Earlier this week it again became apparent that I wasn’t having coffee with anyone, and I’m hoping you all understand. If I could be assured that I was definitely not going to give anything to anyone, I’d be out — somewhere, having a chat — with someone. And finding items of interest to fill your mind or your heart for a couple of minutes.
But I can’t, so I’m not. Instead, I’ve been casting around, searching for all the ideas I have when I don’t need them.
One of the things in my head is that, not too many years ago, newspapers were known as the most trusted medium — decade after decade, research after research. Newspapers were the most trusted; television was the most entertaining; radio offered immediacy; and there were relativity obvious reasons for the ‘opinions’. That makes me smile! How smart was I to choose newspapers — and this newspaper in particular.
But then everything shifted — and shifted again — and today it is unlikely that many users think about media much at all. They like it or they don’t; they agree with it or they don’t; it’s worth $10 per month or it isn’t. Television is now ‘more than’ entertainment; in fact, I had an experience with it that was simply outside anything I had ever expected. It led me into wheels within wheels and, finally, back home again. And I’ve been wanting to tell you about it for at least two years now.
Simpler to explain exactly what happened, I think.
I cannot tell you why I began watching a poorly constructed, badly translated, first episode of Resurrection: Ertugrul. It was obviously set in Turkey. (I’ve always been interested in Turkey.) Obviously historic — and that’s all I knew. There was a good-looking young actor and an isolated village. For no apparent reason, horsemen riding into battle would ride in slow motion; to apparently specially composed music — and somebody must have liked it, so they repeated it frequently. I watched a big-screen epic being put together on a shoestring budget and admired their tenacity.
Then, someone must have heard a whisper that they had a second season. (The slow motion warriors must have done the trick for the money men.) There was a bit more to pay people and it showed. It was the 12th century on a screen depicting a violent, unkind world, where religions, talking about love, fought for control or survival or something in between.
What was happening here? There were clues for me, like breadcrumbs in the snow — although I felt very alone in my quest for answers. There was not one echo of interest from my family. ‘May it be easy’ sounded to me like a kind way to say ‘see you later’ — so I made note of it somewhere.
People on screen were, slowly but surely, moving together; small communities were strengthening, supporting one another. Beneath the blood and gore, this was a story of love. The hero’s wife gave birth to their third son — and his name was Osmond. So yes, this was, if you like, the pre-history of the Ottoman Empire.
And so we moved through five series — 448 episodes on Netflix and no apparent shortage of money by now. The English translation was grammatically correct — most of the time. And I turned out to be not alone at all — merely one of millions. Now that I knew for sure what I’d been watching — I watched it all over again.
So, why did it matter anyway?
In April 1915, our largely untested young army arrived at Gallipoli, with an enormous task to complete. A British scheme was doomed to failure, from the beginning, and our precious young men would take the arrows and, later, read the covering lies. The army of the Ottoman understood the task, very well indeed; its soldiers had been using Gallipoli for centuries.
For as long as I can remember, I have listened to, or read, the words left for us by the Empire. The words haven’t changed. No matter the ‘on the ground’ political attitudes of the day in Turkey, the message from the past is read for us. It talks to the mothers; it talks of mutual respect, well earned, and it understands what was asked.
I think these words tell us a great deal about the Ottoman Empire, and a great deal about our young men.
The written word matters, truth matters — and knowing where to look for it matters. (People once trusted newspapers because they trusted the written word.) And now there is a thing called AI. Who knows what’s real and true and honest? Or what is something entirely different?
I am incapable of leaving this topic without mentioning our own locally written play Jacka’s Mob — Australia’s truth just waiting to be told. There simply must be a way. (Please contact any of my numbers and I’ll put you in touch with its author, John Griffith. Surely together, we can make something happen!)
Okay, that’s it! Next week will be better. Next week, I’ll be better and, for me, life will resume some sort of normalcy. I’m aware that I have yet to respond to some of you — I’ll catch up, promise!
May it be easy, my friends
Letter: Town Talk. Shepparton News. PO Box 204. Shepparton 3631.
Phone: Send a text on 0418 962 507. (Note: text only. I will call you back, if you wish.)