A book review, “Life at the end of the Rainbow” by Jenny Andrews

Life at the end of the Rainbow, by Jenny Andrews

https://amzn.to/2Xbl4ZX

Poetry is like art, its beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But, while art can be very subjective, poetry often has a special meaning, to both the writer and then the reader.  In turn, for each of us readers, a poem will have a different meaning, some will see what it represents, and others may not.

And, whilst I have not read a lot of poetry over the years, that changed recently when I subscribed to several blogs and discovered this whole new class of literature.

This view was strengthened when I came across a volume of poems by Jenny Andrews, titled Life at the End of the Rainbow.

For me, each poem is an insight into an extraordinary life, where the author sometimes lays bare those raw emotions, which, at times, we will find ourselves drawing parallels.

In a sense, I think we have all been to this mythical place called, The End of the Rainbow, and sometimes need a gentle reminder that it took a lot of ups and downs to get there.

This is, to my mind, a remarkable piece of work.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next stage of the journey will be.

 

A twitter biography

Every year I come back to revisit this, and each year it becomes a harder issue to deal with.  All that’s recently changed is the number of characters you can use

I’ve been trawling the endless collection of twitter descriptions provided by their users, noting that there is a restriction of 280 characters.

How do you sum yourself up in 280 characters?

I don’t think I can, so we tend to put down a few catchphrases, something that will draw followers.  I’m thinking the word ‘aspiring’ will be my catchword.

I’m aspiring to be a writer, or is that author?  Is there a difference, like for instance, one publishes ebooks on Amazon, one publishes hard copies in the traditional manner?

Is there a guide to what I can call myself?

Quite simply put, but in more than 140 characters, married happily, two wonderful children, three amazing grandchildren, and a wealth of experience acquired over the years.

Actually, that sounds rather boring, doesn’t it?

Perhaps it would be better if I was a retired policeman, a retired lawyer, a retired sheriff, a retired private investigator, a retired doctor, someone who had an occupation that was a rich mine of information from which to draw upon.

Retired computer programmers, supermarket shelf stackers, night cleaners, accounts clerks and general dogsbody s don’t quite cut the mustard.

I have also become fascinated with the expression ‘killer biography’.  Does it mean that I have to be a ‘killer’?

Better than the self-confession above.  Should we try to embellish our personal history in order to make it more appealing?

It’s much the same as writing about daily life.  No one wants to read about it, people want to be taken out of the humdrum of normalcy and be taken into a world where they can become the character in the book.

And there you have it, in a nutshell, why I write.

 

A book review, “Life at the end of the Rainbow” by Jenny Andrews

Life at the end of the Rainbow, by Jenny Andrews

https://amzn.to/2Xbl4ZX

Poetry is like art, its beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But, while art can be very subjective, poetry often has a special meaning, to both the writer and then the reader.  In turn, for each of us readers, a poem will have a different meaning, some will see what it represents, and others may not.

And, whilst I have not read a lot of poetry over the years, that changed recently when I subscribed to several blogs and discovered this whole new class of literature.

This view was strengthened when I came across a volume of poems by Jenny Andrews, titled Life at the End of the Rainbow.

For me, each poem is an insight into an extraordinary life, where the author sometimes lays bare those raw emotions, which, at times, we will find ourselves drawing parallels.

In a sense, I think we have all been to this mythical place called, The End of the Rainbow, and sometimes need a gentle reminder that it took a lot of ups and downs to get there.

This is, to my mind, a remarkable piece of work.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next stage of the journey will be.

 

A book review, “Life at the end of the Rainbow” by Jenny Andrews

Life at the end of the Rainbow, by Jenny Andrews

https://amzn.to/2Xbl4ZX

Poetry is like art, its beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But, while art can be very subjective, poetry often has a special meaning, to both the writer and then the reader.  In turn, for each of us readers, a poem will have a different meaning, some will see what it represents, and others may not.

And, whilst I have not read a lot of poetry over the years, that changed recently when I subscribed to several blogs and discovered this whole new class of literature.

This view was strengthened when I came across a volume of poems by Jenny Andrews, titled Life at the End of the Rainbow.

For me, each poem is an insight into an extraordinary life, where the author sometimes lays bare those raw emotions, which, at times, we will find ourselves drawing parallels.

