22 March 2013

Moving Around

My Mum has voiced concern. She has expressed worry about what I may write about her or Dad or the rest of the family in this blog. I spoke to my mum on the telephone this morning and arranged a time to catch up with her and Dad tomorrow. I am flying back to Singapore on Sunday and I haven't seen my parents yet. Mum was chatting away to me on the phone about her golf and her Bridge and the general family news and gossip when she suddenly stopped and asked me:

"You are not going to write about this are you Peter?"

I assured her that I would not. I said:

"No Mum I will not." 

But I might actually. 


It was pretty juicy stuff.

Don't worry Mum. Chill out. Don't get into a dither. I would never write about that sort of thing. Not without your permission anyway.

The Oxford dictionary defines the word 'dither' as being 'nervously irresolute'. It's origin is from the Middle English language period where it was derived from the word 'didder' - which meant 'tremble'. 

My mum told me that she was a bit shocked and in a tremble with the revelations of her grand daughter Georgie's involvement in the Rory saga. She now reads all my blogs. Mum told me that she thought it was maybe too personal. I had to reassure her again that George likes being written about. I also told her that I gave Georgie complete editorial freedom in the Rory piece and she approved it. Georgina wants me to write about her. She whines to me and begs me in fact and she says: 

"Go on uncle Peeeeeeeter.' 

She says it really loud.

"What about your brother?', my Mum asked. 

"He mustn't like what you have written about him." 

"He doesn't mind" I told her. 

"I think he quite likes it.". 

"But you wrote down that he has a very big penis dear. For everyone to read"

"But he has Mum" I consoled her. 

"And he really doesn't mind people knowing about it. I have asked him".

Mum told me that she was worried that I wrote too much about other people. She dropped the name Julian Assange into our conversation and warned me that she didn't want to see me on the television seeking asylum in an Embassy of an obscure South American country in London. I told her not to worry on that front. I told her that I didn't want to see that either. Nor experience it. 

I told my Mum to calm down. 

Mum then went on to tell me that she thought that my language was a bit too strong in some of my posts. She said that she didn't like all my swearing. Mum didn't say the word but indicated that she doesn't like me using the word 'fucker' so much. She doesn't think it is necessary. I told her that I was trying very hard to replace it with the word 'fisher' in my current verbal conversations and she told me that was just being silly. 

I have heard my Mum say 'fuck' and 'fucker' many times before. On the golf course. We have all heard her. 

When she slices her drives off the tee.

There are a lot of funny stories on both sides of my family. We have plenty of colorful characters and tales of adventure. We have gypsies and opera singers and executioners and soldiers and criminals. We have romance and violence and heart break and we have the inheritance drama. We have the lot. I will probably record them at some point in time. I don't want these memories and stories to be forgotten or lost. I will eventually try to find words adequate enough to describe them. Such sagas need the right words to be placed in the right order in order to do them justice. Without embarrassing my Mum or Dad. 

I wouldn't do that. 

I think every family has funny stories and memories. Kids recollections of them growing up. I remember us moving around a lot. I remember it being mostly very exciting for us kids but sometimes it was tough. Always being the new kid in class had it's challenges. We were often the only Australians and we were a bit of a novelty in some of the schools that we went to. We had to learn quickly how to talk fast and how to fight. I mostly liked being the centre of attention and I sometimes still do. My sister and brother and I learnt how to easily make new friends at our fresh schools but we knew better than to get too close. We packed up and left all the time. 

We were always moving.

I remember traveling on ships and planes and jumping on and off many trains as well. I remember lots of seaports and airports and railway stations. In European destinations. We always had heaps of crates and suitcases. I remember living in foreign cities in temporary spaces and places. We had many different home and sometimes we lived in army bases. We were housed in the Married and Family Officers Quarters. It was here that we met other kids like us. Ones that moved around a lot. Army brats. It reassured us I think to know that we weren't alone. We took comfort in the knowledge that there were other nomads like us out there.

I remember getting to play in real forts and seeing real tanks and helicopters. I remember being really impressed when soldiers had to call my Dad sir. They had to salute my father whenever they walked past him and he had to salute them back. It was one of the rules of being in the Army.

I remember the long ship journey we took from Sydney to London and two years later back again. Dad gave us school lessons every day for an hour on the ship. He taught us all about the places we were traveling to on the way to London from Sydney – and then back again. Dad had maps and books and brochures of our entire journey and he taught us the geography and history and culture of each city and country that we were going to see. In chronological order.

When our ship docked at these places we were armed with facts and figures and we were full of excitement about what we were going to see and do. We had information and expectations and some advanced knowledge because my Dad had taught us. It was a great adventure of learning and wonder. 

It was marvelous.

I remember long hot days exploring ancient Roman ruins with my whole family and I remember seeing the rock apes as we sailed close to Gibraltar. I remember holding hands with my big sister Jane on the ship to shore that we caught at midnight when we docked in Durban. I remember smelling the exotic spices that were in the air and squeezing Jane's hand very tight and saying, "We are in Africa!" 

I remember that moment well.

It was very cool. 

We led a very exciting life when we were growing up.

I remember always getting lots of books for Christmas and Birthdays and I think I remember Mum and Dad reading to me every night when I was very little. I still love reading and I read constantly. I still travel and learn too. My Mum and Dad gave me these gifts and they taught me to explore and appreciate the world. They encouraged it. 

There are bits of them in me.

I remember when I was about ten years old being very scared watching the news on TV and seeing planes bomb and burn villages in a country called Vietnam and knowing that my Dad was over there. The US army incinerated whole villages in Vietnam with a horror weapon that was called Napalm.  It set the air on fire and burnt everything.

It was a weapon of mass destruction.

I recall with absolute clarity seeing film footage of the napalming in Vietnam and asking my Mum if my Dad was going to be OK. I remember this like yesterday. I remember Mum's hesitation at my question and how it felt like my heart had stopped. She was unsure and I had never seen her be unsure before. I remember that she seemed terrified by the question. I remember feeling really scared and upset then and I actually tasted fear for the first time in my young life. It was like bile in my mouth and my stomach. 

It was like acid. 

It burnt and it choked me.

It was a tough time then when my Dad was away at war. We were full of fear a lot of the time.

Dad came home from Vietnam twice and he came home unharmed. I was very little then. My Dad was a career soldier. He was an Officer in the Australian Army and he was a very good one. 

We moved around a lot when I was growing up.

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