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.

 

A photograph from the Inspirational bin – 33

This is countryside somewhere inside the Lamington National Park in Queensland. It was one of those days where the rain come and went…

We were spending a week there, in the middle of nowhere on a working macadamia farm in a cottage, one of four, recuperating from a long exhausting lockdown.

It was not cold, and we were able to sit out of the verandah for most of the day, watching the rain come and pass over on its way up the valley, listing to the gentle pitter-patter of the rain on the roof and nearby leaves.

But as for inspiration:

This would be the ideal setting for a story about life, failed romance, or a couple looking to find what it was they lost.

It could be a story about recovering from a breakdown, or a tragic loss, to be anywhere else but in the middle of dealing with the constant reminders of what they had.

It could be a safe house, and as we all know, safe houses in stories are rarely safe houses, where it is given away by someone inside the program, or the person who it’s assigned to give it away because they can’t do as they’re supposed to; lay low.

Then there’s camping, the great outdoors, for someone who absolutely hates being outdoors, or those who go hunting, and sometimes become the hunted.

Oh, and watch out for the bears!

A photograph from the Inspirational bin – 33

This is countryside somewhere inside the Lamington National Park in Queensland. It was one of those days where the rain come and went…

We were spending a week there, in the middle of nowhere on a working macadamia farm in a cottage, one of four, recuperating from a long exhausting lockdown.

It was not cold, and we were able to sit out of the verandah for most of the day, watching the rain come and pass over on its way up the valley, listing to the gentle pitter-patter of the rain on the roof and nearby leaves.

But as for inspiration:

This would be the ideal setting for a story about life, failed romance, or a couple looking to find what it was they lost.

It could be a story about recovering from a breakdown, or a tragic loss, to be anywhere else but in the middle of dealing with the constant reminders of what they had.

It could be a safe house, and as we all know, safe houses in stories are rarely safe houses, where it is given away by someone inside the program, or the person who it’s assigned to give it away because they can’t do as they’re supposed to; lay low.

Then there’s camping, the great outdoors, for someone who absolutely hates being outdoors, or those who go hunting, and sometimes become the hunted.

Oh, and watch out for the bears!

My grandchildren have just started working

It’s hard to believe that both the 17 year old and the 14 year old have just both got jobs and started on their path of working for the next 50 to 60 years.

They seem quite amused at the thought, and not without reason, and are not really considering the idea. Not yet, anyway.

The novelty is still quite new, and it has a sense of excitement, but this will no doubt wear off in the coming months. After all, as new workers, they only have to do between 3 and 5 hour shifts.

I guess the fact they have decided to work at such a young age reminded me of my experience, way back when I was 15.

Unhlike them, who will be afforded to opportunity to remain in school to the end, Year 12, and possibly the chance to go to University, in my case we did not have the money to continue education beyond Year 10, and there was no question of ever going to University. Only the rich could afford that, and we were anything but rich.

Instead, I guess hating school helped facilitate my departure, and the notion that I would have to pay my own way, forced me into working.

Of course, it helped living in a small country town, and my father having a job that brought him in contact with everyone who was an anyone, and thus got offers to work in whatever profession I chose.

I ended up in the Post Office, what I considered as the easiest of jobs, originally employed as a telegram delivery boy, and mail collector from the post boxes scatted about the town. As you can imagine, there were not many telegrams to deliver, so other duties included sorting mail, and then mail delivery. Yes I because a postman!

Then, after a few months, I became the night switchboard operator, and with a host of other operators, had some of the most interesting and varied conversations imaginable.

It was a bit of a wrench when we finally moved from the country town back to the city.

When we did, my father bought a small business, and for a year of so, I became a shop assistant.

That lasted for a year or two, until I was 17. Realising that a lack of education was going to make it difficult to ever get a good paying job, I took the opportunity to go back to night school while I had the chance, and it necessitated finding another job to help pay for it.

That was packing books for a wholesale bookseller, part of a small team hidden away in the basement of a very old building. It might not be the best paying job, or the best working conditions, but I suspect it was the universe telling me something.

That job, and being surrounded by books started me off on a journey of reading, and eventually writing.