In a sense, I think we have all been to this mythical place called, The End of the Rainbow, and sometimes need a gentle reminder that it took a lot of ups and downs to get there.

This is, to my mind, a remarkable piece of work.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next stage of the journey will be.

 

Who do you think you are?

I have seen this television program once or twice, where a television personality digs into their past and sometimes they discover they had famous, or sometimes infamous, relatives.

I don’t think I would be so lucky, or unlucky as the case may be.

But, to be honest I haven’t really been interested in digging into the past.

On the other hand, my older brother has a keen interest in genealogy in general, borne from a desire to find out more about our family tree.

And he has gone back to the 1600s, for the relatives who came out from England, and no, they have no transported convicts, or at least he’s not saying.

Genealogy is a rather fascinating subject, and, I’ve discovered, is taught in university as a degree.  My brother has one now. 

What I didn’t realize is that I’ve been playing with it for years because in writing what might be called sagas you need to create your own set of mythical families, and then trace to forebears back in time.

I have one novel I’m writing that has required a family tree, and recently another for a story that required starting with a character who participated in the Eureka Stockade.  We had to create parents, a migration from England to Australia, and then construct a family tree through to today so we could write a story from the perspective of a fourth-generation girl at school doing a school project.

If that sounds complicated, believe me, it is.  But from my granddaughter who came up with the idea, she is very excited about it.

Much better than sitting in front of a computer playing games or a tv watching cartoons.

But once again I digress…

I have found a lot of genealogy stuff that my mother had been working on, and I’m taking it to my brother, and at the same time, l will get the latest installment on our family.

So far I’ve learned that I come from a combination of British relatives on both my mother and father’s side, the most recent my father’s mother who was born in England, and German from my mother’s side, her surname being Auhl.

No doubt, and with a great deal of irony, my relatives probably fought against each other in two world wars.

I’m sure more will be revealed on Wednesday.

But, the more I learn the more I feel inclined to create a fictionalized history with my family members as characters in the story.  At the moment a biographical account of the family would be reasonably boring since as yet no one notorious had been discovered.

Does our education define us?

It’s 2am here, and I’m feeling philosophical, instead of being sleepy and going to bed.

It’s probably the problem most writers have when they’re working on a novel, a short story, or a blog post, or something else.

The other day a thought ran through my mind, whether or not my first school was still standing and if so, would it remember me?

Probably not.  I went there in 1958, I think when I was five.  I stayed there till I finished Grade six and then moved onto secondary school.

In those days, we could stay at secondary school till Form four and then, if we were 15 or over, we could leave.  I went to a technical school, i.e. one that taught a trade, rather than going to a High School which was for the more academically minded and who would go on to University.

But in my day, you had to have rich parents to get into a University, and we were decidedly poor.  It was a technical trade for me, and become a builder was to be my lot in life.

I wasn’t very good and sheet metal, the precursor to plumbing, or machine ship practice the forerunner to being a mechanic, or technical drawing, the forerunner to being a draughtsman

I could have just as easily been a farmer or gardener, it too was on the curriculum.

Where is this going?

Oh, yes.  My old primary school.  Yes, it’s still there, and it still looks like the gothic nightmare it used to.  Gothic or not, I guess those years in that school were good, and I don’t seem to have any bad memories, except,. of course, of the teachers, but that’s only natural.

secondary school, that was a nightmare, so different, and much like going to university, with different classes, different teachers, different rooms, and a lot of other kids who were older, larger, meaner, and made the navigation of early teens an annabilus horribilis four times over.

So the question did my education define me?

No.  I was a builder for a while, but my aspirations led me towards office work, the sort where you start at the bottom and languish there till you’re noticed.

Failing that, you work for a relative, then get headhunted, watch that opportunity slip away, and become an IT teacher that leads to computer programming.

But, as they say, always have a backup plan.

Yep!  Writing.  Been doing it since I was fifteen.

Now, those years I was at school have provided me with a diverse collection of people who have become characters in my stories, and I’m still waiting for the know on the door from the process server to tell me one of them finally recognized him or herself and didn’t like my impression of them.

Hasn’t happened yet.

A book review, “Life at the end of the Rainbow” by Jenny Andrews

Life at the end of the Rainbow, by Jenny Andrews

https://amzn.to/2Xbl4ZX

Poetry is like art, its beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But, while art can be very subjective, poetry often has a special meaning, to both the writer and then the reader.  In turn, for each of us readers, a poem will have a different meaning, some will see what it represents, and others may not.

