Below is a Link to Pete Davison’s site I’M NOT DR WHO in which he blogs daily from Game Reviews to Creative Writing, with general social commentaries in between.  He is currently writing his third fictional story for NaNoWriMo – check out his others as well – based on his personal experiences as a teacher.  Below that is my response to today’s blog – a time-out – in which he kindly mentions me.

I can understand the courage and therefore effort required to write like this – I was going to write about my past, but after my initial comments to you which precipitated thinking about it, I found that the demons that had been well and truly dealt with, shoved into the past as negative rubbish while I took the positive forward – always my strong-held belief for coping with crap – raised their ugly heads, penetrated my thoughts at unexpected moments, took over my dreaming mind (both day and night dreaming) and generally made me back-peddle furiously.
What a coward I am. There are some things that were done to me in the name of experimental medicine that should see the light of day. There were other things done in my childhood and teens that carved my pathway even more. But I shudder to put pen to paper – well fingers to keyboard I should say these days. The mind is a traitor. It holds the info locked in cabinets in the basement guarded by crocodiles, as Douglas Adams said, refusing to give it to you when you want it, only to release it in torrents when you haven’t asked. At the merest suggestion that you might open the file it cascades the documents over your head till you are wading in it. How rude!!
Anyway, Pete, I applaud you. When I have controlled my errant demons I might try to get them into some order. Meanwhile I will watch your creative efforts with admiration, not to mention anticipation – I am already hooked on this new story of yours – as I have been by your past ones. Anyone coming across this site should not hesitate to check out your other stories – they will be bowled over. You handle the delicate issues with care, kid gloves, yet without shying away from the truth you are disclosing. Keep going – take respite days off as you are doing – then attack it again. I am sure I’m not the only one watching and waiting and supporting you. 

Jud House  15/11/2013

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They had lived with the knowledge of their mother’s childhood almost all their lives.  The horror of how Winnifred and her brothers, the middle three kids, were taken by their father from their siblings – to lighten his load when their precious mother died from complications from the ninth baby’s birth – to live in Morialta Children’s Home on the edge of the Adelaide Hills, hung like a guilty cloud over their lives.  It coloured their perspectives, it undermined their sense of security – if it happened to her it could happen to them – and it made her overly precious to them.

And as time passed, as they moved from childhood to teens, they were constantly aware of the progress she made in her life – her attainments were like stepping stones, each praised and complimented when reached, with the knowledge that there would be more to come.  What a role model!  Not that they thought of her in that way – it wasn’t a phrase bandied about back then, but in retrospect that is what she was.  Yet it left them feeling that they could never catch her.  She was always way out in front, ahead of them, and when they did later pass her they didn’t notice it.

For them, there was a drawback to this as well.  She was so busy attaining her own goals in her careers – musical and educational – that she failed to assist them to attain theirs.  She knew they could all sing, that they could all play instruments, could write well and were artistically creative, but her notions of what constituted a working career didn’t apply to their talents.  Consequently, they were encouraged and organised into teaching and nursing careers that suited none of them, instead of into music, stage and art careers.  Inevitably they opted out, felt like failures, then tried to resurrect their particular talents later in life, when they had ‘missed the proverbial boat’!

Too late in her life she realised that she had done this.  Too late, after competing with them as they made their musical way into amateur renown, did she acknowledge that she had failed to support them, had ignored them – still in the ‘children are to be seen and not heard’ mode that was one of the legacies of her terrible upbringing – had considered their talents as multiple but only hobby-worthy.  They did not reach her brilliance.  They could not reach her brilliance.  Not in her mind or theirs.

But as age crept in, and the avaricious ambition of other singers in the amateur musical societies that she frequented began to stress her, she withdrew and looked at this one failure of hers with startled wonder of growing guilt.  How had she remained oblivious to this self-centred characteristic?  Her life had been about her – a created life.  Her husband was seen as part of her support system – his baritone voice complimented her glorious soprano in myriad duets – they were the stars of all the shows.  Her children were seen as a credit to her, dressed properly at all times in public, taught to not embarrass her in public though there were many slip-ups intentional and unintentional as they aged, but always in her shadow.  They were an adjunct to her.

