I am a long retired school principal who once taught French in the West Australian education system.   Here’s what I looked like a couple of years ago, in my late seventies, on one of my better days when my many wrinkles were somehow less obvious!

I was born in 1935 in the U.K., in a suburban village just outside London and raised in a large family of working poor, living in a 19th century terraced worker’s cottage.  In 1944 our street was blessedly wiped out by a German V2 or Doodlebug.   I say blessedly because, after escaping near death and serious injury, as homeless victims we topped the list for re-housing when local authorities built new council houses with three bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom and inside toilet!   Luxury!

In 1947 I was one of the early beneficiaries of the wartime 1944 Education Act, achieving an Eleven Plus scholarship to the local grammar school.   Despite, or maybe because of, my struggles with the English class system during my years of secondary schooling I became a rusted-on supporter of the Labour Party to whom I felt I owed everything good that had ever come to me in my short life.    That conviction remains with me still and I have transferred my loyalty to the Australian Labor Party.

After graduating from London University in 1956, with a degree in History, my early working life was first with the Overseas News Research Department of the BBC at Bush House in London.  I then travelled to Canada and worked for the CBC in Toronto and later in the Yukon Territory in Whitehorse.   There I married and enjoyed a few years of many snowbound winter evenings with long dark nights, and brief summers with days of extended sunlight,  learning, with initial encouragement from my ‘would-be playwright’ husband, how to write short stories and travel articles about the Sub-Arctic and the Land of the Midnight Sun with its romantic Gold Rush history.   In 1960 my then husband, a South African by birth, and I decided we’d better trek back to London and to Capetown to introduce ourselves to our mutual families.

Shortly thereafter we settled on Kenya as a good halfway stopover point between the two and somewhere to start a family.  As a memsahib in East Africa it would have been unheard of to resist having servants; a cook, a garden boy and an ayah for our two small children.   Every one of those lovely people badly needed a job, and therefore so did I! Writing articles, children’s stories and serial novellas for women’s magazines didn’t feel like real work. That’s why I jumped at the chance of teaching French at a nearby girls’ boarding school when a desperate Principal approached me.

So in the early sixties I began part-time teaching, which expanded naturally to a full time career later when we came to Australia after Uhuru!    That word in Swahili, the national language of Kenya, means Independence! Or Freedom! It also meant a career change for my husband.   Our marriage break-up a few years later and financial necessity meant my focussing on getting professional qualifications for teaching and forgetting ideas I’d had about working as a journalist, perhaps with the ABC or another media organization like Fairfax..  Like many women graduates with children I found that teaching, if not one’s career of choice, is not a bad second best.

Besides, I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the part time study which I did over the years with WA Uni – first for a Dip.Ed, which evolved to a B.Ed and ultimately my Masters degree.    I’ll leap-frog over my years with the West Australian education system and a subsequent training and management career in Sydney which are not immediately relevant here.   Suffice it to say that in 2005 I ultimately found myself living happily next door to my daughter and grandchildren. I was a fit and active retiree, enjoying reasonable pension support,   looking for mental stimulation, and  promising myself that I would get back to focussed writing of some kind.

Meanwhile walking the dog, swimming,  crosswords and some teaching of adult classes in Memoir writing were not enough.  I was finding the internet fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed exchanges with like minded people about politics on a few favorite sites like Larvatus Prodeo.   Then in January, 2010,  the site ran a light hearted competition in writing political satire in verse form, known as “In The Loop” which set off some mechanism in my brain for writing in rhyme which worked in over-drive through the competition weeks and just would not stop thereafter.

I had never before written a poem, so I am hard put to explain this outburst of rhyming commentary.  I called my creations ‘pomes’ because to call them poems or poetry seemed pretentious.  All this rhyming running through my head, however, has inspired me to write a few non-political verses and given a page of their own which I’ve called ‘Poetry Proper’. They need some editing which I’ll get around to if I get the time!

I am a feminist and lately obsessed with politics.  I care about social justice and the environment and I find the Australian ‘right’ an increasingly menacing force which threatens both.  Somehow being able to make fun of Tony Abbott and his team makes life bearable. Commenting humorously in rhyme at their every new outrage makes my frustration at their seemingly favored treatment by the Murdoch media empire less intense than when I write in prose.  I’ve long learned that expressing rage and venting anger too seriously and too often only harms one’s self.

