Thursday, August 4, 2011


As I sit here and write this, there is a situation unfolding.  Apparently an 18 year old girl in Mosman, Sydney has had an explosives collar attached to her neck along with a reported ransom note.  There is a lot of speculation and a lot of unconfirmed stories floating around.  I’m watching ABC 24 waiting for a news conference to receive the official news.  It’s late, I’ve got to have the 11 year old at school by 7:30 to compete in regional shot-put (go my big girl) but I can’t go to bed.  Because I need to know what’s going on.  I am really hoping the fact that not a whole lot of attention and exposure is being given to the situation on commercial TV means it won’t be as bad it appears.  I'm really hoping it's not going to turn into one of those moments I remember where I was “when”.

Because there are only so many moments, in hindsight, that you will remember exactly where you were “when”.

For example:

9/11  I was at home.  Pregnant.  In fact, my husband had gotten up that morning, watched a lot of it in real time but FAILED TO WAKE ME UP.  I guess perhaps he didn’t want to wake me, but when I did eventually get up and realised ABC kids wasn't even on, I figured some heavy shit was going down. Playschool stops for no man.  I flicked from channel to channel and it didn’t take me long to comprehend that what I was witnessing wasn’t a bad Bruce Willis movie, but actual real life planes slamming into actual real life buildings.  The world changed that day.  And we all remember where we were when we heard or saw the news.

The Day Diana died.  Love, hate, ambivalence, whatever it is you feel towards The Royal Family, you would still remember where you were when you heard the news that Diana had been killed in a car crash.   It was a Saturday morning here in Australia.  I was at work in a real estate agency bumming around, reading the paper and pretending to look busy.   We didn’t have internet back then and we certainly didn’t have very accurate, up to the minute news like we do today.  I heard it on the radio news, rang my then boyfriend and mulled it over in the office until we had the news confirmed. It shocked me and I couldn’t even explain why.  I also remember that we were in a hotel room the night of her funeral and instead of going out like we had planned, we stayed in and witnessed the prolific scene where her sons walked behind the card that was atop her funeral procession with the simple word “Mummy”.

Winning the America’s Cup.  I was in grade 3 and vividly remember the famous Bob Hawke line about bums and bosses.  What I remember more was that my dad was home that morning, putting off going to work to watch the unfolding events.  He was so happy that morning.  Everyone was.  I was probably just happy I was allowed to say bum and get away with it.

Port Arthur.  I’ve written about this before.  We were at a friend’s house having a BBQ and as we all slowly but surely made our way inside to gather around the television, it was so horribly obvious that we would never be as innocent as we were when we had arrived that day.

Stuart Diver rescue.  We were away, staying in Iluka.  I had gone to pick up our Chinese from the one and only Iluka Bowls Club when on the little TV on the wall, we saw him being stretchered out.  I remember bawling my eyes out surrounded by people waiting for their takeaway. There's something kind of beautiful sharing an emotional moment like that with complete strangers.

Socceroos’s making it into the world cup.  We were sitting in bed, flicking around channels and for some reason stayed on SBS and watched the final kick and subsequent shirt over the head, running around goosebump moment. 

You so silly Aloisi.  Don't stop.

Oh, and it’s 12pm and they have just announced that the 18 year old is safe and sound.  Very happy to say this won’t be one of those moments I'll remember forever.

So where were you “when”?


nikkimoffitt said...

One more - when Sydney (or Syd-er-nee as the case may be) won the Olympics - although may not be in your 'bank' if you aren't from Sydney/NSW.
I was in Germany working on a farm on an 'Agricultural exchange' the year after I finished Uni. I was watching it live on tv and called my parents immediately - forgetting it was 2am in Australia. I will always remember my mother answering the phone (pre-caller id) with simply 'You little beauty'.

Teni said...

9/11 - I woke up to my mum telling me "America's been attacked." I thought she was joking until I saw she turned the TV on. I would have seen the news break live had I stayed up half an hour longer the previous night! Had to go to school and listen to the disgusting teenage jokes :(

Diana: Visiting my cousin. I watched the news unfold while the adults made vulgar jokes about how "Di died"

America's Cup: I'm not sure what year that happened, but either I wasn't conceived or I was a baby.

Port Arthur: I don't remember where I was or what I was doing, just the terrible gutache from thinking about how terrible it was.

Stuart Diver: I was at my nan's watching it all in her loungeroom. I was the one who broke the news to the adults.

Soccer: I care so little for soccer that I didn't even know they made the world cup.

4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle said...