She began to write her story so it wouldn’t be lost when she was gone.  The chapters poured out of her, written about a character she called Emily.  But it was her story.  Her daughter helped her get it in order, transferred it onto computer disks, tightening it slightly but sticking as closely to her mother’s written word as she could.  There were copious hand-written pages that needed transcribing – some were done, some still waited.  All were gathered together, but it was emotionally hard to transcribe, as the terrible abuses that she suffered in the Home were resurrected in black and white.  Not just something told, but there on the page, inescapable.

Then the thing she’d been dreading all her life occurred – reoccurred.  She was put back into a Home!  She contracted a debilitating illness – Cerebral Nuclear Palsy, similar to Motor Neurone Disease – where though her mind remained sharp and intelligent, her body gradually shut down over a dozen years till she could no longer speak or move.  She had to go into a Nursing Home.  Her husband, now in his nineties, could no longer look after her.  Not could the Carers who came daily to assist.  She needed medical facilities.

Their guilt at ‘putting her into a home’ after years of promising this would never happen because they wouldn’t allow it, bore down on them with each visit.  They had no choice.  They told her so vehemently, lovingly, continually.  They had held it off way past the point of no return.  They all loved her – a love/hate of decades of baggage churned around them  – extremes of adoration mixed with resentment, encased in shrouds of guilt.  How could they do to her what her father had done?

When her time came they kept a vigil for six days, rostered between them, keeping her beloved music playing, not leaving her alone  – she must not be alone.  The relief was tangible when she slipped away.  How could fate choose someone so brilliant, so intelligent, to play such a cruel trick on.  But she had made it to 86!  She had hung in there and not let it beat her, as she had done all her life.  The warmth and glow of her personality, her star-quality was gone, but the treasured memories of these and of her attainments overrode the negative feelings, the baggage.  They clung onto the positives and gave her a star’s send-off.

(C) Jud House  10/06/2013

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She looked across the airport terminal at the group of figures by the baggage conveyor belt.  As she approached, he stood beside her smiling son.

How could I have ever been married to him.  Yuk!  ‘Hello, son.  Hello, Jerry.’  You fat little roley-poley ignorant piece of shit!  She felt much better.

‘Hi, Mum.’  Her son grinned at her.  He knew how she felt, how she despised his father, and why.  He knew it cost her to be polite.

As they dragged the bags from the revolving belt, Jerry’s mate, tattooed, half-bald with a ratty plait down his back, arrived to collect him.  Another excuse for a human being.  She smiled and said ‘Hello.’

‘Have a nice visit.’  She was cool and civil, but it cost her.  Hope you get the plague while you’re here.

‘What were you grinning at, Mum?’  Her son was baffled.  Usually these occasions were fraught with tension, with barely disguised contempt, with snide remarks.

‘Just entertaining myself, son.’  Without a backward glance, they passed through the automatic doors into the damp night air.

‘But you were nice to Dad.  And to Roy.’  He eyed his mother suspiciously.  ‘Are you feeling all right?’

‘Perfect.  There’s no need to be rude to the man, just because he’s a despicable little worm.’  At the look of disbelief on her son’s face, she began to chuckle – a deep sound that welled up, growing into a full-throated laugh.

Releasing the alarmed locking system of the four-wheel-drive, they lifted his bags into the back.  After clambering into and starting the car, she drove to the toll-booth.  Nothing was going to spoil her good mood – not the criminal parking fee, nor the rain which blinded them as they left the airport.

Privately, without confrontation, she had got the better of Jerry, and of her own pent-up resentments – a great feeling.

She pulled up at the traffic lights, then turned up the highway.  ‘So, what do you plan on doing these holidays, son?’

