wings and things

Auto/biographical risks

I was very fortunate to have once been a student of Elizabeth Jolley. She wrote fiction that was heavily laced with fact; she changed names to protect the guilty; she took risks.

The primary reason that I have hesitated over the years (decades actually!) to write what I think is a rather spectacular love story, is due to the yucky bits of the story – the betrayals, conflicts, mysteries and agonies in and amongst its success.

By writing increments of this “Once upon a time” story, I face the challenge of writing about how Anthony and I dealt with the disapproval of our relationship from both sides – from both families – and from well-meaning friends.

Over the last few weeks I have blogged outside the “Once upon a time” story, with tidbits of information about a recent event that traumatised me, and reminded me of some of the yucky stuff from the past. These posts, some now deleted, or edited, are, privately, an avenue into the complicated past of my relationship with Anthony.

When I say rather dramatic things like ‘spectacular love story’ I only mean that it was against all odds – a 41-year-old and an 18-year-old (the beginning), and now (the ending?), a nearly 57-year-old girl/woman sitting in a nursing home with her hands hugged by his nearly 80-year-old fingers.

My recent truthful tidbits have earned me the angst of one family member and, conversely, the support of many others.

I remember, years ago, Elizabeth Jolly speaking to me about one of my short stories:

EJ: This is far too painful, dear. Rewrite it.


Missing Ming

Ming has met a beautiful girl and, as a result, I hardly ever see him, except fleetingly.

Of course I still hear him climb in the front window in the early hours (because I keep forgetting to have a second key cut, but I did remember today!)

And, occasionally we indulge in leisurely conversations during the five seconds he has left to get ready for work.

Me: Good morning, Ming! I shout from my bed.

Ming: Morning, Mum. What do you want? he shouts from the bathroom.

Me: Oh, darling, I don’t want anything! How’d the party go?

Ming: I don’t have time for this morning conversation thing, Mum. Can you just leave me alone so I can get ready for work!

Me: Okay, sorry.

It’s all a bit surreal for me. Of course I haven’t actually lost Ming, and I always knew that one day he would meet someone who would both challenge and embrace his opinions, personality, habits, originality.

The beautiful young woman with whom Ming is involved has a similar ‘old soul’ wisdom to his but is much more academic. Every time I meet her, I am impressed by her integrity, and honesty, and the way she looks at Ming.

So, yes, I miss Ming in the sense that I don’t see him as often as I used to. After all, why would he want to be home with me when he can be out and about?

Nevertheless, I always knew that one day I would be without Anthony here (already happened), and maybe without Ming here (happening).

Hence the birds:



I am so proud of this Ming of mine.


Out of the mouths of babes….

This group of quotes for Gma’s birthday book does not need any explanation from me.






There are more quotes to come of course – from some of the bigger ‘kids’ – but I will save those for tomorrow night after the boat cruise. Suffice it to say that these children’s words, enclosed in her book (and rather brilliantly photographed by me – ha!) have culminated in the most beautiful, mutual, unshakable hug of family.

Oh, I can’t resist: here is Jared’s (Meg’s second grandchild):




I have never been very good at interpreting cryptic messages of any kind so, when one of my many nephews sent me this message for the Grandma book, I didn’t know what to make of it:

“When i was younger and used to stay over i would always look forward to gma reading me ‘would you rather…’. Hopefully she remembers it haha.”

I messaged him to confirm the wording and when he said okay, I added his mysterious quote to the book:

Meg didn’t understand this message either until, suddenly, last night, she remembered the exact storybook and even found it! So she is going to bring it on the cruise to read again to the now-adult little boy who loved it so much.

Cryptic gold!


True love

My young friend found this the other day. It was created by her brother Nick when he and Ming were little.



Oh how much I miss the dancing days!

I was going to write something both poignant and eloquent but have hit a blank tonight. Nostalgia I guess. I tried to show Ants how to use his new phone to no avail this afternoon. Then, just a moment ago, he actually answered it!