What a fantastic trip down memory lane. I remember them all and like you remember exactly where I was. I think 911 and Diana were my big ones, the ones that had me glued to the news. It was 911 that made me realize I couldn't handle 24 hour disaster news coverage.

I LOVE the good news stories but I often wonder how our children are going to be affected by the tragedies they are played/replayed and then discussed from breakfast to dinner time on our tv's. Like you said, we grew up in a different time, nightly news and hourly radio broadcasts.

Your post is very timely for me, I was out to dinner with a bunch of girlfriends on the weekend and we had the exact "where were you conversation" on the walk home. All of the above were discussed and then a girlfriend said "I can't remember where I was when Michael Hutchence died", some may say it was the 6 hour lead up in drinking time that affected our memory, but no one could remember. You?

So Now What? said...

Hey K, no I can't! But I also didn't appreciate INXS back then. I love them now (New Sensation a fave) and Nikki the Sydurney, I can't remember where I was but reckon if I were from Sydney I might. All we ever got was Expo 88 :) Thanks for the comments guys and Teni, impressed with all of your recollections even though you would have been quite young for a lot :)

Jodi @ The Scribble Den said...

I only remember a couple of those. 9/11 of course. I was at work about 9am when everyone was talking about it. I had no idea as I was running late that morning and hadn't switched on the TV or radio. I remember seeing the footage and feeling sick, horrified and terribly sad. I still do. Even when I hear a plane fly really low over head unexpectedly, even though I wasn't there, it is the first thing I think of. I can't imagine how people who lived through it feel every day.

I remember the day Diana died, It was a rainy horrible day so we took a day trip to a lollie shop and I remember hearing it on the news. I couldn't believe it. I loved Diana and had pictures of her on my wall when I was younger. So tragic.

I too remember where I was when Michael Hutchence died and I remember being so devastated an in shock for days.

The others, although I remember the events, I don't remember where I was.

Great post Bern. x

Jane said...

9/11 - I was 11 and mum woke me up to get ready for school. I was eating my peanut butter toast while watching the news. I remember my friends and I talked about it at recess. Looking back, the shit we said was so naive.

Diana - Watching TV with mum and dad on that Saturday. I remember asking dad, "but who will be the next Princess of Wales???"

Michael Jackson dying - Saw it on the Today Show as I was getting ready to visit my stupid boyfriend in hospital because he kept sticking his car key up his nose to make himself sneeze and consequently developed a serious infection. Still hasn't learned his lesson .... the key was being poked up his nose again last night.

Mosman bomb - I was doing the night shift at the gym last night when I looked up and saw all eight TV's were covering the same breaking story. Obviously something huge had happened. I picked up bits and pieces from what I saw on TV then sat at the desk Googling the details. The funny thing was, as I was watching it all unfold, I did get the sense that it'd one day become a "where were you when...?" moment.

Unfortunately I'm too young for the other stuff. "The winner is Siderneeee", Port Arthur etc... vague memories, but was too preoccupied watching Big Ted and Jemima to care about big news. xxx

mixedgems said...

I must say I only remember where I was for the first two of those events. I do remember Stuart Diver's situation but not where I was. Sporty things fly over my head so, that explains my ignorance of those. I was on my way to work when I learnt of Heath Ledger's death and at work when murmuring passed round about Steve Irwin's death. I don't remember where I was when Michael Jackson died but just that it happened. Some things leave more of an impact than others.Llike I know where I was when Ronald Reagan died (of all people!) because I was on a Beverly Hills guided tour when it all went down on my last day of holiday in LA.

KJ said...

9/11 - I was asleep. Got up and ready for work, drove to the station, bought the paper & the world stopped when I saw that photo. And working on the top floor in a Melbourne office tower suddenly lost it's shine.

Diana - driving home from a wedding fair.

Stuart Diver - in my lounge room, watching the news. Same thing for Michael Hutchence.

America's Cup - I remember getting up early to watch it and being thrilled but in reality I was in Grade 4 so I guess I was thrilled because everyone else was?

Kelly Exeter said...

911 and Lady Di's death were my big ones. I was driving to swim training when I heard the first and driving home from (Perth) city to surf when I heard the second. Remember my reaction to both quite vividly! I was so relieved to wake up this morning and hear that girl was safe. Last night really had me wondering abou this world ....

Benison said...

Well I'm old enough to remember them all, plus a few more.

My 9/11 stoy is almost exactly the same as yours, Bern, except that I had a new baby, rather than being pregnant,and my boys were upset that Pokemon was not on. When Channel 10 reports news you know it's big news.