My grandchildren have just started working

It’s hard to believe that both the 17 year old and the 14 year old have just both got jobs and started on their path of working for the next 50 to 60 years.

They seem quite amused at the thought, and not without reason, and are not really considering the idea. Not yet, anyway.

The novelty is still quite new, and it has a sense of excitement, but this will no doubt wear off in the coming months. After all, as new workers, they only have to do between 3 and 5 hour shifts.

I guess the fact they have decided to work at such a young age reminded me of my experience, way back when I was 15.

Unhlike them, who will be afforded to opportunity to remain in school to the end, Year 12, and possibly the chance to go to University, in my case we did not have the money to continue education beyond Year 10, and there was no question of ever going to University. Only the rich could afford that, and we were anything but rich.

Instead, I guess hating school helped facilitate my departure, and the notion that I would have to pay my own way, forced me into working.

Of course, it helped living in a small country town, and my father having a job that brought him in contact with everyone who was an anyone, and thus got offers to work in whatever profession I chose.

I ended up in the Post Office, what I considered as the easiest of jobs, originally employed as a telegram delivery boy, and mail collector from the post boxes scatted about the town. As you can imagine, there were not many telegrams to deliver, so other duties included sorting mail, and then mail delivery. Yes I because a postman!

Then, after a few months, I became the night switchboard operator, and with a host of other operators, had some of the most interesting and varied conversations imaginable.

It was a bit of a wrench when we finally moved from the country town back to the city.

When we did, my father bought a small business, and for a year of so, I became a shop assistant.

That lasted for a year or two, until I was 17. Realising that a lack of education was going to make it difficult to ever get a good paying job, I took the opportunity to go back to night school while I had the chance, and it necessitated finding another job to help pay for it.

That was packing books for a wholesale bookseller, part of a small team hidden away in the basement of a very old building. It might not be the best paying job, or the best working conditions, but I suspect it was the universe telling me something.

That job, and being surrounded by books started me off on a journey of reading, and eventually writing.

You learn something new every day (2)

I got a call this morning from my brother who has been delving into the places we have lived over the years, including those before we were born.

My recollection, hazy at best, is that my father’s parents lived in Camberwell, a suburb of Melbourne, and the boys, those that survived the war, lived there too. He had three brothers, I think, and a sister. From what I’ve read, his older brother was a sensible chap and the peacemaker between him and his parents.

Later one of his brothers went to Sydney, his sister lived among orchards our Ringwood way, and another, much later, moved to Queensland. We very rarely, if ever, saw them, and the last time I did with most in one place, was after my Grandmother died. I do remember Dora, the site, visiting us once, and being young at the time, she seemed a very forbidding woman.

But, this is about where they lived.

My father, presumably before and immediately after the war, at home, and my mother at her home in Pakenham. There her father ran a service station and motor mechanic shop and was well known. Their house, at the time, was built over the road, just a short walk from home to work. The place, the first time I saw it, was a mechanics dream, with old cars and car parts outside and inside garages, and a woodworking shop with every tool imaginable.

Once the place had very elegant gardens, but by the time I got to stay there, in the 1960s, it was all overgrown, and the house was in disrepair. My mother’s brother lived there with my grandmother, and he was a fearsome, huge man who said little. All I knew about him was that, a) he was the one who found his father after he had killed himself, b) he liked fishing and went to a place called Corinella, and c) he was a mechanic like his father.

So, at some point in 1948, my father must have up and left, perhaps after an argument with his parents, and moved to Keiwa House, Bogong, where the Snowy River Hydro-Electric Scheme was being built, as a projectionist, bringing films to the workers in Town Halls.

As I’ve said, my mother stayed in a boarding house for ladies during the week and went home on weekends. I have the first letter that my father wrote to her and references the fact he went calling on her, and she was not there. We’ll never know what she thought, but there’s a second letter, after she wrote back, so a friendship was struck. He told her, almost in minute detail, what he was doing, and presumably, she told him about hers.

A year later, they married.

Now it gets interesting. We both thought that their first house, after getting married was in Carrum. It wasn’t. In the pile of letters were references to the family staying in a rented flat in Camberwell.

