‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ by Kate Morton

Not my usual genre

but I love and respect this book. It deserves the status of a 21st century classic.  Narrated by numerous voices from Birdie Bell to Elodie Winslow, I was immersed in a mystery with twists and ghostly turns, fine art and emotional lives of several families over two centuries of turmoil and heartbreak.

The fluid nature of ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is similar

to the ebb and flow of a river.  In this case the Thames, and the reader should move with the tide, not fight against it.  Accept each individual character and enjoy their allotted time in the book, otherwise an undercurrent could pull you down into reader malaise which may cause you to miss the best bits.

Human emotions are the core of this novel

but some criticism seems to be there are too many characters.  Why?  The classics and modern historical fiction have loads of characters.  I think Kate Morton truly loved her cast of players and couldn’t bear to trim them to fit a mere trifle like a word limit.  Each person has a purpose!

Perhaps the 21st century reader has difficulty due to

a shorter attention span?
less retentive memory?
poorer concentration?
reading skills only suitable for glancing at a small screen?
Tick all of the above
(Sorry, just had to lecture…)

My friends know that rarely, if ever, do I reread a book

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because once read, never forgotten – well, almost – but ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ is the first book in years which I have felt compelled to reread.  It touched on many threads in my own familial life and exposed feelings and understandings.  In one chapter, I had to stop because the emotion became too much as I recalled several elements of my own family’s journey through life and death.  My grandfather was an early 20th century artist, talented and struggling to make a living, perhaps similar to Edward Radcliffe.

Triggered by outstanding writing, we pour our own sentiments into a story

and Kate Morton succeeded in cracking my heart just enough to make the sadness bearable.  Then the atmosphere lightens, a scene change like a stroll in springtime.

Synopsis from publishers Simon and Schuster

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Clockmakers-Daughter/Kate-Morton/9781451649413

“In the depths of a 19th-century winter, a little girl is abandoned on the streets of Victorian London.  She grows up to become in turn a thief, an artist’s muse, and a lover.  In the summer of 1862, shortly after her eighteenth birthday, she travels with a group of artists to a beautiful house on a bend of the Upper Thames.  Tensions simmer and one hot afternoon a gunshot rings out.  A woman is killed, another disappears, and the truth of what happened slips through the cracks of time.  It is not until over a century later, when another young woman is drawn to Birchwood Manor, that its secrets are finally revealed.”

Oh, secrets revealed

but there are a couple of unanswered questions.  This is where a keen reader sees the clever intertextuality and works it out for themselves from the vignettes Kate Morton has polished and refined for us.   Even down to the defining chapter headings—or didn’t anyone notice that.  This story is a puzzle, it appeared to be disparate people until I followed the signposts, keeping observations tucked away for future reference.  Gradually events join up, different eras are linked, a genealogical timeline exposed.

Here’s my incomplete list of characters…

Elodie Winslow, modern archivist
Tip, her great-uncle
Handmade leather satchel
Birdie Bell, young pickpocket
Lily Millington, pickpocket and artist’s muse
Mrs Mack, purveyor of crime
Martin Mack, thug
Pale Joe, sickly boy
Birchwood Manor
Fairy folk tale
Edward Radcliffe, artist and portrait painter
Frances Brown, his fiancée
Lucy Radcliffe, his sister
Thurston Holmes, unpleasant friend
Ada Lovegrove, sad student
Juliet, newspaper columnist
Jack, ex-policeman
Radcliffe Blue diamond

There are beautiful paragraphs

which I would love to reproduce, although being taken out of context would ruin the impact.  There’s grimy poverty stricken London, the joy of wildflowers, the thunder in a storm, a fascinating country manor, the love between Edward Radcliffe and Lily Millington, the dubious behaviour of their friends and family culminating in a shocking moment followed by the ultimate conclusion.

I won’t divulge crucial plot points and

my recommendation is to read ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ without preconceived notions.  Unlike reviewer Caroline E. Tew, Crimson Staff Writer of The Harvard Crimson, I did not expect a resolution that is literal, practical or easy to digest.  Have a pinch of romance in your soul.

There’s a 12-Minute PDF Blog summary out there which should have a Spoiler Alert.  It reports inaccurately on a clue, and pretty much gives the game away.  I am glad I did NOT read it prior to reading the novel.  It exposes the plot in a clinical fashion, ruining the atmosphere and skimming across Kate Morton’s beautiful prose and depth of feeling.

On the other hand

an exceptionally good review of ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ by Jo Casebourne of The Reading Project will give you well-rounded insights into the story and characters in chronological order from 1860s to present day.

Naturally author Kate Morton’s website is an absolute must
https://www.katemorton.com/behind-the-clockmakers-daughter/

I have reproduced a chapter vignette (below) to show a scene of top-notch character writing.  But first, let me ask you to ponder this key question, answerable after reading the book.  Out of the four woman, mother, sister, lover, fiancée, who do you think loved Edward Radcliffe the most?

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Chapter Sixteen ‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ Extract

Leonard Gilbert, ex-soldier, researching the Radcliffe family.
Lucy Radcliffe, now elderly yet still sharp.

