radiance project

I was in awe when legendary All Black, Sir John Kirwan came forward many years ago and spoke publicly of his panic attacks and battle with depression at the height of his career … a battle he succinctly called ‘freaking out’.

Rugby in New Zealand is essentially one of the nations major identities which unfortunately transforms these remarkably talented rugby players into faultless ‘gods’. As in most sports alcohol and drug abuse is a serious issue which I think masks many other underlying problems. The pressure men are placed under is immense, whether its expectations placed on them from others or self-induced it seems to manifests itself in several destructive and debilitating ways. As women, I think we certainly need to be more grateful and acknowledging to the roles our husbands, partners, fathers, brothers and sons fulfil in our lives. I think we need to speak appreciation and gratitude when they provide for us and share our lives. So to have such a revered, talented player and man stand up and share his battle…

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Book Review – “The House of Fiction” by Susan Swingler.

Elizabeth Jolley

Elizabeth Jolley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The House of Fiction” by Susan Swingler

Leonard, Susan, and Elizabeth Jolley


MPS (Mrs Pop-Star) is a regular listener to Richard Fidler‘s superb ABC interview program “Conversations” and heard Susan Swingler interviewed recently. Pop-Star happened to be within ear-shot, and became engrossed in her story too. What he heard whet his appetite to read her book. Within a few minutes, he had purchased and down-loaded it from Amazon to his new Paperwhite Kindle, and started to read  her fascinating story.

The story of Susan’s paternal loss.

Susan Swingler tells of her life with her mother Joyce, after her father Leonard Jolley left them in 1950 when she was just  a four-year old. Although so young, she had vivid memories of  her charismatic father and clung to his promise when they parted, to soon be with them again. Over the years of absence, her heart grew fonder, and she refused to believe that he would not honour his promise.

Then Joyce told her she and Leonard were now divorced. Leonard had remarried.

“Did she know his new wife”? Susan asked of her mother?

“No” Joyce evasively replied.

This was part of a deceit that lasted until just before her 21st birthday. It was only when she needed Leonard’s permission to marry that she discovered details of the family secret and cover-up.

After Leonard left, life was a struggle for the independently minded Joyce, who declined to seek help from her devout Exclusive Brethren parents because they had not approved of her having a University education.

In 1955 industrious Joyce was able with a deposit of just 51 pounds, to purchase a 2650 pound 2 bedroom cottage in Exeter. To help pay the mortgage, she took in tenants, and Susan shared her mother’s bedroom. With their own home, Joyce was able retrieve from storage Susan’s toys and other items from when she lived with Leonard in Birmingham.

One afternoon when her mother was out Susan came across a chest, inside which she found out of fashion clothes, and other items, including her mother’s old diary. She thumbed through it, noting an entry for her birth-date on June 3, 1946. And then she came across a letter with the spidery handwriting of her father on the envelope. It was written by Leonard to Joyce at the time of their separation. Somewhat guiltily she read on, and two sentences down she saw her name. She could hardly believe what she then read. For Pop-Star the sentence was perhaps the most poignant moment of the book

“I think it would be best if you told Susan I was dead”.

Devoted “daddy’s girl” Susan, only then accepted the harsh reality, that her father really wanted to end all contact with her. But why? And why was Leonard ready to go to elaborate lengths to hide from his own Exclusive Brethren family the truth of his own infidelity, divorce and remarriage; even migrating to Perth in Western Australia to avoid all contact.

Susan uncovers the family secrets

It is Susan’s incessant quest to understand the events of her birth that keeps the reader so engrossed. Gradually she gains insights into family events and personalities, and eventually  learns more of the triangular relationship between Leonard, his wife Joyce, and his nurse Monica Knight.  When Monica became pregnant, she moved into the Jolley household.  Five weeks after Monica had a baby girl, Joyce gave birth to Susan. It was an impossible situation for family harmony and stability. After four years of indecision, he eventually resolved the situation without explanation to Susan, by leaving them to live with Monica, who changed her name to Elizabeth. Although angry and disillusioned, Susan could not forget her father and remained committed to meeting him.

