Book Review – “Cabin Fever” by Elizabeth Jolley

Elizabeth Jolley, one of Australia’s most distinguished novelist of the 20th century, migrated with her librarian husband Leonard to Australia in 1959, settling in the beautiful West Australian city Perth. Although she had trained and worked as a nurse during and after the Second World War, she developed an aptitude for writing. completing 23 literary works before her death in 2007. I am reading a trilogy of her previously published novels titled the Vera Wright Trilogy published in 2010 by Persea Books, New York. This is an ideal introduction to her literature since these three books are outstanding, and in sequence represent an autobiographical insight into her own life.

The first volume “My Father’s Moon” has been previously reviewed. This post introduces the second, “Cabin Fever”.


“Moonstruck”

I wrote this book review for Amazon, and take the liberty of reproducing it here.

I purchased a paper-back copy of “The Vera Wright Trilogy” a month ago and have now finished reading the first volume “My Father’s Moon”. I wanted to read this compilation of three of her best novels because they are recognised as the most autobiographical of her 23 literary works, and I wished to understand Elizabeth Jolley as a person, as well as an Australian writer of the twentieth century with an international reputation, who passed away in 2007.

I was disappointed when the book first arrived, and I thumbed through its pages. There was no plot. It was a collection of disjointed, out of sequence reminiscences, as they had sprung to her mind. Numerous characters entered the narrative with little introduction, only to be abandoned without mention as they sank from her memory.

But then I started reading “My Father’s Moon” from the beginning and became increasingly absorbed with her yarn, knowing that in the fictional character Vera Wright, she has related her own intimate experiences as a school-girl maturing into womanhood. Her recollections, still vivid, express her inner thoughts and feelings, some cherished, others painful.

The opening scene is a painful one. To her parents’ dismay she had become pregnant out of wedlock, and had bravely chosen to keep her child Helena, despite the ongoing shame and hardship for single mothers then. On her own, Vera returned to live with her parents, but soon became all too aware of her Austrian mother’s disapproval, and disappointment. When her mother reproached her for “breeding like a rabbit” and then made a pitch for custody of Helena, a shamed Vera could bear the humiliation no longer. In anger she flung the baby’s milk bottle across the kitchen, and vowed to go and never return, taking her toddler with her.

Although he shared his wife’s restrictive Quaker beliefs, her father expressed no criticism. He loved her too dearly to wound her further with his words. Instead he tried to comfort her with the thought that when she saw the moon, wherever she was, he would see it too, and would be thinking of her.

It was also precious to her how he always accompanied her to the railway station when she left home, whether it was for school, the hospital nursing home, or on the last occasion for a bleak, impersonal institution at which in return for her domestic labour she would be able to obtain food and lodging, and early school for Helena. On such occasions her father would linger chatting with her until the train doors closed, and as the departing train gathered speed, he would run along the platform for final glimpses, until at the end of the platform, he would stand waving and waving until he lost sight of the train in the distance.

Elizabeth Jolley in her stories of Vera Wright, expresses regret for having treated some kind folk, including no doubt her own family, shabbily. She had always tried to be honest in her self-assessments, and in these stories, she is apologetic over events in her life of which she is not proud. It must be said by way of explanation rather than excuse, that we all are victims, or beneficiaries, of the circumstances in which we live.

Her most formative years were adversely affected by the outbreak of the Second World War with Germany. Although she was born into a caring middle-class home, and received a good Quaker boarding school education, she missed the security of the life she knew at home. When after she finished school she chose to become a nurse, contrary to her mother’s wishes, she needed, as did all nurses of the day, to live in crowded hospital nursing quarters.

Institutional life cut short the family nurturing she craved, but as a result she became more resourceful and independent. She was industrious in her study and became an outstanding student who successfully competed for high grades, as well as for the respect and affection of others. Naively, she did not always foresee the reverses that life can bring; reverses she had to endure and manage on her own.

What conclusions have I made of Elizabeth Jolley’s character after reading the first volume of her trilogy? It seems to me that she was a lovable and loving girl. She was smart and popular, vivacious and fun-loving, one everyone wished to befriend, even if it meant over-looking her tendency to scheme and connive to secure the things she coveted. She became capable when needed, of imaginative fabrications more often than not, for the benefit of those she loved.

