The Old Year Ends – a look back at 2015

December 28, 2015 at 2:00 am | Posted in Australia, Making History, Migration, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict | 8 Comments
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2015 Behind the News ABC

Apart from my lovely family and friends, I must admit that I have not enjoyed 2015. Not on the state, national or international level. There hasn’t been very much to enjoy in the world of politics, religion, economics, international relations, terrorism, whatever.

With one of the defining images of the year being the body of a little refugee boy washed up on a beach, how could it have been a good year for anyone who looks beyond their own safe little bubble? I for one wouldn’t mind having another go at it to see if we could somehow change how it all went. Failing that, is the hope that last year was as bad as it will get.

TOPSHOTS Kurdish Syrian girls are pictur

Children among the destruction in Syria

I started to write a list of the nasties that happened through the year:

  • the terrorism in the name of religion that is not a religion;

  • the racism and violence in many countries across the globe;

  • the lack of support in many instances for the millions of people displaced by war;

  • the ineptitude, idiocy or corruption in too many governments in too many countries;

  • the failure to address global warming on a global scale;

  • the brain-dead far right-wingers who would prefer the whole world to collapse rather than help those less fortunate than themselves;

  • the destruction of our valuable, even precious, environments and wildlife, to feed the greed of multi-national corporations;

  • the extremes of weather – excessive cold and heat, floods, droughts, huge wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons and tornadoes, the melting of the polar ice caps;

  • the extreme polarisation in politics, race and religion, and the fear-mongering among our so-called leaders;

  • the overwhelming power of the arms industry, the far right press, and corporations in deciding national and international government policy.

Need I go on?

Of course there were good things happening too:

  • the rise of people power through social media, demonstrations and actions to show their displeasure at where the world is heading;

  • the rise of a pope who, against those Catholic extremists who would prevent him, speaks for the people, the environment, and the cessation of war;

  • the countries like Germany who have taken in tens of thousands of refugees;

  • the individuals who stand up for right when they see wrong.

not-in-my-name

We need the good so much, but it is demonstrated by individuals and small groups in small and seemingly insignificant actions and interactions, whereas the bad is overwhelming in its ability to create a sense of despair, depression and hopelessness.

However, I must concentrate on those small things and the ordinary people like me who do them, and hope they will add up to more than the bad stuff and overcome it. I must do what I can for my own sanity, but even more for the sake of my grandchildren. I don’t want them to live in the kind of hateful world that seems to be all too possible right now.

I must cling to the hope that springs eternal from the human heart. If it didn’t, I would end it now. So I hope with all my heart that, through good people standing up to corruption and violence, hatred and destruction, at least some of the horrendous problems we’ve had in 2015 will get better in 2016.

(c) Linda Visman

 

 

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I Write, Therefore I Am

October 3, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Posted in Australia, Making History, Psychology, Writing, Writing and Life | 10 Comments
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Life is better when you're writing

On a recent Saturday at my writing group, I led a brain-storming session on why we write. It was a wonderful and animated exercise. After the session, we wrote a piece about how we would feel if we were suddenly unable to write.

Erasmus writing quote

Just this morning, I read an article by a very successful author, Warren Adler about what to do after constant rejections. In the end, Adler says, it comes down to three options. You can:

  1. Give up;
  2. Wait to acquire the requisite life experience; or
  3. Never, never, ever give up.

I am neither determined nor passionate enough about achieving success as a writer that I would keep trying to get traditionally published. I don’t have the killer instinct. And besides, I don’t have that much confidence in my ability as a writer, or enough hope that anyone will want what I write.

My nephew, Peter Abela, has much more drive and commitment, and is more likely to be recognised; I hope he will be. But I have no hope or expectation of a future where I will be recognised in that way.

Write for yourself first

So, why do I keep writing? Because I have to, I think.

Because putting my thoughts and my life on paper or into the computer is a sort of validation of myself, of my existence in this world. Because I want to tell stories about what the world was like when I was young, when my parents were young. Because if I don’t write, I am not. If I don’t leave a record, I do not and never will have existed.

