Writing Woes

Quiet historic Raymoth lane where I lived

Eunice today – age70

 

It grieves me that I do not have the discipline, or an agent in lieu, to be a succesful writer. I t writing. I hate editing. Actually I can no longer see to edit. 

The answer is to find an agent who appoints an editor… or some other excuse. Mills and Boon are still waIting for a second book they invited me to submit when they said my first submission, Island of Flowers, did not have enough coflict (they had a format). 

That book is a romance featuring Poinsettia Garland (known as Pansy – the reason is in the book) and the notorious (in the family) page 22; “A we bit lis” – Auntie Joan. The hero is a French flower importer, tall, and pretty cool. He is not a pansy by the way.

 It is even ‘fini’, with a happy ending and all. Are you on the scent? I need to get it at least on Kindle before cd disks are no longer legible. 

Or do I join up the two halves of my historical novel, loosely based on some family details given to me by my beloved Nev on his death bed? No joke. It is an Australian multicultural historical novel. Sort of topical now.

I have written are loads of memoirs, some printed and collated into a book. Or ‘Ruth’s Garden’ – .poems and photos that I printed and sold through the local nursery. Oh it goes on. 

My family inherits, unwillingly, a large plastic bin of various manuscripts, plus disks and.scraps of handwritten paper containing spontaneous ‘poyums’ that got no further. Plus a fat folder of published stories and poems, ten anthologies and several magazines containing my work. I am not a failure at writing, just at the business of writing, and publishing.

One has to have a life to become a writer, or be observant enough to write about other people’s, but the crucial point is to write it down, print it out, get it published, and hopefully make it pay; that being the only measure os success in this day and age.

I have had too much life in my life. No one argues that. Point is, I have worn myself out having that life, so need to sit my backache down at the laptop, block out the four lanes of hurtling expressway only a few metres from my window, and get on with it. But not right now.

On the other hand, I was beginning to make a name for myself as a freelance journalist (Eunice Hobson. Pre-Google). I racketed around the countryside in my Datsun Stanza taking rolls of black and white film for The Land to print and publish…oh lots of stuff in my scrapbook. I even had my byline and got paid! I will tell you about that next time

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HAPPY DAYS


A a merry morning on Youtube with all the old pop music – putting faces to the songs,some for the first time. Electric solid guitars were a new invention. New sounds, new rhythms, new dances. My first disco was in Leeds in 1966, while I was doing my Tax Officer training. Several of us on the course went. Dark cave-like place, blue and white flashing lights. Came out couldn’t hear each other speaking for ages due to the damage from very loud music! Good times.

PS While in Leeds I bought the three-tiered veil for my wedding in 1967. The embroidered second tier doesn’t show up here, nor the fabric flower headress. The silver sling-back shoes with silver leather flower held on by a diamonte’ centre were bought in Sheffield. The treebark satin A-line (ultra-trendy) dresses were all beautifully made by Mum, very reluctantly since she wanted me to have a proper, bought, bridal dress! But I have never seen a wedding collection I have liked more. Thank you Mum.

My Issue With “Stopping the Boat People”

Like all  non-Indigenous (Aboriginal) Australians I am an  immigrant . I have lived here  much longer than I lived in my home country.  

I identify on a basic level with refugees and boat people who are desperately seeking entry into Australia.

We came for a better life, and found it. But it wasn’t easy and plain sailing, pardon the pun. We, however had the option to return to our former home, not to a pile of rubble, or torture and possible death.

The plane trip in 1972 with tiny baby and toddler was bad enough. We were ‘Ten Pound Poms’, one of the first families to fly for Ten British Pounds instead of taking the six-week cruise to Australia. Otherwise we would have been legal boat people.

My former husband was a skilled Fitter i the mining industry. He had a job interview inland, up in the Hunter Valley. The scheme to import skilled workers ceased soon after. We didn’t know they had already closed the Greta Migrant Camp that we were booked into until we got off the plane from Sydney. Our arrivaI was so awful we wanted to turn back.

