Source: Calming Rain
CALMING RAIN is a vision I had as I woke one morning…
I awoke this morning to the calming sound of summer rain and its comforting smell wafting through my windows. I lay on my bed, still not fully conscious, not yet prepared to open my eyes. I drifted back in time; 40 years and hundreds of kilometres away to school holidays with my grandparents in the sleepy country village of Krambach.
Sometimes we would have days of continual rain. Not a bad thing at all because it just produced a deeply relaxed atmosphere and a peaceful harbour away from the storms of school and home.
I can feel myself sitting on the back veranda in one of the round chairs of woven yellow and white plastic with spindly black metal legs. To my left is the curtained off room that was created for grandpa with his single bed, cluttered dresser and small windows that were installed when they enclosed the entire area many years before. In the area to my right is the big freezer where some of the spoils of the once-a-month shopping trip to Taree were stored, next to the door that leads through to the kitchen, originally the back door of the house. Grandma’s antique, pedal powered Singer sewing machine is also over there and still in working order.
In front of me the new back door, home-made from sturdy planks of wood, sits wide open giving me a view of beautiful Krambach Mountain in the distance, slightly obscured by the rain. I hear the harsh sound of a crow in the massive gum tree at the northwest corner of the block and magpies warble in the younger trees next door to the south.
I’m sitting here reading a book, not much else to do on rainy days but read, eat and sleep. Only two stations on the old black and white TV in the lounge room and neither are on air 24 hours yet. Coronation Street, Days Of Our Lives, Peyton Place, The Young And The Restless, the daily local News are the highlights; topped off by The Black and White Minstrel Show on weekends.
Of course, these days of endless rain have their disadvantages too. Going to the toilet is a major challenge as it is a white wooden “out-house” way down the backyard. Inside it, on the concrete floor, is a big black metal can covered by a plastic seat and the “can man” comes weekly to swap it for an empty one. So, the epic adventure begins with dressing for the journey in rubber boots, a yellow vinyl raincoat and a matching rain hat or even an umbrella. Then I take the first step out through the back door onto the small balcony. On a clear day this balcony provides a commanding view of the backyard and the land beyond.
Below it are the vegetable gardens that provide every vegetable and herb that my Grandmother needs to keep the family fed: iceberg lettuce, apple cucumbers, radishes, carrots, corn, beetroot, potatoes, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, and squash. Along one fence grow beans and peas that we eat straight off the vines and the tomato bushes that have the most unforgettable smell when they are watered.
The garden is dotted with orange, lemon, apple, plum, apricot, pear and peach trees. Grandma’s peach jam and peach pies are unbeatable and unforgettable. Grape vines, passionfruit vines and strawberries also grow there providing the fresh ingredients for her grape jam, strawberry jam and magnificent tomato and passionfruit jam. Beside the grape vines grows the mulberry tree, a favourite target for passing birds when it’s in fruit and the source of another variety of exquisite homemade jam and pies.
At the back of the garden, just behind the out-house, is the chook pen constructed of corrugated iron, wood and wire. Some of the perches are old wrought iron bed heads and the straw lined laying boxes provide a seemingly endless supply of fresh golden-yolk eggs for breakfasts and the wide variety of addictive desserts and cakes grandma makes.
Beyond the chook pen is the magnificent 180 degree view of the fields and Krambach Mountain.
It’s a Doctor Who book I’m reading. One of the “Target” novelisations of the many lost episodes from the 1960”s… Doctor Who And The Crusaders or Doctor Who And The Zarbi. These simply written but engaging books were the key for me overcoming my fear of reading due to my dyslexia and making me the avid and addicted reader I am today, just as those soap shows made me the TV addict I am today.
I would spend hours on these rainy days escaping into the images and characters the words created, seeing it all as if I was actually there. Providing me the same feeling of “all is right with the world” that I’m feeling until the raucous sound of a distant car alarm and the ringing of my mobile phone drag me unceremoniously back to reality, back to a rainy morning in Werribee, 2017.