I was buying shoes for my SIL's wedding the next week when I heard the news about Diana. Lost all enthusiasm and ended up buying nothing. I must be one of the few people who never saw her funeral, as it was timed to coincide with the wedding reception.

Remember hearing the Michael Hutchence news. We were driving to the Central Coast when radio announcer said, 'a prominent music identity had been found dead in a Sydney hotel room'. Said to my husband, 'I bet it's Michael Hutchence'. Don't know why I knew, just did.

Thought the America's Cup was boring, but the Socceroos getting to the World Cup was a different matter! My husband and I were at a play & kept getting text message updates from a mate.Fortunately got to see the penalty shootout at home, or rather my husband did, as I was hiding behind the door with my eyes closed!

And the 'Syd-er-nee' announcement was at 3am. I was pregnant with No 1 son and woken by car horns & cheers. Fab day to be a Sydney girl that day.

Twitchy said...

The Michael Hutchence news I remember hearing on the radio while showering on a Saturday morning- it had happened the night before- the same night my husband proposed :/

When I was about 6-7 years old our family travelled Europe in a campervan for nearly a year. It was while we were in Denmark the front pages covered the tragic death of Elvis. Even though I was so young, I still understood and was devastated because I already loved him and his movies. Now there's this weird link in my mind between Denmark and Elvis. Which doesn't really make sense, EXCEPT I recently found out on the net that an Elvis museum (based on a larger replica of his Graceland home), has now been built by fans in Denmark. Truth IS stranger than fiction.

FunSizeJaney said...

I remember a few...

9/11 I was up late watching "The West Wing" when there was a news break saying a plane had 'accidentally' crashed into one of the Twin Towers. I didn't sleep much that night.

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales. I was at Mum and Dad's. My sisters friend worked for the ABC and was keeping us updated. I remember the conversation being about how if the driver was dead and the body guard was seriously injured how could she just have a broken leg as first reported.

The death of Michael Jackson. I was living in Las Vegas and someone from the office said they saw/heard it on TMZ. I said "Don't be ridiculous. Don't believe anything on TMZ until it's confirmed by MJ's peeps.

Here's one. The Challenger Space Shuttle explosion. I was a wee young thing and up early watching the TV. Was looking for cartoons and stumbled on this disaster.

The Asian Tsunami! Departed Brisbane for London on Christmas Day. Arrived in London to hear news of a tsunami and that about 30 or so were missing. By the time we'd driven down to Rye it was over 300. THen every time we went out we came back to the growing numbers.

Port Arthur: I was living at my sister's place in Manly, Sydney. I remeber it on the news bulletin.

Gulf War: I was in a ski shop in Brisbane City and heard it on the radio. I remember why, but not why I was in a ski shop.

I think I was an elephant in a past life.

J x

Andrea @ FoxinFlats said...

How about this? When Michael Jackson died I was in hospital recovering from major surgery. As they listed off the drugs he was on I realised I was on a similar mix...

Cate Bolt said...

As you went through your list, starting with 9/11 I was thinking "hey I was pregnant then too" I remember sitting up in bed watching The West Wing and they crossed to the news, I was really scared for the child I was carrying.
Then as I went through your list I'm thinking "I was pregnant then, and I was pregnant then ....and oh yeah, I was pregnant then too".
What this has taught me is that bad things happen when I'm pregnant and it's probably a good thing I've stopped having kids.

Sam said...

9/11 - I was visiting HK and the timing was that it was prime time. We stayed up all night watching it and texting people in AU/NZ to wake up and watch. I remember the news picking it up after the 2nd plane has gone in. My first reaction, why was the first tower on fire too?

Di - I was at home, watching TV. (How come hardly anyone care when Mother Teresa died? She died a few days after Di.)

The rest - I wasn't living in Aus then, so I didn't really care...

Death of MJ - I was 35000ft up in the sky on my way to Tokyo. I was on a long-haul flight. When I landed, I texted my sister to say I've arrived, she then texted me saying MJ died. Then I turned on CNN and see what happened. MJ being quite popular in Japan, I was expecting a lot of people out commemorating wearing one glove and moon-walking - didn't see a thing...

The Asian Tsunami - I think it happened overnight our time, but I remember watching the footage and couldn't believe it's real. It was like a movie...

pt said...

I remeber stuff like this too.

