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Life Education

Friday April 29th, 2016 in Diaries, School | No Comments »

life-education-vanI remember the time the Life Education van came to my primary school. It was a very exciting day and I wrote about it in my diary.

life van diary

31/3/1993 Boy time flies. Tomorrow we have netball. Today the Life Education van came. It was really good. I can’t wait for Friday. We are leaving school early to go to Melbourne. Then on Sunday I’m going to Emma’s party. I made a really nice broach in art yesterday.

The fact that I mentioned at least five unconnected topics in the same paragraph, of which the Life Education van was only one belies its importance to me. I’ve forgotten the broach, trip to Melbourne and most of Emma’s party but the Life Education van is clear in my mind.

What I remember is that the Life Education van’s visit came as a complete surprise to me and the rest of my Grade 5/6 class. We thought we were in for an afternoon of Maths when suddenly we were ushered up the steps of the most exciting van you could imagine (think mobile library, but better).

I remember that it was terribly exciting but the only bit of the presentation that I clearly recall is a hand puppet called Harold singing a song that went:

If you smoke you’re gonna choke

And if you drink you’re gonna feel real blue

Then a chorus of chipmunks said ‘Come on Harold, let’s go behind the dunnies for a smoke.’

Harold, you’ve got to make a decision

I think there must have been more to the Life Education van than that because the program made a big impression on me and my classmates. We all pledged to never try smoking. We were told there would be peer pressure at high school but it was hard to imagine giving in to it given the horrors of smoking and the fact that it was clearly a completely stupid thing to do.

When I got home that night I told my older sister, who was in Year 7, about the Life Education van and that no-one in my class would ever smoke. ‘Everyone says that,’ she said. ‘But it’s different in high school.’

I knew she was wrong.

Diaries and Terrors

Saturday September 28th, 2013 in Diaries, Stay Well Soon, Writing | No Comments »

Holly terror_excerpt

Before I wrote Stay Well Soon I re-read my primary school diaries to help establish the main character Stevie’s tone. It seemed helpful to read what I wrote as an eleven year old girl before I tried to write about one as a thirty year old.
Rereading my diaries I’m struck by how much of it is unreliable. I wrote things because I liked the way they sounded, rather than because they were true.

This is a couple of diary entries from late September in 1991 when I was in Grade 4.

Today we saw the writers train. I liked Libby Hathorn But not the other writer. We went to the foot ball. It wasn’t as bad as uselal. I got a Milky Way. We were walking around with Don. He kept Chit chating with his friend. Felt like telling him to Shut up and lets get going only didn’t (note 1). Finely we went back to the car. Tomorro is Fathers Day. We are going to Echca to see Paddy and Loo(note 2).

Paddy is a Holly Terror (note 3) and sos his brother (note 4). But I like Joe (note 5).

(Note 1) I probably didn’t really want to tell Don to shut up. I was trying to sound tough like Penny Pollard, who was my inspiration for diary writing. Dropped a lot of pronouns to sound like her.

(Note 2) I don’t know why I referred to going to see ‘Paddy and Loo’ when there were three other members of their family, including Paddy’s dad. Maybe they were just the loudest.

(Note 3) I had clearly heard an adult call someone a ‘holy terror’ and I liked the way it sounded. It’s possible that Paddy was a very well behaved six year old and I was just dead-set on using the phrase. Anyway, it sounds weird coming from a ten year old. Particularly one who can’t spell.

(Note 4) They are both lovely people now and were probably just being boisterous at the time. I have three sisters and was not used to boys.

(Note 5) Joe was a one year old, so probably didn’t have the capacity to terrorise with a Christmas theme yet.

Something to read on the train

Saturday January 1st, 2011 in Audio books, Diaries, History | No Comments »

I kept a diary from when I was in Grade 4 to when I was about 22. I’ve decided to scan my diaries because they’re starting to fall apart and the pencil is fading. Also, I would be very upset if they were destroyed in a fire, flood, or if our apartment was burgled by robbers with contacts in the black market for mid-90s adolescent angst.

So I’m spending the long weekend digitising. So far I’ve scanned Grades 4, 5 and 6, Year 7 and Year 9. Year 8 is too big to fit on the scanner (not to worry, it was a gloomy year – poetry, wandering around cemeteries, Wuthering Heights).

I’m listening to The Map that Changed the World as I scan. It’s interesting to compare the life of William Smith (author of the first geological map of England) to my own experiences recorded in my diary.

William Smith felt under appreciated and beset by snobs and had to go to debtors prison. I hated myself and almost everyone else and had to go to school. Two peas in a pod!

In the back of my Year 7 diary I made some predictions about the future lives of people at my school, including this assessment of a friend’s future chances:

GM: Junkie, Drugs, Drinking – slight possibility of being a university lecturer.