Australians have adopted Elizabeth Jolley as one of their own, and are proud of her successes and many awards. But she writes more feelingly of her early life in the more culturally aware United Kingdom, than of the less cultured Australian society to which she migrated with her husband in 1959.

Touching as they do on some of life’s most moving events, her works will endure, to be read and enjoyed in the years to come. I would encourage others to study her books, and to make their own conclusions about her life and works.

A Book Review – My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

This book (My Brilliant Career) has resided beneath a pile of my new, but similarly unread volumes, for three to four years. An “Aussie Classic”, it is a book I thought I should read for its literary merit but one I feared, when author Miles Franklin declared in the Introduction that it had no plot but was just a “yarn” about her own life, would have little ongoing interest for me. Not so.

 
She may have been just sixteen when she embarked on such an ambitious undertaking, but even at this age her story-telling skill, and her intimate insight into the rigors of farm life in country New South Wales, I found riveting. I loved her book. She rejected a factual autobiographical account, rich in detail but lacking in interest. She chose instead to relate the awakenings of the mind to the joys of the arts and living, and the heart to the stirrings of love and human affection, in contrast to the soul-destroying tedium of the life of the principal character Sybylla Melvyn.

 
Most autobiographies are somewhat egotistical records of the author’s life achievements. She openly admits to egotism. But her book is far from boastful. She is eloquent in defending her contrarian out-bursts and in doing so is self-deprecating to an extent which reflects a poor self-image largely a result her mother’s  sermonizing, and want of understanding of her talents, and aspirations.

 
This is a romance contrary to the author’s denial, but it is one with a difference. Sybylla’s attitude to marriage reflects her mother’s experience of servitude to her husband and children in a largely loveless union. When a love-sick wealthy nearby property owner attempts to kiss her on her seventeenth birthday, she strikes him across the face with his stock-whip. Remarkably he does not retaliate, nor is his love for her diminished. I do not believe that all such events in the story are exactly autobiographical. I think it likely that there is literary licence and perhaps hyperbole.

 
The Introduction contends that the reader need “not fear encountering such trash descriptions of beautiful sunsets and whisperings of wind”. Yet in the last paragraph of My Brilliant Career is the most stunning description of a sunset you could ever read.

 

 Miles Franklin’s revulsion for her life of boredom and stultifying menial chores, and her passion to create a more stimulating life for herself independent of the support of others, led her to reject marriage for a literary and public life career. It was a decision for which Australians can be grateful.

This tale of the harsh Australian bush, and those who struggled  to eke out a living from it more than a century ago, is one of enduring appeal. She has made many other contributions to Australia’s literary heritage including the funding of the prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award, from her estate when she died in 1954 aged 75. 

Which form of the game do you prefer? Association or Golf Croquet?

An early decision for newcomers to make is whether to learn not just golf croquet, but also how to play the more formal game, Association Croquet. Whatever the decision, there are basic considerations that are common to both forms, and for which it will be helpful to seek the guidance of  an experienced coach.

 

Basic skills to master, are how to grip the mallet, and how to address and strike the ball. After this it is necessary to learn how to consistently run hoops, and how to adjust the swing and its strength to the distance the ball needs to travel, and to the condition of the lawn. A high standard of accuracy is essential. It is vital to learn to keep one’s head down, and one’s body still during the stroke. Then too, there are specialised strokes such as stop shots and jump shots to include in one’s armamentarium.

 

What are the essential differences between the two games to bear in mind when choosing which to play?  

 

Association Croquet is usually played with a two and a half hour time limit; a game of golf croquet can usually be completed in about 40 minutes.

 

Both forms of the game can be played as either singles or doubles, or if needed as a threesome.

 

In Association Croquet just one player at a time is allowed to occupy the court, until their turn ends. The most skilled players are able to extend their turn by so positioning all balls as needed to be able to continue to run hoops in sequence. In golf croquet, players are allowed just one stroke per turn, and balls are played in a set order of play. As soon as one player runs a hoop, all players move on to the next one. As a result, the game is played in groups that move together from one hoop to the next, allowing plenty of time for chit chat. Sledging however is not in the spirit of the game.

