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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inventing Childhood!!

Memory is a tricky thing. And remembering childhood one of the most difficult aspects of writing memoir. My childhood began in the Australian bush at a time when words like the bush myth and redneck politics were well in the future.  Our lives, indeed most lives outside towns and cities, were lived simply, frugally, harshly.  Transport was still by horse and cart, a ride on the mail truck, the odd sulky.  Few people had cars.  Houses were wooden shacks, furniture and fittings were rough and ready.  There was no electricity connected although we were not living in an especially remote place.  There was no sewerage, no running water, no soft carpets, no telephones, no local transport, no toothpaste or toothbrushes, no such things as shampoo and conditioner, no refrigeration, no shoes for children to wear, no toys, no books, no soft pillows.  No one in my family talked about education as though it mattered.  No one that I knew thought children might need special attention to their feelings, their emotions, that the needs of children might be highlighted in the daily rubicon of life. Very different to nowadays of course. There were parents and children who lived different lives in the bush of course; wealthier families whose children were sent to boarding schools and who planned different, more adventurous futures for them. There were also children who lived hidden lives and who had less wealth, less care and certainly less concern from governments or community; indigenous children, children with disabilities and children in institutional settings.  It may well be that social reformers, were talking about the rights of the child by 1940 but in working class, country New South Wales such ideas had barely filtered down to touch the world of a child.  
Ah, yes. Childhood. How to write about it now.

The Landscape of my Childhood

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