“The cottage was pleasantly dark inside, and it took a moment for his gaze to arrive at Lucy Radcliffe in the midst of all her treasures.  She had been expecting him only a minute before, but clearly had more important things to do than sit in readiness.  She was engrossed in her reading, posed as still as marble in a mustard-coloured armchair, a tiny figure in profile to him, a journal in her hand, her back curved as she peered through a magnifying glass at the folded paper.  A lamp was positioned on a small half-moon table beside her and the light it cast was yellow and diffuse.  Underneath it, a teapot sat beside two cups.
‘Miss Radcliffe,’ he said.
‘Whatever do you think, Mr Gilbert?’  She did not look up from her journal.  ‘It appears that the universe is expanding.’
‘Is it?’ Leonard took off his hat.  He couldn’t see a hook on which to hang it, so he held it in two hands before him.”

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NAIDOC Week 2019

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NAIDOC Week 7 July – 14 July 2019

‘Awaken’ artwork by Kaurna and Narungga woman Charmaine Mumbulla.  Charmaine cares deeply about the 2019 National NAIDOC theme, and about the celebration of Indigenous art and history.

“Early dawn light rises over Uluru, symbolising our continued spiritual and unbroken connection to the land.  The circles at the base of Uluru represent the historic gathering in May 2017 of over 250 people from many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations who adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart.  Our message, developed through generations, is echoed throughout the land: hear our voice and recognise our truth.  We call for a new beginning, marked by a formal process of agreement and truth-telling, that will allow us to move forward together.”

Learn more about poster winner Charmaine Mumbulla.

Download a copy of the National NAIDOC Poster and Teaching Guide.

Website https://www.naidoc.org.au/

Indigenous Network https://www.indigenous.gov.au/regional-network

As a National NAIDOC poster winner, Charmaine Mumbulla is excited to be part of NAIDOC history.  Charmaine plans to celebrate NAIDOC Week by taking her children to the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements with a community BBQ and entertainment.  Charmaine will also be doing some workshops at her children’s school and making their favourite morning tea…Johnny cakes with lilly pilly jam.

NAIDOC Week 2019 Artist Mumbulla News

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Toowoomba Mountain Air and Heritage Preserved

From Brisbane, we head inland to Gatton where we stop for lunch before crossing the fertile vegetable-growing plains of the Lockyer Valley.  Our goal is the garden city of Toowoomba, situated in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland on Australia’s Great Dividing Range.

The gradient is steep and it’s a slow climb up the mountain before we crest the plateau and turn left to Picnic Point lookout.  It’s a traditional spot for travellers to stretch their legs and take in the magnificent views which seem to stretch forever into a blue-grey smudge.

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We stop for lunch at the Gatton campus of University of Queensland and admire this heritage-listed Foundation Building constructed in 1896 and used for events and conferences.
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Did you call a taxi? Children’s playground at Picnic Point, Toowoomba.

After checking into our boutique hotel, we take a short walk into town, passing old homes with steep corrugated iron roofs and interesting turrets and chimneys.

A charming old building in Margaret Street, once a grand home with circular driveway, is available for business lease.

In the city centre, shops and offices are still housed in quaint older-style buildings which seem to go on forever when you are inside.

The Book Tree bookshop is an Aladdin’s cave of books and accessories and a friendly salesperson.  The haberdashery store Lincraft is on three levels, basement, middle and top (with creaky wooden floorboards) crammed full of craft-creating supplies and good customer service.

Friendly staff seem to be the theme throughout Toowoomba including the upmarket shopping precinct Grand Central which contains everything the modern shopper has come to expect—plus a book swap library.

The seminar, the reason for our visit, isn’t until next day so we decide to walk through Queens Park Botanic Gardens, bypassing an old steamroller, to visit Cobb & Co Museum.  Originally a coach museum in honour of Cobb & Co horse-drawn coaches which ran the length and breadth of Queensland in ye olde days, the museum has been rehoused and now contains a myriad of local and culturally significant items.

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Walking towards Cobb and Co Historical Museum, Toowoomba Queensland, with Queens Park Botanic Gardens on the left.
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Outside the Cobb & Co Museum, Toowoomba, admiring the huge display of Southern Cross windmills.

We are lucky enough to get a personal guided tour—thank you, Sharon—and learn the ins and outs of the exhibits from coaches to goat carts, blacksmith forge to wooden clothing (photos below) and local Indigenous heritage.

The museum interior meanders like an old country trail with something different around every bend.

I discover that even though male passengers paid full fare, in the olden days they were expected to assist with river crossings, fallen logs, opening and closing stock gates, and to ‘lighten the load’ by walking up hills.  What a hardy bunch!  We need survivor TV shows to see that level of guts and determination today.

Images below show Chris Mills-Kelly’s delicately carved wooden bonnet, dress and shoes for the Artisans Challenge 2012.  It is both fascinating and moving; these small articles represent the clothing Indigenous children were made to wear for photo opportunities, adoption interviews and to impress important visitors, in contrast to their natural birthright.

After a delicious museum lunch with a huge lamington for dessert (below) we wind our way back to the hotel through misty rain.

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Made by the dozen, lamingtons are a traditional Australian dessert. Ingredients are a sponge square dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. The lamington pictured is larger than normal and usually not served with the bonus of cream or raspberry coulis.

My brochure reads “Although the famous coaches and tenacious horse teams and drivers are now long gone, Cobb & Co continues to live on in Australian history as the country’s greatest coaching company.”

The Cobb & Co Museum conducts workshops and various events and activities throughout the year.  Our museum guide told us the workshops book out quickly.  The specialist trades of yesteryear are back in fashion, wheelwright, silversmith, leadlighting, etc.  One day I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at kangaroo leather plaiting.  It’s a three-day course to make a belt or a whip, so watch this space.  Yippee aye yay!

