In the 1980s there was a well-known gardener on Australian television called Allan Seale. He had an almost imperceptible whistling lisp so his ‘S’s’ sounded like sslippery ssuckers. Allan’s dog sometimes made guest appearances on his show (that was my favourite part). My mother liked to watch gardening shows (and grass growing) so I practised my Allan Seale lisp after dinner to avoid doing any homework. One weekend in about 1984 I was a bored, dim-witted teenager visiting friends who happened to live in the same neighbourhood as this gentle man. As soon as I heard my friend say, “He lives about two streets away,” I was off to meet Allan, with my friends following behind me. I ran through his garden, which was filled with native plants before that was fashionable.
“Issh Blackie here?” I whistled when his lovely wife came to answer their front door bell. My friends stood giggling behind a tree.
“No, he’s not,” she said, failing to open the heavy chocolate brown imitation metallic lace screen door (they were de rigeur in the 80s). My confidence faded at this point.
“Oh, how about Allan?” I said realising I couldn’t show off my impressive Allan Seale impersonation with that sentence. She sighed as she shook her head to one side. We stood in silence staring at each other. I hadn’t prepared for this. Allan was out and Blackie hadn’t even bothered to come out of the house to bark at me. I felt like such a moron, I stood on her front door mat grinning like a village idiot for what seemed like half an hour before she shut the door in my face. Then I walked slowly to the corner shop to find comfort in a bag of 20 cent lollies. When Allan got home from work that night his wife probably didn’t bother telling him that some fool stood on their front doorstep impersonating his voice a few hours earlier. Looking back, I really should have tried harder to meet Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, she is my true TV hero.
Being the true romantic single lady that I am, it came to my attention that February 14 was a really bad day for a lot of mature people who are only five cats away from a sad and lonely life. The last time I gave a Valentine’s card was back in the late 70s when I ran to the house of a beautiful blonde boy I had a crush on to deliver my card featuring my carefully disguised handwriting. After I dropped my love note in his letterbox I set a personal best time running home from his house so he wouldn’t know it was me who’d sent him a declaration of undying love (that lasted about 3 weeks).
Apparently condom manufacturers love Valentine’s Day but for those of us who would like to forget this commercial celebration of romance, please remember that some highly successful marriages commenced today, including Elton John and Renate Blauel, Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid and Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
I don’t think I really understood the term ‘Stolen Generations’ until I became a mother. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that someone could walk into your house and steal your children because they believed their way of life and thinking was better than the one your people had followed for thousands of years. Five years ago our then Prime Minister gave this speech as an apology to the original owners of our country. I remember crying as I watched the faces of the elders as they listened to him speaking, the pain of their history etched into their DNA.
“Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”
My beautiful children have now gone back to their day release penitentiary after the longest summer break in recorded history and our school music teacher is helping me stay sane with gifts that keep on giving. She suggested that on my limited single mother budget I could buy my youngest child a parental torture device AKA a recorder. Why? Will it help her learn to be musical? No. Will it promote family harmony? A trillion times no. A moody teenager and an eight year old practising recorder in the next room are not a happy mix. I can already hear the howls of protest. I looked on youtube and there are young whipper snappers playing recorder while Celine Dion sings. Double torture. Please make them stop. Apparently there are different kinds of recorder, soprano, vibrato, psycho, they all sound like hell to me. Mummy says no.