January 05, 2004

"GUESTS ARE SPECIAL"

For sheer smothering sanctimony, this letter to The Age -- from Mark Svendsen, of Highgate Hill, Queensland -- may prove impossible to beat:

I was taught from the earliest age that guests are special. As a child, when guests came to our home, we shared with them the best of what we had.

Sometimes it was with a grudging respect, especially if we didn't much like them, or they frightened us, though we would never, even for a moment, let our guests know if this were the case.

We were not a religious family, nor a particularly wealthy one; these were not our motives. We cared for our guests because not to do so would betray the most profound essence of our humanity.

We shared with our guests because they reminded us of who we are, what we believe, what we value and what we want most for ourselves - the best we can offer.

In my family's values our guests became who we were: respected members of our family, our town, our nation, our civilisation. If only for a moment in time spent with us.

In Nauru, in Port Hedland, in Villawood - we Australians have guests. I, as an Australian, have guests. For how long they will stay is unknown, some may be not what they seem, some may return from whence they came, but for however long they are my guests they are a special category of me.

I must, by all that is most human, offer them what is best of me as I would for my own children.

To do so is not merely a mark of a caring civilisation it is the mark of our deepest respect for ourselves and for our own humanity.

My people are in prison. Let my people go.

Note to self: turn up unannounced at Svendsenís place. If he doesnít let you live there permanently, threaten to sew eyelids together.

(Via reader Richard G.)

UPDATE. From the Department of Doomed Ideas:

Under the proposal to be debated at Labor's national conference at the end of the month, all asylum seekers would be freed from detention centres to live in hostels or other accommodation with access to Medicare and jobs.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 5, 2004 11:45 AM
Comments

Doesn't this onanist know that the detention centres provide better accommodation and food than most of the illegal immigrants ever dreamed possible. In other words we are giving these people our best.

Posted by: toryhere at January 5, 2004 at 11:50 AM

If they're on a hunger strike, why don't they sew their arseholes shut. After all, they're not seeing much trade.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at January 5, 2004 at 12:04 PM

'I, as an Australian, have guests. For how long they will stay is unknown, some may be not what they seem, some may return from whence they came, but for however long they are my guests they are a special category of me.'

He's the perfect host AND he has special categories. I wonder he has time to write to The Age.

Posted by: ilibcc at January 5, 2004 at 12:20 PM

"If only for a moment in time spent with us."

Theres the rub. Immigration is forever. Guests are not. They go home ... eventually.

Posted by: Bruce at January 5, 2004 at 12:53 PM

I was taught from the earliest age that Guests arrive through the front door. People who arrive through the back door, through one of the windows or take tiles off the roof and enter through the ceiling cavity are called Thieves, Burglars or Illegal Trespassers.

Posted by: Johnny Wishbone at January 5, 2004 at 12:57 PM

I presume that if they eventually get permission to stay they will be welcome to live with Mr. Svendsen? All they have to do is go to his house, kick in the door and announce they're guests and want to share "the best of what" he has. That should do it. Or, perhaps, *he* could move to Pakistan or Iran or somewhere.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at January 5, 2004 at 12:59 PM

So many thoughts, where to begin...

How does sewing eyelids shut help a hunger strike? "I can't see my food so I can't eat it!"

Who is letting these people have needle and thread?

What must it have been like to be a guest at Mr. Svendsen's childhood abode. "Have we told you how special you are to us, Mr. Guest?" "Have we mentioned in the past hour how special you, our guest, are to us and how we are right now sharing everything we have with you just because of your specialness?" "No, go ahead, have the last piece of pie -- we children are glad to go without for our guest, so sacred is the relationship we feel we have with you." "No please, don't mind us, we'll sleep on the cold floor with no sheets, we want you, the guest, to feel guilty special and cared for." Sounds like a great way to keep visitors' stays short if you ask me.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 5, 2004 at 01:00 PM

By the way, that "letter" belongs with all the other snot written in that two-bit rag. No wonder their circulation is going through the floor.