I have been surprised at the appreciative comments on the quality of the ‘polliepomes’ which I’ve published often at sites like Cafe Whispers and The Political Sword and less frequently now with Lavartus Prodeo and occasionally at Grog’s Gamut  when a post or comment seemed to invite a response in verse.  Recently I’ve had many requests to see others, even a suggestion I should print a collection of them all!   I think the printed word these days, environmental impact aside, is somehow more ephemeral than the World Wide Web, so I’m not likely to do that.  Mind you, even writers like Greg Jericho do migrate from sites like Grog’s Gamut, though I am glad to see him settled and so well regarded by a thoughtful mainstream publication like the Guardian.

I have, however, now managed to collect and collate them with many of the comments made by readers at the time they were first written.  I cherish those comments and the permission I’ve had to save and print them as made on the original posting.  Obviously this collection of almost two hundred ‘polliepomes’ shown as published over a few days posted over a few days in March, 2011, were not written then!   They are ‘tagged’ in date order for my own convenience with the very first dozen or so which I wrote for that “In The Loop” competition back then. They still amaze and excite me. It felt then, and still does, a bit like a small child discovering that she can read and write!  I am also still awed by the pace of political events in Australia over this period from January, 2010, to April, 2011.

I don’t intend to use this as a ‘blogging’ site, though new comments are welcome.  I’m just trying to be more efficient at storing my stuff in one place in date order!   For me, satire is best written close to the events and political stories which first inspired it, like cartoons , but I’ll welcome and reprint comment from anyone, from anywhere and whenever it is made.  As well as writing polliepomes I am now enjoying being a contributor of articles to Cafe Whispers where I see myself as a senior citizen spectator of the political scene rather than someone with specialist knowledge of things political.    Miglo, the blog master of Café Whispers and now the AIMN has helped me enormously  in my struggles with posting on the internet.   I’m still learning how to find my way around the Web and all the intricacies of self-publishing.  I hope to scan some photos soon to illustrate this particular page and at the same time learn how to rescue old pictures from my past.  A bientot! 

07/01/2015 – I am still alive, reading and making the odd comment on favorite sites like Café Whispers, The Political Sword and the Pub – but the past year has been an effort to come to terms with memory problems and a few hospitalizations after black-outs. The diagnosis is late onset epilepsy.   Now in my eightieth year I bless every day and enjoy my morning and evening walks with Tacker, a very intelligent and caring companion As you can see just by looking at him!





Our boss Ad Astra

26/07/15   Sorry, AdAstra, I was trying to pull up a picture of Tacker, and up you came!  I am sure that if there is a Mrs. Ad Astra out there she would agree with that description though – of  you too being a ‘very intelligent and caring companion’ and mentor too, as all we followers of The Political Sword have found you over the past few years!

10/11/16   Not writing much – I tell myself it’s because the political scene is not inspiring.  If I am honest, however, I think it’s because I keep forgetting what it was I wanted to say!   I am doing what I can to keep my memory in working order, but have to admit that it lets me down more and more often.   I am  attending the Perth Brain Centre a couple of times a week which my GP assures me help with memory problems even in one’s declining years .   Here’s hoping – early days yet, so I’ll review progress in 1917 if I’m still here and remember to check on this old head of mine.   I’m also reading articles on the web which has a wealth of material to follow up on if only I can remember to do so!  So let’s begin again tomorrow with……..

11/11/16    I’m Eighty-One Today!

Who ever thought I’d live to say,

“I’m eighty-one today!”

Thanks to UK’s Labour Party,

I’m here, still hale and hearty.

Good teeth, free education,

Product of the welfare nation.

Eighty one today!   Hip Hip – Hip Hooray!

Who ever thought I’d live to say,

“I’m eighty-one today!”

Thanks to UK’s Labour Party,

I’m here, still hale and hearty.

Good teeth, free education,

Product of the welfare nation.

Eighty one today!   Hip Hip – Hip Hooray!

13/11/16   I posted this little birthday memento verse at The Pub yesterday and time just ran away with me for responding to some really encouraging responses, and for recovering links to old friends like Miglo and Ad Astra.

Meantime my declining years continue to be cheered by other familiar and like thinking friends at the Pub.  Comments from Bushfire Bill, Gravel, Fiona,  Puff. Kafeeklatcher et al are heartwarming.   I was greatly heartened by this from georgeous dunny

“Bravo PatriciaWA and a very happy 81st birthday.

I hope you know what joy you bring to our lives with your witty ditties, forever known as “me pomes”. Long may your health and your wit continue.

I’d like you to understand, as I mentioned to Fiona recently, what a joy it was to read your response to another of Bushfire Bill’s great posts. We hadn’t realised how much we’d missed you until there you were, as eloquent as ever.

My cup would overflow if I could also hear again from the great Ian, but I fear he may have departed us.

Have a wonderful day, Patricia, and many more besides, We need your little bits of sunshine.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s