This afternoon I sat out the back on the deck, under our pergola listening to the constant soft fall of the calming rain and read a few pages of each of those books, both published back in 1973.
Doctor Who And The Crusaders had a beautiful beginning:
“As swiftly and as silently as a shadow, Doctor Who’s Space and Time ship, the Tardis, appeared on a succession of planets each as different as the pebbles on a beach, stayed a while and then vanished, as mysteriously as it had come. And whatever alien world it was that received him and his fellow travellers, and however well or badly they were treated, the Doctor always set things to rights, put down injustice, encouraged dignity, fair treatment and respect.”
How beautifully put by David Whitaker.
It was also interesting how, in Doctor Who And The Zarbi, writer Bill Strutton refers to him as Doctor Who instead of The Doctor. Then at the back of the book it lists places that have not existed for decades as the addresses to send away to purchase copies for:
“£1.50 plus Postage and Packing Rate: UK: 45p for the first book, 20p for the second and 14p for each additional book ordered to a maximum charge of £1.63. BFPO and EIRE: 45pfor the first book, 20p for the second book, 14p per copy for the next 7 books thereafter 8p per book. OVERSEAS: 75p for the first book and21p per copy for each additional book.”
Well that was overly complicated! Thankfully we have Amazon online these days!
Last thing I did tonight was watch the latest episode of The Young And The Restless direct from the US then fall back to sleep listening to the rain.
The endless circle of time keeps turning.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
© MICHAEL YOUNG 2016.
This is the original INTRODUCTION from 2013 to my memoir ABBA, DR WHO & MEN which will be re-written soon.
Before we are born we’re presented with a number of “life stories” to choose from. A number of options for the path we’ll take in our life.
Would we choose the easiest life story? Would we choose the one with the greatest fame or fortune? If this was real then most of us would wonder why the hell we chose the life we have now with the struggles and pain we go through. Such choices would come from a very “human” way of thinking.
However, at the time we are still able to see things from a “universal” perspective instead of the more limited perspective of our human experience. So in this circumstance what “life story” would we choose?
The real question is…
Would I choose the life story I’m currently living? If you asked me this 40 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago I would have said no!
If you ask me the same question today then yes, I would choose this life story. I would choose all the hell I went through… the fear, self doubt, pain and failure… the joy, happiness, fun and victories.
The revelation I have come to is I am who I am today only because of all I went through over the past 50+ years. Without fire, heat, pressure and time there would be no diamonds!
Now, looking back from here, I can see why I’d choose this life.
Come with me and I’ll show you why …
“I close my eyes and my twilight images go by all too soon, like an angel passing through my room” – ABBA
These are the days of my life … from when I was young and restless to feeling bold and beautiful!
That’s a little joke my mum would appreciate, if she were still here. In fact, this project is dedicated to my mum, Wanda Young. In many ways she was responsible for all the different periods and what even feel like different lives I’ve lived within this particular life … the ABBA time, the Doctor Who time, she even influenced the current GLBTIQ Community Group that I started.
I’m calling this book “ABBA, Doctor Who and Men!”, because that basically summarises my life up to now. That journey was mainly focussed around three particular areas … ABBA Fan Club times, Doctor Who and the Doctor Who Fan Club time, the many years of my “big gay adventure” that all started in 1975.
In 2012 I started a local GLBTIQ social and support group here in Wyndham, in the west of Melbourne, with the help of Wyndham City Council. Wyndham covers Werribee and surrounding suburbs and is the fastest growing area in Australia. At the time there was nothing here in the west specifically for GLBTI residents.
We planned our very first event for “Meet Your GLBTIQ Neighbours” to be held at Cafe Aroma in Watton Street, Werribee. Mum was unwell so I flew up to Maitland to visit her the weekend before this event. I didn’t explain to her specifically when the event was or how important it was to me but she must have sensed it.
She’d been very sick in one way or another for a long time. Arthritis and skin cancers that needed to be cut out, one had recently been removed from her face that was not healing well and had resulted in some medical issues that put her back in hospital. She had lost a lot of weight and was no longer “full of life” as she would usually seem.