Sometime after that, there is a contract for a war service loan in relation to a property in Carrum, which turns out to be the first house they lived in, and where my brother, born in 1950) lived, and where I lived after I was born in 1953. I have interesting if vague memories of this house, and of the people who lived behind us because we could climb through the fence into their property. We knew them during, and after living in Carrum.

Now, today, some interesting new facts came to light about the Carrum house. We always assumed we owned it, but it seems that we didn’t. A copy of the title for that property never had the name Heath on it, so did we rent it? More information is required, and we need to dig deeper. Let’s hope there are no skeletons there.

And something else came out of a discussion with the daughter of my mothers sister, that it was believed my mother’s parents bought them a house in Chelsea, but my father, apparently, refused to live in it and sold it.

OK, I never claimed that my father was the sort that might have accepted charity, so perhaps in a moment of madness, he lost the plot. The question is, what happened to the money?
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You learn something new every day (2)

I got a call this morning from my brother who has been delving into the places we have lived over the years, including those before we were born.

My recollection, hazy at best, is that my father’s parents lived in Camberwell, a suburb of Melbourne, and the boys, those that survived the war, lived there too. He had three brothers, I think, and a sister. From what I’ve read, his older brother was a sensible chap and the peacemaker between him and his parents.

Later one of his brothers went to Sydney, his sister lived among orchards our Ringwood way, and another, much later, moved to Queensland. We very rarely, if ever, saw them, and the last time I did with most in one place, was after my Grandmother died. I do remember Dora, the site, visiting us once, and being young at the time, she seemed a very forbidding woman.

But, this is about where they lived.

My father, presumably before and immediately after the war, at home, and my mother at her home in Pakenham. There her father ran a service station and motor mechanic shop and was well known. Their house, at the time, was built over the road, just a short walk from home to work. The place, the first time I saw it, was a mechanics dream, with old cars and car parts outside and inside garages, and a woodworking shop with every tool imaginable.

Once the place had very elegant gardens, but by the time I got to stay there, in the 1960s, it was all overgrown, and the house was in disrepair. My mother’s brother lived there with my grandmother, and he was a fearsome, huge man who said little. All I knew about him was that, a) he was the one who found his father after he had killed himself, b) he liked fishing and went to a place called Corinella, and c) he was a mechanic like his father.

So, at some point in 1948, my father must have up and left, perhaps after an argument with his parents, and moved to Keiwa House, Bogong, where the Snowy River Hydro-Electric Scheme was being built, as a projectionist, bringing films to the workers in Town Halls.

As I’ve said, my mother stayed in a boarding house for ladies during the week and went home on weekends. I have the first letter that my father wrote to her and references the fact he went calling on her, and she was not there. We’ll never know what she thought, but there’s a second letter, after she wrote back, so a friendship was struck. He told her, almost in minute detail, what he was doing, and presumably, she told him about hers.

A year later, they married.

Now it gets interesting. We both thought that their first house, after getting married was in Carrum. It wasn’t. In the pile of letters were references to the family staying in a rented flat in Camberwell.

Sometime after that, there is a contract for a war service loan in relation to a property in Carrum, which turns out to be the first house they lived in, and where my brother, born in 1950) lived, and where I lived after I was born in 1953. I have interesting if vague memories of this house, and of the people who lived behind us because we could climb through the fence into their property. We knew them during, and after living in Carrum.

Now, today, some interesting new facts came to light about the Carrum house. We always assumed we owned it, but it seems that we didn’t. A copy of the title for that property never had the name Heath on it, so did we rent it? More information is required, and we need to dig deeper. Let’s hope there are no skeletons there.

And something else came out of a discussion with the daughter of my mothers sister, that it was believed my mother’s parents bought them a house in Chelsea, but my father, apparently, refused to live in it and sold it.

OK, I never claimed that my father was the sort that might have accepted charity, so perhaps in a moment of madness, he lost the plot. The question is, what happened to the money?
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You learn something new every day (1)

And it’s not necessarily something that might be good. To be honest, I didn’t know what to think, but in a strange sort of way it put a few things into perspective.