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Originally called Cliffordene, now Harris House, this stately old home in central Toowoomba relied on crowd funding for restoration until it was handed over to National Trust two years ago. Sadly the garden is in need of work.

We walked by this gracious old residence, Harris House, every day.  At leisure, I explored parks, galleries and cafes.  Everybody was ready for a chat.  Of course, I checked out the fashion clothing stores.  Toowoomba is colder in winter than Brisbane so I ended up buying several long sleeved t-shirts which I wore in layers under my jacket.

So nice to have a change of scene and a change of season.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

‘Commuter Scene’ in The Drabble

Delighted to be Drabbled! Love the accompanying photo, just wish I was as glamorous as this young woman Gretchen.

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By Gretchen Bernet-Ward

It’s nauseating. I usually don’t read on public transport. Sentences sway like a line of melting ants. I look out the bus window, watching cars whoosh along one level, trains on another. Soon train tracks swoop down, crossing the road. Ding, ding, ding, shrills the signal. A teenager ducks under the falling boom gate and sprints across the tracks. Impatient, foolish. Two seconds between life and resembling dog vomit. Platform security guards move in. The teenager projects nonchalance then slumps onto a metal seat. The bus moves off and my eyes fall to the formicine words.

           
“The written word has been a big part of my work-life, never for personal fulfillment. The birth of my blog activated the joyous freedom of self-expression. I use public transport and, oh, the things I’ve seen …” – the author

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Bribie Island Butterfly House Visit

The world’s best loved insects – butterflies.  As soon as I walked into the Bribie Island Butterfly House, a sense of calm enveloped me.  Founder Ray Archer says “Butterflies are beautiful and very peaceful insects” and I can attest to that.

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Blue Tiger

This tranquil not-for-profit organisation was founded by Ray and Delphine Archer who sold their business Olive Products Australia and moved to beautiful Bribie Island, off the south-east coast of Queensland, so Ray could devote time to his passion for breeding and raising butterflies.

I’d like to take you on a stroll through the butterflies domain.  But first we will learn a few facts from the Nursery before entering their airy, sun-filled, flower-perfumed enclosure.

A LESSON OR TWO ON BUTTERFLIES . . .

  • A female butterfly may lay between 100 to 200 eggs, and within a week or so a caterpillar will hatch.
  • A caterpillar breathes through tiny holes in its sides and will eat its own weight in leaf material every day until the final skin is discarded and the chrysalis hardens.
  • Inside the chrysalis, metamorphosis continues as the butterfly is formed and this can take weeks, months or sometimes years.
  • When the final stages of the caterpillar are complete, the newly formed adult butterfly will emerge, needing a few hours to dry its wings before taking flight.
  • Butterflies don’t have a mouth, they use their proboscis like a straw to drink nectar from flowers.
  • Butterflies have two large compound eyes which offer a wide visual field and extreme colour vision. 
  • The two antennae on a butterfly’s head help with navigation and detecting plant aromas and a prospective mate.

AND THE ONE YOU WILL BE TESTED ON . . .

  • Butterflies are insects in the macrolepidopteran clade Rhopalocera from the order Lepidoptera.

Ready to go inside?  You have to go slow because butterflies don’t dive-bomb you like mosquitoes.  Silent wings flutter by, difficult to photograph, I marvel at their fragility.

Photos left to right—Plant-filled entry; a vine chock-full of happy butterflies; misty air rises from a vaporizer; a Common Crow, why that name?; a Swamp Tiger against the blue sky; newly hatched Monarch; oops, there’s two Orchard Swallowtails mating, best move on  . . .

NEXT I NOTICED QUIRKY THINGS TUCKED AROUND THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE . . .

Hanging pot planters and gumboots stuffed with plants.
A rather clandestine bubbler and a secret butterfly door.
Inspirational quote and landing pad stocked with nutritious butterfly food.

This lady (below) had to make sure she was butterfly-free before leaving.  The butterflies landed on hair and hats.  Interestingly, they stayed well clear of the heavy black plastic doors, perhaps because their focus is on light, bright colours.

Before departing I visited the plant section where butterfly-friendly plants (see chart) were available for purchase.  There is no cafe and no merchandising, and nobody telling visitors The Rules.  The only suggestion is to leave your worries in a bin at the door.  Quite a refreshing visit in more ways than one!

The Bribie Island Butterfly House exists to provide a sense of purpose and lasting friendships among their volunteers, to offer visitors an enjoyable and educational visit in a peaceful environment and to help the disadvantaged via donations to charities.

Grow a patch of dandelions!  Check out Lyn’s wonderful UK Butterflies And Garden blog.  Pledge to stop using manufactured pesticides!  Around my area, the green tree frog and butterfly populations have severely decreased due to the rise in toxic garden herbicides and pesticides.  Think natural, not noxious!

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 And, of course, my avatar is a hand-drawn butterfly.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Three Things #6

Blabbing about three topics based on READING LOOKING THINKING.  This time a poetry collection, real live butterflies and overrating books.  One post in three parts, a neat idea started by blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley of Book Jotter.  Jump in! 😃 GBW.


BRUCE DAWE – POET

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Dawe

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READING:  The dust-jacket image of a wooden paling fence on Bruce Dawe’s outstanding 1969 poetry collection ‘Beyond the Subdivisions’ will be familiar to anyone who lived in Australia in the middle decades of the 20th century.  Timber mills must have worked overtime because everyone had a six-foot fence enclosing three sides of their quarter acre suburban block of land.  A subdivision was formed by building identical weatherboard or brick veneer homes.  Now called a housing estate or residential development but probably just as uniform.