Posted by: Johnny Wishbone at January 5, 2004 at 01:00 PM

Gristle-grabber! The only guests i have in my "home" are those i invite there -- anyone else is just a visitor.

Posted by: BruceT at January 5, 2004 at 01:10 PM

I recall an incident that occurred a few years ago, at about this time of year. As I was unlocking the front door of my house, a man ran out the back door, carrying some things of mine. I had interrupted him as he was going through a chest of drawers in the bedroom. Am I to understand from Mr. Svendsen's letter that he was actually a guest, and that I was being rude and inhospitable by not inviting him to stay a while?

Posted by: Ernie G at January 5, 2004 at 01:44 PM

Mark, you forgot to do the IamashamedtobeanAustralian thing.

Posted by: David at January 5, 2004 at 02:38 PM

Svendsen sounds correct on guests. Too bad we're talking about uninvited guests; aka trespassers, invaders, illegal aliens, etc...

Kal

Posted by: Kalroy at January 5, 2004 at 03:13 PM

Tim, you're a smart guy. I really like some of your stuff. And that letter to the Age from Svendsen was pretty bloody tragic. But when you read over some of the comments you've inspired, particularly in this case, surely you cringe!
What a sad collection of idiots. You (most of the time) deserve better.

Posted by: suzanne at January 5, 2004 at 08:24 PM

"...or they frightened us, though we would never, even for a moment, let our guests know if this were the case."

Sounds like a recipe for date rape to me.

Posted by: ushie at January 5, 2004 at 09:21 PM

Actually, Suzanne, the only comment here that strikes me as coming from an idiot is yours.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 5, 2004 at 09:22 PM

Maudlin displays of emotion are the method liberals use to establish their position in the PC pecking order. Svendsen's theatricality places him close to the top of the tree- Suzanne, penalised for her clumsy attempt to ingratiate herself with Tim, belongs with the rest of the roots.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at January 5, 2004 at 10:11 PM

Ha, I was partaying right near the said residence a couple of days ago. I should have popped round and, being a guest, brought some presents... maybe crime or tubercolosis.

Posted by: Random_Prose at January 5, 2004 at 10:37 PM

In case anyone is wondering, his address is
31 Rosary Crs Highgate Hill 4101

I suppose you could always call ahead if you want on (07) 3844 3078, but, I think being uninvited would probably make him his show his true colours a lot more, don't you think?

Posted by: Tim Andrews at January 6, 2004 at 12:45 AM

Svendsen must be a mutant to horrible to look at because, one reads `special categories of me' as verbose paraphrastic euphemism for appendages.

Svendsen is bemoaning the day surgeons amputated all his many appendages to render him recognisably `human'.The horror, he wants them sewn back on.

Posted by: d at January 6, 2004 at 07:54 AM

Bruce said: "Immigration is fovever. Guests are not. They go home...eventually."

Do you mind coming over and telling that to my f%&@!ing in-laws...

Posted by: Jerry at January 6, 2004 at 08:05 AM

Hmmm...the thing is Byron, Tim Blair actually deserves to be complimented sometimes, as I'm sure you would agree. It's ok to do that, you know.
Andrea, your comment reminds me of a school kid comeback: 'I'm not an idiot, YOU are.'
Tim Andrews, did you really publish Svensden's address and telephone number?? If so, then you truly are an idiot.


Posted by: suzanne at January 6, 2004 at 07:37 PM

www.whitepages.com.au

Posted by: Tim Andrews at January 6, 2004 at 07:58 PM

Tim Andrews, you went to the trouble of finding Svensden's address and telephone number, and then published it on this site. That's not a smart thing to do. In fact, it's downright creepy, in a KKK kinda way.

Posted by: suzanne at January 6, 2004 at 08:30 PM

Suzanne, you missed Tim A.'s point. Anyone can find anyone who's listed in the White Pages. It's publicly available information.

Posted by: Mary in LA at January 7, 2004 at 07:45 AM