That weekend, as I said goodbye and stepped out of her room into the corridor, I began to cry because I had an overwhelming sense that it was the last time I would see her in that frail 83 year old body that was now failing her. On my way out, I stopped up on the hill beside the wing of the hospital where her room was, under a beautiful old tree, I could see the window of her room. With tears in my eyes I waved goodbye.
I turned and walked to the car, drove to the airport and got on the plane. Somehow, feeling numb and disconnected from any real emotions I arrived back in Melbourne, drove the 45 minutes from the airport back home, got in the door, was greeted by my partner David and our two fur kids, Merlin and Millie, went up to David, hugged him and absolutely burst into tears. I told him I felt that was the last time I would see mum. And it was…
When I saw her that last time she had said to me twice: “I’ve had enough, Mickey, I don’t think I can put up with any more of this”, and I said to her: “Mum, you’ve had an amazing life, you’ve raised three very strong and responsible children, you have three amazing grandchildren, you’ve survived a very difficult life, you should be so proud of everything you’ve done in this life, but if you’ve had enough, if you really want to go, then just … let go! Because I promise you, that you’ll simply leave here and it’ll be just like you walked across the room. You’ll be fine, you’ll be happy, you’ll be free of the pain, free of the struggle, free of the body that’s giving out and letting you down even though your spirit could go on forever, because your spirit does go on forever.”
So it was the very day after our first hugely successful event for “Meet Your GLBTIQ Neighbours” or “Wyndham Rainbow Neighbours Inc” as we are now called, that I got the news she had passed. If we lost her the day before or even on the day of the event I would never have been able to do what I did that day with so many people there, the things we had to do to encourage, inspire and begin this process of a new community group. So, her timing was perfect, she must have sensed it literally hanging on that extra day and putting herself second right to the end. Another fallen hero!
At the moment I’m sitting in the backyard of our home in Werribee. Everyone who comes here says how beautiful and peaceful our yard and our home is, surrounded by trees and tall hedges, the birds, the water fountains, the flowers, plants, the buddas (we are not Buddhist by the way) and it’s a beautiful summer day here in Melbourne. A new year, a new phase in my life and it feels the right time to start this process of looking back over the first 50+ years of this life.
So this book will cover thoughts, recollections, memories and stories initially sorted into various years because that’s really the easiest way for me to remember. As with most things in life, the end result may be a little different to what I initially planned.
As I became a teenager, the two things that I became interested in, and passionate about, were ABBA and Doctor Who. ABBA was the first music that really captured my attention and resonated with me, and it still does. I’ve listened to ABBA since 1975 and I still love their music after 40+ years. The ABBA phenomenon will always be part of my life, and the four of them, Frida, Agnetha, Benny and Bjorn are like extended family. It feels like they’ve always been around and the day one of them passes will be absolutely devastating, just as it has been for me when some of the Doctor Who people have passed.
Liz Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) passed unexpectedly about a year and a half ago now. That was very difficult because she had been in my life since 1975 as someone I enjoyed watching and had always brought happiness to my life, just as ABBA and Doctor Who have always been a source of great happiness and escape from life’s stresses. However, there have been times when some of the fans have also been a source of those stresses.
I started watching Doctor Who in 1975 and Tom Baker was my first and favourite Doctor. The day that he passes will also be devastating and I hope that’s a long time away. We have lost far too many Who people in 2011/2012. To name a few, we lost Liz Sladen, Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Mary Tamm (the first Romana) and also Directors, Producers and others, which is made even sadder now because 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and we won’t have them as part of the celebrations.
Apart from ABBA and Doctor Who this book will also cover my “born again” times in various Pentecostal Churches, my spiritual journey, and my struggle with being gay which are all neatly wrapped up under the “men” part of the title.
Looking back, all that’s happened in my life is clearly part of the spiritual journey that I’m on this time around. I’m amazed that I became the person I am today. I am proud of who I am today. Just as I’m sure mum and all those who have gone before are proud of me.
But enough about death … this is about life!
So let’s move on to when things really start to change … 1975!
©MICHAEL YOUNG 2017