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(C) Copyright  Jud House  May 1997 & 30/09/2011

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Winnifred (2)
Winnifred, aged 75, still performing.

There is no way that this classy, elegant lady would ever, should ever work as a shop assistant.  She was born to sing.  In fact her whole life was spent ‘on stage’ as she played the role she had created for herself as Winnifred.  In stage productions of light operas and musicals, she always stole the show, as her unique voice rippled through the halls sending shivers through the audiences.

Her elegance came naturally to her.  Her style was assured, her clothes expensive – full-skirted, wide-collared or cowl-necked dresses of exotic colours – the greens brilliant emerald, the blues glowing sapphires, the yellows burnished gold.  She was gold – rich, warm, with a lustre that shone in the little country town where she taught at the Primary School.

The facade of her hauteur, her regal carriage – standing, sitting, walking – masked a need to be liked, respected.  From a family of nine children, whose mother had died at the ninth birth, she and two brothers were condemned to three years of hell in a children’s home, only returning to their family when their mother had been replaced.  Winnifred needed to be different, to stand out, to be loved.   Known locally as ‘the little girl who sang’, her voice gave her the means to that end.  It was majestic, dramatic, like rolling hills of lush pasture, and crescendos of waves against the cliffs.

A thirst for knowledge led her to continue her education as a mature-age student, through matriculation, teaching diploma and on to Bachelor of Arts. As Demonstration teacher, then as Head of English at her High School, she became one of the first Student Counsellors, finally rounding it off  with a research trip overseas.  She dazzled within this educational arena, as she dazzled on stage – articulate, musical, her laughter ringing out to fill a room, enveloping all within.

In public she was sunshine.  At home she was like a cloudy day.  If things ran smoothly, as she wanted them to go, the sky was clear.  But if she were thwarted, her well laid plans disturbed, modified by the plans of others, the sky would cloud over.  Although she didn’t hold grudges or seek revenge, she (not surprisingly) harboured resentments for unfair treatment, imagined and real.  And voiced these resentments passionately, building them into immense injustices.  This dented the hard-won respect of those around her, at home and in her musical society.

If only she’d had the breaks at the Conservatorium of Music.  If only they hadn’t seen that she had three young children, and consequently given the Aria Scholarship to a single girl.

She was born to sing – she was born for the stage.

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(C) Copyright jud House April 1997 & 30/09/2011

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As soon as she opened the shop door, the organic smell of multiple vegetation enveloped her.  Confined overnight the individual aromas of the carnations, dahlias, chrysanthemums, and asters mixed with the rich oily fumes of the native foliage and cypress leaves that were used to enhance their floral beauty in arrangements.  She knew that when she opened the fridge door she would be overwhelmed by the rose fragrance as it rushed out of its prison into the relative freedom of the closed shop.

Methodically, the florist went through the motions of emptying and refilling the buckets of water, with just a dash of bleach, for the bunches of mixed flowers, for the stands inside and outside the shop.  They caught the attention of potential customers, often bringing them into the shop.  With each splash of bleach the strength of the organic smell lessened, attacked and neutralized by the ammonia fumes.

Gradually the pot-pourri fragrance, from the small decorative containers that were for sale on the shelves between the silk flower arrangements, crept into her nostrils.  Hiding beneath the heavy confined organic smells, it rose to follow them as they fled through the open shop door to accost passers-by.

Drying her wet hands on the terry towel, she arranged the float in the till – the crisp notes sliding under the spring-clips, and the cold coins jingling into the trays.  Between serving customers, she prepared paper-ribbon bows, deftly folding the stiff strips into loops then twisting thin wire around them to form an impression of softness.

When the delivery man arrived with bunches of fresh flowers, she moved to the back room, nervously keeping an eye on the shop through the door-way.  Quickly she snipped the rubber-bands that held the bunches, then stripped the foliage from the lower stems, so that they would not contaminate the water in the buckets.  Fortunately some came already clean, so that saved her some time.  Besides they were wrapped in pretty cellophane sleeves, which assisted in their sale – she didn’t like to disturb those.

