About Me

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Queensland, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Queensland, Australia. www.noelleclark.net

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Come on baby, light my Kindle

I finally succumbed to the desire to own a Kindle. I have been maintaining that I will never buy an eReader because I love real, paper books, which I do. I treasure them, in fact. I still have books that were my favourites back in the 1960s. Back then I read them, and re-read them, over and over, and can still read them and enjoy them today.

I believe that proper, REAL, books, will never be obsolete. People love them. But I can remember many changes in my long life.
As a child, I can remember my father giving us all a crystal set. A tiny little thing with some wires attached and an ear plug. We could then lie in bed at night and listen to the wireless (radio – ha ha, told you I was old).

In the lounge room, we had a big polished wooden cabinet which was our AWA Wireless.

My Dad used to always listen to the conservative ABC Radio, and at 8pm every night, the whole house had to be quiet while he listened to the national news. He was a news-a-holic, and even had a Bakelite radio on the table next to his bed, which he used to listen to all night

On Friday nights, we used to tune in to a radio serial called The Argonauts Club. I was the youngest in the family, but my brother and sister got to join and become actual Argonauts.  I remember my sister was called Pleaides66.  I was so envious!  After the Argonauts Club, we used to listen to Keith Smith’s Widdle Woundup.  Well, that is what I used to call it.  I was VERY young, you understand.  It was actually Riddle Roundup, and I can still remember a riddle that I heard way back then on our old wireless set.
Q. How do you spell Wattle bark in three letters?
A. Dog.

Ha ha.  I laughed myself sick with that one.  Keith Smith eventually ended up on television when it finally came to Australia.  Although, in fairness, the rest of Australia got TV well before we did. We didn’t get television until well into the 1960s as Mum and Dad were really poor.  It started out as Mum hiring a TV for us during the school holidays, then she would send it back, with us crying and begging her not to.  Poor Mum.  :-/

Our grandmother lived with us. She and Mum were addicted to a lunch time serial called “Blue Hills” which won some records for the longest running radio play in the world or something.  I can still remember the music as it started up. As soon as that would come on, my Mum and Nana would down their mops and buckets, ironing boards and mending, to have their lunch and listen to Gwen Meredith and the others. Looking back, Blue Hills was probably the catalyst for daytime soaps like The Bold and the Beautiful, or Days of our Dreary Bloody Lives, as my Dad used to call it.
But on Saturday nights, my sisters, brother and I would all lie on the carpet in front of the wireless in absolute fanatical expectancy, waiting for …  The Beatle Hour!  We would have to make sure that we had Dad in a good mood so that he wouldn’t crack up and make us listen to some awful classical music on the ABC, or maybe a dodgy old radio play.  

The ‘Fab Four’ were everybody’s favourites.  Everybody under 21 years old, that is. My mother and father thought that their ‘mop top’ hairdos and tight pants were just sinful. Dad preferred Frank Ifield, or the Platters. Mum still preferred Bing Crosby.  But we kids LOVED the Beatles.  John Lennon was always my favourite, and our bedroom walls would be absolutely covered in big colour posters of John, George, Ringo and Paul.  Oh, they were so handsome!  So anyway, every week on The Beatle Hour, we could listen to their songs, and sometimes to interviews with them. It was heaven.

Eventually, our old wireless got moved to Mum and Dad’s bedroom and got covered in Dad’s clothes as that is where he hung them when he got home from work, and a new black and white television took over our lounge room, and our lives.

When I eventually became a teenager, I was way behind everyone else at school who had singles, records.  I was mad keen on the Monkees in Year 8 and one day a girl at school sold me her single of ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ for 50 cents. (They were $1 new).  What a bargain!  My first ever vinyl record! My collection had begun! It seemed everyone else at school had a father who had a job and earned good money to be able to buy their kids records.  I didn’t.  In Year 8 my Dad was admitted to hospital with Tuberculosis and never worked again. We were poor.  I didn’t realise at the time just how poor.  Being the youngest of four children, it was just normal for me to never have anything new.  I always wore hand me down shoes, uniforms, everything.  Oh, how I yearned for everything the other kids had.  When the Monkees flew into Australia in 1968, other girls in my class went to the concert.  I remember the day their plane flew over our house. It was a Sunday, and together with my next door neighbour, Glenda, who also loved the Monkees, stood out in our back yard and waved to the Goddam plane!  OMG, I am almost ashamed to tell you all that.  But as I don’t have that many readers of my blog anyway, I guess I can make a dill out of myself.  “Davy, Davy, I love you!” I called with tears streaming down my face.  I still believe to this very day that it WAS their plane that flew over my house. :-/

Anyway, I eventually left school and got a job in a finance company as an “office girl”.  I had reached the ripe old age of 14 years and 10 months.  Out into the wide, wild world I went.  A shy, scared, unworldly, quiet little thing. I remember that I bought my very first brand new dress (extremely short) for $6 and wore it to our work Christmas party. I had just turned 15. My wage was $17.60 a week.  True.  Single records cost $1 each and albums cost $5.95 (we went decimal here in 1966, no more Pounds, Shillings, Pence. We had dollars and cents now).

And so, my record collection grew. And grew.  And so did I, and eventually there were rumours that vinyl records would soon be history.  “NO,” I cried.  “OVER MY DEAD BODY!”