My brother and I have been delving into the family history, or at least my brother is throwing everything at it, and I’m along for the ride.

I did have a trove of stuff that we found when cleaning out my parent’s house when they moved into aged care, and at the time I didn’t think much of it. It was more about getting them settled than figuring out what was kept.

Now, four or so years later, and having finally received an interim output of the family tree, it’s not so much the forebears that interested me, as it was my parents.

It seems that our looking at our immediate family’s potted lives is like walking through a minefield, riddled with contradictions, rumors, and anecdotal evidence that doesn’t, for the moment, have any hard evidence to back it up. Or at least some have, but that’s not the interesting part.

So, picture this. The extent of my knowledge of my immediate family was that my father is Australian, his mother English, and I’m a second-generation Australian with an English grandparent. It doesn’t sound much, but not so long ago I could have applied for and got an English passport and had dual nationality. Unfortunately, that cannot happen anymore, you have to be one or the other.

My mother’s mother was of English descent and her husband of German descent. It was understood that my grandfather on this side died not long after I was born, though for a long time we were never told how. Only recently it came to light that he had committed suicide, and my brother has a copy of the suicide note he wrote. Morbid, eh? It turns out he thought he had cancer, but didn’t and mistakenly ended his life thinking he might have been a burden on my grandmother.

But now we started digging, getting dates of birth, easy, dates of death, easy, marriage certificates, and parents’ names for this limited dip into history, relatively simple.

But the story, the real aspects of genealogy, is where they went to school, their first job, what the did in the war, that fascinating the story of their lives at different times, that’s where I’m more interested. My brother has the facts, I want to give them a story entwining those facts.

Something that adds some flesh to the story is letters.

Another recent addition to the pile of family documents are the letters between my mother and father before they were married, and the fact my mother had another boyfriend, something we never knew until the great clean up. I have those letters, or some of them too.

Those letters, from him, unfortunately, we don’t have hers, are fascinating, as are those from my father. There is no indication of why there was a breakup with the first boyfriend, but I did learn that my father had gone to an introduction agent by the name of Mrs. J Phillips who gave him her name. What factors had led him down this path?

It was, to me, very Dolly Levi-ish.

I discovered my father worked as a projectionist at the Snowy River hydro-electric project after the war., around 1948. He had spoken of showing pictures at the Athenaeum Theatre in Flinders Street, and the King’s Theatre in Melbourne, but not exactly when, which accounted for his amazing knowledge of Hollywood movie stars. It was, however, as much as he had shared for a long time.

I also discovered that he was in Perth, Western Australia immediately after the war, and then went overseas to England by ship 13th August 1947, arriving in London on 12th September, and stayed at Middlesex with relatives.

Ok, now it gets a little weird because when in Bedfordshire he became engaged to an English girl that he had (apparently) known for 10 years. How this came to pass is still a mystery awaiting an answer. The wedding was supposed to be on 21st December 1947 but never happened, because the marriage was forbidden by her parents because they did not want their daughter to move to Australia, and equally forbidden by his parents because she was Catholic.

Yes. Religion was a breaking point in those days because he was a protestant. He returned, perhaps heartbroken, a year after he left, in April 1948.

I found that for a period of two years there would be enough speculative material to fuel a very lively account of their lives, and particularly his.

My mother, by the way, spent the war years attending Dandenong High School, a steam train ride down from Pakenham to Dandenong. After that, she gained employment in Melbourne, and spend the weekdays at a Ladies Boarding House called Chalmers Hall, in Parliament Place, and going home to Pakenham on the weekends. From a note or two, it seems she was something of a ‘wild’ child who craved doing something with her evenings other than ‘staying in’, with references to her going out with her friends.

My father confessed that he was the family’s black sheep, that he didn’t get along with any of the family, and which was why he was never home and always traveling. He wrote, in one letter of October 1948, that when he got into an argument he got mad and walked out on them, and came back when calm had returned. I assume that meant it might take days, weeks, or even months for the dist to settle.

There were disputes with my father with both his brothers and his parents over marrying my mother, and there were problems between my mother and her parents, to the extent they might not attend the wedding. For a few months of tense silence, there might not have been a wedding at all, but eventually, this happened at Trinity Church, Camberwell, on the 28th of June, 1949.