With the roses she removed most of their leaves, to ensure that the water and the Chrysal nutrients would reach and nourish the blooms rather than be wasted on their foliage.  As a bonus for her customers, she nipped the sharp thorns off the rose stems, some by hand, some with secateurs.  The roses were then returned to the glass-fronted fridge until sold.

She made a stunning bouquet with roses, gypsophella (Baby’s Breath), and spikes of clear cellophane held by a twist of wire.  Making them was another job she did when things were quiet.  She would grab a square of cellophane in the centre, flick it so it fluted, then twist a length of wire around its base, creating a long spiky piece to place between the rose stems.  The red Mercedes rose or the apricot-pink Sonia rose looked spectacular in this bouquet, which was very popular with her customers, especially on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

Because she sold a lot of silk arrangements – which, due to their durability, were popular with the Mediterranean-born customers – she made up several a day.  They were enjoyable to work with, there were a huge variety of shapes and colours available, and their plastic stems slid easily into the dry oasis foam.  She could manipulate the curve of these stems, their positions, and the overall shape of the arrangement.  And the textures of the various silks were interesting – from spiky satin-wrapped floppy-petalled Oriental blooms, to velvet-leaved satin roses – a tactile feast.  Besides, they didn’t require the wiring and wrapping with tape that fresh flowers did.  The latter were used mostly in floral wreaths for funerals, while the silks tended to sell for the birth of babies.

She also created a unique orchid basket with Singaporean orchids in whites, mauves and purples, which was frequently ordered from the maternity hospital.  With soft Asparagus-fern around the edge, the basket was a mass of orchid flowers, cut short and placed into the oasis water-soaked foam in the basket.  Finished with mauve ribbons, it was an inexpensive yet delicate lovely gift for the mother of either a boy or girl baby.

All day she was surrounded by the wetness of flowers, foliage and saturated paper.  As she shut the shop at night, pulling the wheeled stands into the shop, putting the vases of exotics and orchids into the fridge with the roses, she knew with certainty that their cocktail of overnight expirations would greet her next morning.

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(C) Copyright  Jud House April 1997 & 30/09/2011

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Scripts – IN THE LIFT – Response to ELIZABETH JOLLEY



2.  SUSAN   What happened?  Why have we stopped?

3.  JAMES   The lift’s stuck.  There’s a phone here somewhere.

4.  JILL        Over by the door.  SCUFFLING SOUNDS  Be careful.  That’s me!


6.  JILL        Thank goodness for that.  At least we can see, now.

7.  SUSAN   That was dreadful – so black.  I could see nothing – not even my hand. Ugh!

8. JAMES     RATTLING PHONE  Hello?  Hello?  Damn!  It’s not working.

9. SUSAN   PANICKING  How will they know we’re here?  They will know we’re here, won’t they?

10. JILL]      TOGETHER    Of course!
JAMES]                              How the hell would I know?

11. SUSAN    Bang on the doors!  YELLS  Help!  We’re stuck in here!  Somebody – help!

12. JAMES    That’s no good.  No-one will hear you.

13. JILL         Well, what do you suggest then?  We can’t climb out through the ceiling like in the movies.

14. SUSAN   Can’t we?  Oh, no.  It’s too high.  PANTS  Is it getting airless in here?

15. JAMES   Of course not.  Well not yet, anyway.

16. SUSAN   I get claustrophobia.  How long will they be?  Oh hurry and find us, please.

17. JILL        Well, I’m going to sit down and rest.  We could be here for quite a while.

18. SUSAN   WAILS.   Oh, don’t say that!

19. JAMES   For God’s sake, shut up!


21. SUSAN   Thank God!  That was awful!

22. JAMES    DISGUSTED  You can say that again!

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(C) copyright Jud House May 1997 & 28/09/2011

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