I suppose it is part of the reason that we have graffiti everywhere – tags of varying quality and artistry sprayed on fences and buildings and anywhere else that is accessible. These people are also saying, ‘I am here! I exist, even if you don’t see me!’

Write emotions you fear most

Someone might say, ‘What of your children, your grandchildren? Surely they are proof that you are, that you were?’

Genetically, yes. They would not be if I hadn’t been. In whatever influence I have had on them, yes. They will take a little of me into the future.

But me as an individual, a person with her own loves and hates, talents and weaknesses, wisdom and foolishness – where is the evidence for that me if I do not leave a record?

Then they will ask, ‘What about people’s memories of you?’ And I will ask how long will those memories remain, and the answer will be, only until those who have known me have gone.

Write

So why is that not enough; that people remember me until there is no memory left of me? That is all 99.99% of the world can expect. What mark have I made on the world that I should be different? And I must answer, honestly, none. I don’t even have the talent or the passion to make that mark.

Why do we have such self awareness if we are expected to negate it in the ocean of humanity, in the survival of a species that proves every day that it doesn’t deserve to survive?

Why can’t that little drop that is/was me have its own memorial to say that I was not a part of that destructiveness, that I fought against it in action and in my writing?

The narcissist in me wants it. The realist knows that I do not merit it. And my writing will not make it so. But I will still keep writing.

 Write to please oneself

(c)  Linda Visman

F is for Fighter Pilot

April 7, 2014 at 8:36 am | Posted in Family, Family History, History, Making History, Mental Health, Social Responsibility, War and Conflict | 18 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

It was 1938, when he was only 17, that my father, Ernest told Agnes (later to become his wife), “War’s coming and I’ll have to go.” They lived in England, had just started courting, and the situation in Europe, with Nazi Germany was not looking good.

In late 1939, soon after war broke out, Ernest tried to enlist. However he worked in a reserved occupation, engineering and weapons manufacture, so he was exempt, and even discouraged from, doing military service.

Home Guard Field Manual

So Ernest joined the Home Guard. After working a 12-hour shift at the engineering works, he would train with the local unit in the evenings. He also went regularly to the recruitment office in an effort to join up. Eventually, he was told that the only way he could enlist from a reserved occupation was to be accepted as aircrew.

world-war2-poster

In 1940, the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain led to a shortage of pilots, and that gave Ernest his chance. He applied yet again. This time, he was accepted into the RAF. He was mobilised in September 1941 and undertook basic training in England. Ernest was then sent to Canada to train as a pilot in the newly set up Empire Training Scheme.

RAF WWII hat badge

He returned to England as a fighter pilot with non-commissioned officer rank and was posted to 289 Army Co-operation Squadron, based mainly in Scotland. Ernie spent the next 3½ years flying a wide variety of single and twin-engine planes. Because of his flying skill, quick reflexes and ability to spot enemy fighters, and in spite of not being an officer, every C.O. he served under made him his Number 2 wingman.

WWII pilots wings

Among other planes, he flew Hawker Hurricanes, Typhoons and Tempests and the Vultee Vengeance. His missions included bomber intercepts and marine patrols. He searched out and attacked German submarines in the Irish Sea, and strafed German convoys and escort vessels along the north-western coast of Europe. As a member of 289 Squadron, he also flew various target-towing aircraft for the anti-aircraft gunners to practice their shooting.

RAF Pilots with their Hurricanes

In 1944, in the weeks before D-Day, Ernest flew Lysanders into German-occupied France to drop Allied spies. He flew at night, hedge-hopping to avoid detection by the Germans. He made six such trips, landing in isolated fields in the French countryside.

WestlandLysander

In July 1945 after V.E. Day, Ernest was granted a six-month compassionate discharge to look after his wife, who had been paralysed at the birth of their first child. During this period, he was not paid by the RAF, and had to work as a labourer for the local Council. He returned to the RAF in early February 1946 and served out his time in the south of England, piloting Vultee Vengeance aircraft towing targets for anti-aircraft gunners.