Wow! It shows that illusions of what might have been their happy day turning out to be moments of high dudgeon. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall.

I still have no idea what split her and the original boyfriend, a man she’d known since she was 14, and was from her hometown area, Pakenham. It might have been something she said because there are indications on one of two draft letters that she was prone to speaking her mind, and had a temper which would not have helped in using discretion. I’m guessing a few years of war would make a man lose interest in a high minded, and perhaps a sharp-tongued woman. I suspect we’ll never know.

She is now 93 and has Alzheimer’s and dementia, and unlikely to remember back then.

Similarly, my father is 97 and I doubt sitting down with him would elicit much on the way of a sensible discussion. He was always irascible at best and oddly suffers from PTSD from his war service if that’s still possible. Over the years he was never prone to sharing his past life, except in snippets, and that, some of it was about the war. I guess war did terrible things to the participants back them

And, as for his war service, we have the physical documentation of where and when, but only a potted history of his own account of his service. But even that is a story and a half in itself.

More on that later.

You learn something new every day (2)

I got a call this morning from my brother who has been delving into the places we have lived over the years, including those before we were born.

My recollection, hazy at best, is that my father’s parents lived in Camberwell, a suburb of Melbourne, and the boys, those that survived the war, lived there too. He had three brothers, I think, and a sister. From what I’ve read, his older brother was a sensible chap and the peacemaker between him and his parents.

Later one of his brothers went to Sydney, his sister lived among orchards our Ringwood way, and another, much later, moved to Queensland. We very rarely, if ever, saw them, and the last time I did with most in one place, was after my Grandmother died. I do remember Dora, the site, visiting us once, and being young at the time, she seemed a very forbidding woman.

But, this is about where they lived.

My father, presumably before and immediately after the war, at home, and my mother at her home in Pakenham. There her father ran a service station and motor mechanic shop and was well known. Their house, at the time, was built over the road, just a short walk from home to work. The place, the first time I saw it, was a mechanics dream, with old cars and car parts outside and inside garages, and a woodworking shop with every tool imaginable.

Once the place had very elegant gardens, but by the time I got to stay there, in the 1960s, it was all overgrown, and the house was in disrepair. My mother’s brother lived there with my grandmother, and he was a fearsome, huge man who said little. All I knew about him was that, a) he was the one who found his father after he had killed himself, b) he liked fishing and went to a place called Corinella, and c) he was a mechanic like his father.

So, at some point in 1948, my father must have up and left, perhaps after an argument with his parents, and moved to Keiwa House, Bogong, where the Snowy River Hydro-Electric Scheme was being built, as a projectionist, bringing films to the workers in Town Halls.

As I’ve said, my mother stayed in a boarding house for ladies during the week and went home on weekends. I have the first letter that my father wrote to her and references the fact he went calling on her, and she was not there. We’ll never know what she thought, but there’s a second letter, after she wrote back, so a friendship was struck. He told her, almost in minute detail, what he was doing, and presumably, she told him about hers.

A year later, they married.

Now it gets interesting. We both thought that their first house, after getting married was in Carrum. It wasn’t. In the pile of letters were references to the family staying in a rented flat in Camberwell.

Sometime after that, there is a contract for a war service loan in relation to a property in Carrum, which turns out to be the first house they lived in, and where my brother, born in 1950) lived, and where I lived after I was born in 1953. I have interesting if vague memories of this house, and of the people who lived behind us because we could climb through the fence into their property. We knew them during, and after living in Carrum.

Now, today, some interesting new facts came to light about the Carrum house. We always assumed we owned it, but it seems that we didn’t. A copy of the title for that property never had the name Heath on it, so did we rent it? More information is required, and we need to dig deeper. Let’s hope there are no skeletons there.

And something else came out of a discussion with the daughter of my mothers sister, that it was believed my mother’s parents bought them a house in Chelsea, but my father, apparently, refused to live in it and sold it.

OK, I never claimed that my father was the sort that might have accepted charity, so perhaps in a moment of madness, he lost the plot. The question is, what happened to the money?
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