America's Cup we were halfway to Victoria for a holiday in the car, dad pulled over and we listened to it on the radio, there were lots of other cars parked by the side of the highway as well all beeping their horns in the middle of nowhere. Surreal, I ate rice bubbles out of a tupperware container

9/11 TC was a couple of months old I was living alone my mum called me early in the morning and said "Get up PT the world is ending" I sat glued to CNN and BBC for weeks (well I was a single mum b/feeding a baby so I was awake and on the couch a fair bit)

When Di died I was living in a share house with stoner mates, it was freezing but I wouldn't let them burn any paper with her face on it for weeks... er did I mention stoners?

I remember the announcement of the Gulf War on TV I was home from school and I can still picture Keating shuffling the papers as he walked into the presser.

Stuart Diver I missed I remember getting annoyed at Kerri-Anne being there at Thredbo though.

When Julia was sworn in as PM I was in the meeting room at work and held my best mate's hand with our receptionist and tearing up at a female PM being sworn in by our female GG and thinking about all the women who had worked and fought hard for something like this to happen. My boss came in and started sayign hateful things about her and I told him that if he couldn't be quiet then piss off, no matter what he thought about her this was an important day for Australia and Australian Women especially.


Mewelljr said...

9/11 i remember lying in bed watching TV when Talking Footy was interrupted by news reports of a helicopter accidentally crashing into one of the towers. then saw the second one live. still have The Age from the next day, and had it made for a very interesting, sometimes fiery International Relations politics lecture at uni the next day after the lecturer decided to make an open discussion.

As a Victorian, where you were on Black Saturday is something many of us remember too. I vividly remember being at Brighton beach and it being to hot (47 degrees) to sit on the beach, but the wind making the water fairly unpleasant too so after much tooing and froing we gave up and went to see Gran Turino, unaware of the horrors being experienced by so many people, including a couple I know personally, about 40 kilometres away.

Nicole McLachlan said...

Where I was/what I was doing for all of them - apart from the Socceroos (clearly I am a crap Australian) - are etched into my brain. The one that still amazes me (my own "where was I', not the event itself - they were all amazing) was Princess Diana. I was actually at Waringah Mall (I'm all class), and David called and said "has your sister called you? Apparently there's something going on with Princess Diana". Derr. Anyway, I got home, and it was all happening. As the news broke about Diana actually dying, the doorbell rang, and it was David's ex-wife arriving to drop the kids in for the weekend.

Our relationship had been, not surprisingly, difficult at times, awkward, polite, frosty, the whole spectrum (except, thankfully, poisonous). However, on this occasion, she had just heard the news on the car radio, and was in tears at the door, and asked me if it was true. Because I am apparently the BBC. Anyway, I said yes, and we fell into each other's arms and sobbed. She came inside, I made us tea, and we spent the next 2 hours next to each other, watching history unfold.

(David felt like he was in some sort of parallel universe when he saw us comforting each other.)

We may never be BFFs, but that was the day that we took the first step towards becoming friends.

Awesome post Bern.

Juniper said...

9/11 - My mum, almost 5yr old and 17mth old and I flew from Melb to QLD on holiday on Sept 10th on Virgin. The staff were so friendly and lovely, they took the kids down the back of the plane and did face paining and puppets with them. Not so on our return trip a week later, when it was all super serious faces, stern commands and nobody was allowed to unbuckle their seat belts.

On Sept 11th, we woke up in our rented apartment, and I discovered that my almost 5yr old son had woken an hour before me, turned on "ABC KIDS" but when I got up, he told me "there is no ABC KIDS in QLD Mummy, only this plane flying into a building over and over again - on every channel!"

What? I couldn't believe my eyes! By then, my sister and her 4yr old were also with us and we all just couldn't peel our eyes from the TV. After watching it for approx 1.5hrs, I insisted we turn it off for the sake of the children, and for the rest of our 7 day holiday we gathered our news and information from the newspapers instead of the TV (the visual was too much for the kids - and for us!).

I still cry when I see the footage - it brings back such horrible scary feelings...

Kylie L said...

Oh Nic- "Because I am apparently the BBC". Great comment!

And amazingly evocative post Bern. Can't believe I was also pregnant during 9/11 (what, we were we all having sex back then or something?) I was in Australia gestating Cam and asleep, my husband was working in Canada. He rang me about 11, after the first plane hit but before the second, and said "Sorry to wake you up, but I think there's something you should know..." Told me later he saw it happen on TV at work and thought the whole of North America was about to be nuked and wanted to say goodbye...

The Socceroos? I jumped in joy to see that penalty, knocking over a pot of rice I had just cooked, and ended up in A&E with second degree burns. Thanks, Aloisi.

