I was sixteen and I was hungry. For two days I had lived only on bread and water and fruit filched from orchards. This was the flip side of hitchhiking through Europe and running low on funds apart from an emergency stash to get me to friends in Paris. Dutch lad Wouter and I had … Continue reading The Fox
“I don’t believe in this heaven nonsense. When you’re dead you’re no better than a dead dog or cat”, said my maternal grandfather, John Milner. Aged seven I had seen my fill of dead cats during my foraging through bombed out buildings in south London and knew instantly what my granddad was getting at. Dead … Continue reading Confession of an atheist
MAUD’S FAMILY DURING THE SPANISH FLU
When Maud’s mother was five years old, in 1919, she and her sisters went upcountry with their mother to avoid the flu epidemic. Their father was still at work in the city, but his wife and 3 small daughters were in a wooden shed at Culgoora, twenty miles west of Narrabri, New South Wales. They had bedding, a camp stove, an ice-chest and a couple of chairs. The rest of the furniture was upturned wooden packing cases. No electricity, no telephone. For the girls, the daily highlight was the passage of the North-West Mail. The train would let out a whistle and slow down, and then the guard would toss out their hessian-wrapped block of ice. On days of rare excitement, a David Jones parcel would follow the ice.
No one got the flu. But what were those weeks like for her grandmother, Maud wondered now. She’d never asked. She only knew about the train, and the block of ice bouncing on the yellow tussocks of grass.
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