This piece is written in response to Irene Waters blog topic, Times Past – Punishment

I’m a Baby Boomer living in an Australian capital city.

Firstly I’d like to say I was lucky, I think in my family no-one got any pleasure from punishment.

The first punishment I can remember came when I refused to eat my dessert, quinces and rice, I was shut in the bathroom and told I couldn’t come out until I was ready to eat it. I don’t remember how that ended but I do know I don’t eat quinces or sweet rice.

It’s interesting to me that I can remember only one individual instance of being smacked by Mum though I know it happened more often and when I heard, “I’ll give you 5 fingermarks on your backside” I certainly knew what that entailed. The instance I do remember was a smack across the face for making my younger sister cry just before Dad was due to get home from work.

I remember “having my backside tanned” by Dad when I slammed my bedroom door in a rage and it broke the ceramic door plaque. I felt I deserved that one but I still feel a sense of injustice over a school punishment. In Grade 3 we used to get stamps in our handwriting workbooks if our writing was very good. I was sitting next to a boy when I saw he’d coloured one of his in so I did the same. When the teacher saw what I’d done she was angry, I protested that I’d copied the boy. She gave me two whacks across the palm with a wooden ruler and told me one was for colouring it in and one for lying.

I think we were kept in line more with words than fear of being physically hurt and Mum was a master of sarcasm. Dad used his own hurt to make us feel bad. I remember once being so excited when I saw Dad bring home my big brother’s Christmas present that I raced off and told him what he was getting. I don’t know how Dad found out but he looked at me and told me to get out of his sight. That really hurt.




With the birth of a new grandchild coming up in a few months the subject of names has come up again. I started to wonder if the name given to a child makes them more likely to develop certain characteristics.

I’m sure Mum had most say in naming us and I was registered, “Rosemary Sue” but to Dad that was too fancy and I was always called, “Sue”. I wasn’t Suzanne, Suzanna or Susan, just Sue and I was used to that. When I went to a private secondary school Mum convinced me to let them all think I used my first name. It never sat well with me and as soon as I left school I always introduced myself as “Sue”. I’m not someone who likes to stand out, I don’t like parties and big celebrations much preferring smaller family get togethers. If I’d been called “Rosemary” all my life would I have been different? Would I have seen myself as someone much more complex and interesting? If I’d chosen my own name it would probably have been something like “Josie “ or Rebecca” to me they’re nice to say, they have a bit of mystery to them, I wouldn’t have been one of six in a class but nor would I have been constantly explaining my name or spelling it out for people.

My own children seem to suit their names perfectly and because the names have been around for hundreds of years people can’t tell their ages just by hearing their names. When I hear the names “Summer, Rainbow and River” I always think they’re children of 1970s “Flower Power” parents. Some children are lumbered with names from TV series and others share names with offspring of famous parents. I think it’s lucky for baby girls that no-one famous has decided Gertrude, Ethel, Myrtle or Gladys are the way to go.

Now, back to my original point. If my next grandchild is named  Sebastian or Clementine will they be flamboyant, spirited and artistic? Would a Bruce or Sam be down to earth, thoughtful and athletic? Stephen or Alice, would they be a good communicator, self assured and academic?

Choosing a name is such an important task for new parents, names come ready loaded with associations and expectations. I guess that’s why some people prefer their nicknames.



This photo of my 3 year old grandson eating an icecream cone reminds me that when I was little, cones like this one cost  tuppence ha’penny, normal sized single cones were 5 pence and the big adults’ double cones were 10 pence. There were twelve pence in a shilling and that became 10 cents in 1966 when Australia changed to decimal currency. That means you would get 2 of these little cones for a bit less than 5 cents, which sounds just absurd!

Getting an icecream when I was a kid was a real treat, if we were very lucky we’d get one when we went to the beach. It was always Amscol  Icecream – vanilla, chocolate or rainbow , usually rainbow. Our fridge at home didn’t have a freezer compartment so there was never any there. On special occasions one of us would be sent down to the shop to get a brick of icecream which came in a rectangular cardboard box and was wrapped in newspaper so it wouldn’t melt on the way home. With our dessert  we’d get a slice each. There were 7 of us in the family so there was never any left over to worry about and even the cardboard was licked clean!

Now there are just 2 of us and there are 3 different tubs of icecream in our freezer. None of it’s Amscol  because the company that started here in Adelaide in 1922 was wound up in the 1980s. Instead there is 1 litre of Caramel  Honey Macadamia, 1 litre of Café Grande and 2 litres of South Australian, Golden North Honey.

