June 2008


Why do we do what we do? Why do we say what we say? And why do we feel what we feel? I mean, why should the sight of a woman hanging out the washing make me feel sadly happy? Why, why, why?

These are difficult questions to answer but the one that really interests me at the moment is; why do we think what we think? My next book, 'The Nest'  is about a boy who is confused and upset at what his own mind can toss up.

A few weeks ago I was interviewed live on ABC radio. I was asked to provide the name of one piece of music that they could play at the end of the show. I didn’t want to do it. I thought about cancelling out. The idea of having to choose something depressed me. My mind started to wander. Should I pick a piece by Mozart or Chopin or Tchaikovsky and show how sophisticated I am? Should I pick ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and show how spiritual I am? Should I pick, ‘The Pub With No Beer’ and show what a dag I am?

Why was this choice occupying my thoughts? I don’t really care what people think about my musical tastes or any other tastes for that matter. I did once, when I was younger, but that was in an earlier life. What was making me feel sad? Why was I thinking about cancelling the interview. Just because I had to choose a piece of music?

The rising sun woke me half an hour ago and I found myself remembering something from my childhood. So I jumped out of bed and started writing this piece.

I was ten years old and my father came home with the news that his boss, Sid Menzies was holding Christmas drinks at his home for some of the staff and we were invited. The amazing thing was that his brother, Bob Menzies was going to be there. My sister and I were spruced up in our best clothes and told that under no circumstances were we to approach Bob Menzies as he was the Prime Minister.

We arrived at the most magnificent residence I had ever seen. The drawing room was bigger than our whole house and gold mirrors and pictures of famous people hung on the walls. There were about twenty people present including The Prime Minister who was chatting to a few of the men. They were all nodding at every word that fell from his lips.

A girl of about fourteen with incredibly shiny fair hair rounded up the three or four children present and told us that she was going to look after us. She led us into a room which contained a grand piano and a radiogram. She said that she was going to play us some records. I was overwhelmed by her beauty and detached confidence.

She looked at me in a disinterested sort of way and said, ‘What sort of music do you like?’

I was confused and started to blush. I didn’t know there were different types of music. It was all just music to me. A word rang a bell in the back of my mind.

‘Jazz,’ I said.

She suddenly brightened and seemed interested in me. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘I love jazz. Who is your favourite jazz singer?’

‘Elvis,’ I blurted out.

She immediately lost interest. In fact she looked at me as if I was a total idiot. Now I really blushed. My choice of music had shown this cool, sophisticate girl that I was an ignorant fool. I realised that Elvis was not a jazz singer.

Anyway, fifty five years later I had to choose a piece of music for the ABC to play on the radio. And the thought of it depressed me and I didn’t know why.

But today I do.

I could have chosen Elvis singing, ‘Love Me Tender’ or Satchmo growling out a jazz number. But instead I picked, Jimmy Durante singing, ‘Hi Lily, Hi Lily, Hi Lo.’

My mother used to sing it when she was hanging out the washing.

May 2008

Hi Everyone

Welcome to my new web page. We are really excited to be launching it and hope you like the new format. You can let us know what you think about it if you would like to. I am especially grateful to my Secretary /Office Manager, Deidre Grayson for all the ideas and great work she has put into the site. Also to, Bliss Media for the design. And thanks also, to Bob Lea for letting me use his wonderful drawings of Rascal and Friends on the front page.

While we are talking about Rascal, I should mention that I am currently writing four more books in the series. The first of these, called, Rascal Plays Up is being illustrated by Bob as we speak. I may change my mind and call it, Rascal And The Scarecrow. The story has a funny little twist in the tail and features Rascal being somewhat naughty. I wonder if anyone has noticed the hidden story told in the Rascal illustrations featuring Dad and Sherry. Sherry lives over the road from Ben and Dad and if you look closely at the pictures you will see that Dad is totally in love with her. This is especially obvious in, Rascal And Little Flora. When Rascal is jealous, Dad is jealous. When Flora ignores Rascal, Sherry ignores Dad. And in the end when Rascal wins Flora’s heart we see Dad walking along holding Sherry’s hand.

The words in a picture book only tell half of the story – the illustrations speak for themselves. Dad’s little romance is never mentioned in the words. A lot of parents ask me, ‘Will Dad get married to Sherry?’ You will have to wait and see but I’m thinking about a final book in the series where Rascal gets them to the church on time – ‘ not sure about this yet.

My next major book is called, The Nest. It is meant for readers aged 15+ and is the first time I have written for this age group. I am very excited about this book as it has taken me almost three years to write (my longest yet). I think and hope that this is my best book ever. But then, I always think this about my latest book.

That’s all for now, catch you again soon.

Warmest wishes


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