Defence of Britain medal

Defence of Britain medal

Throughout his service, Ernest rose through the ranks. Although often recommended for officer training, he always declined, as he hated the class distinction that went with it. At his discharge in June 1946, Ernest had attained the rank of Warrant Officer First Class, the highest non-commissioned rank in the RAF.

Agnes,Ern&Peter Thompson Jan.1946

                            Mum & Dad with their first born, 1945.

 

Do you have family who fought in WWII? Have you researched their story?

 

© Linda Visman 06.04.14 (549 words)

 

 

 

Connecting Lives – why I write memoir

February 13, 2013 at 12:31 am | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, History, Making History, Philosophy, Psychology, Writing and Life | 18 Comments

CountryRoad in headlights_BW

There was no moon. From inside the car, our headlights illuminated the ever approaching, ever passing, road. Some of the light escaped the black surface, reflecting against trees and grass and white posts along the roadside, at times appearing to create a wooded tunnel through which we sped. In other places the eucalypts scattered into open woodlands. Further on, were more and more cleared paddocks carrying the animal that rivals the kangaroo as our national emblem. Post and wire fences edged the verges, defining the road rather than the paddocks, somehow isolating it. We drove along a corridor, from which real life was suspended until we reached our destination.

It was central NSW in the early 1980s, and we were driving home from a holiday trip. I felt the dry warmth of the heater that kept out the cold winter night and glanced behind me. In the back of the station wagon, our five boys sprawled on mattresses, blankets scattered over their sleeping forms. It had been a long and active day, and we still had another fifty miles to go. Joe and I had fallen silent, discussion on our holiday activities exhausted. He drove, as he always did, more focussed tonight than usual on the road’s dangers. Kangaroos or wallabies had no concept of waiting for a passing car before they crossed the road. I relaxed, staring through the windscreen at the mesmerising asphalt strip.

A light seemed to flutter through the passing trees, and my gaze drifted sleepily to the left, to the barely-seen outline of a farmhouse, set back a little from the road. Uncurtained windows glowed a warm yellow against the blackness. It must be dinnertime, I thought. Perhaps it’s a family, eating together at the end of their working day: father talking about what he’d got done, about what needed doing tomorrow, next week. He and mother smiling as the kids shared what had happened in school, or on the bus that took them thirty miles each way every day. I felt a longing rise inside me. How nice to be in our own home, the journey over, boys in bed, Bill occupied with one of his projects and me, comfy in a lounge chair with a novel.

I sighed. Maybe my cosy farmhouse picture was wrong and quite different occupants shared a less than homely light. I imagined an old man, leathery face set in deep discontented lines. Across the once colourful table cloth, now soiled by crumbs and spills, sat a small, white-haired woman, hunched and silent. There was no friendly conversation here. Childlessness and disappointment had worn a deep divide between them. Years of enforced cohabitation, love and respect long buried, had led to a cold and bitter truce. Their only goal was to get through each dreary day. I shuddered at that scenario and looked for more lights.

A few minutes later, I saw one on the side of a hill. Again, uncurtained windows hid rather than exposed the occupants within. Nobody out here to peer in on their intimacy, only a passing whoosh, hardly noticed, carrying a reflective passenger on her way. Who are the people in that house, I wondered. Another surge of feeling washed over me, so strong that I glanced across at Joe to see if he’d noticed. His eyes still darted here and there across the road, face impassive. He probably wouldn’t notice anyway.

I looked again at the lighted windows, now disappearing behind us and felt a sense of loss. I wanted to know who they were, these people whose lives were completely separated from mine. I wanted to share in those lives; feel their joys and successes, their sorrows and failures; know what they did and why, how they lived and worked and what they shared – love or hatred, fear or security. Strange I should feel that way when I had a full and reasonably adequate life of my own. It was the same urge, to be a part of other lives, that I get when I visit cemeteries, especially those with old headstones. The names written there, the relationships – “my dearest wife”; “cherished daughter”; “sadly missed” husband”; a son “tragically taken” – are more than just words to me. They belong to a world where I might have belonged, where I might have had my own special place.

night driving

We drove on. Every lighted window we passed that night reminded me of the disconnection of existence, and of how I wanted to make connections instead. Everywhere that I see people, whether singly or on groups, every news story or biography, memoir or personal story reminds me of how I can take a tiny peek into a small part of strangers’ lives. But there are many more who I can never, will never know, never share an action or word or thought with. To me, given other circumstances of birth, they could have been people I know intimately. They are might-have-been brothers or sisters, parents or cousins, close friends or bitter enemies.