We were bussed with others to Coogee Migrant Hospital, as our only option. Hardly anyone there spoke English. The staff in the shop were Hungarian and  the goods were foreign to me. We were in the totally wrong city we had applied for and the office staff didn’t know what to do with us. 

I had been  forbidden to bring my baby formula through customs so we had a frantic search for different formula for a two and a half month baby., who by now was screaming from hunger . The formula we bought, or the change of water upset him even more, till the people in the room next door who were from South America and spoke no English, complained. I had been travel sick on the plane, had not slept properly for days, and it was all a complete nightmare. Totally surreal.

My husband and two-year old went out discovering, and loved what they found. Coogee Beach in particular. I have yet to see it! While he looked after both children I had to go to a packed canteen for a meal. Mental exhauston had taken over. I was on another planet. It felt horrible.

Things got worse before they got better ; no family support, no easy phoning overseas, the sense of isolation, total foreignness of absolutely everything (even the Aussie English language was different). The Poor baby finally settled in his carrycot on top of the table in the train carriage on the journey from Sydney to Newcastle. The scenery on the two hour journey was fantastic, and I remember a glimmer of hope.

We were going to the unknown. With nowhere to live, and no family apart from some unknown stepbrothers and stepsister. They turned out to be lovely and got us on our feet, then on to the train to our new life in Singleton, New South Wales.

It had taken nine nerve-wracking months to get approved for immigration, during which our second child was born. We had sold our house and a stayed with  parents, who were devastated when we took their two adorable grandchildren to the other side of the world. Now it seemed I had made a big mistake but I began to love the country town,its quaint buildings and fantastic scenery with big blue skies. The children and I made new friends we have kept to this day.

The next few months awere filled with overcoming difficulties of settling into a country town with a husband on night shift. My husband was either asleep or uncommunicative. He had his own issues and it was not the dream we had been offered. The townspeople were wonderful, and when Santa came to Burdekin Park we first felt part of the community.

We were ‘Poms’ to them, and it was up to us to prove we belonged. We built the dream house after some tense times with interest rates. The marriage lasted sixteen years in all, but the boys grew up healthy Aussies and now have their own families.

Yes we had great times. I have done amazing things. We were part of a growing, successful country. We were thelucky ones. We thought we were escaping an oppressive government but nothing remotely like today’s refugees are running from. No doubt bad people got through in our day. Who knew?

 I hope these poor people find peace and acceptance here. They have nothing left to lose but much to offer.

What I went through was devastating for me, but a drop in the bucket compared to our new settlers experiences. The kinder and more helpful we are, the happier and more settled our new people in the comunity will be. Simples!

LeftWithLouie

boat 5

For the benefit of those reading this from a foreign shore, our island home, Australia, is currently mid way through a federal election campaign.

Like most election campaigns throughout the world, this campaign has a number of slogans that are constantly being drilled into our ears in the hope of provoking some kind of emotional response that will prompt us to vote for one of the two major parties. The slogan that has really caught my attention in this campaign is “Stop the Boats”.

Before I go any further, a bit of background is needed. As you will all know, Australia is an island nation and therefore, the only way to get here is to fly, which is rather expensive, or to arrive by boat. After World War II we encouraged immigrants to arrive here by boat, in fact we sent ships over to Europe and other parts of the…

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My 1950’s Apartment

To be honest, having grown up in original 1950’s round-edged, flat-painted, heavy- corniced apartments, I delighted in pine furnished, clean-edged Conran curtained modern sixties decor for my first home. Over the years eclectic or Bohemian seems to have accompanied me in my many restless moves. I have spent more on moving and removing than I could have spent on new furniture of good quality.

It has come full circle now that I am renting Esther’s flat, purely for the view. Arty like me, aged 90, Esther has subdivided her large house into three apartments. I am on the top floor, perched somewhat precariously on the side of a steep hill that contains rock, stones and pebbles indicating some great watery upheaval millions of years ago.