Cravensville by Bruce Dawe

‘Run-of-the-mill’, you well might call this town
—A place where many go, but few remain,
Where you’d be mad to want to settle down,
Off the main road, too far from bus or train,
Neither backblocks enough to suit the likes
Of most of us, nor moderately supplied
With urban comforts, good for mystery hikes,
But not the place to take the happy bride.

Population : 750, the guide-books say . . .
After a week or two the hills close in,
And what you came to find here moves away
(If it was ever here . . .)
‘So what’s your sin?’
The barman says, with a wink, and the blowfly drone
Of justification starts, for him alone.

Bruce Dawe Poet Photo and QuotationThis slim grey poetry book with orange lining was purchased for one dollar at UQ Alumni Book Fair 2019.  The original 1969 price sticker on the front reads $1.95 which is confirmed on the inside flyleaf.  In fifty years it had never been opened.

Back to the paling fence—as a child, I remember thinking the fence was insurmountable.  Tall and ominous, it forbade me from seeing what was on the other side.  As I grew older, I tried to climb the cross struts (usually only on one side of the fence) and couldn’t get a toe-hold.  Splinters searing through my fingers, I fell back to ground.  However, this didn’t stop me.  Growing taller and bolder, one day I wrenched myself up and peeked over the top of the fence to see what our elderly nextdoor neighbour’s backyard looked like.  Pretty ordinary as I recall.  By this time, her children had moved away, the pets had passed away and I was way more interested in pop singers.

What has this got to do with Bruce Dawe, Australian poet extraordinaire?  Nothing really, except I love his gritty poetry about what goes on beyond those wooden fences.  Such insight, such lyrical, satirical prose.  His words may appear nostalgic, yet not, because human nature never really changes.  GBW.


BRIBIE ISLAND BUTTERFLY HOUSE

https://www.bribieislandbutterflyhouse.org/

LOOKING:  The Bribie Island Butterfly House, north of Brisbane, is a community organisation run by volunteers.  It is an incredibly tranquil experience to walk into a huge enclosure filled with beautiful flowers and thousands of butterflies.  There is not a sound.  Around a corner are small bubblers yet nothing detracts from the calm, delicate atmosphere.  I was lucky to visit on a sunny day because apparently this makes the butterflies more active—but as my photographs below will demonstrate, it was hard to get a still image.

Six blurry shots of a Lesser Wanderer butterfly, fluttering its wings so fast and furious I gave up trying to focus.  It was enjoying the nectar from the daisy-like flower and nothing was going to distract it.  I thought perhaps it would stop for a quick rest but it didn’t.  That flower must have been delicious!

As I was reading the information brochure, a Swamp Tiger butterfly landed on it.  They like light, bright colours and often landed on the visitors sunhats.  The spotted Monarch butterfly on the right was newly hatched and getting its bearings.

The next photo I took was of two butterflies mating . . . sorry, folks, but this post is only a trailer.  I have heaps more to tell you so please visit my full report with photos on Bribie Island Butterfly House Visit.  GBW.


OVERRATING BOOKS

Dangers Of Hyping Books
https://madamewriterblog.com/2019/05/27/dangers-of-hyping-books/

Discussion: To Read Or Not To Read Reviews
https://thoughtsstainedwithink.com/2019/01/28/discussion-to-read-or-not-to-read-reviews/

The Most Nonsensical Terms Used In Book Blurbs
https://litreactor.com/columns/the-most-nonsensical-terms-used-in-book-blurbs

THINKING:  First, I would like to thank Madame Writer and Thoughts Stained With Ink and Peter Derk of LitReactor for voicing several bookish Thoughts on subjects which I have mused over but never put into Words.  They raised some valid questions, none I can satisfactorily answer but I would like to respond—

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We all know book publicity takes many forms.  It’s a big leap from when William Shakespeare saw his posters printed off a hand-blocked press.  Currently we have literary journals, author talks, Facebook, dedicated websites, bloggers, online bookshops, the list goes on, all reviewing with a positive spin.  More on that further down.

I follow trusted book reviewers (you know who you are!) and receive publishers e-newsletters.  I don’t read backcover book blurb unless my mind is filled with a healthy dose of scepticism.  I don’t read a book review unless it’s from my independent sources or I am already halfway through the story.  Likewise I won’t read book hype, particularly on social media, until I’ve formed my own opinion.  When I finish a book, I read blurb, reviews and hype just to see if I agree with everyone.  Not always, but that’s the beauty of personal opinion.

Then there’s snappily worded book bolstering, raking through the coals of already formed opinions, to generate a spark in book sales and sway the undecided reader.  I don’t review most of the books I read but after reading I make a mental note of the merits of each one.  And the Choose-Your-Own process works for me.  I’ve read some great books which I originally knew nothing about.  Stubborn, yes, belief in book hype, no.

IMG_20190527_1655338Which brings me to the reviewers, particularly those who receive an ARC in return for an honest review.  Are their reviews strictly honest?  Do they leave out the bits they don’t like? Fudge the wording?  I’ve yet to read a scathing review for a publisher’s complimentary copy.  Someone out there must have written an unhappy book review, one where it genuinely states ‘This book is rubbish’ and not because they don’t like the genre.