Every now and then, I still see the homely yellow glow of a lighted window. But many of the windows I pass along my life’s road are dark. Their inhabitants leave nothing, not even a headstone, to mark that they were here.

I think we all deserve to be remembered somehow. Perhaps that’s why I have the constant urge to write my own life, to share my experiences and thoughts, trivial though they might be. It is a way to connect with others. To let them see a distant lighted window and wonder at the person inside. To give them a glimpse of how another person faced her life. For me, it is also a way to explore my existence, to give it meaning, justification, validation. I wrote, therefore I existed. I woz ere.

I woz ere

(c) Linda Visman

Bringing Back the Past

May 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Australia, Making History, Publishing, Writing, Writing and Life | 12 Comments
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  I have been writing a personal journal on and off for a long time – probably about forty years.

When I was a girl, I had one of those little diaries with a clasp and a key, a special gift I received one birthday when my parents had a little extra money. But you can’t write much in a few small lines, and we couldn’t afford more exercise books than we had to get for school. So, during my teens, I didn’t write much at all.

I wrote a little during my twenties and thirties, but my latest stint of journal writing has been a constant for the last ten years or so. It has been a great help in keeping me sane and in helping me sort out what my life is about. Now, it also helps me work out my writing problems.

I had always wanted to do more than write diary/journal entries. I was great at writing essays, reports, analyses, but I lacked the confidence to try writing stories or poetry.

Then, in 2005 when in my mid-fifties and with my husband’s encouragement, I undertook a short creative writing course. That course opened a door for me that had been stuck since my childhood.

Short stories flowed from my pen. I tried writing poetry to improve my imagery and to cut down the word count in my stories – it worked. I even did well in competitions. I wrote more short stories. Then I did what I had never believed myself capable of – I wrote a novel. It was good – my writing group said so, and so did others who read the drafts.

I am sure it could be improved, but I cannot afford to employ a professional editor. There is also no chance of a writer like me getting either an agent or a publisher. The only way I could get it ‘out there’ was to self-publish it. Thankfully, self-publishing has become more acceptable today, though there is still a taint of amateurishness and vanity publishing to it.

My novel was originally written for middle grades and young adults. The main character is thirteen-year-old Ben who, with his friend Joe, tries to find out who killed Ben’s father. One of the main reasons I wrote it was to show today’s younger generation what life was like in an Australian farming community back in the 1950s.

However, nostalgia has become a strong drawcard for my generation. So much has changed since we were young that it has been difficult at times to come to terms with this new world. Many of us hanker for the more simple and innocent times we knew as children and teenagers. As a result, Ben’s Challenge has found its main readership among the Baby Boomer generation.

I am working on a follow-up, using the same main characters, but with a different theme to the story. I still would like youngsters to read it and compare their way of life with that of kids like Ben and Joe who grew up in the 1950s. But if the Baby Boomers take to it, then that’s all right with me. Anyway, it is the writing itself  that is really the most important to me.

© Linda Visman

27th may 2012

Mementos of Childhood

March 29, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, History, Making History, Psychology | 5 Comments
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I possess very little from my childhood; not the only doll I ever had, that the dog chewed up, nor bits of the wooden scooter Dad made one Christmas. I don’t even have the things that I was really keen to hang on to, that were important to me then; things like my Missal (Mass book), my First Communion and Confirmation medals and certificates, and especially the books I loved.

In the 1950s, we were a struggling English migrant family of seven (five kids), living in a tiny three-roomed house in a tiny village in rural Australia. Dad added a room to the house when our uncle and aunt and two cousins arrived from England to stay with us until they could get their own place, and another when our grandparents followed them.

My little brother, the fifth child, was born not long before they arrived. There was little room for thirteen of us, let alone old toys and papers, and that sort of thing didn’t ever seem that important to my parents anyway. It didn’t worry me at the time either; I was only a kid. But times have changed since then.