It was only near the end of his life that she was able to arrange a meeting with him in his Perth home. His now famous wife, the novelist Elizabeth Jolley, carefully supervised the meeting. It ended disappointingly for Susan. There were many questions she planned to ask her frail and hesitant father but when the chance at last was there, her resolution faltered,  and the opportunity passed. Throughout the interview he hardly took his eyes off Elizabeth, and it was only when saying goodbye that he gave her, what to Susan was surprisingly sweet, a smile of farewell. This at least gave her some assurance of a fondness that had always been so distant.

The last chapters of Susan’s book followed another journey to Australia, where she was able to read the biography of Elizabeth Jolley and meet  the author Brian Dibble. She then read the more autobiographical of Elizabeth Jolley’s novels. Finally she was able with permission to view the letters written between Leonard and Elizabeth. They, along with her diaries and other writings, are stored in trust at the Mitchell library in Sydney for 30 years from Elizabeth’s death in 2007.

This is a book that reveals intimate details of relationships that may be too personal to be made public. To the end, Leonard Jolley maintained his reserve, and was unable to welcome the daughter who had loved him so constantly, and craved his attention. In forfeiting his relationship with her, he did not deserve her.

This book has so much of human interest to ponder. The deepest ties are those between parent and child in need of nurturing.

But it is not always appreciated that grandparents may feel deprived  when denied contact with their grand-children following marriage break-downs. They too grieve when their grand-children suffer.

The new Royal Adelaide Hospital we had to have! Time to have a check-up on what is planned!

East Wing.

East Wing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A political, not a medical agenda

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the New Royal Adelaide Hospital now under construction is more a big-noting political statement than a necessary expansion of the State’s medical program.

The promotional video boasts a world-class hospital but suggests it will be more of a commercial precinct than an acute hospital. Promised are gymnasium, crèche, cafes and shops with parks and recreational areas; all accommodation is in private rooms, something even private hospitals can not yet emulate. A gymnasium may be great for staff, but is scarcely appropriate for an acute hospital where the average stay is only a few days.

The Royal Adelaide medical staff opposed the building of a new hospital on the chosen site, so their views have never been sought on how to make it work. It is becoming increasingly clear that it will just not be possible to dispense with the old RAH in 2016, and that it will necessary to use the two facilities in tandem, at least for some time.

Is it justified to demolish the present Royal Adelaide Hospital?

For 173 years the present hospital has been remodelled, and refitted as required to maintain and upgrade the facilities and equipment of a world-renowned and respected teaching hospital.

Despite the freezing of funds for new constructions on the present site the last few years, the hospital is far from being derelict and in need of demolition. Far from it. Even the now dated East Wing appears to visitors to provide excellent clean, well maintained accommodation, admittedly in six bed bays and not the expensive private rooms planned for the new hospital.

The Casualty and Emergency Department where the hospital interacts with the community is well planned, in excellent condition, and works efficiently. The specialty departments are less on view to public scrutiny, but provide state of art care for those who need it.

The Radiology and Radiotherapy Departments house some horrendously expensive diagnostic and therapeutic equipment; some it might not  be possible to shift.

It has to be questionable whether the new hospital site will be adequate to accommodate all the Departments of the present hospital.

Back to the ” drawing board!”

It is incredible that with construction of the new hospital well underway, it would seem that there has been insufficient medical input, nor has the move with equipment, and subsequent demolition work been properly costed. There is not even a plan for future use of the discarded site.

Outlook in Life

This is the one of the walkway in Topkapi Palace in Gulhane Park, Istanbul.

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Hagia Sophia, now a museum in Istanbul.

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Stopping for lunch, saw this restaurant filled with all sorts of pickles fruits and vegetables, very colourful too.

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…. shot in black and white.

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Leaving Istanbul and taking a ferry to Canakkale from Gelibolu.

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Heading to Canakkale……  See you there!

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