Friday, November 8, 2013


1963 was a significant year for me and not far into the new year on Australia Day, 26 January there was a thunderous downpour and devastating flood in Altona where I lived. It rained for days until 616 million gallons of water had collected in Melbourne dams ending the long drought.
Later that year on 6 November, Dr Daniel Mannix the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne died and most Catholic children (including myself) and about 200,000 people saw him laying in state outside St. Patrick's Cathedral. Towards the end of the year on 22 November, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America who was also Catholic, was assassinated; and then, out of some distant past my mother who had disappeared nearly a decade before, re-entered my life. Suffice to say, it was an emotional year. But why write this now on my blog? Well, I received information from the National Gallery of Victoria that their new exhibition MELBOURNE NOW, which will showcase the work of 300 artists will open on the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of JFK - I'm absolutely sure that their 22 November opening date has nothing to do with his death, but it certainly was a prompter to me to think about that significant year in my life, which appeared to be filled with water (flood and tears). So, here is an excerpt of a chapter of mine called 'Water' from my little book STRANGE BLOOD SPORT that I wrote in 2011, which relies on some of my memories from 50 years ago and in particular of how it affected my grandmother.
The day of the rain, thunderous sounds and lighting flash, cascading water, a literal deluge clogged the pipes, ran down the streets, filled the septic tanks to overflowing, and floated rubbish bins and anything else that wasn’t fixed. The streets and the beach, far away from the creek that had broken its banks combined to form an immense stream. Steels threads of the railway tracks obscured and only some of the wooden sleepers visible. Children the color of lobsters from days before playing in the scorching sun, sat on make-shift surf boards, adults rowed their boats. It was the first time in a decade, water was in abundance. It covered the ground where they had stood and learnt of the death of the Archbishop and later the demise of a President. Buckets of tears and heaving of breasts followed. The water rushed in hard and fast, past the flooded park, past the dome shaped Civic Center that looked like an alien craft had descended into a vast pool and each vehicle that came into view caused a swell that moved the torrent closer and closer.
She wears a sleeveless light summer dress and her shriveled underarms flap wildly as she sweeps. Her ageing flesh moving to some sweet song only of its knowing and the languid flow a strange somniferous tone that called. The water already ten inches deep and rising, but it would not defeat her. She had survived her mother’s death, the loss of her first born, the depression and all its horrors. Suffered the pain and anguish of her sons at war, the death of her husband – good for nothing, drank all the time anyway, and the disappearance of her daughter, who would soon return, but she didn’t know that as she attempted to keep the water at bay. No matter how destructive, no matter how annoying she would not let it overcome her. But no amount of sweeping would make it abate.

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