My home in 1965

I would love to have the books I treasured as a child, examples of my writing or school work, anything at all in my handwriting. The only original things I do have are a few report cards, my references from secondary school, and the three certificates I received during my education – one on leaving the convent primary school where I was female dux, one at the end of my third high school year, and my high school matriculation. The only example of my writing that I have consists of one article, printed in the second annual magazine of our high school, in 1963.

In 1969, I went back home for a visit after I had married and was teaching far away. I do not remember seeing anything of mine in the house; not my book collection, including Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, nor the WWII model aeroplanes (Dad had been an RAF fighter pilot in the war) and model vintage cars that I’d had in my bedroom. Strange as it may seem, I never asked where my things had gone.

My school in 1959 (I was in 5th grade then)

Another strange thing: when St Paul’s, my old primary school, celebrated the centenary of the St Joseph sisters in 1983, they produced a booklet about the teachers and the school. There were only three teachers, all nuns, when I attended, though it is a large school now. Daybreak, the Centenary booklet, contains quite a few old class photos. Both my sisters and both my brothers are in there, but I am not – and we could never afford to buy school photos.

Similarly, at the state high school my husband and I had attended for five years, many student records were destroyed in a major flood about twenty years ago. The only records lost were those from the exact years we were there, 1961 to 1965. It is as if we had never been there – apart from my name in the school magazines I was able to buy.

In many ways, I feel like I have lost a major part of my childhood. Most of my ‘history’ has gone. It doesn’t help that I also have only a fragmented memory of those times.

Perhaps as a result of all this, I tried not to throw anything out that belonged to my five children. I don’t know what they still keep from these items – all 5 being boys, and movers about the country to find good careers, I suppose they haven’t bothered – and somehow, I only have a few of their things myself.

Thirty-five years ago, I began researching and putting together the family history. I have written a book, in two editions, about our family antecedents, including historical and social conditions of the times. It focuses in greater detail on the individuals since about 1850. Years of research made me well aware of the importance of records in establishing the life of any individual in any time.

But to know a person, we need to have more of them beyond bare genealogical details. And that has led to my being designated as ‘family historian’. In order to save what I can of us as individuals, I have become a hoarder of my own memorabilia and anything associated with my family. I have only a few of my parents’ small possessions – which are virtually all that remain of their lives, apart from memories that fade over time. These too will be lost as my generation and our children die out.

My published novel, Ben’s Challenge, and its sequel, Ben’s Choice, my current work-in-progress, are based on childhood memories and experiences in the area in which I grew up. I wanted to pass on the knowledge of those times to the children of today, especially to my own grandchildren. Instead, I find that the first book has ignited memories in older folk who lived during those times, and they have enjoyed being taken back to their childhood.

I think the books may also be a search for my own past. Perhaps I have never gotten over the loss of what was really my own childhood identity.

What items do you treasure from your childhood?

© Linda Visman,

Looking Back; Looking Forward

January 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Experiences, Making History, Politics, Social Responsibility, War and Conflict, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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I have tried to look back at 2011 and identify the times that have been significant to me – in a world context; nationally; locally; and personally. Of course, there are just too many to list in every area, but here are a few:

International: 2011 has been, again, a year where events all over the world have impinged on lives locally. Unfortunately, most of them have been decidedly negative.

There have been storms and floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, war and terrorism, the beginnings of democracy in traditionally dictatorial countries, droughts and famines.

The European Economic Crisis affects even us here in Australia, who have been fortunate in mostly evading the worst of the economic woes of the U.S., Europe and other area.

The events that caused me the most concern personally were the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the subsequent nuclear emergency with the melt-down at the Fukishima plant. My son, his Japanese wife, and my beautiful granddaughter live in Japan, and concern for their welfare is foremost in my mind. Fortunately, they live to the west on a more southerly island, and so far all is well with them.

    National: I speak here of Australia (though the same attitudes seem to be endemic in other countries as well) where the most belligerent, blame-shifting, back-biting, spiteful and divisive parliament I can remember continues to create stress, anger and frustration for the populace, and no real policy commitment. The worst collisions have been on refugees and the carbon tax.

