeled walker in front of her like my mum has when she goes out) who sat on the bench on John Street. The woman said as I walked past: "It's like a bad day in Beijing!" Her voice was loud and assured, and I wondered if she had said it for my benefit; I was on my way to the Japanese restaurant for noodles.

It has been a strange day though with the hazy air. There's even a hashtag on Twitter (#SydneySmoke) which is getting a bit of traffic. Everyone wants to join in. When the event is as widespread as this smoke haze - when it encompasses the city's entire population - you're sure to get participation. As well as giving us all something to talk about in tandem, the haze also serves to remind us that we live on a single, vulnerable planet and that environmental protection is a global responsibility. We all have a responsibility to work together for the benefit of the global community. Political boundaries mean little in the face of climate change.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Nothing much is happening ...

Normally I feel guilty if I don't post something on the blog each day but lately I seem either to be less motivated to open up about myself or else I'm just generally feeling lazy. There are these big gaps in postings here on the blog. But to be truthful nothing much is happening in my life.

Every two or three days I drive up to see mum in the nursing home. Each visit will normally include a conversation on the iPad in mum's room with my brother in Texas, a walk in the park, a period sitting on a bench watching dogs gambol in the park, and a return to the nursing home before lunch starts around 12pm. I am usually home again by about 1pm, so each visit takes me about 3 hours to complete from when I leave in the car to when I return to the apartment.

I will then see about having some lunch. Mornings when a visit to the nursing home is not on the cards I will usually just schlep about the apartment or else go to do an errand - like buying groceries, or topping up a prescription - before again thinking about lunch. Lunch will vary depending on mood. If I have something in the fridge I will make lunch at home but otherwise I will go out to eat. Then it might be ramen noodles, sushi, or a chicken-schnitzel roll and chips. It's all pretty simple fare for a simple guy.

Afternoons I will usually have a nap. Or not, if I have slept in late in the morning. Then around 3.30pm I will start to drink wine and engage on social media with the news turned on in the background. This continues until about 5.30pm at which time I will make dinner - these days I don't go out to dinner at all - and then settle in to watch TV for the evening.

Plain days. I read before going to sleep, in bed. But that's it really. There's nothing most days to justify writing a blogpost. Last night, for example, I wrote about killing a cockroach - the little beast was climbing the wall as I was reading in bed - but it didn't seem to be a weighty enough subject to justify a blogpost, so I just wrote about it on Facebook straight up, without blogging about it. I think a blogpost has to have an episodic materiality to sustain itself, although to be fair I have written some very short ones in the past. But when it comes down to it a blogpost must have a certain heft and moment in order to sustain itself. This subject I'm writing about right now, for example, is a tenuous gambit if you want to be completely frank about it. But there you go.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Saved by fresh Sunday programming

When programming on the ABC channel is less than optimal I choose to watch ABC News 24; these are the two channels I watch most of the time. On occasion, on weekday evenings and on weekends also, I might switch across to SBS to catch their news program at 6.30pm but most of the time I am a dedicated ABC user. Which is why weekends are so frustrating.

When the main programming on the ABC channel is not the kind of thing I like to watch - as it usually is on weekend evenings - I get my feed from ABC News 24. In fact, I start watching ABC News 24 from about 3.30pm when I start drinking wine. The problem with weekends is that the programming on ABC News 24 at thee times is alternately repeats of programs that have been shown at other times on the main ABC channel. This can be a bit frustrating, for obvious reasons. Nobody wants to be forced to watch something they've already thoroughly consumed. Luckily, I am on social media with the TV on in the background when a lot of these shows screen for the first time, so I am not completely familiar with them. In these situations I can watch the repeats with a fair quantity of sang froid, but it really depends. Offsiders, furthermore, is just a complete chore as I hate spectator sport.

Luckily, things get a bit better on Sunday nights because there is a bit of original programming, including Australia Wide, which comes on just after the news. Then they replay Insiders, which I normally haven't seen because in the mornings on Sunday I am busy doing something other than watching TV, or else I am on social media with the TV on just in the background.

But there is another problem with this kind of saturation exposure to ABC News 24, which is that the news segments they screen every 30 minutes are often largely identical. It gets a bit tiresome to see the same stories covered time and time again, which is why at 6.30pm I switch across to SBS. I can get a fresh perspective on the daily news, which means new stories.

I understand that ABC programmers are scheduling their best programs to air when the largest number of viewers will be in front of their TVs to receive them. This is why Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday viewing generally contain higher quality programs. But I don't go out on Friday and Saturday nights. So I am exposed to the weakest screening times for the ABC, and I find it tiring and dull. I frankly look forward to Mondays when the programming is fresh again. Mondays are fun.