Fear holds us back; fear of no longer receiving free copies; fear of being pilloried by other readers; fear of ridicule from fans; fear of not sounding smart enough; fear of being the kid in the classroom who stands out for all the wrong reasons.  We shouldn’t have any fear about expressing ourselves honestly but we do.  Be nice, be fair but does that mean be honest?  Rather than admit they don’t like a book, reviewers have been known NOT to write a review.  Almost misinformation for both reader and author.

I’m under no allusion that my Three Things #6 will make waves in the blogging community yet I still put myself out there, turning my Thoughts into Words, and trying not to be fearful of the result.  GBW.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

My ‘Photo of the Week’ Pictorial

Readers of my blog often go straight to my current post which detours Photo Of The Week on my Home page.  I’ve gathered together some of my favourite shots—just in case you’ve missed a couple!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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An apologetic alien in the corner of the bedroom ©GBW2019
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Walking home through the Great Court at University of Queensland, Brisbane, after attending the rare book auction in Fryer Library on Friday 3 May 2019. The 4-day book fair continued over the long weekend https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/ ©GBW2019
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Easter Saturday and I unearthed this little old turtle in the back garden ©GBW2019
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The perfect place to sit and read as evening falls on another long day ©GBW2019
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Action figures left on the shelf, a child’s forgotten game ©GBW2019
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The rain has gone and Poppy is ready to go outside ©GBW2019
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Polly Pocket pet shop on piano – The concept was originally designed by Chris Wiggs in 1983 for his daughter Kate Wiggs. Using a powder compact, he fashioned a little house for a little doll. When opened, later models showed inside a miniature dollhouse or various interiors with tiny Polly Pocket figurines living, working and playing ©GBW2019
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I’m watching you, always watching you ©GBW2019
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Blue Berry Ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus) an evergreen Australian native tree which grows along the east coast. The white flowers and blue fruit feature twice a year. Animals eat the berries but humans find them unpalatable https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2002/elaeocarpus-reticulatus.html ©GBW2019
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Cute young camels at Summer Land Camel Farm, Harrisville Queensland Australia https://summerlandcamels.com.au/ ©GBW2019
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A tunnel, a cave or portal? For a wizard, a dragon or alien? ©GBW2019
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Created in 1985 by Brisbane sculptors Leonard and Kathleen Shillam “Five Pelicans” sit in the Queensland Art Gallery water mall, viewed from the Australian Glass and Ceramic Pelican Lounge https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/australian-glass-and-ceramic ©GBW2019
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Bromeliad, guzmania genus, perennial monocotyledon, throws an afternoon shadow on the path ©GBW2019
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Addicted to adult colouring books https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/08/24/revisiting-adult-colouring-books/ ©GBW2019
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Return to yesteryear on a steam train tour from Brisbane to Toowoomba operated by the Australian Railway Historical Society. Each year tourists travel by steam train to Toowoomba’s spectacular Carnival Of Flowers https://www.tcof.com.au/full-day-steam-train-tour/ ©GBW2019
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Every day is a happy blogging day! ©GBW2019
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The Degraves Street Subway and Campbell Arcade, once glamorous 1950s shops, now with artspace, hair salons and Cup of Truth Coffee Bar for commuters accessing Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Australia https://cv.vic.gov.au/blog/archive/degraves-street-subway-and-campbell-arcade-the-underground-artspace/ ©GBW2019
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Optical illusion ©GBW2019
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“Experience is never limited, and it is never complete, it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every airborne particle in its tissue”––Writer/poet Henry James ©GBW2019
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Peering through the magnifying glass of original World Expo88 butterfly catcher statue at Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, Brisbane, Australia ©GBW2019
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Viewed while walking through Queensland Gallery of Art, South Bank, Brisbane, silver balls floating on ponds ©GBW2019

Jimmy Barnes Working Class Rock Star Book Review

It is said Jimmy Barnes is the heart and soul of Australian rock and roll…if you like his style.  His rasping voice was the sound of the Eighties and everyone knew his song lyrics.  Four decades later and he’s still going strong. 

James Dixon ‘Jimmy’ Barnes (né Swan) was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 28 April 1956 and raised in Elizabeth, South Australia.  His career as the lead vocalist with the rock band Cold Chisel, and later as a solo performer, has made him one of the most popular and best-selling Australian music artists of all time.

From 1973–present, Barnes career has spanned singer-songwriter-musician with vocals, guitar, harmonica and flute and he has received tonnes of music awards (and two Australian Book Industry awards) been inducted twice into the ARIA Hall of Fame and presented with the Order Of Australia medal.

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Underneath the gravelly vocals and rough exterior, Jimmy Barnes struggled with an inferiority complex which manifested itself in alcohol and drug addiction for many years.  The question on everyone’s lips was ‘How did he survive?’  Barnes wrote two autobiographies ‘Working Class Boy’ and ‘Working Class Man’ to answer this question.

I doubt his first book ‘Working Class Boy’ (published 2016) was fully edited.  Raw and basic, it is a litany of hope, fear, addiction and the search for acceptance.  Acceptance from his violent father, his mates and his audience.  He writes about childhood abuse, how he ran amok through the towns of Elizabeth and Adelaide and later the Australian east coast, singing, drinking, finding a dealer, finding a girl and not sleeping for 24 hours or more.  A son, performer David Campbell, is the result of a fling in his teenage years.  Barnes’ second father, the man whose name he adopted, was a mentor of sorts until rock music became the epicentre of his life.

