“SIMONE’S QUITE THE STORYTELLER” is the headline of the “The Kyabram Press” on 8 February 1980. Underneath the bold headline it continues, “We weren’t quite sure about the authenticity of three-year-old Simone’s enthusiastic claim that an aeroplane had flown her to the local swimming pool. But she was so solemn in her declaration about how she came to be at the Saint Patrick’s Swimming Sports Carnival that we were reluctant to question her. With a happy smile she firmly reiterated that she had flown here in a big gold plane to watch her sister compete. She was clearly sticking with her story”.
The local swimming pool was 15km from home … we’d driven our giant, canary yellow 1973 Ford Falcon. Why would I change my story? Falcons fly, don’t they?
My mother shows me the faded article and rolls her eyes, smiling.
Mum: I thought you might have grown out of it.
Me (laughing): No, some stories need to be told. And all stories need to be told in a certain way for them to be worth telling.
Earlier this week Mum arrived from Heathrow. On my way to meet her I’d thought about all the travel stories I or my friends had experienced; drunk and abusive passengers, intimate dalliances, unscheduled stopovers, luggage searches, lost passports, rejected visas. I’d contemplated turning one of these into my blog this week. There’s a story in most things if you look at them in a certain way, and my penchant for playing bard entertains and frustrates my mother in equal measure.
During my teenage years I was often mocked at the dinner table for my theatric accounts of daily incidents.
I exasperated my mother: When you report on what happened during your day you don’t need to commence by “Setting the scene”!
I irritated my sister: Just spit it out – don’t make it a bloody movie!
I amused my father: Alright bloody Shakespeare sitting in the corner – let’s hear your tale of the day.
Mum’s brought some old photographs. The swimming sports article is too faded to scan, but she has a photo that had been taken later that day. I’m laughing as heartily as I do now, but probably not so loudly. I’ve recently cut my own fringe and my red swimsuit demonstrates my usual subtlety.
These days the authenticity of my blog entries is questioned. “Did that actually happen?!” My answer is always “Yes … pretty much so”. Some aspects are embellished and many are omitted but essentially, they’re true. More or less ….
Life is filled with concrete facts; mortgage statements, electricity bills, mobile phone contracts. Certainly my work (dealing with the resources that are human) is about data and accuracy – policies and procedures reign supreme. But a world filled with statistics, spreadsheets and pie charts isn’t a world to be enjoyed. As a notorious fan of structure and logic, I happily adhere to order and routine. Precise information is a necessary evil, but daydreaming is a necessary bliss. My brain is a wonderland of whims and fantasies. In my mind the pixies freely roam the magical forest.
Creative non-fiction tells the story, but makes sure it is a story. If you arrived at the swimming pool in a huge yellow Ford Falcon, then surely you flew there in a plane made of gold? It’s all just a matter of semantics. And what’s a little poetic interpretation amongst friends and family? …
So how did I pick Mum up from the airport? By jetpack, obviously.
My father phoned me last night and, as always, he gave me his forthright greeting, “You have 20 seconds to say something interesting or I’m hanging up. And you know the rules”. The “rules” are the banned topics – anything he’s deemed subject matter too dull to be discussed. This list includes home decorating, standard ailments (colds, stomach bugs, tiredness, headaches etc), the weather, anything financial, politics, sport, and work. No wonder I’m a story-teller.
‘Setting the scene’ – ha! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at your family dinners!
Spielberg had nothing on me 😉
Avoid! God damn that elusive ‘d’!
Don’t worry, I wasn’t about to enrol you in a literacy programme!
I love it when your dad gives you the “20 seconds to say something interesting” call, I’m thinking of incorporating into my own family telephone conversations, it would avoi 35 minutes of mum telling me the various ailments of people I don’t even know….
I don’t entirely disagree with him … I just wish he’d apply his own rules to himself!