Battle stars

June 15, 2017 at 8:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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If I seem a tad maudlin, it’s because I’m recording unpleasant vignettes with a view to putting them in their place via EMDR treatment, which starts next week.

The ultimate object of this game is to ‘normalise’ childhood sexual abuse memories. But let’s start with something a little lighter …

I was so taken with Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield that I bought the 12-inch single.

On hearing me play it in the lounge room, dad informed me that:

  1. Love was not a battlefield (indeed, far from it).
  2. The lyrics were therefore stupid.
  3. The song thus had no merit.

I was disappointed at this assessment.

I had enthusiastically embraced his music collection.

From Bach, Oompah and Zorba to Nina Mouskouri, the Red Army Choir and Scottish Pipes, I thought I might have been a colleague. But I was merely an acolyte.

On reflection, dad’s perspective made sense.

When mum’s first husband died, dad rescued her (and her two boys) from a 1960s social and fiscal scrapheap.

She was thus forever in his debt.

He used to boast that, despite their long marriage, they’d never had an argument.

This was also likely true, as Mum never dared to say boo to him.

It took her ten years of faint, nuanced suggestion to replace our frayed carpet.

And almost as long to add a humble Vergola to our crumbling terrace.

Not really battlefield stuff.

In contrast, Mum said she quite liked Love Action by The Human League.

This was handy, as I played it until the groove nearly went through to the other side.

After her death, dad announced that he’d, ‘Loved mum but never been in love with her’.

I excused myself to punch out one of the five slatted window panes which, for almost half a century, had sat high in our toilet wall.

It was difficult to eat after that.

 

Dollies wax

June 26, 2016 at 8:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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193709NN DAVY Barbara Playing with dolls

Once upon a

time,

In 1937,

A young teen played with

dolls.

And none of them were

bratz.

 

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Footy legend

May 2, 2016 at 7:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Footy002

That empty feeling.

In 1971, when I was six, my parents went on holiday to Fiji.

Apparently, our church had a network of families that looked after each other’s children (I assume, in time of crisis).

I was thus deposited for two weeks, in a strange house, with a clan I’d never met.

They were nice enough people, but I wasn’t a happy camper.

It was an Australian Rules Football family.

The boys were early teens – a chronic chasm between us.

They were interested in nothing but footy.

My research suggests they went on to do very large things in the code.

The intense irony, however, is that my father despised footy.

Each time a team took the field, he loudly articulated his fervent wish that all players would sustain excruciating injuries and die.

I’d had years of this indoctrination.

Now, on my dad’s whim, I was accompanying future AFL premier players to endless practice sessions on cold, windswept ovals.

As I’d been bookish from the start, this was not a great match.

Each morning, Mrs Footy would impress on me her cure-all: a large mug of boiling water.

Meanwhile, Radio 3XY played Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool over and over – fixing this tale in time.

I was so unhappy, I couldn’t sleep.

I stood in the hall, which featured garish green arboreal wallpaper.

I wept for my absent parents, home, possessions and bed.

After some time, Mrs Footy heard me and rose to see what was wrong.

We were not confidantes.

And my behaviour was as un-footy as one could get.

So despite her efforts, I remained upset in the gloom.

The fortnight dragged. The house, to my best recollection, was book free.

Fourteen hot waters and 56 Eagle Rocks later, my parents collected me.

On arriving home, my mother gave me a Fiji T-shirt and a horse of woven straw.

She also gave me a book.

Even better, it was part of the Enid Blyton series I’d been avidly collecting.

The Folk of the Faraway Tree.

I was stunned. Books were BIG gifts, reserved for very special occasions.

Why then, already in receipt of Pacific largesse, would I also be given a book?

It turned out that my dear mother, foreseeing a poor degree of fit with the host family, had given Mrs Footy not one book, but two – replete with maternal messages of love and support.

These were intended to comfort me at trying times – such as crying at night, among strangers, in a distant, forest-themed scene.

Mrs Footy, in the immense excitement of footy, hot water and Eagle Rock, had forgotten all about these precious (possibly unfamiliar) items until my parents returned.

I got the second book, Adventures of the Wishing-Chair, on my next very special occasion.

(My crisis over, Mum reverted to her customary thrift.)

The Footy family’s name echoes in our media to this day.

And while I’m not completely sure that’s who I stayed with,

the stats back me up.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire and Imagine Day.

Regret a garbo

July 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Dad and I were chatting on his terrace.

Having put a smashed concrete planter in his wheelie bin, he worried the ‘garbo’ wouldn’t take it.

As heavy vehicles approached, he wondered if each were the garbo.

I said that in the good old days, the garbo always came at the same time every week, and that today’s outsourced contractors were all over the joint.

Some time later, a deep roar murdered all other sound.

‘That’s the garbo’, said dad.

A leviathan hove into view, its dwarfed driver leaning out to peer at dad’s bin.

With a shriek, a mechanical claw swooped, plucked and tipped the bin into the bowels of the beast.

The speed and force were so great, I expected the bin to vault the road and slay a knot of schoolchildren opposite.

‘Well, dad’, I said. ‘You needn’t worry about bunging that bloke’s back with your blocks!’

Dad replied that in the good old days, there were three men to each truck: runner, tipper and driver.

I added that when I was a child, our garbos recognised me and were friendly.

At xmas, Mum left cash and a thank-you note for them.

In our letterbox.

Overnight!

‘That was before the drugs came’, said dad.

And though Doncaster wasn’t a noted 60s hotspot, I knew what he meant.

Driving home, I listed conditions that would have to exist for the good old days to return:

  • Public ownership of sanitation services.
  • Job satisfaction.
  • Job security.
  • Reduced (or no) key performance indicators.
  • Trust.
  • A sense of community.
  • Egalitarianism.

I seem to recall these used to exist in our society.

Yet time can colour our thoughts.

I also remember that dogs, kids, rust and wind wrought havoc with old tin bins.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Mended ways

April 30, 2015 at 6:42 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments
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barbara-paul-hassing-on-doncaster-front-lawn

This was then.

Mum used to mend our clothes.

When a sock got holed, she darned it.

Her neat stitches lasted long after the rest of the sock fell to bits

in the rag bag.

The darning wool was soft.

Often slightly thicker than the fabric it repaired.

You could feel a mended patch against your heel or under your toe.

At school. On a sleepover. In the park.

A tiny reminder of a mother’s thrift, industry, talent and love.

Comforting.

The years have unravelled.

Now, as I fall to bits, I wish I had one darned sock to keep me safe.

Each time I bin a worn one, I think I should learn to mend.

But not before I wish

with all my heart

that Mum were still here to do it.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire and Imagine Day.

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