Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Nambucca Heads

Currently in beautiful Nambucca Heads—so far glorious sunny days and very cool nights (around 7 degrees). The Foreshore Caravan Park fronts on to this beautiful area of the Nambucca River with pelicans galore and the odd dolphin. Would be ideal for kids in the summer, has a little sandy beach and plenty of shallow water. And yes! Barry even caught a fish.

View from Foreshore Caravan Park
Nambucca Heads

 Known locally as the 'fish and chips' this wonderful 30 metre long mosiac was created by Guy Crossley. While I was admiring it I began chatting to a local (now 33) who said one of her most wonderful memories was helping to create a section and how all the school children were involved and everyone in the community provided old crockery, vases, bottles and anything that could be transformed. Sadly someone had decided to leave their rubbish in one section, and there were some parts where 'vandals' had obviously been chipping away. The mosaic winds around the corner below the police station. This octopus is the centrepiece.

I've been laid a bit low with a 'lurgie'. I'm sure the sunshine and sipping lemon and Manuka honey will soon scare it away. When we were kids, Madge used to put a few drops of kerosine on a sugar cube (taken from the silver bowl only used for visitors) and give it to us to suck. I am not recommending this. Absolutely loved the notice on this shop window at Nambucca: 'Park your Husband Here'. A bit further down the road is a fantastic Red Cross shop with some of the most beautiful 'hand knitteds'—all pure wool. Couldn't resist a pair of fingerless gloves $6—might need them in Armidale.A

Monday, 6 July 2015

Among My Souvenirs

We tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense.
Dennis Potter interviewed by Melvyn Bragg 1994

I'm a bit of a hoarder and contemplated the task I've set for those when I leave 'this mortal coil'. My own mother was not a hoarder, but I well remember the task of going through her things—finding letters from the kids and old group certificates under shelf linings and the proverbial mattress. She hadn't put in a tax return for years and didn't leave a will so it was quite a task.

At one stage I felt really guilty about leaving bursting filing cabinets, overcrowded shelves and chock-a-block book cases in all but the kitchen, but there is always the hope that one day I may have time to read and sortI have hundreds of books signed by their authors, and when I see an article about that writer I slip it inside. My favourite author is Dennis Potter—unfortunately I don't have his signature—and yes he is probably a misogynist but how eloquently he writes about memory, writing, longing, and death in Karaoke and Cold LazarusOf course if one knew 'the day' and the condition of the body at the time of departing, one could plan with some certainty. Nothing of mine is of value—but every object has memories embedded within.

Tom (who attended the Port Macquarie workshop) is in the process of publishing his autobiography and what a great read it will be. Tom (now 88) and his family travelled and worked their way around the world in a caravan—his life now enmeshed in the objects he collected on his travels. 

Every item Tom touched had a story.

In early 2004 I set a 'homework' exercise for our Kiama writing group. With a notebook in hand you start at your front gate, and quickly note what comes to mind as you slowly walk towards the house and go through room by room. After several edits I entered 'Among My Souvenirs' in the Glen Eira Short Story Award, and received a Highly Commended. 

A month or two later I was having a Saturday afternoon 'nanny nap'. Barry woke me, waving the phone handset: 'Frank Moorhouse wants to talk to you.' I'm sorry to say I told Barry in no uncertain terms to 'go to b*****y' and let me sleep. He handed over the speaker and said 'It really is Frank Moorhouse'. Frank said he'd been one of the judges and wanted the story for The Best Australian Stories 2004. Such an eye-opener to go to Melbourne for the launch and meet Morry Schwartz publisher of 'the Best' as well as The Monthly, Quarterly Essay, and Slow TV, outlets that provide in-depth and thought-provoking content relating to cultural, political, and social issues. 

The story was broadcast on ABC Radio National in 2008, and there is a CD somewhere— among my souvenirs.

My dreams are built from the things that happen to me in the waking world. And my memories can also adapt and shape the past. I can put myself in a better light than I actually was, for instance. I can work up an accidental slight from a former friend into a deliberate act of villany from a now sworn enemy. I can disown this or that piece of behaviour. My memory, Emma, is also a tool, an editor, a judge, a jury.

Dennis Potter Cold Lazarus 1996