Anthony, Julie and her mother, Meg, on wedding day 1993

A Goyders Dardanup

The treasure chest of memories of my dancing days with Anthony (and Ming too) is a constant source of absolute joy in the face of what we are going through now. This afternoon Ants was more frail and confused than I have ever seen seen him and I got a bit of a shock.

So, yeah, I miss the dancing days.


My name is “MING!”

If we had had more than one child we probably would have become more accomplished at the name thing. Alas, Ming (as our only child) inherited a bunch of names that make him sound/seem like a bit of a superior-being-weirdo – poor kid!

His first name is Menzies (pronounced Mingus with a soft ‘g’ and soon shortened to ‘Ming’). This name was chosen by Anthony, whose uncle on his mother’s side, had a Scottish name in the midst of which was ‘Menzies’.

His second name is Brinsley, named after my father, and his father, and his father. Many of the children, my brother, Brin, included, and grandchildren, have ‘Brinsley’ inserted somewhere inside their names. My father, Brinsley, died suddenly, when my brothers and I were still teenagers.

Ming’s third name is Barr, named after Anthony’s father, so his whole name is Menzies Brinsley Barr Goyder. It sounds rather impressive doesn’t it (and pretentious!)

It is very hard to get the pronunciation of ‘Ming’ from ‘Menzies’ however Ming has no patience with anyone who calls him MENZIES!

We should have just called him ‘Schnooks’ or something simpler – argh!


“Totally and utterly stupid.”

Yesterday morning Ming and I went to our third appointment with the lawyer and were told that the first court appearance next week will simply be a reading of the charges and an adjournment until the end of February. We were also given the video of the police interview conducted the night of the accident. Ming has been told to watch it with a notebook in hand in case he wants to change or retract anything he said.

We were going to watch it together but after he went to bed last night, I decided to watch it by myself just in case I had an emotional reaction. The interview began after midnight, the night of the accident, and went for 80 minutes and was conducted while I was waiting with my friends in the foyer of the police station. My mother was with me for the first part of the night but when my friends arrived I told her to go to the hospital which she did. By that time I had stopped sobbing more or less and Ming was finally released at 3am.

During all of those hours I had no idea how the children were and I had no idea what was happening with Ming. These were very dark hours. After the police station, Ming and I went straight to the hospital to see the children and families (except for one nephew who had been flown, with my brother, to Perth from the scene of the accident).

Well now I do know what was happening with Ming during those earlier hours. Two policemen sat on either side of him at a round table and he was questioned about every detail of the accident. Every now and then Ming’s voice caught on a sob as if he had been crying previous to the interview. He answered all of the questions honestly and politely and if he didn’t know, or couldn’t remember, that, too, was noted.

When asked to talk about each of the children, his voice went soft with emotion and a couple of times he sighed before he was able to go on with a steady voice. At no point did he attempt to make any excuses or defend his actions and when asked to state his own opinion of himself and what he had done he said, with no hesitation:

“Totally and utterly stupid.”

I am glad I watched this without Ming because of course it brought back the horror of that night and of course I cried a lot. But now I will be able to watch it with him calmly and help him make notes, although I didn’t hear him say anything but the truth so I don’t really think there is any need to add anything.

He has been charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and obviously he will plead guilty. We found out last week that the car insurance will not pay which is understandable but still a blow. I haven’t told Anthony this; in fact I told him the exact opposite because he sold some very precious shares that he has had for decades in order to buy Ming the ute on his last birthday.

And to top things off, the lawyer said that the barrister he has obtained for Ming charges $4,000 per day! I nearly fell off my chair at this almost incomprehensible amount of money and I have no idea how we are going to manage except that tomorrow I turn 55 and can access my superannuation so in that sense we are very lucky. I would have been panicking otherwise. Now I am just a bit shell-shocked!

This has already been a very long and hard journey in terms of the initial shock, the injuries and slow recovery of the children, and finally now the court case which may go on a bit – I’m not sure.