An army of horrid little cassette tapes filled the record stores. Everyone had to by a Cassette Player to listen to the things.  Sony brought out a Walkman so that you could listen to your favourite music on the go. Many people, obviously with more money than me, replaced their old vinyls with miniature versions, cassettes.  But what about the great books and artwork that we got with vinyl. I loved that artwork.  Double albums had spectacular big posters. My copy of ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ was BOXED, for heaven’s sake, AND included a book!

And so, I held off buying a cassette tape player because I loved my vinyls.  I grew up even more, got married, bought a car with an 8 Track Cartridge player in it and it came with one cartridge – Electric Light Orchestra.  
Then, just at the time when my marriage was imploding, along came the Compact Disc CD.  I was one of the last people I know to own one. No way, I said, was I going to buy one of those stupid things. Nothing sounded as good as vinyl.

Well, today, my CD collection numbers in its thousands, and that is not a lie. But guess what? Can I show you my record collection?  My son recently said I should sell them, that some people collect them because they are antiques and could be valuable. I said, hey, I collect them!  I still love them, I never play them, but I do look at their fabulous art work.

Oh, hang on.  I tell a lie.  I did get rid of one of my vinyls last year. I saw an interview on TV with a famous 70s rock singer from Brisbane, Carol Lloyd. She was talking about how her album, ‘A Matter of Time’, which is a classic and hit number one here in Brisbane and other parts of Australia, had been digitised (sounds painful doesn’t it), and put onto CD. The interviewer asked if she still had one of the old vinyl versions because apparently they are like hen’s teeth.  Carol said no.  So….. I got in touch with the great Carol Lloyd (lead singer of Railroad Gin and Carol Lloyd Band), and I said I would give her my copy.  She was ecstatic!  We met one day in the city. I handed over the precious vinyl. She, so kindly, gave me an autographed copy of the CD.  What a wonderful woman!

So, where was I?  Oh yes.  I bought myself a Kindle the other day. I don’t need one. I just craved one.  Just to make sure I don’t get left behind technology and all the latest trends. But I can assure all my legion of blog fans that I have not given up reading good old paper books. I will NEVER get rid of ‘Alison’s Island Adventure’ and ‘Secret of the Blue Grotto’, but I will enjoy reading books on my kindle and thanking the heavens that I am still alive to see this wonderful technology.

So, don’t put eBooks and eReaders down. They are
just another form of the things we love.
Technology must advance and we can go with it and enjoy it, or be stubborn and miss out on all the wonders that are there for the taking.
The ultra-cute Davy Jones and the Monkees:
Australia's first lady of true rock, Carol Lloyd


Saturday, February 11, 2012

What do I keep, what do I throw away?

The haunting song by Melanie Safka, What do I keep, what do I throw away, has been playing on continuous repeat setting through my mind over the last couple of weeks.
It has been a harrowing time, having to go through all of my elderly mother’s belongings, dividing them up between my siblings and myself, working out who gave her that little green vase, which one of us gave her the little silver letter opener that she used every day of her life.   
The time had come for my little Mum to move out of her humble, yet well-loved home. To move away from her garden which she lovingly tended every day. It was more than just a hobby, she loved feeling the red earth with her fingers, cosseting her plants into bounteous beauty. Every month, she would win a prize at the Garden Club where she was a life member, for a bloom that just knocked everyone’s socks off. She didn’t try to beat everyone else with her flowers, she just liked to take them along to show everyone how beautiful they were.

It was my job to clean out her book case.  I found her set of diaries going back to 1975, the year she moved into this house. I got a shock to find that she had kept every birthday, Christmas card and mother’s day card she was ever given, all bundled neatly together and tied with ribbons that had once been wrapped around a gift. The bundles were neatly marked – Christmas 2001, my 85th birthday, my 90th birthday. She had kept every single one.
But now, like the grim reaper, I had the sad job of throwing them out. In a matter of hours, her house which had contained the remnants and souvenirs of her whole life, had been either divided up, given to charity, or thrown out. I went there just yesterday, and it was like walking into a stranger’s place. The home which had once been warm, inviting, a safe haven, a place to laugh, play and relax, was just a house. Four walls and a roof. The beating heart, my Mum, was gone from 72 Island Street. Gone, never to return, never to sit on the top step waiting for us to arrive. Never to put the kettle on to make a cuppa, to get her biscuits out for a bit of morning tea.

Mum has a new life now.She is in a lovely, fresh room with a view over a garden. She has people who can give her the round the clock care that she needs. She has company, no more long, lonely days. She will have people to cook for her, and no more washing up. The hostel where she now lives is her new home. I hope she learns to love it and be happy there.

Melanie Safka, your song is sad and harrowing. I wonder, did you write it for people like me, who have to make the most of a situation that comes to everyone sooner or later. It is a rite of passage for us all. We live, we move on. For some it is old age that causes this change. For some death, and for others the end of a relationship. We live, we move on.  But what do we keep, and what do we throw away?
The name that I have doesn't belong to me
And there's only a circle where his ring used to be
I'd like to go back to what I was once before
But I'm nobody's little girl any more

What do I keep, what do I throw away
How am I different, what was I yesterday
What can I be tomorrow, when I can't even think of today
How can I ever end my sorrow
When the night doesn't end with the day

When I look around everything seems so strange
And I don't need a mirror to tell me how much I've changed
The things I never thought I could do I have done,
But I'm too weak to stop
And much too frightened to run

What do I keep, what do I throw away
How am I different, what was I yesterday
What can I be tomorrow, when I can't even think of today
How can I ever end my sorrow
When the night doesn't end with the day