Lillian was a Bookworm – The Incredible Story of the Girl who Loved Books

By , January 11, 2013 12:58 am

Lillian was a Bookworm – The Incredible Story of the Girl who Loved Books

Top of the tide

By , January 7, 2013 5:14 am

Along the shore,

footstep by footstep,

the thin, crisp line wanders.


Meandering along the top of the tide,

it states: I was here, once.

It binds throughout each coastal bay,

every beach and cove,

weaving Australia with a tidal thread of today.


Tomorrow, the moon beckons a different path.

It’s a Pirate’s life for me!

By , August 29, 2012 4:34 am

A Pirates Life for Me!

Sing a Song for Lillian

By , February 13, 2012 2:43 am

Sing a Song of Lillian

Cowboy Calum and the Big Secret

By , February 13, 2012 2:27 am

Cowboy Calum and the Big Secret

Calum is Cooking – a birthday book for my nephew

By , February 13, 2012 1:49 am

Calum is Cooking

Country rain – from Switzerland to Nigeria.

By , December 8, 2011 12:54 am

Driving through stinging rain. Grey clouds hang like a shroud, whilst further to the south, sweeping sheets of white cover the hills and fields, causing small streams in paddocks to run, puddling at fence lines.

Today I am going to film a small country funeral for a Swiss woman, who so loved her family that she travelled each year to stay for a 3 month visit. This year she celebrated her 80th birthday, and then passed away very suddenly.

Today and forever her heart will be part Australian.

Already, I am lost. I drive swinging to the right, as I watch open mouthed as my turnoff to Toowoomba veers to the left. I’m confused by the prolific and complicated road works that jam the Ipswich highway. No matter, I have plenty of time, and I take the opportunity to drive through Ipswich and have a good look around though my sweeping windscreen wipers. I’ve heard that Ipswich has changed a lot – a dynamic mayor with his tea cup collection – and innovative city changes, but today I can’t really see anything new. It’s the same old highway, same traffic, same curious collection of white rocks stacked into a pyramid to my right hand side. Very odd. I don’t get it.

Pulling over to the side of the road, I stab at my new android phone for Google maps, and a strange woman’s voice tells me which way to drive. With my phone propped up within the dashboard, it leads me out of this town and back towards the main highway, where my little Astra competes with huge and fast-speeding semis and trucks.

Water everywhere. Thanks goodness for new tyres. Eventually the turnoff to Laidley appears, and I pull left and enjoy scenery. I always imagined living in this small town, I’m not sure why, something about it pulls me towards a slower life. Children in bright gumboots digging within a muddy garden. Cats sleeping in warm window nooks. Dark grey pigeons abridge rooftops watching the town centre. No sooner had I read all the Christian signs and anti abortion posters *country dream popped* than I am driving out of Laidley, heading towards the small crematorium and chapel.

The rain doesn’t ease, and the paddocks surrounding the gorgeous little cemetery are filling with rivers and brown streams of water, anxious to travel and flow. I hop from my car, from small island to small island of mud. My shoes are already soaked. It’s going to be a long day. A large gregarious caretaker called Barry meets me and together we chat for the next 30 minutes about this and that. He tells me of speeding through the cemetery (no clients of course) and how three special black marble headstones glow in the dark. I shiver with delight. “It’s just reflecting the building lights of course” but I won’t listen, I want to hear how they glow and my goose bumps build up and down my legs and arms.

Eventually the family arrive, huge umbrellas are shaken and stored, and raindrops are dusted off black coats. We’ve lost our Catholic priest, a new young man, fresh from Nigeria. A few phone calls later, it seems he has driven to the Plainlands cemetery instead. He’s on his way. We sit and fiddle, adjusting my video angles, rehearsing. Paula, a young blonde Funeral Arranger, tells me that in her experience, a lot of priests “give these families nothing. Nothing! No comfort, nothing.”

Grosse Gatt wir loben ditch plays. Our young priest arrives with an embarrassed face, he quickly changes into his priestly garments and the Service commences. Firstly, a long explanation and deep apology to everyone for keeping them waiting, and soon we all warm to this likeable, sensitive young man with the dark skin who travelled from Africa, performing the Committal rites to an old woman who travelled all the way from Switzerland to die. I love the journey!

He gives them comfort, and hope and faith. He gives them everything!

The widower speaks no English, and seems happy although a little dazed. It must be a shock: she went too quickly. I am there to film so he can take his wife’s memory back home, and show his neighbours that “he did the right thing.” In thirty minutes, it’s over; we exit the Chapel to Ave Marie. Outside, the hugging begins.

I film as gently as I can, without intrusion, and then head back inside to photograph the detail of the flowers. He wants everything preserved in my camera, and I oblige, clicking petals and the silver Cross and the details that catch my eye. The family are so relieved I’m there, and grateful. Umbrellas are popped open and dribs of black-dressed families huddle together, making their way to their cars. Someone takes my own umbrella, by mistake. Oh well, it can be my gift to them.

They are driving now to a local pub, where a long afternoon of schnapps and toasts will begin; and I leave them to their memories, and drive home; through the concrete canyons of Ipswich Road, past the wonky bridges and enormous overhead highway signs, winding my way through the suburbs to arrive to my own home and find a roast pork dinner – complete with homemade apple pie – all ready to be thrown into the oven. Thank you to my son and his girl, for being so thoughtful. I squeal with delight as I see my kitchen, with dishes full of salads, bowls overflowing with potatoes ready to be roasted, the seasonings, the flavours that beckon. Bottles of red wine are opened, and my husband and other son arrive for dinner.

