Mark Seymour Westgate Introduction

Mark Seymour introduces his “Westgate” album.

Author: Mark Seymour.

Date: 7 June 2007.

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Article Text

New Idea March 2007

Nicole and Keith went walking barefoot on the beach of a “dream island paradise”. It was their second honeymoon. Some schlep with a camera took shots of their intimate play and they were instantly flogged and flashed ’round the globe.

Some might say this was a gross invasion of their personal space. Any average couple in search of renewal would be free to frolic with their privacy in tact but of course Nicole and Keith are no average couple. Millions of Aussies love Nicole and they’re also really interested in Keith, the arriviste with the tats. He’s still a bit of an unknown but he’s got that winning smile and he’s huge in the states. What’s more, they really want Nikki to get it right this time.

For many Australians, these pictures must’ve been deeply re-assuring. The schlep snapped away and judging by the fulsome display of affection between the two, they knew the schlep was there. Or not? Who cares? The fact is, what Nicole and Keith do together matters big time and there in lies the earthy truth about many of us.

New Idea sells in the millions every week because of pictures like these. They give oxygen to the wistful yearnings of every lonely heart who ever tried to kill an hour by dreaming of perfect love and a better life. If Nicole and Keith can overcome their difficulties then surely there’s hope for the rest of us? It’s okay to fuck up sometimes they say, because bona-fide mega stars have to grapple with the dark side too.

Life has a way of throwing up ‘little curve balls,’ as the Americans would say; things like parking infringements, bad grades, traffic accidents, drug addiction, corrupt and/or deceitful leadership, and of course, the bigger ones, like terrorist insurgency or total war. Yet, there is something in our nature that compels us to look beyond all this short-term depravity and dream of a better future, where human stupidity is forgiven and life delivers on the promises we grew up with. While Nicole and Keith come to grips with each other on the deck of their cruiser, the bigger story of human kind staggers forward beneath the weight of untold suffering and injustice.

No matter how comfortable we are, whether barefoot on golden beaches, or day dreaming over pictorials in New Idea, we only have to scratch the surface of history, (Google helps,) to discover that the best of human nature lies in the forgotten tragedies and the hidden triumphs, where ordinary working people have found dignity and redemption in their own lives. These are the stories that define us as a people because they are ours and not the ones that are thrust at us in the vacuous blather of tabloid journalists and personal publicists who’ll beat up anything, even the banal wrestling of a couple of wayward megastars on a boat, in order to distract us from the heroism of our own lives. Human beings have unlimited potential. No challenge is too great.

“Westgate” is about those challenges.

Mark Seymour, May 2007.