 

Golf croquet is a skilful game involving careful ball positioning, roquet shots, (striking an opponent’s ball to perhaps hit them out of position), and hoop running. 

 

Croquet shots in which the striker ball being played is struck whilst in contact with another ball(s) add an additional level of complexity and interest to Association Croquet.

 

Association croquet can take months to master, and indeed years to learn all the intricacies and strategies that can be used. Golf croquet on the other hand can be played after as little as an hour or two of guidance.

 

It is not surprising that in today’s world with so much pressure on our time, golf croquet has become the more popular form of the sport. Indeed many clubs might have had to close but for the shorter form of the game, with more opportunity for social interaction.

 

The equipment

The equipment

The basic equipment for croquet comprises:

  • a set of six metal hoops with the uprights 12 inches above ground level and a width between uprights of between three and three-quarters of an inch and 4 inches in width. The width is capable of slight adjustment and can be set to be tighter for competitive play.
  • Sets of four balls, the primary colours being as shown, blue, black, red and yellow.
  • Mallets have been mostly fashioned from timber, but many are now constructed from other materials such as metal in the mallet shown.

It may seem an easy task to strike a ball through a hoop, but it is one made difficult by setting the clearance between hoop and ball at only one-eighth of an inch, or one-sixteenth of an inch for championship play. From the Oxford Croquet website: http://www.oxfordcroquet.com/tech/hoopspec/index.asp

  1. ACCEPTANCE STANDARDS from

    1. HOOP WIDTH. The clearance is defined as the difference between the distance between the inside edges of the uprights at half-ball height and the maximum diameter of the largest ball to be used on the court. Unless otherwise advertised in the Fixtures Calendar, or as stated below, hoops must be set such that the clearance is as near as possible equal to, but not less than, 1/16″ for Championship and other events played under conditions of Advanced Play, and 1/8″ for other, including mixed, events, with an upward tolerance of 50%. The Manager may, in accordance with M2.C.10, alter the advertised clearance by up to 50% in steps of 1/32″ in either direction, provided that this and the reason for it is publicised before play starts that day.

    2. HOOP RIGIDITY. Hoops must be set firmly and securely such that no perceptible movement occurs when the crown is pushed/pulled with considerable force.

       

An Introduction to Golf Croquet.

I am indebted to the Croquet SA website for this introductory information about how to play golf croquet, and the basic rules of the game. I have included it in this blog for the benefit of those readers who may be puzzled about how it is played in South Australia.

 

Click to access SACA-GOLF-CROQUET-INTRODUCTION-Verson-5.pdf

SACA-GOLF-CROQUET- Rules. version-5

 