And, whilst I have not read a lot of poetry over the years, that changed recently when I subscribed to several blogs and discovered this whole new class of literature.

This view was strengthened when I came across a volume of poems by Jenny Andrews, titled Life at the End of the Rainbow.

For me, each poem is an insight into an extraordinary life, where the author sometimes lays bare those raw emotions, which, at times, we will find ourselves drawing parallels.

In a sense, I think we have all been to this mythical place called, The End of the Rainbow, and sometimes need a gentle reminder that it took a lot of ups and downs to get there.

This is, to my mind, a remarkable piece of work.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next stage of the journey will be.

 

A book review

Life at the end of the Rainbow, by Jenny Andrews

https://amzn.to/2Xbl4ZX

Poetry is like art, its beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But, while art can be very subjective, poetry often has a special meaning, to both the writer and then the reader.  In turn, for each of us readers, a poem will have a different meaning, some will see what it represents, and others may not.

And, whilst I have not read a lot of poetry over the years, that changed recently when I subscribed to several blogs and discovered this whole new class of literature.

This view was strengthened when I came across a volume of poems by Jenny Andrews, titled Life at the End of the Rainbow.

For me, each poem is an insight into an extraordinary life, where the author sometimes lays bare those raw emotions, which, at times, we will find ourselves drawing parallels.

In a sense, I think we have all been to this mythical place called, The End of the Rainbow, and sometimes need a gentle reminder that it took a lot of ups and downs to get there.

This is, to my mind, a remarkable piece of work.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next stage of the journey will be.

 

The past and how it affect us

As much as we profess that we have left the past in the past and that we are firmly focussed on the present and even more so, the future, it isn’t always the case.

I’ve already had a discussion about whether the past defines us. In the majority of cases that may be true to a very small extent, but in everyone there is a basic understanding of what is right and what is wrong, and if we are wronged during that valuable learning period as a child, there is nearly always someone there to guide you in the right direction.

For the most part, during that time, it’s your parents.

And if the are the perpetrators of that wrong, then hopefully you know enough that it is wrong, and that you have the courage to tell someone else, like a grandparent or school counsellor, or even the police.

That’s now, of course, where we live in a far more transparent world children who are being abused have a voice that will be heard.

Wind this back 60 years.

There were no such protections. Any stray aunt, uncle, neighbour, or just a good friend of the family could get away with sexual assault, or any sort of domestic violence because society then had a different set of rules.

Grownups would first believe their fellow grownups before they listened to the ramblings of a child. In those days a child never had a voice, and we are now discovering just how many children were abused.

The same went for women. There are untold numbers of women out there that spent many years cowering lest they were beaten or verbally and mentally abused. Trying to protect their children from a bullying father copped the harshest treatment, but there wer many reasons, the simplest being not having dinner on the t sable when he got home.

As young children seeing this behaviour and not understanding it’s significance, can lead to the practice being handed down simply because a young child will accept it as the norm. It’s still the reason why some children are still bullies at school, that boys treat girls badly and swearing is very common among children as young as six or seven.

Back 69 odd years ago the results of parental behaviour had far more serious ramifications because the people who should have done something about it, thought nothing of it. Why? Although some people thought it was wrong, it was the people who mattered that didn’t. A woman who depended on a man who bashed her was far less likely to leave than one today.

Back then there were no half way houses, no protection from the bullies, and no social welfare systems in place to help these women or their children.

My mother was one of those women.

Me and my elder brother were two of those children. Don’t ask me how we came out the other side, totally different people to what we might have been.

Perhaps it was down to my grandmother with whom we spent enough time to learn there was a different type of world out there, and all we had to do was embrace it.

And, for the few years my father finally come to his senses, and leaving us all alone, life wasn’t normal but it was better.. We just kept moving, so loneliness was a way of life.

But, it seems, he changed in a different ways, and became controlling, especially in my mother’s case, and though I didn’t really understand then the results of it, the full extent of this behaviour came out when I had to make the decision to separate my mother from him in their nursing home because he was verbally and mentally abusing her. There were other aspects to this controlling behavior that tipped the scales.