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Jimmy Barnes ‘My Criminal Record’ collectors edition in vinyl

Barnes second book, a sequel titled ‘Working Class Man’ (published 2017) chronicles his thoughts of suicide and his continuous drug-taking and excessive alcohol consumption to the point of tedium.  A horrible thing to say when I think of the mental and physical torment he was trying to escape.  Still, it didn’t stop him singing—albeit clutching a Vodka bottle on stage every night—nor did it stop him gaining more and more success and greater financial stability as his music career took off.  He began to live the life of a rock star.

Then Jimmy Barnes body let him down.  After surgery, he tried to calm down and write his life story.  It’s not a pretty read, examining old memories, but it’s honest.  There are plenty of photographs and name-dropping, and Barnes talks about his wife Jane Mahoney, their children and extended family.  He is now a grandfather and this shocked me the most!

“If you want to write a memoir, you’ve got to be ready to bare your soul” Jimmy Barnes

No rating because of the ‘chicken and egg’ situation, did his fame boost the books or did the books boost his fame?

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Website https://www.jimmybarnes.com/
Biography https://www.jimmybarnes.com/biography/
Books https://www.jimmybarnes.com/books/
Press Interview and Movie Clip  https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/for-hyperactive-jimmy-barnes-new-album-and-tour-is-just-the-beginning-20190528-p51s26.html

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https://www.jimmybarnes.com/news/tour-announcement-jimmy-barnes-is-shutting-down-your-town/

Brookfield Show – My Rural Ramble

My pictorial of the Brookfield Show 2019 is pretty much in the order of how I wandered around this country-style event.  Although the local landowners are on acreage, the suburb of Brookfield, Queensland, is no longer strictly a farming district nor agricultural growing region.

Yet every year the Brookfield Show comes along and every year thousands of residents flock through the old wooden gates, keen to sample what is known as Brisbane’s Biggest Little Country Show.

I will loosely describe my photos by what they do and don’t feature:

  • General store, main entrances and show arena.
  • Inside Brookfield Hall built 1871 housing the Needlework and Craft Sections.
  • Scarecrows on the way to the Cake Pavilion and cupcake winners.
  • Side view of the main arena and medieval-looking food tents.
  • Prize-winning flower displays and trays of prize-winning fruit and vegetables.
  • Sideshow alley with a ride pumped up and down at a frightening pace.
  • This year I didn’t photograph the sweet hand-spun pink fairy floss on a stick.
  • Inside Pioneer Cottage museum; outside (not shown) log hand-sawing demo.
  • Side view of the traditional Country Women’s Association tea room.
  • Woodwork Pavilion (not shown) to racing pigs having a break between gigs.
  • I purchased a framed mixed media artwork (shown below) from Art Pavilion.
  • Detoured the snake handling demonstration (not shown!)
  • Had a rest in the ‘grandstand’ before heading home.
  • The newspapers which highlight features of the show.

Evening events included live music in the Members’ Bar (aka pub) and ringside nighttime spectaculars featured bucking broncos and fireworks.

The Brookfield Show was the forerunner of our State’s grandest show The Royal National Exhibition but this year I didn’t see (or couldn’t find) any farm animals on Sunday except showjumping horses and pig racing.  Perhaps other contenders had already been judged and gone home, taking their ribbons with them.

Nowadays it’s difficult to take photos at events especially where there are children.  I am mindful of safety and privacy standards.  Usually I wait until everyone has gone out-of-frame before I snap an image.  Sometimes this makes it look like the place is empty!

Brookfield Show is held over three days in May and, as the legend goes, it often rains but this year the autumn weather in Brookfield was delightfully warm and sunny.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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‘Falling Slowly’ by Helene Moorhouse © Mixed medium thread fabric 2019

Take a Test ‘Creative Types’

On a go-slow day at home, I clicked a link from a fellow writer and discovered this cool/cute/interesting Adobe Create personality test.  It invited me to answer 15 questions.  Eight creative types are on offer and once I’d completed the test I was given a full explanation of My Creative Type.

This quiz-like questionnaire gave me a joyful, colourful few minutes.  I could take it or leave it, the results are rather like a horoscope, but it did give me a confidence boost.

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‘Visionary’ Creative from Adobe Types Test

Apparently I am “VISIONARY – A visionary combines a vivid imagination with a desire for practical solutions. Your introspective and intuitive nature is balanced by a keen interest in the world around you.”  The rest is private!

The Adobe Creators say “The Creative Types test is an exploration of the many faces of the creative personality.  Based in psychology research, the test assesses your basic habits and tendencies—how you think, how you act, how you see the world—to help you better understand who you are as a creative.  Answer these 15 questions and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your motivations, plus insight into how to maximize your natural gifts and face your challenges.”

“These personality types aren’t black-and-white labels.  Think of them more as signposts pointing you toward your full creative potential.  While there’s probably one core type that best describes you, you may change types at different points in your life and career, or even at different stages of the creative process.  As a creative, you have a little bit of all eight Types inside you.”

Click or cut and paste the links:

Creative Types Test
https://mycreativetype.com/share/producer/?fbclid=IwAR2VZtjJ3U3MMYLNxyioJ6vQGX_ocWTLex5wD4Kw3iCVfZAU7M3aT59LyIQ

About the Team
https://mycreativetype.com/about/

Eight Creative Types
https://mycreativetype.com/the-creative-types/

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‘The Maker’ Creative from Adobe Types Test

The slick visuals are not completely computer generated because if you look closely you can see the human touches.  Kind of endearing.  Try it!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

THAT is a Stupid Word

THAT debate rages on.  THAT is an overused, unnecessary word, a redundant filler which bulks out your manuscript and changes just about anything into THAT nothingness.

