This Moment




This time of joy or anguish

within this lifetime

is nothing more than

a moment

within a moment

within eternity.


A teardrop

that falls into a river

that flows into an ocean.

A flame

that becomes a firestorm

that quickly burns itself out.


I can choose to stand outside of this moment

and see it from a distant future

I feel it as a gift from time

only another ticking of the clock.


We dwell on the past

We plan and fear the future

When all we really have

is just this moment.


And all we need is now…


This moment

within a moment

within eternity.


© Michael Young 2019

Goodbye, Christopher Robin


GOODBYE, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a beautiful, powerful, emotionally stirring movie.  This movie is about the evil and senseless trauma of war, also about unintentional emotional child abuse which most of us suffer; one way or another.

On the surface, it’s the story of Christopher Robin Milne, his father AA Milne, and the creation of Winnie The Pooh… then the personal agonies that they faced as it spread to become a success across the entire world.


Not having ever read or heard the stories but aware of them from cultural legend, I was only aware that AA Milne named the boy in the books after his son and the boy’s toys, I knew nothing else about their story.  That “not knowing” made the movie so much more powerful and that was also the audience that the script was crafted to impact the most.

This movie made me realise, after 55 years, that I never had bedtime stories read to me as a child.  I now feel deprived!  I also realised I never read them myself either.  However, that never stopped me from eventually becoming the avid reader and writer that I now am.  It was destined to happen, regardless of the choices of those around me, particularly during my own rough childhood.

There is even a scene that has a view I would describe as perfection… I could look at that view forever and be at peace.

View 2a


Tides Of Time


Green 4

Green and grey, blue and white

Rolling onto gold

Roaring waves, splashing feet

So firm, so soft, so cold


Traces remain of those gone before

Lost on the ever-changing shore

I find a log to rest and think upon


My footprints in gold will soon be gone

As the tides of time roll ever on…


Before 2

Log 1

Going 5

Gone 1

Me 1

Green 6





2017   For old-times’ sake…

It started with me being determined to be happy.  For me, happy meant adding financial freedom to all that I have and moving forward from there.


What did I achieve in 2017?

  • I quit my job that I hated after 15 years of fear and stress.
  • I started my own author website.
  • I started my own small business.
  • I learned the magic of synchronicity.
  • I took some wonderful leaps in spiritual awareness.
  • I helped my partner become a published author.
  • I negotiated positive changes to my relationship.
  • I made a couple of new friends.
  • I finally like the body I see in the mirror.
  • I found the solution to my IBS.
  • I achieved the goals I had set in 2012 to raise Council’s co-operation and service to the GLBTI community in Wyndham.
  • I became more “me” than ever before.


2018 arrived today and I’m still not really “happy” but I’m definitely in a better place.

2018 is the year that I will get ALL that I want!

2018 is the year I wish you all success, peace and freedom.

2018 begins… today!


Happy New Year, Happy New Year

May we all have a vision, now and then

Of a world where every neighbour is a friend

Happy New Year, Happy New Year

May we all have our hopes, our will to try

If we don’t we may as well lay down and die, you and I


No more champagne and the fireworks are through

Here we are, me and you, feeling lost and feeling blue

It’s the end of the party and the morning seems so grey

So unlike yesterday, now’s the time for us to say …

Happy New Year…


Sometimes I see how the brave new world arrives

And I see how it thrives in the ashes of our lives

Oh yes, man is a fool, and he thinks he’ll be OK

Dragging on, feet of clay, never knowing he’s astray

Keeps on going, anyway…


Seems to me now that the dreams we had before

Are all dead, nothing more than confetti on the floor

At the end of this decade, or in another ten years time

Who can say what we’ll find, what lies waiting down the line

With another Auld Lang Syne…

ABBA – Happy New Year


©Michael Young 2018


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.



Krambach 4


Calming 1





All is in control but control is really freedom and peace comes from believing that the Universe is the one who orders every footprint in the sand.  The footprints in the sand before you are there from your future but the future, the past, the present are all one.  We are ‘in time’ but time is a created illusion and that illusion is shared by us all.  We need to step out of the illusion and walk in the realisation that we are all one, we are all starlight, we are all free to be and to live and to exist in our pure state of existence …that of peace and love.


As we first learn to exist in only peace and love we can begin to walk in that state through our world around us and spread that powerful reality of our new existence to those around us.  To those who we encounter every day and also to those we do not see face to face or in our physical locality but to anyone we hold in our mind and reach out to with our heart.  No matter how near or how far they may be we can still reach them, touch them with our spirit and our love, share our light across any distance or indeed across any time line.


We can heal the hurts from the past and even reach into the future to heal those we will encounter along the path ahead of us.  Outside of our ‘reality’ time does not exist, so we can move from here to there as if we are walking from one room to the next, as if we are stepping from this current moment in our timeline to any other moment before or after what we perceive as ‘now’.  Our body may be locked into this linear journey of time like a train on a pre-laid track but our spirit and our love never need to obey that limitation.