Introduction to gold croquet

Introduction to gold croquet

GOLF CROQUET RULES:
1. There are four balls, blue, red, black and yellow, which must be played in that order (the colours are painted on the centre peg to act as a reminder).
2. The hoops and peg cannot be moved to facilitate play.
3. The person whose turn it is to play is called the striker. A turn consists of just one strike. In Singles one player uses the blue and black balls, the other red and yellow. In Doubles each player strikes his own ball — with blue partnering black and red partnering yellow.
4. Toss a coin to start the game. The winner of the toss starts by striking the blue ball, the next person the red ball, and so on.
5. Each person starts in the court within one yard of the corner shown overleaf. In succeeding turns you strike your ball from where it lies. The first hoop to be run is hoop 1, in the direction indicated on the diagram.
6. Once someone has run hoop 1 everyone then plays to run hoop 2, and so on. The game proceeds in the sequence shown and the first player to run seven hoops wins.
7. A hoop is run when no part of the ball protrudes beyond the side of the hoop from which it started (see the diagram above). A ball may take more than one turn to run a hoop.
8. If a ball other than the striker’s ball is hit through the hoop (peeled) by the striker’s ball then the hoop counts for that peeled ball, even if the striker’s ball also goes through that hoop.
9. Each turn consists of striking the correct ball with the face of the mallet head and with no other part of the mallet. Accidentally touching your ball counts as a strike. When it is your turn you have to take it — you are not allowed to ‘pass’.
10. When striking your ball be careful not to touch another ball with your mallet as this constitutes a ‘fault’. It is also a fault to hit your own ball more than once — a ‘double tap’ — or to ‘crush’ your ball into a hoop or the peg. Great care has to be taken to avoid these faults when your ball is close to an upright of a hoop and at an angle to the opening. It is a fault to force the ball through regardless!
11. If a fault is committed the turn ends, no points are scored, and your opponent can decide to take his turn from where the balls are or to have them returned to where they were.
12. Even if it’s not your turn you must not touch any ball, or let it touch you, or you will lose your next turn. So don’t trip over a ball, and watch out for moving balls. They can move very fast! If you do touch a ball your opponent can choose to leave it where it comes to rest or to put it back where it was before.
13. It is important not to play the wrong ball or play out of turn. If this does happen then your opponent can choose whether or
not to replace the balls or leave them where they are, and choose which ball to restart with. For example: if yellow was played (wrongly) after blue, your opponent can choose to continue with either the black or the blue ball. (In Singles if a player plays there partner ball by mistake the ball is put back where it was and the correct partner ball is played, no penalty. In Doubles if the ball belongs to the striker’s partner, no points are scored for any ball, the ball and any other ball
moved are replaced and the correct ball is played, no penalty). A hoop run by the wrong ball does not count as a hoop point.
14. When all balls have stopped any ball which has left the court is replaced on the boundary at the place where it went off.
15. After a turn in which a hoop point is scored any ball that is over halfway to the next hoop to be played can be declared ‘offside’, unless it got there:
a. as a result of the stroke just played: by it running the hoop or it being peeled through, or by it peeling another ball through that hoop; or
b. a stroke, wrong ball play or fault played or committed by an opponent, however this exemption does not apply to a ball whose owner misses a turn
in that position because of a non-striking fault; for example by the red ball being struck so that it knocks the opponent’s blue or black ball beyond halfway to the next hoop; or
c. contact with an opponent’s ball, however this exemption does not result from a ball played away from an opponent’s ball with which it was in contact, unless it moves that ball in the stroke; or
d. being directed to a penalty spot.
16. If your ball is offside, and is so claimed by your opponent, and you are asked to do so, you must move the ball to one of two penalty positions – your opponent chooses which. The penalty points are the half way points on each of the longer boundaries. Your opponent may prefer you to take your turn from where your ball lies.

More Croquet from Mount Barker! (Part III)

There are few more satisfying moments in croquet than being able to hit your opponent’s ball off the court just when he or she is set-up plumb in front,  about to run the hoop. Deeply frustrating however for your opponent when their good play is thus negated. 
At times croquet can take on the characteristics of near war-time confrontation. But it is just a game, and players find plenty to smile about both on and off the court.

Lorraine and Wendy again. Winners are grinners!

Lorraine and Wendy again. Winners are grinners!

What did John Selby say at morning-tea to have the girls rolling in laughter?

What did John Selby say at morning-tea to have the girls rolling in laughter?

Peggy can scarcely contain her mirth.

Peggy can scarcely contain her mirth.

 

 

I’d be smiling too if I had a girl on each side!

Wendy Thiele with Eric and Mavis Klenke

Wendy Thiele with Eric and Mavis Klenke

A happy trio: Colleen, John and Patricia Hill.

A happy trio: Colleen, John and Patricia Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the lady charmers in the club.

 

 

The weaker sex

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dictum for accuracy in play is keep your head down, and watch the ball. Don’t look at where you think it will go. Here Coach John Selby shows how you should do it, and other players studiously follow the advice.

Wendy Thiele

Wendy Thiele

 

Head down. Bum up. Stay still when you swing.

Head down. Bum up. Stay still when you swing

Patricia Hill

Patricia Hill

Meredith Walters

Meredith Walters

Bill Kidd shows his style

Bill Kidd shows his style

 

 

More from the Mount Barker Croquet Club (Part II)

In the clubhouse, on the far wall where the club memorabilia is displayed, is an Honour Roll recording the names of those who have served the club in official capacities. Unfortunately this fails to give credit to all the other members who cheerfully devote many unpaid hours to support the club’s activities. 

