I must say I am about 100% better than I was a week ago. It is amazing what a week in the heat, sun and light can do for someone when winter is taken away. We are in Koh Samuii, Thailand, eating everything in sight, reading, swimming and resting. Lots of resting. From what I am not sure but we are doing it.
I have just finished the Australian book (Text- first published in 1965) Aunts Up the Cross. This is a bohemian memoir of growing up in the 1920’s and 30’s through to about 1945 in Kings Cross, Sydney. It is the most wonderful read and extremely entertaining.
When a book begins as this, one must keep reading:
My great-aunt Juliet was knocked over and killed by a bus when she was eighty-five. The bus was travelling very slowly in the right direction and could hardly have been missed by anyone except Aunt Juliet, who must have been travelling fairly fast in the wrong direction
The introduction to the book is by writer and humorist Clive James. He also does a wonderful job introducing this story. He writes his intro in 1996:
Here at last is the living proof that a civilised, unpretentious, fully evocative prose style had been available in Australia ever since the young Robin Eakin (her maiden name) handed in her first essay. All we had ever needed to do was look in the wrong place. And so often happens, the true art was filed under entertainment.
Robin writes of the eccentrically large house they lived in (though in later life she said it wasn’t as large as she remembered it)
Her father was a doctor in the area and everyone seemed to know him. Her mother entertained anyone who came to the door. They always had relatives, friends and completely unknown people staying with them. She fed the entire community. Her parents had a loving, sometimes volatile relationship and the tricks her father played on people were laugh out loud funny. Her ancestry of all of the aunts plays an important role though she never met half of them. Death came frequently to her house over the years but in such a way it is hard not to read bits out loud to your partner. Is there such a term as “ludicrous deaths?” This book certainly has it in abundance.
I won’t say a lot more as Mr. Penguin is reading this book now and I don’t want to spoil it. If you are Australian and have not read this book then you must remedy the situation.
If you are not Australian you must read it in order to learn we do not all live in the outback with hats and corks on our heads.
The history of Kings Cross from the 1920’s up to the time of WWII is fun and enlightening. It was a very different place to how it is now. I loved it and the people inside this book will be with me forever.
Now for the “travellin’ part of the Penguin. We were out by the pool the other day. A couple sat reading in the chairs beside us. I could see the woman was nearing the end of her book. I crane my neck around deck chairs and posts to get a glimpse of what people are reading when I am on holiday. Does anyone else do this?
She threw down the book and burst out, “Well!!! He didn’t make it in the end.”
When she put the book down on the little table beside the chair and headed for the pool I had to get up and follow her lead, also into the pool. By then I HAD to see what the book was. Blast the spoilers.
The Chamber by John Grisham. Popular holiday reading by many people. I quite like the occasional John Grisham courtroom drama.
It turned out they were a couple from Melbourne and we have made ‘Holiday Friends’ with them. We chat to them at breakfast in the morning. Complain about our noisy neighbours and squabbling children. Last night as we walked to dinner the smell of marijuana was very strong down our outside hallway. What fools. Thai authorities do not smile upon drug use in this country. My worst nightmare, outside of being dragged off a campsite by a saltwater crocodile in the Northern Territory, is a long stint in an Asian prison on drug charges. I wouldn’t even pack tobacco for being so paranoid.
Thursday we leave for Singapore for about 5 or 6 days. I think I am getting ready to face chilly, windy Tasmania again. I always thank the powers that be for having an Australian life and the blessings that are.
I have scattered a few photos through in case you want to see how hard we all have it this week.