Esther’s husband built the house, and much of the furniture, back in 1948. I was 2 years old at the time, in Scotland, a country just recovering from the ravages of World War 2. As I grew up, clambering over wildflowe-growing bombsites during play was normal. We had no concept of what horror had occurred to create our play areas, and into the 1960’s these were cleared and replaced by red brick houses or steel-framed concrete fnctional buildings suitable for a brave new world.

Meanwhile, in the relatively war unaffected New World down under, new migrants found plenty of space in which to build relatively large homes. MrA rolled up his manly sleeves and got creative. Built to last. 

Personally,I find living with all this real ‘retro’ irking. I long to pull down the cupboards and replace with sleek, gossy, shiny. 

But thanks to my itinerant writer’s ways It is not for me to do so. When the time comes, and Esther lets go her frail hold on the property next to which(two doors up) she was born, this prime land will be sold, cleared, to become a motel with a million dollar view or at least a modern apartment on the teeming highway between the Newcsastle beaches, and sSydney.

I had said I would take the apartment unfurnished, but arrived with the removal van on 6th December, only to find many bits of mismatched furniture and very old carpet pieces still in situ and Esther many miles away staying with her daughter. No one dictates to Esther! I have met my match. So I live around our motley collection, knowing any changes will be spotted as if on secret camera. I am ninemonths into a twelve month lease, dreaming of ’60 Minute Makeover’ ( although perversely would hate having to live with someone else’s choice), and turning myfrustrationinto a novel entitled ‘A Door Slams’. By the time it is published I will probably be in a care home with only half a mind and a vase of flowers.

In the meantime, for you odd people who think Retro means Brand New Design, here is the real deal. 1948 build, 1950’s interior. I Why is the modern washing machine on a trolley next to the sink?…will look out of the window at the amazing and constantly changing view instead.

WIND IN THE WILLOWS -NOT

The forecast very high winds have blasted their way here, and it/they is/are howling like banshees through the gaps in the very old sash windows. The ferocious gusts follow a lull while it pulls away and mutters among the branches lower down. 

I relax then ‘Slam!’, it hurls back against the building.

I feel like a beleaguered princess, up in her turret while a rumbling, grumbling, angry dragon prowls around the base before gathering its scaly wings and leaping up to throw a blast of sulphorous flame against the window opening.

And that is in daylight. It looks like being a wild night. 

Batten down the hatches and hope the coal tankers are anchored safely out to sea, although the beaching of the Pasha Bulker after the last furious storm a few years back proved a most exciting community event! (See Google)

A TOUCH OF OLD FRANCE – in Singleton!

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Ever have one of those moments when you feel right at home somewhere you have never been before?

That happened to me yesterday at Worn Out Wares, known locally as ‘WOW’, after the florist section of the building.

Located on George Street, part of the busy New England Highway, the building shows its age in the uneven floors and solid walls.
It has seen everything from flocks of sheep being herded past to bullock carts; horse and carts, carriages then milk tankers followed by huge coal trucks and now double-barreled huge tankers carrying contents of all descriptions.

Entering by the shop door ìs to be going back in time with every corner filled with all sorts of items for home or garden decor. Browsing is encouraged and for the traveller it is a pleasing place to take a break, especially when just past the second room of artifacts a kitchen appears with a reception desk that points tbrough old glazed doors to tables and chairs of all ages and styles, set for partaking of …well here is the surprise…a very modern assortment of foodstuffs, juices and desserts.

Gwen and I passed through to what I seem to remember having been the shop front of the old bakery in one incarnation, but by our well-heated table on this chilly day were buckets and vases of bunches of lovely flowers.

Everywhere one looked there was something of interest and while the world whirled by outside time seemed to stand still somewhere between Victorian tea and French Bistro cake but presented in a quirky modern fun way. Go see for yourself.

Not only was the food fresh and delicious and the service relaxed and friendly, but I was able to have some fresh flowers made up as bouqets while we ate, and these were ready to go when we were replete.

I nearly came away with some of the softest yellow leathers gloves on sale in the glass counter case, but I resisted.
Must go back!

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