The Club Honour Roll

The Club Honour Roll


Hoops in place for the start of play

Hoops in place for the start of play

For good croquet immaculately prepared lawns are essential.  The club is indebted to all those who tend the lawns and the gardens and carry out the maintenance of the club facilities.

004

Focus on the play!

Focus on the play!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many fail to play sport later in life because they feel that they do not have the sporting prowess to excel. Even although she has only been playing croquet for a couple of years, by her own self-assessment Marjorie Turner considers she is average, and unlikely to become a top player. But this does not deter her from playing. She values the exercise, and the friendship she has found. She says members have always made her feel welcome, and she has met some very nice people.

 

 

Marjorie Turner

Marjorie Turner

 

Colleen Walters, nine years a member, six as Club Treasurer. She appreciates the regular exercise, and the social life. With husband Maurice, they are another of the club’s couples.

Colleen Walters

Colleen Walters

 

The cooking duo, Colleen & Maurice Walters

The cooking duo, Colleen & Maurice Walters

 

Having played croquet for the past 11 years Mavis Klenke has become one of the club’s most accomplished players, winning several gala day competitions. She loves sport, and golf croquet has become an important part of her life, a pleasure she can now share with her husband Eric since he retired. He has become equally enthusiastic about the game.

Mavis Klenke

Mavis Klenke

 

 

Mavis Klenke

Mavis Klenke


Eric Klenke

Eric Klenke


Trevor Kramm watches as Meredith Walters has her turn.

Trevor Kramm watches as Meredith Walters has her turn.

Meet Mount Barker’s Croquet Players. Part I

Acknowledgement

I am grateful for the photographic skills of young Mount Barker resident Lyndall Zobel of unpretended photography in this series of posts.

<www.unpretended.com.au>

Where we live and play!

From the lower reaches of Australia’s longest river, the meandering Murray, near where it flows into the vast Lake Alexandrina at the Murray mouth, one can see prominent on the Adelaide Hills horizon, the diminutive Mount Barker peak, named after its white discoverer Captain Collet Barker who lost his life exploring the region in 1831. Only 360 metres in elevation it still dominates the landscape west of the highest peak, Mount Lofty, as the terrain gently slopes towards the Murray plains. It marks the site of one of South Australia’s oldest settlements, the Mount Barker Township, surveyed in 1839, with farmers starting to settle the undulating countryside in 1844. Now with a population of about 15,000 it is the urban hub of the Hills, close to the tourist meccas of Hahndorf, and Strathalbyn, and merging with the adjacent growth centres of Littlehampton and Nairne.

The Mount Barker Croquet Club is on the fringe of the shopping district, next to the Bowling Club, and across the road from Stephenson Park. It is in a pleasant, relaxing setting with stately elder trees on either side of an adjacent pathway, and majestic gnarled massive red gums thriving in the creek bed to the south. Photinia  shrubs provide a screen from passers-by walking the scenic trail to the Laratinga Wetlands.

Should you have opportunity to visit this idyllic part Australia’s Southern State, why not think of paying a visit to our croquet club and meet us in person. Even if you have never played croquet before, you can still come and test your skill with mallet and ball in running the hoops, on a Thursday or Saturday morning for “golf croquet”. Fortunately it is possible to play croquet the year around in Australia, except for the days when there is pelting rain, or searing heat.

 

Introducing the Mount Barker Croquet Club

 

Here is the club photograph for 2015, the year we celebrate 100 years of croquet played on our three Mann Street lawns. It is just those that play Golf Croquet. Absent are the few Association Croquet players. 

Did you ever see a more handsome sporting club than this vigorous group of 25?

Golf Croquet Players 2015

Golf Croquet Players 2015

From Left to Right:

Back Row: William Kidd,  John Freeman, Denise Fry, Mavis Klenke, Heather Daniels, Meredith Walters, Robert Armstrong, Kevin Jaensch, Peggy Louch, Joy Steer, Trevor Kramm, Ken Robson, John Selby (Vice President).

Middle Row: Eric Klenke (Committee member), Peter Fry (Grounds person), Lorraine Kramm (Committee member), Valda Jaensch (President), Neal Gibson (Secretary), Patricia Schultz (Committee member), Wendy Thiele (Treasurer).