Having done that, he turned his rage and vitriol on me. Imagine right there and then, every terrible memory came flooding back and the fear and despair I felt.

We had a blazing row, I was denounced as a conspirator and a lot of other unrepeatable things, and I have not spoken to him since.

Mercifully my mother is safe from him now, but she has full blown dementia, and it is, I suspect the end result of the beatings she suffered.

But there’s always a silver lining, as my grandmother used to say, and that was for me to write, and from a very early age I would read any book I could get my hands on, and then behind to invent an alternate works to live in, one where there wasn’t the violence and misery we suffered.

And using that imagination, and using the many books I had read began to write my own stories. I have a trove of material written back then which I pull out every now and then, and which have fuelled many stories now.

Perhaps it was a side effect from my younger years that I was introverted and had very low self esteem. Because if that it too years, being married to the most remarkable and generous woman, that I finally found the courage to publish my stories.

They’re not bestsellers, but their mine, and ar the result of self achievement I never though, all those years ago, was possible.

Are we doomed to remember the past?

I find that as I get older, there are fragments of my life coming back, and I’m beginning to dread the fact that I will relive past events over and over, especially those that I don’t want to remember.

When we’re younger, it seems difficult to get past certain events that occurred in your life, but with the passing of time, it’s possible to send them to a corner of your mind, not completely gone, but far enough away that you can get on with your life.

These are emotional, and sometimes physical events that happened to you.

And it’s possible that in living those events, it has made me a much better person, because I never treated my children or anyone else for that matter, the way I was treated.  I won’t say life was brutal, all of the time, but there was a period where I and my both my elder brother and mother constantly lived in fear.

It stopped eventually, but those memories haunted me for many years.

Then, when a new set of circumstances enters your life, it tends to force these out, in a sense I wanted to think there’s only so much hard disk space in my head, and I would have to erase all those bad memories so there was room for the new.

Apparently, it doesn’t work like that.

Now that I’ve gotten older, and retired, I’ve found that those old memories are resurfacing, and to be honest, it’s annoying.  I put it down to the fact, if you are no longer working full time, you are no longer actively using your brain as much, so there’s some sort of compensation going on, and the brain fills in the gaps with past memories.

In my case, it’s all the wrong ones.

I don’t want to remember my years in secondary school, my life with an abusive father, the fact that I used to hide under the bed to escape a beating, and those nightmarish screams of my bother and our mother trying to get my father to stop.  Usually, he would turn his anger on her.

Yes, and after an indeterminate number of years it stopped, but in my mind, it went on for so long those moments have been seared into my brain, and it’s no wonder they come back.  Why couldn’t the later days of holidays at Lakes Entrance, and Wilson’s Promontory, or the school holidays when we used to get a pile of box sides to build a cubby house come back?

Is this one of the problems of old age?

I know my father, who served in the second world war came back scarred, mentally and physically.  Given the brutality of war and the fear most of the men must have held in in the face of the enemy, it would be hard not to have some problems when you come back and try to fit back into normal society.  I suspect there was no such thing as PTSD back then, and no counselling, so perhaps the reason why he turned on us.

He only spoke of it very rarely, but those glimpses were enough.

He too is very old now, and I suspect he lives with these memories, ones I’m sure he’d rather not.  I’m also fairly certain that not all of my father’s issues came from the war, but he had issues with his father, and it perpetuated through him.

The thing is, still in this day and age we do not have the capacity to understand why this happens and the means we should use to try and send those memories back to the dark recesses.  We are willing to admit that there is such a thing as mental illness, and a lot of people have it, but only a small percentage of people will admit to it.

Why?  The stigma of admitting there is something wrong prevents us from doing so.  And admitting what caused it, well, people then start to avoid you because they think that you might be like that or turn out like that.

I am not like my father.  I saw what happened, I was on the receiving end, and I knew it was wrong.  It could quite easily go the other way, accept that what happened to me was the norm, and perpetuate the problem.

I did not.  I wanted everyone to have the sort of life I did not, and over the last forty-five years, and for as long as I live, they have been able to, and will.

And probably the best thing to come out of it, my children’s children had lived the same fear-free life.

I suppose seeing a psychiatrist might help, but it means dredging it all up so that you can talk about it, and then it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

Is there an answer to the problem?

If I find one I’ll let you know.