Increasingly, ambiguous THAT is being used instead of ‘who’ and ‘which’ or more descriptive words to introduce a defining clause.  This is happening universally in writing today; THAT is slowing and neutralising sentences.

Seven examples where THAT is incorrect or useless, write your own, you get my drift:

  1. She said that it was in her best interest – delete.
  2. They walked down the stairs that are rather grand – use which.
  3. He visits the koala that he sponsors – delete.
  4. Judy thinks Angela is the sort of woman that enjoys tennis – use who.
  5. He assumed that they all wanted to singalong with him – delete.
  6. It takes a minute to realise that Sue is talking – delete.
  7. Tom has to tell her that her dog has been stolen – OK-ish.

A pronoun is a word taking the place of a noun.  THAT is a demonstrative pronoun and used in the right context it has a legitimate reason to exist, e.g. ‘That’s a good idea’.

That Word That Deleted

It is perfectly valid when THAT appears in character dialogue, but when a writer indiscriminately uses THAT in other areas of their work, I find it needlessly clunky.

Of course, you can change a passive voice to an active voice, or use the rule ‘Who is a person, THAT is an object’.  Remember ‘Who, what, when, where, why’ to help you decide.

On the other hand, there’s always exceptions.  Use your own discretion as to where you like or don’t like THAT, and where THAT actually does fit in your sentence.  Once you become aware of THAT, you will probably get rid of it unless you use American English.

CHALLENGE 

  • Read through text or a draft you have written in the last month.
  • Check for how many time you use the word THAT.
  • Are you surprised at your usage?
  • Could you use a more expressive word than THAT?
  • Could you condense your word count by omitting THAT?
  • Read a novel or document and watch for THAT exploitation.

IMG_20190513_111412Like me, not everyone has a degree in English grammar, check further:
https://www.bkacontent.com/avoid-overusing-word-writing/
https://www.thefreedictionary.com/List-of-pronouns.htm
https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/09/07/that-who-which/

If there’s a ‘Ditch THAT’ campaign running, I will sign up!

Why?  Because current literary exertion is being spent on THAT, an overworked and superfluous word.  What more can I say about THAT?  Or, what more can I say?

‘That’s all, folks’

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Quote by Malala Yousafzai

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Malala Yousafzai was born 12 July 1997 in the Swat district of northwest Pakistan, where her father was a school owner, active in educational issues and humanitarian work. Malala Yousafzai became a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the local Taliban had banned girls from attending school. Malala’s advocacy has grown, with acknowledgement and awards world-wide and the establishment of Malala Fund which invests in education programmes to help girls go to school and reach their full potential https://www.malala.org/malalas-story

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Scribbles Masterclass 2019

One of my favourite contemporary children’s writers is Jen Storer.  Wise, warm and wonderful, Jen imparts her wealth of knowledge on Girl and Duck online with Scribbles courses, Questions and Quacks videos, Facebook live sessions and a yearly Masterclass.

Here is a letter from Jen Storer


Scribbles Masterclass Logo 2019

Scribbles Masterclass 2019

Dear Children’s Literature Creators,

KidLit Vic is fast approaching and so is the annual Scribbles Masterclass!

  • Scribbles Masterclass
  • 4.1 Hayden Raysmith Room
  • Ross House
  • 247 Flinders Lane (That’s right. Across the street from Brunetti!) Melbourne Australia
  • Friday 24 May 2019
  • 2pm – 5pm

Note: This year we have a SECRET special guest joining us!

If you would like to join me (and my special guest), please CLICK HERE to book your place by Wednesday, 15 May 2019 10pm (AEST).  There are still a few spots left.

IMPORTANT:  You do not have to be attending KidLit Vic Melbourne in order to join the Masterclass.  We are not affiliated, we just time it that way because lots of Scribblers are in town!

Stay scribbly!

Jen Storer
Children’s Author and Chief Inspirationalist at Girl and Duck.com*


Scribbles Masterclass Information 2019*Girl and Duck is a flourishing online community of emerging and established children’s literature creators (authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, designers and enthusiasts) with members from all over Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Europe.

Learn more about Duckies, Scribblers, writers and illustrators:
https://girlandduck.com/

Click to BOOK your Masterclass 2019 place NOW.  I know first-hand it’s a fun learning experience.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Scribbles Masterclass Melbourne May 2019 Panel
Girl and Duck ‘Scribbles’ Masterclass panel featuring Jen Storer, Lucinda Gifford and Judith Rossell, May 2019 Melbourne Australia.

Travel Tribute to H V Morton and Wales

This faded old book jumped out at me.  I believe interconnections exist everywhere in many forms but none so strongly as with books.

I spied this hardback ‘In Search of Wales’ by H.V. Morton, with sixteen illustrations and a map, resting on one of the tables at UQ Alumni Book Fair.  It was published by Methuen & Co. Ltd London in 1932 and purchased by the Parliamentary Library in Queensland, Australia, on 27 July 1932.  My photographs don’t convey the substance of this volume.

Apart from my purchase giving me a tenuous Queensland connection, since I have been blogging I have come to know bloggers from Wales like Book Jotter, and people with ties to Wales, so I guess I was curious to find out some early 20th century history.

There is a city named Ipswich, west of the capital Brisbane, Queensland, and it has Welsh heritage from the founding families, the legacy of coal mines, and street names I can’t pronounce.  It was going to be our capital city but being situated inland away from sea ports (and always hotter in summer) Brisbane took over the coveted position.

