“Watch­ing my son’s footy fi­nal will stay with me for­ever”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - A Keeper by Gra­ham Nor­ton (Ha­chette Aus­tralia, $32.99) is out on Tues­day.

Ijust watched my son lose his un­der-11s footy grand fi­nal by a point. One sin­gle point. One lit­tle mo­ment in that game and the re­sult could have been dif­fer­ent. He didn’t say much af­ter the game; he was re­ally bummed. To be hon­est, so was I.

I have lost lots of com­pe­ti­tions in my life. Ten­nis matches, me­dia awards, , the 1994 Rock Eisteddfod – that hat one re­ally hurt 15-year-old me, but Ol­lie’s grand fi­nal hurt a lit­tle bit more. I know I wasn’t even play­ing ay­ing but some­how feel­ing the e loss through my son is 100 00 times harder than los­ing g my­self. He didn’t want my con­sol­ing words and d re­jected my hugs. The only thing that worked was some hot chips, and that lasted about a minute! te!

I’ve never been that into nto footy. I’ve watched loads of AFL and ap­pre­ci­ated the ded­i­ca­tion of the play­ers, , but never fully en­gaged or even ven re­ally un­der­stood the rules. les. See­ing my son play his first rst sea­son of footy has opened ed my eyes to the pas­sion of both th the play­ers and the sup­port­ers rs of this game. In his one and only y sea­son to date, Ol­lie has learnt about bout the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing in n a team, the ne­ces­sity of sports­man­ship an­ship and the im­por­tance of los­ing, os­ing, as well as win­ning. I don’t get to see all of Ol­lie’s ten­nis wins, or his mu­si­cal per­for­mances, due to be­ing a work­ing mum. It’s sucked many times. I re­call dis­tinctly sit­ting on The Project desk get­ting minute by minute up­dates of a bas­ket­ball grand fi­nal a few years back where Ol­lie won the game for the team eam with a free throw in the fi­nal sec sec­onds. He was on such a high for days after­wards. But for me, i it was bru­tal. I missed it. T There was some­thing about tod to­day’s lit­tle mo­ment – watch­ing fr from the side­lines, scream­ing (a lit­tle too much!), be­com­ing an ex­pert in shep­herd­ing (m (mo­men­tar­ily) and watch­ing him smother a ball be­fore he punched out a hand­ball to as­sist a goal – that will st stick with me for­ever. It’s the first of many losses h he’ll have to en­dure in life and al al­ready pales in sig­nif­i­cance to some of the heartache and trag tragedy he has seen as a lit­tle boy. None­the­less, N th­ese losses on the fo footy field, the ten­nis court or the de­bat­ing stand are all buildin build­ing the re­silience he needs to face life and its many heart­breaks. I had to smile watch­ing Aussie John Mi Mill­man’s par­ents be­ing in­ter­view in­ter­viewed af­ter his fourth round win aga against Roger Fed­erer at the US Open. Open They were so proud of their boy, but also a lit­tle non­cha­lant. Maybe it was shock. They had clearly driven their boy to thou­sands of matches, were used to watch­ing him win and lose, and cer­tainly weren’t ex­pect­ing him to beat the Fed-ex­press. They hadn’t even seen the game! Mill­man’s dad was teach­ing his class (made me feel bet­ter about miss­ing some of Ol­lie’s sport) and Mum had grand­kids to babysit. How nor­mal and beau­ti­ful. She con­fessed she gets too ner­vous watch­ing him any­way. I get that!

Watch­ing your kids nav­i­gate life, the joy and the pain, is some­times harder than nav­i­gat­ing it your­self. I keep telling him that win­ning a grand fi­nal dur­ing his first sea­son play­ing would give him noth­ing to look for­ward to. I only half be­lieve it, but I do think in a world where we can’t stand our kids be­ing dis­ap­pointed, it is nor­mal and healthy for him to have had to deal with a loss. It’s just a game, but he cares about it – and it’s the lit­tle mo­ments you care about in life that mat­ter. Car­rie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm week­nights on Net­work Ten, and Car­rie & Tommy, 3pm week­days on the Hit Net­work.

Ask around and the ques­tion ev­ery­one has for Gra­ham Nor­ton is: who has been the worst-ever guest on your show? You must have come up with a di­plo­matic way of dis­pens­ing with that ques­tion. Peo­ple are al­ways in­ter­ested in ei­ther the worst or the best. That’s all. In a way I for­give the bad guests be­cause no-one’s oc­cu­pa­tion is pro­fes­sional chat-show guest. You’re in my show be­cause you’re suc­cess­ful at some­thing else. But it can be like a din­ner party where some­body gets the conch shell and you’re think­ing, “Oh my god, here we go.” A-lis­ters do love a rider, lay­ing out all their pre-show re­quire­ments. What’s the cra­zi­est one you’ve ever had? We had some­one once who re­quired nine dress­ing rooms. But we man­aged it, and then in the af­ter­noon some­one from their team came run­ning into the pro­duc­tion of­fice say­ing, “It’s a 911 sit­u­a­tion. We need an­other dress­ing room.” We man­aged it but said, “Just out of in­ter­est, what’s it for?” Com­pletely straight-faced: “They want to charge their phone.” That took our breath away. How some­body’s life gets to that point, where they can­not be in the same room as their phone, is be­yond me. We live like an­i­mals, shar­ing rooms with charg­ing phones. As some­one who, at age 55, has at least four day jobs, what pos­sessed you to be­come a novelist, too? It was some­thing I’d al­ways wanted to do, and I got to 50 and I thought, ei­ther I shut up about this or I do it. It’s not like any­one is stop­ping you – writ­ing is ac­ces­si­ble to any­one with a pen­cil and a bit of pa­per. You’re on to your sec­ond novel – but th­ese books aren’t the show­biz ro­man à clefs one might ex­pect. Where on earth did they come from? Usu­ally a per­son’s first novel is heav­ily au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal or a com­ing-of-age story, but at 50, hav­ing writ­ten a me­moir those sto­ries were all gone. So I tried to find a world that peo­ple didn’t as­so­ciate with me, and Ire­land was the ob­vi­ous thing. Maybe I’m bi­ased be­cause I’m Ir­ish, but it’s a place so rich with sto­ries, se­crecy, drama and heartache. When­ever I go for a walk with my mother, ev­ery house we pass she’s got a story about it, who died in there, who had a baby in there, whose hus­band ran away – and I find that end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing. Most peo­ple who grew up in rainy, cold 1970s Ire­land didn’t go on to be­come in­ter­na­tion­ally suc­cess­ful talk-show hosts. How did you man­age to get from there to where you are now? We had one tele­vi­sion chan­nel. That came on at four and fin­ished at about 11 and I was so drawn to it as a win­dow on the world, an es­cape route. I re­mem­ber watch­ing a talk show and fan­ta­sis­ing about be­ing a guest, what sto­ries I would tell. I never saw my­self as the other guy; I al­ways thought I’d be the per­son on the couch. But it was only when I got a bit older I re­alised the peo­ple on the couch come and go. The guy in the chair comes back week af­ter week. I’ll be that guy. You’ve been de­scribed as re­lent­lessly cheer­ful, but you can’t al­ways be in that won­der­fully chatty mood. Do you ever have to fake it? I’m at work. If your job is froth­ing milk, you’ve got to froth the milk. My job is to be a cheery chat-show host so I bet­ter be that or I’m go­ing to get fired. If you’re go­ing to leave the house and go to work, fake it. No-one is in­ter­ested if you burnt your toast.

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