Instead of working together for the future good of the country, both major parties appear to be focused only on scoring points against the other and looking to destroy the other’s chances of re-election.

Local & State: Housing and industrial developments continue to spread across the best country all over the state of NSW. Land that was producing meat and dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and other natural products is now barren, covered with concrete and steel.

     In other areas, farmers continue to battle the gas companies that are determined to despoil even more food-producing land and the groundwater that is its lifeblood.

Here in Australia, we have much more low-fertility land and desert than food producing soil, and yet short-sighted governments and greedy developers seem bent on destroying much of what is left. It breaks my heart to see it every time I think about it.

 Family and Friends: Thank heavens for the people in my life –family and friends, near and far!

They give me hope for the world, pride in their endeavour, role models to look up to, young ones to help set on the road to a good and honest life, and an ocean of love in which to bathe.

They help me to see the positive that surrounds me, and to put the negative into some sort of perspective. I don’t know what I would do without them.   

 My Family: We are a multi-ethnic/cultural family. My husband and I have eight children between us, and six – in April it will be eight – grandchildren; the latest was born in April 2011. Some of them have faced huge difficulties and shown wonderful spirit in fighting through them. All of them have brought sunshine into our lives and the lives of others. We are very proud of them all.

    My Writing: I have had several poems and short stories published this year in magazines and anthologies.

  A major event was the self-publication in June of my novel Ben’s Challenge. The response to it, from all over the world, has been wonderful, and has given me encouragement to continue with my writing.

I have increased the frequency of my wordpress blog entries and have begun another blog with Writing Our Way Home, taking on their ‘small stones’ challenge, focusing on seeing the wonders of the natural world around us.

And So, to 2012:

My hope and intention is to write more: journaling, blogs, poems and short stories. I especially want to make more progress on my second novel, Ben’s Choice, and have the first draft completed  this year.

On the personal front, my husband and I hope to overcome health issues, so that we can do the travel we want to and to visit our far-flung family members more regularly.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy, happy and productive 2012.

Review of Ben’s Challenge

October 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Making History, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 3 Comments
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I mentioned that I had received two reviews of my novel, Ben’s Challenge. Here is the second one – and I am pleased that Marian was so honest in her assessment of the book:

Review of Ben’s Challenge by Linda Visman

I want at the outset to declare two things. I am a 50’s baby and I know the author. This provides me with a bit of a challenge.  I grew up on diet of meat and three veg, respect for the Queen, a quiet uncomfortable awe for the name Robert Menzies, church and Sunday school, 10 shillings in a card from grandma at birthdays, the rote learning of the names of the rivers of northern New South Wales, an uncomfortable struggle with the notion that girls couldn’t behave like boys, but a freedom to run and play with friends without adult supervision.  You behaved yourself because mum would invariably find out and then you’d be in for it.  Like many before me, I’m starting to feel that the past, even with its dark stories of abuse and betrayal, is tending to look a bit more simple and authentic than the present.

I’ve known Linda Visman since the early 80s and though it’s been a friendship marked by distance and other lives it is still a friendship built on affection and respect.  Usually, in the selfish consumption of fiction, the author per se is not considered. It is plot, character and good descriptive dialogue that keeps the interest. To not like a book when you have no affinity with the author is neither here nor there. When you do know them and they have written about a time that is etched into an affectionate part of memory, the simple process of reading becomes complicated. 

To be honest, I was afraid I wouldn’t like Ben’s Challenge. I was prepared to be disappointed by the writing, prepared for the possibility of poor dialogue, unconvincing characters, forced plot.  It was in fact a good read, and within two chapters I could let go of my doubts, relax and trust Linda Visman’s handle on the craft of good uncomplicated writing and simply fall into the story: its characters, its descriptive nature and of course the many things that consume the mind, body and summer days of Ben Kellerman. 

Bens Challenge is a number of things: a good mystery story, simply but effectively told, a journey into the language and mores of an Australia that is fast disappearing, a relevant and current examination of the emotions of children who, having faced the loss of a parent, now experience the uncomfortable realisation that mum or dad, the memory of whom is an emotional touchstone, can and probably will be replaced.