When I look at the B&W images in this book, I can’t help but feel strong emotion for those Welsh families, the people who came to Queensland in 1851 and started afresh.  Whether it was out of necessity, assisted passage, general interest or just sheer bravery, it was a long way to come to start a new life in a totally different land.

The three photos (below) are 1. Cornfields, 2. Druid ceremony conducted by the Archdruid at the Gorsedd Stone, 3. Cockle women of Penclawdd on the seashore.  It looks cold!  Throughout there are two-page spreads of dramatic valleys, stoney castles and heartbreaking portraits of mining men and soot-covered boys.

My new old book was deleted from the Old Parliament Library catalogue on 22 October 1996 and I wondered where it had been since then.  ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I am enjoying it now on 10 May 2019’.  Then I saw a small pencilled Dewey notation on the back cover map UL914.29 Mor.  It had probably languished in the University Library.

As yet I haven’t tracked down all the details of author, Henry Vollam Morton, and even though he was a well-known journalist and travel writer, the information in the final pages doesn’t give much away.  There is an insightful personal comment (photo below) which ends with three tiny icons, perhaps foreshadowing today’s social media links.

Further material tells me that the author’s book ‘…is more than a travel book, it is a sensitive interpretation of a country’s people and their history.’  He wrote a series called ‘The Search Books’ and further along it reads ‘Since that time Mr Morton’s gay and informative travels…have gained him thousands of readers.’

At this late stage, a book review would be rather tricky—okay, it would be hard for me to get my head around.  H.V. Morton travels far and wide through Wales and writes in depth.  The voice, the style of that era (nicer than brash Bill Bryson) is easy to read and written in a friendly, personal way with warmth in every chapter.  Allowing for the off-key words we don’t use today, there is factual information and humorous stories, and in Chapter Six he asks the usual traveller’s question and receives a great reply—

“The first village, commonly and charitably called Llanfair, provides the stranger with an impossible task among the Welsh place-names.
Its title is: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch

This is no joke.  It is only too true!  The full name, however, is never used but it appears only slightly amputated in the Ordnance Survey maps.
The postal name is Llanfair P.G. or Llanfairpwll.

I entered the first inn and said to those who were drinking in the bar ‘I will buy anyone a drink who can pronounce the full name of this place.’
There was an ominous silence until an old man, finishing his beer, stood up and sang it!

‘And what does it mean?’ I asked.
‘It means,’ I was told, ‘the Church of St Mary in a wood of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and near St Tysilio’s cave close to a red cave’.” 

Sounds magical to me.  Daith yn hapus!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Another beautiful coincidence – it is not springtime in Australia, it is cool autumn weather. Yet these daffodils, a Welsh symbol, were outside my local supermarket the day after I purchased the book at UQ Alumni Book Fair.

Further reading from Niall Taylor, Glastonbury, England, and HVM Society
https://hvmorton.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/great-british-car-journeys/

Rare Book Auction and Alumni Book Fair PART THREE

On your marks, get set…

The University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2019 at St Lucia, Brisbane, had been in full swing for a couple of days before I arrived on the third day.  One more day to go with no sign of running out of keen customers or brilliant book bargains.

The Exhibition Hall is huge!

The whole area was filled with tables covered in books of every shape, size, colour and genre.  I couldn’t name every section without going cross-eyed but there were technical books, reference books, fiction, non-fiction, and fun stuff like mixed media (including old vinyl records) and cool kids books.

I could say romance novels jostled for position with items such as travel guides and political biographies but everything was grouped in an orderly manner, well marked and easy to access.  I was surprised to see numerous large old dictionaries for sale, however, the eclectic poetry section caught my eye.  Ooh, Bruce Dawe.

Total absorption

The whole area was spacious, clean and civilised.  I expected a few gasps or cries of joy when The One, that perfect addition to a series or a special edition was found and held aloft.  But no, basically the customers had their own agendas and moved calmly from book table to book table with carry bags, totally absorbed.  By my estimation, I think you could expect to spend about two hours scanning and sifting through the books, more if you wanted to read pages here and there.

Stacks of boxes

In the first photo (above) in the distance you can see a stack of book boxes, then in the second photo you see the book boxes up close.  That opened box was about head-height and a volunteer told me those boxes had stretched along the walls, and every day they were emptied.  Volunteers in purple t-shirts worked tirelessly the whole time I was there, unpacking, shelving, answering queries, and working at the payment points.

Afternoon tea

In the adjacent cafeteria (delicious homemade strawberry cake) I displayed some of the haul.  You will spy a small red book in the left-hand photo which I have opened in the right-hand photo.  The dust-jacket is missing and the previous owner had not liked naughty boy Pierre and scribbled on him in pencil but I love it.  After a bit of searching, I found out this little Maurice Sendak volume is one of four, a Nutshell Library boxed set published in 1962 by HarperCollins.

Time to go

On display in the foyer of the Exhibition Hall were enlarged travel images and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the duck and ducklings.  Overall, the synchronicity of UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers created an exceptional event.

Walking back to the bus stop, weighed down with my treasure, the water bubbling through the pipes of this fountain made a relaxing sound so I stopped to admire it.

As I stood there, I thought about the massive amount of books on every subject imaginable which showed how far we have come, and how much of value we have left behind.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


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My previous posts:

Part One
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/
Part Two
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/05/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-two/