Media Talk: A little praise for U on Sunday

Media Talk: A little praise for U on Sunday

The splendour of The Sunday Mail (News Limited) supplement U On Sunday, more particularly the issue just past, must be shared, though we press towards another weekend. There are lots of pearls of wisdom within, which has become the supplement's raison d'ĂȘtre, though not in an Oprah-ish sort of way (which has its own place): it's simply through conveying the thoughts of regular people, or those living a life a little extraordinary, who have a unique take on the world or have done something great just because they care. Small acts of heroism and kindness go a long way.

This reader's letter captures the sentiment of the supplement well: "The inspirational and awesome courage of people like Jenepher Hintz who, in between working and caring for a dependent spouse, walked the Simpson Desert Challenge to raise funds for that badly needed organisation Youngcare, blew my mind (Profile, July 24)," writes Claire Jolliffe. "That one person can accomplish so much under difficult circumstances is a tribute to the human spirit. This organisation is an absolute necessity."

Though obviously the physical feat of Cadel Evans (given a "hearty congratulations" by Frances Whiting) is something to admire on the great, big world stage, and the four Olympic hopefuls profiled for the cover story show that we are still a sporting nation at heart, Gold Coaster Claude Harvey (profiled in 'Dare To Be Different' by Mike Bruce) took the cake for me. The 65-year-old retiree pushes a lawnmower from Tweed Heads, NSW, to Hope Island (Gold Coast) to raise funds ($585,000 so far) for the child sexual abuse charity Bravehearts each year and in doing so has moved others to put their money where there mouths are. This anecdote had me hook, line and sinker weeping into a tissue...

One day walking through Burleigh Gardens, Harvey spied a burly, bikie-looking man – tattooed, leather jacket, long grey-streaked beard. "I thought twice about approaching him," Harvey recalls. "I thought, 'don't think I'll ask him for a donation because he may not like that." When he finally plucked up the courage to walk over and explain what he was doing walking his mower through a park, the bikie grabbed him by the arm. Harvey thought the worst. "He said, 'buddy, don't you go away until I come back'. Ten minutes later he was back and grabbed me by the hand and said, 'I've been through this, I know what these kids are going through and I'm going to give you everything I've got'." Harvey's unlikely donor handed over a wad of cash totalling $1379.50. "He was very emotional, tears in his eyes," he says.

Then there's Sally Browne's profile of Emma Dean, who I do wish had made the cover. Dean is playing Sally Bowles in the stage show Cabaret, the storyline I admit I was not previously familiar with, performed at Zen Zen Zo, a Brisbane establishment that "has always been about vindicating and celebrating difference" (artistic director Lynne Bradley has some interesting things to say).

A shy teenager, Dean was trained at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and named one of '10 Artists To Know in 2011' by the New York Post and has been compared to Tori Amos and Kate Bush, but is largely unrecognised in Australia. Her latest album, Dr Dream and the Imaginary Pop Cabaret, has received rave reviews with the single "Sincerely Fearful", in which she admits to common fears such as failure, growing older, fading beauty and being along, has struck a chord. "It's kind of nice to feel you're not alone, which I'm sure is what they're feeling listening to the music as well," she says.

The issue also featured author Nick Earls ("Making a novel is not a tidy process. It branches everywhere."), radio announcer Emily Jade O'Keefe, a story on rockabilly culture, the crew behind Mud Desert Bar, which is taking a "decadent new direction" with the appointment of French-born chocolatier as pastry chef, Matt Moran's "Ribollita", Donna Hay's "Chic Haloumi" recipes, Kellie Alderman's take on men's fashion, Sally Browne's nostalgic interview with London band Suede, the "enduring spirit" of Cold Chisel, Matt Stewart's career progression from corporate marketing to full-time creative artist, choreographer Aaron Cash taking on Cuba and Paul Donoughue's book reviews (of Noel Mengel's PRM he writes, "This book celebrates the way a song can help straighten the path of even the most wayward youth")...

Amanda Horswill describes the appeal of the supplement well in her 'From me to U' note: "Have you found your 'thing' yet?" she asks. "You know, that one 'thing' you do that makes you proud. The 'thing' that when you do it you know it's an expression of the real you (the one that hides sometimes when we do things we have to do)."

This goes some way to pointing to why I like U on Sunday so much – it very much reflects the variety of life, all the people pursuing their "thing", represented at church on Sunday with a touch of the humanity, hope and charity of Christ. Bring on the day of rest!

Girl With a Satchel