For many in my family there have undoubtedly been days of utter hopelessness and waiting so long for various splints and casts and braces to come off has been a test of endurance, not just for the kids, who have been magnificently brave and stoic, but for their parents, siblings, my mother, Ming and me.

Now, for Ming and me, there is a different kind of waiting – for the eventual sentencing. I had thought this would all be much faster and I’ve been kind of holding my breath, waiting for it all to be over, for Ming to take his punishment, and for all of us to be able to move on into our various next chapters.

Totally and utterly stupid.

Because there is no point in holding my breath – and I have been doing this for too long now, both metaphorically and physically. Breathing will become the focus of every new day and breathing will get us through the next few months of whatever and, best of all, despite the accident, we are all still breathing.

And for this I thank God, the ambulance attendants, the hospital staff, my family, but most of all I thank the five children injured for their heroism, generosity of spirit, humour, and love to Ming, me and each other.


Who are you and why are you so nasty?

I have a rather nasty taste in my mouth at the moment because I have been reading about some people’s taste for nastiness, or cyber-nastiness to be exact – well that’s what I call it anyway. A few moments ago I saw a lovely photo on Facebook (yes I am back on it!) of a black man reaching his hand out to a white baby.

I liked the photo and its caption and found it heart-warming. So I was surprised to read some very nasty comments and interchanges in response to the photo. Various critical points were made by some and phrased politely, but other people became quite hateful in their comments.

Lately I have been seeing more and more of this on the internet – people voicing nastiness with such ferocity it is breathtaking. Of course, with Facebook and WordPress and other social media sites, there are rules, but obviously this is almost impossible to monitor unless someone is being obscenely abusive.

The thing that most bothers me about this trend is the anonymity with which nasty comments, statements, opinions etc. are made. I read a couple of news feeds and often a human interest article will be attacked by certain readers and then readers will attack each other with no respect for the fact that we are all real people. Many of the nasty things written on social media sites would never be said face-to-face because in real-life, real-time situations, there is usually an expected decorum. Not so on the internet. Anybody can pretty much say anything they like to anybody else behind the safety of their computer or phone screen.

But why? Why do so many people expend so much time and energy on being nasty on the internet? I was the recipient of some rather nasty commentary on my friend’s blog the other day. The person commenting was not known to me so I was flummoxed by his passionate diatribe against my rather innocuous comment and he proceeded to crowd my friend’s post with long-winded speeches against me, and against my friend who rose to my defense. I responded a few times then gave up because I realized everything I said just seemed to fuel his irrational fury. I would love to recount the dialogue but respect my blogger friend’s privacy so suffice it to say that my initial comment had nothing to do with politics, race, gender or religion – ie. it was not an attackable comment!

The experience was a learning curve for me, so I am glad for it because it has made me even carefuller of my words than I already was – ha. But the main thing this experience showed me was what cyber-bullying might be like for a young person. One of the things this particular bully did was to make assumptions about me and to label me; when I didn’t immediately reply, he equated my silence with guilt; when I did reply, he launched another sermonesque attack. Even though I was astounded and felt extremely misunderstood, I wasn’t hurt – more bemused I guess.

But if I had been 12 or 15 or even in my 20s, I would have been profoundly hurt and affected. And this, I think, is what is so worrying about social media for our beautiful young people. If you read of cases of cyber-bullying and its effects on so many young people (including suicide), it is easy to brush this off as a passing phase, a bizarre incident, or ‘my kid isn’t on Fbook so s/he’s okay’.

I am not saying that my above experience was a case of cyber-bullying exactly. After all, I am an adult and I can take it. But if I had been a kid, I would have crumbled.


Control crying


Gutsy-9, the baby peacock, is now about 72 hours old. He has begun to cry, and I mean CRY, if he is separated from me. His crying is like the beautiful sound of birds chirping and tweeting – multiplied by a million, which makes it not so beautiful.

If I put him on the floor he looks at me as if to say how could you abandon me like this?

Control crying methods will be helpful tonight.