There were a few elements of the writing that caused a slight hesitation. In the initial stages I wasn’t sure as to whether the book was too heavily centred on the language and memory vignettes of the times- we all too well knew of teachers, usually men if you went to public school, nuns if you went to catholic school, who caned too hard and too often, but the ‘mystery aspect’ of the story soon became the focus of the story and Linda Visman builds it convincingly.

For me, it provided a wonderful excuse to take to the couch and just keep reading one wintry wet afternoon.  The resolution of the mystery surrounding the bike and the tone of his brother’s confession was a bit stylistically unsatisfactory and the story also ended a tad abruptly.

Ben had been challenged and had undergone a journey in which he had faced physical and emotional duress. He emerges at the end of the novel a stronger and more perceptive boy as a result and for me the closing of the book would have been enhanced with a more reflective focus.  But, as I have said, these are slight aspects of what is essentially an excellent book for children and for a ‘50’s baby’ to read and enjoy.

I have lent the book to an inquisitive 8 year old, who gets jokes and loves i-pads and digital technology. He also loves reading. His dad, also a child of the 50’s, is reading it with him at night. It will be interesting to see how Liam engages with Ben and his story, and how his dad responds to a setting which is very much a reflection of his own childhood. I’ll let you know.

Marian Grant

*** You can purchase a copy of the book in print form from Amazon by clicking on the book cover at the top of the page ***

Keeping Records

August 13, 2011 at 9:23 am | Posted in Making History, Nature | 5 Comments
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On the beach

My husband and I enjoyed a quiet drive to our favourite beach today. We both have health problems, but this beach is a place where we can relax and enjoy its beauty. The sun was hidden behind various banks of clouds for most of the day, but it was still a beautiful winter’s day inEastern Australia.

We had packed our lunch – cheese and pickle sandwiches and orange juice – and we sat on the sand back from the water to eat it. There were surfers out beyond the breakers and occasional walkers along the beach, but it was particularly fun to watch the waves.

As one roller came in, it met the wave going back out. Because the beach shelves steeply there and is somewhat curved, where the two lots of water meet becomes a real clash of energies. They were opposite sides of a huge zipper – two huge pieces of fabric being pulled together and joining up to become one.

The loveliest thing about that union was that, as they united, it was as if a torpedo shot along the union, sending up a jet of water that changed speed according to how quickly the zipper closed. I didn’t have my camera with me right then, so I missed getting a photo.

After lunch, with the importunate seagulls disappointed at us for leaving no scraps, we set off for a slow, meandering walk along the beach. We took lots of photos – the rock walls back from the beach; the meagre remnants of the coal rail line that ran from the old mine to the wharf; tracks and patterns in the sand; shells, waves.

I didn’t realised until I downloaded them later that I had taken seventy-nine photos! How different it is nowadays to as near in the past as twenty years. Back then, we were reluctant to take many photos because it was so expensive to have them developed and printed. You waited until just the right moment presented itself, and missed most of the good ones.

And yet, I think about how we use photographs today. We probably have fewer printed photos around us than we did then – certainly not the cherished albums that recorded, sometimes too formally, the stages in our families’ lives.

Now, our photos languish on our hard drives, or on CDs or DVDs. Some of them make an appearance on social media sites we belong to, and some are sent via email to family and friends who may be interested. But what will become of them if something happens to the electronic gear that is storing them? What if there is major solar activity that destroys our electronic communications? And what if we haven’t printed at least the good photos?

I have been intending to sort and print those that I’ve taken since I first got a digital camera in 1994. But I haven’t done many yet; usually just a few, when I want them for a particular reason. I look around and I see how much of our history, our everyday life, is recorded digitally.

I believe that this current generation could have fewer records of its existence that any generation that existed before 1800. This is simply because so much of the record is digital, and it can all be destroyed in an instant, much more easily than the printed books and records that exist all over the world.

Perhaps I had better get on with printing those photographs that I want to keep before it is too late.

 

© Linda Visman 13th August 2011

 

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