I must admit that I still like icecream just as much now even if it’s plain vanilla.

Boat Fiasco at Aldinga Beach

About the same size and shape but maybe a little more decrepit than ours.

About the same size and shape but maybe a little more decrepit than ours.

The bondwood-boat-that-weighed-a-ton was kept in the yard for ages upended over a trestle until the day Dad decided it was overdue for an outing. It was loaded onto the trailer and off we went to Aldinga Beach, south of Adelaide. There was no simple launching from a boat ramp instead there was a lot of manhandling and moaning before the thing was actually in the water. I think it was just Dad, Mike and me who headed out. Then the fun began. On the back was a small Model  40 Seagull motor, I’m certain of this because I recently found the ancient manual. The motor was attached to the boat with screw clamps but Dad took the precaution of also tying a rope around it.

After the obligatory multiple pulls the motor started and we headed out from the shallows, over a bit of a sandbar and into deeper water. I can’t remember the sequence of events but imprinted on my mind is the image of us going around and around in circles because the anchor was caught on something, the engine dropping off the back and into the water only saved from sinking completely by the rope and the boat quickly filling with water. The boards had shrunk from being out of water for so long and seawater was flooding through the gaps. Mike and I were frantically bailing with old jam tins when I heard another boater call out to Dad, “Are you alright mate?” and absolutely astonished when Dad coolly answered, “We’re OK, thanks”. I distinctly remember looking towards the shore and thinking, “I’ll never swim that far!”

We did manage to get the anchor up and the boat back to shore before any of us drowned but it was the last time I ever put so much as a toe in that boat.

People in Stornoway know what you should do with an old boat!

People in Stornoway know what you should do with an old boat!

Mothers’ Day

In Australia next Sunday is Mothers’ Day and as soon as I remembered that I thought of a photo I haven’t seen for a long time. It was worth searching for it.


This photo reminds me of a breakfast that’s burnt into my memory. I did think it was a Mothers’ Day breakfast-in-bed but the tag on it says July 1980 however the impact was the same whatever the occasion. I was treated to dry toast and Vegemite, it was too hard for the kids to manage butter, and a drink of STRONG orange cordial. I’m certain I feigned great enthusiasm for my meal and carried out the important tastings but I know I couldn’t eat it all. I remember Alex telling me I had to eat it because they’d been so excited about making it but I just couldn’t finish it.

The kids would have been 5 and 3. The photo also reminds me of the house we’d bought the year before. The previous owner had a red theme going and even the toilet had a red seat. It was a very happy time for us, we’d stayed for a year with my parents after coming from Scotland and it was so nice to be in our own home again.

Simple Fun


This photo reminds me of the fun we used to have playing outdoors. I think every kid likes having a ride in a wheelbarrow. Dad must have been fit, he’s pushing not only a bag of chook food but also three kids. Each of us is reacting in a different way. I’m clinging to Dad’s shirt, Mike is showing a very different face and Ricky is demonstrating bravado sitting on the “bull bar” with his legs spreadeagled under the barrow.

When I was growing up the standard suburban house block was ¼ acre(1000sqm)  but in Adelaide the average residential block is now 450sqm. Not only that but houses are bigger so the play area is much less and often includes pavers rather than lawn. There are more public green spaces to compensate but the way kids play there is different. We were contained in our back yard but rather than limit our play it gave us more freedom. We didn’t have an adult watching over us every minute so we were free to make up our own games and play with most of the things we found about the place. If we did something stupid we probably hurt ourselves or someone else and learnt in the process, that’s the way our life was. I think it’s only very lucky kids these days who get to feel free like we did.

The Roman Candle

Day 6: Prompt – Hero, Form – Ballad, Device – anaphora (a-NAH-fra) and epistrophe (eh-PIS-tro-fee)



Dad wasn’t afraid of good hard work,

He wasn’t one to laze and shirk


The weeds were long, the job was hard,

Desire not strong, to weed  the yard,

A fire could burn it all so quick,

A lot can happen with one match flick!


Dad wasn’t afraid of good hard work,

He wasn’t one to laze and shirk


Killed with heat, the grass was dead,

Area neat everyone said.

Until night came, out of the tree

A raging flame, we all could see.


Dad wasn’t afraid of good hard work,

He wasn’t one to laze and shirk


The fireman came, the fire put out,

Who was to blame? There was some doubt.

So off they went into the night,

Charging none for the Candle light.