Front Row: David Foster, Gloria Foster, Sandra Armstrong, Marjorie Turner, Lorna Gibson.

 

 

 



Our current Club President is one of our lady members, Valda Jaensch from nearby Callington, who first tried croquet on the 4th June 2005. She so enjoyed it that she remembers the date precisely, and has played social croquet at Mount Barker ever since, together with participating in gala day competitions.

Valda’s husband Kevin has shared his wife’s enjoyment of croquet from the same memorable occasion in 2005. Retired and in his late 70’s, croquet has been a perfect sporting interest for him, and an activity which he can share with Valda.

 

Club President, Valda Jaensch

Club President,
Valda Jaensch

 

For information about our club, Secretary Neal Gibson is the man you should contact. Phone contact: 08 8398 6742 Neal Gibson nealdgibson@bigpond.com

When John Selby retired in March 2002 he chose golf croquet for his sporting activity. He is one of our outstanding players and has served the club well as coach and photographer. He is the Immediate Past President of the Club, and current Vice President.

Croquet is a game that can be played to an advanced age, even into the nineties. Skills by then may be declining, but with age comes the “smarts”even to the point of a little more cunning when it comes to strategy. Heading our honour list would have to be now retired Bert and Bette Walkom.

Bette took up golf croquet in 1963 after the trauma of an accident in the family. Bert followed on but preferred the more involved Association Croquet. He proved to be an excellent player achieving a handicap of only 3, and winning a tournament at Millicent in the South East of the State.

Bert & Bett Walkom, Honorary Members

Bert & Bette Walkom, Honorary Members

 

Trevor Kramm is the only member to regularly play both forms of croquet, Golf and Association Croquet. There is merit in doing this. The games foster overlapping but slightly different strengths. The playing of one may help improve your skills for the other code. For example Trevor brings a confident running of the hoops from golf croquet to his Association game. Although in his mid-eighties, Trevor’s skill from 13 years of croquet is little diminished, and he still very much enjoys not only the games, but the social contacts, and opportunities to meet new people.

Wife Lorraine plays croquet too. The Kramms are another of several couples to enjoy playing croquet together at this club.

 

Trevor Kramm walks to the next hoop

Trevor Kramm walks to the next hoop

Good buddies Lorraine Kramm & and Wendy Thiele

Good buddies Lorraine
Kramm & and Wendy Thiele

The “F-Word”: Why Social Politeness is Transparent

etherealnoire

fat girls

(Left to Right: Alyson Hannigan [Date Movie, 2006], Philomena Kwao, Essie Golden, Tess Holliday)

For the typical size 18 girl like myself, the summer months bring along the ever complicated dilemma: wear longer clothes that cover up “problem areas” but threaten to cause heat stroke, or throw caution to the wind and go for the shorts and tank top that show every jiggle and bump. Up until my senior year of high school, skirts and shorts were out of the question. The last thing I wanted was for everyone to see the bits of me that made me the most insecure about myself. It was a question of comfort. At least clothes left everything to the imagination; I would rather burn under the summer sun to please others than show everyone my chubby arms and legs.

And that’s when it hit me. It’s not like my body was a secret…

View original post 1,322 more words

When will welfare bureaucracy learn to listen to the Grandmas??

This is a news report that has deeply shocked South Australians. She was a gorgeous four year old, living in absolute squalor, neglected by her drug addicted mother, often locked in her room to scream her heart out, and forced to repeatedly ride a motor-cycle she could not control until she crashed, for the amusement of others.

The most outrageous aspect of her death three years ago from head injuries is that it was entirely preventable, if only the government agency responsible for her welfare, Families SA, had taken notice of requests for intervention on more than 20 occasions by her concerned grandmother.

Unfortunately such incidents of family wishes being ignored are all too common. Not just by family welfare departments, but often also by those responsible for the difficult management of mental illness.

This story is presented in these pages in the hope that the officious, we know best, culture of bureaucracy will become more consultative.

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/shocking-details-of-ratinfested-squalor-as-inquest-into-death-of-chloe-valentine-4-begins/story-fni6uo1m-1227066327710