I sometimes go to hear famous people talk about their lives and work: writers, entertainers, and the odd, extra-famous and interesting politician. These talks are usually wrapped up with a Q & A session for which I almost invariably have a good question on the tip of my tongue to ask and am on the edge of me seat throughout the Q & A, right to the bitter end when I find I can't quite find the nerve to ask it. I come out in a cold sweat, my heart starts racing at the thought of it, and I just can't do it. I did ask Prime Minister David Lange a question once, but only because my HOD told me to. I need a permanent HOD.
I don't consider myself a shy or retiring kind of person at all, though I am secretly more self-conscious than my outward profile and appearance would suggest. That however is probably true of most people. I was a student rep for a class of over three hundred Politics students in my younger days -- I was terrified when I had to address the class, but still I did it. I was also a university tutor and lecturer for several years. I give speeches at weddings.
A few months ago I got cold feet for Sandi Toksvig and wasn't able to ask my burning question: 'Do you think there's a place for comedy in politics?' The other questions asked, mostly by men, were not nearly as interesting, in my opinion. I think she would have appreciated the question and enjoyed responding to it, as she says she is considering getting into politics herself. I have regretted not asking it ever since.
You'd think I'd learn, but no. Two nights ago I got cold feet for Julia Gillard. Mark and I went to hear her talk at the university, and the chair of the discussion was a lecturer from my old department. I couldn't have been more at home! And I'm Australian, for pity's sake. There was a good amount of gender politics in her talk and I wanted to ask her what she thought of male and female co-leadership of political parties and governments, even as a compulsory leadership structure for all democratic countries to set a role model for gender equality and co-operation. It is a good question and she would have been an excellent person to answer it.
I wonder if David Lange spoiled me for the rest. When I asked my question he said it was a non sequitur and laughed. Still, he answered it in good humour and I now know what a non sequitur is. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Will I ever learn to ask my burning questions? That is a good question.