It’s a perfect ending to a lovely day.

A Christmas Story (to be read aloud)

By , November 30, 2011 10:29 pm

T ‘was the night before Christmas

And in Little Bethlehem

Mary’s labour had commenced

“Thank God” she said, “Amen”.


T ‘was the night before Christmas

And Mary’s labour had begun

“I’m glad I’m off that donkey now,

My bottom is quite numb!”


There was no room inside the Inn

Nor motel in sight,

“Looks like it’s to the stables then,”

And she pushed with all her might.


“Though I’d rather have a Boothville Birth,

I’ve heard they’re really neat,

And after babe’s Leboyer birth

We’d stay in the family suite.”


“I’d rather have a Boothville Birth

And Joe can cut the cord.

I’d rather have a Boothville Birth,

After all, it IS the Lord!”


“Next time I’ll have a Boothville Birth

(My last midwife was a cow!)

I’ll join the Auxiliary

And tell my doctor to book me in,

Right now!”


“I’ll subscribe to the newsletter

And tour friends on Open Day

Oh thank God for Boothville babies,

Hip Hip my Lord- HURRAY!


(Written by Patty Beecham with tongue firmly in cheek November 1990)

The Spirit of Boothville

By , November 30, 2011 10:14 pm

Many of you already know me. You call me atmosphere. What you feel is the patina of a thousand families, the shared tradition of birth, the dignity, the feelings that are right, the choices you have made.

Recently I have felt your fears, when it was thought my spirit might die, but your commitment has made me stronger. I have seen the coming of many generations and now I will see your children’s children.

Mothers, I have heard your birth song, a gathering of unknown forces and Pure Creation. Whilst you sleep within my walls I share the dreams of your sons and daughters.

I have felt your precious newborn shake with the fresh delight of life, of first drawn breath, of newness.

I know their thoughts, I cherish their first memories.

They are safe.

Parents, I have grown stronger watching your struggles. Your relationship has now changed forever – a new life, a child, your family.

I wish you all continued strength, understanding and peace within.



(Written by Patty Beecham May 1990)

Jacquie’s Funeral – Thoughts.

By , October 27, 2011 9:36 pm

Driving through canyons of concrete and kilometres of road works, I am relying on my GPS to take me to a large Maori family at Redbank Plains, to film their beloved daughter and sister who died quickly and tragically of an undiagnosed tumour in her chest. She was 37, she had only been in Australia for five weeks, and she was the mother of three delightful children.

As I turn the final corner, a white ute drives past me slowly, the driver locking eyes with mine. Justify your existence is written in heavy old English font. I pull my wheel to the right and park on the footpath, adding to the automobile count.

I am greeted by her older sister Danielle, who has been living in Australia for the past 25 years. She has lived here so long she has forgotten her Maori language; in fact later she admits she never understood it.

It only takes one generation to wipe out a culture.

Danielle is totally Aussie to the point she has changed her Maori name Danille, to Danielle. There’s a difference and her husband points this out later to family. He’s an intelligent, well spoken and widely travelled business man. “I sold my corporation and now I am in the position of having too much spare time and drinking too much.” We both laugh softly at the prospect, to some that would be a dream, but he is a thinker, a planner, living with an over-active mind. He sooths this twice a week by babysitting his grandson, with long strolls around the park in a fancy pram. He loves it but he’s bored silly.  He needs to get back to work.
The cardboard sign taped to the fridge placed in the double garage read: NO SMOKING IN THE SHED! and various mobs of family wander to stand in the long driveway and puff away their grief. There’s no alcohol but cigarette packets lay everywhere. An aunty hacks away with a cough so bad I want to slap her on the back to help. Family groups return back to work after a visit. “Better get back to it, keep it all going.” ‘Yes sister, keep it all going, eh!”

I had little idea of the culture of mourning until I quickly googled this morning, but at least I am aware that a bowl of water is placed at the door, and it’s expected of me to wash my hands and face each time I enter and depart the room of Jaquie. I watch the little children plunge their hands in and wash, giggling and happy to be among other children. Finally a mum comes out and scolds them. ‘That’s enough now, eh! Enough now, eh!”

Fresh ferns are strung along the door lintel, acting as an entrance to the other world. It’s beautiful to see.

The children kick a large soft ball around to each other, absorbed in a new game. Platters of food are placed carefully under a new white marquee: ham, salads, watermelon and breads. Tables and chairs are set up; they are catering for a crowd of 50 people who ebb and flow, cars constantly coming and going. A couple struggles in with 4 bags of ice for the large eskies, and cans of lemonade. Later, two men bring in cartons of steaks, and slabs of beer. ‘This isn’t going in the fridge, eh”.

It’s my job today to set up a Skype connection to distant family in New Zealand, who have hired out the local hall (marae) to watch the ceremonies on a large projected screen. They are also catering for a crowd of 50 friends and family. It’s taken me a week to try to set this connection up, I’ve done as much as I can by installing new drivers, defragging and buying a new HD webcam, but it’s their connection I have no control over. The Skype stutters and jerks annoyingly. It’s the best we can do; we are all doing what we can.

Family members drift off to eat, sitting in the back garden’s darkness with another feast of food. Soon, a husband’s emotional farewell. I’ll film it, sitting in the corner before realising to my horror I had left my shoes on. As soon as there’s a break in the proceedings, I’ll dash out and remove the offending footwear, but for now, I continue to film and archive a families loss.


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