Cheryl said...

Great post... thought provoking.

I'm not sure about the latter four (I assume they're Australian news? Forgive my ignorance... But the BBC sometimes forgets the rest of the planet!)

9/11 - I was in my flat at university with a norwegian flatmate. We drank coffee and ate buttered digestives watching the whole horrible thing unfold. I called my then boyfriend's mother cos he was on a training exercise, worrying with her about whether he'd be drafted. He was in the army.

Diana - I was in my (another!) boyfriend's flat crying and on my own cos we'd had a raging argument. He was not a nice boy. :o( But I remember immediately thinking that it was a conspiracy, that perhaps she had been murdered.

The horror of 9/11 still stays with me. All those people... You have to ask yourself, what would drive someone to implement such an attack? No smoke without fire?

Terry said...

Wow, i can remember all those events but not exactly where i was. Here is my list
9/11 - Home, i think a friend rang us to ask if we were watching the news
Diana - Mowing my acreage, my wife came down to tell me
Americas Cup - Sitting in my bed at my mums place watching it live. Very tired at work as an apprentice fitter.
Port Arthur - No idea where i was when i heard it. But i was very shocked and living here on the coast
Stuart Diver - Again here at home but dont know what i was doing
Socceroos - Nov 16, 2005 I was in Row 16 at that stadium behind the goals where that penalty was taken. Rang my wife screaming "we are going to Germany", and we did :)
Sideny - Sitting in bed with our sons who had woken in the middle of the night. Decided we would turn the TV on and watch. We were living there at the time. We took them down for the Paralympics

Thanks Bern for the trip down "remember when"

Maria Tedeschi (Mum's Word) said...

9/11 I was asleep and hubby woke up. I almost killed him because for the first time in 8 months I was sleeping in because my 8 month old was sleeping in.

Diana - I was working in a real estate agent too.
Stuart Diver - working in the same real estate agent.

Socceroos - watching it at home with my 3 week old baby. Hubby was holding baby when the final goal went through. Hubby went nuts and all I could think was 'give me my baby before you drop him'.

Love & stuff
Mrs M

Mum of TDQ said...

Wonderful post! Ditto to all of these. And John Lennon being shot... will never forget that.

A Cajun Down Under said...

I remember 9/11. I had moved to Australia just 3 months prior. We went to bed early that night, and my mom woke me up with a call from home and said "America is under attack". I immediately pictured those scenes of the solders coming ashore in Normandy from Saving Private Ryan. A few minutes later, I saw the planes hit. Very helpless feeling like your whole family is in harms way while you are "safe" on the other side of the world.

Of course I remember Diana too, but the others are not part of my history as I did not live in Australia at the time.

Donna said...

I've got goosebumps reading this, remembering the moments in my own life as those tragedies unfurled. The most prominent for me was 9/11, living in London and seeing it happen almost in real time. And bearing witness to a city that never stops suddenly going into Ghost Town mode that evening... That and the fact the next day I heard a low flying plane whilst traipsing through the city - it scared me shitless!

Busy Gold Coast Mum said...

I have goosebumps remembering these events too.

America's cup - I remember my Mum, Dad, brother and I all sitting on the end of Mum and Dad's bed watching it on the little TV that had been brought in from the lounge and being so excited, I was a kid and to Mum and Dad this was a big deal, so it was for us too.

Port Arthur - I was at work - at Movie World when it came on the radio and spread throughout the offices. Little did I know then that later I would found out that a close school friend lost her husband at Port Arthur that day and almost her life too.

Stuart Diver - We were in Darwin having a 2 day break from our Hotel we owned in Katherine at the time and we also stayed in our hotel room all day and watched with tears as he was stretchered out.

Diana - I was in the TAB of the Front Bar of our Hotel and it came across the bottom of the screen, I remember the white text on a purple backgroud, I couldn't believe it, not Diana. I watched her funeral from our manager's unit and cried the whole day.

Michael Hutchence - another break from the hotel I was driving through Darwin and heard the news on the radio, couldn't believe it - I loved INXS.

9/11 - I was pregnant too, very. In fact I was hours from having my 2 caeserean when my husband woke me. He had been watching the West Wing too, a favourite of ours, when the news came on. We couldn't believe it. My beautiful girl who is 10 on September 12 was born the day that terrible event occured in the US. September 11 is never forgotten in our household.

Incredible the details you remember from the days these life altering events occur. So sad. Thank you for reminding us to give a though for those people Bernadette.