Finding the funny bone | radioinfo

Finding the funny bone

Friday 08 July, 2016
You need to have a sense of humour to answer the alarm clock in the middle of the night.

That is what Wendy Harmer did for more than a decade while leading 2Day FM’s top rating Breakfast Show on Sydney radio in the 1990s.

She's now back behind the microphone at ABC 702 and will visit Adelaide next month to entertain those attending the ANMF (SA Branch) Professional Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Former News Editor for SCA in Adelaide, Monique Crichton is now the Communications and Media Officer with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch).

Wendy is not immune to the quirks of the nursing profession as Monique discovered.


“I’m expecting a crowd that are slightly punch-drunk, a bit exhausted and who are glad to be out,” she says.

“Nurses are brilliant and they’re funny. They have the best senses of humour, although I must admit it’s a bit black.

She is the child of a nurse. Her mother worked in Tasmania as a nurses aide before moving into geriatric nursing and finally to surgery in gynaecology.

“It was always panic stations with mum. Any child of a nurse would recognise that,” she admits.

“My mother didn’t live with us, which is kind of good. As the years would go by, I would tell her I had bad ovulation pain, and she’d say it was an ectopic pregnancy and you could die. Some people say the opposite. If you’re a child of a nurse and have a high temperature they’ll say you are fine."

Wendy says her mother was prone to sharing stories about surgeries, with details she could have done without knowing.

“Nurses are remarkable people,” she says. "They say ‘hell is other people’s children’. For nurses that is most likely ‘hell is other people’s sick relatives’. I recently met a nurse who retrained at the age of 50 because she had a calling,” she says. 

One of her most memorable experiences of nurses occurred while waiting to give birth to her first child. Her baby boy was due on Christmas Day and Wendy had been scheduled for a caesarean section at the Mater Hospital in Sydney.

A choir had been arranged to bring the joy of Christmas to the ward. “I was on pethidine and at one point I woke up to find six nurses dressed in white at the end of my bed singing ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” says Wendy.

Midwives have also played a special role in Wendy’s life. “I had an English midwife who was a nanny for my kids. It was a great frustration for her that she couldn’t transfer her qualifications here very easily.”

If there is one thing Wendy would like to teach nurses and midwives attending the Annual Professional Conference, it is the power of nagging. She wrote a book on it.

“I am a world expert and I think they can add that to their suite of skills,” says Wendy. “I love to be in the company of nurses. At least I know I’ll be in good hands if I fall off the stage."

Wendy is looking forward to seeing Adelaide again. Her first visit involved performing comedy at the Fringe Festival in the 1980s.

There have been many visits since. “I also had a boyfriend whose father lived at Seaford, so I got to know the stretch of beach between Seaford and Glenelg quite well,” she says.

The broadcaster, writer and TV presenter is suitably impressed with South Australia. “You meet a lot of South Australians in prominent positions as you go through life. They’re given lots of opportunities and they’re very determined people” says Wendy. “If they could shift Adelaide between Melbourne and Sydney, I’d live there.”


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