As we grow stronger in our spirit-deep realisation of all these truths we can then start to run, not just walk, with an awe-inspiring sense of freedom and peace that others will long to attain.  Others around us will be swept up in the breathtaking power of our freedom and motion and inspired to find what we have.  Their journey will be their journey, our journey will be our journey, but the sheer force of forward moving freedom will raise those around us up onto their feet, like they were once lame but through a miracle they can walk again.  The child within them, the innocent, free, powerful child they were born as will recognise what they had, what they were, what they again can be and what they unquestionably are destined to be.


We find our freedom, our path and we walk and then run for ourselves because we are driven by our spirit to achieve the freedom we were born with.  The result of us doing what we must for ourselves is that it empowers and inspires and releases and uplifts others to do the same for themselves.


We spent much of our life sitting, waiting, fearing, hoping, trying, failing, questioning, doubting only because the world has been programming us to stay downtrodden and controlled and limited and restricted and abused for all of our lives.  We simply must CHOOSE to look up, to stand up, to walk and then to run.  Then we realise that we can fly and that our wings have always been there, they are our faith, and once we can dare to spread our faith and use it we realise that we can fly … that we always could … we simple chose to believe we couldn’t.


As simply as we can choose to believe … WE CAN!





The piece above was created through an ‘automatic writing’ exercise in a wonderful spiritual workshop conducted by DEREK BARKER.  Werribee 8Oct2017.


Gold Coast


We recently spent a week on the Gold Coast, a last minute arrangement to get some sun and relaxation.  We arrived on Saturday afternoon, checked in to our room then went for a walk to the main shopping area about 20 minutes away.

After checking out where the restaurants were, we found the local Woolworths to buy a few supplies for our unit.  Supplies in hand, we decided to take the long way out of the shopping complex, then walked back up the main mall to check out the restaurants in that area.

As we were about to head back home we noticed a couple of faces heading our way that looked familiar.  At that very moment, taking the other exit from the supermarket we chose not to, were two friend from Melbourne we had not seen in a couple of years.  They live on the other side of the city and we travelled thousands of kilometres to The Gold Coast to run into them!  They were there for the weekend.

We organised to meet on the Monday and had a lovely afternoon catching up … all thanks to the amazing SYNCHRONICITY in my universe.

Preview Selection


This is the original INTRODUCTION from 2013 to my memoir ABBA, DR WHO & MEN which will be re-written soon. 




Imagine this…

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!



Preview Selection


The following is a selection from my gay-themed Historical novel “BLOOD ON COTTON” which I am currently writing…





Sitting here on the balcony on this warm autumn afternoon, I feel it is no small miracle.

This has been my favourite place to read and take tea for most of my life.  I put down my latest book, another of the many in our library that were printed over a hundred years ago, one of the many I want to enjoy before I go.  I pour more tea, raise the cup, sip the comforting black brew and hold it before me in both hands as I look out through the grand old trees to the fields beyond.  The rising steam makes the distant view and lengthening shadows seem to dance and shimmer as if time was losing its tenacious grip on the endless forward procession of my days.  As I smell the familiar aroma of the blackcurrant flavoured Ceylon tea, I am suddenly and magically transported.  No longer here but there, not now but then…




Mammy Jane enters the library from the main hall.  The sound of our giggles echoing around the grand room warms her heart.  She treasures the sound of children playing happily and believes the innocence of youth must be protected, as long as possible, from the harsh realities of the adult world.

“Massa James” she calls “Will I be bringin’ your teas and cakes now?”

Henry looks down over the railing from the mezzanine level of the library, “I’m famished.”

“Yes, Mammy, we’ll take it on the balcony as usual,” I inform her as I make my way up the spiral iron staircase to join my younger brother.

“Thank you, Massa James, I be bringin’ it to you directly,” she says, but I stop to correct her.

“Remember what I taught you?”

She repeats, “I – will – bring it to you directly,” as she heads to the kitchen.

I smile and turn my attention to my younger brother as I reach the top of the stairs, “Henry, have you chosen a new book yet?”

“There are so many to choose from, do you think father has read them all?

“I suspect it would take more than one lifetime to read all of these books,” I suggest to him,

“Father doesn’t appreciate books like we do; to him, they are just another way to show his wealth and success.  Well, that’s what mother told me anyway.”

“When will they be back?” Henry asked.

“Another two days I believe, at least we can enjoy being the men of the house for a while longer,” I said pretentiously, which made him burst out with laughter and an entertaining display of rather pompous gestures.

“Make your selection, little brother, and join me out here,” I instructed him as I made my grand exit through the French doors onto the balcony.

A few minutes later he sat down on the cane chair near me as Mammy arrived with our tea and cakes.  She placed the tray on the small table between us and poured for us.  Henry always liked to take his with milk but I prefer mine black.

“I hope you haven’t eaten any of our cakes on the way up here, Mammy?” said Henry, “Father will have you horsewhipped when he returns.”

“Oh, no Massa, no, I would never does that, no, not’s me, oh Lordy, no!”

“Stop it, boy, don’t tease her like that!” I snapped at him.

“Don’t call me “boy”, I’m no Nigger” he cast back at me.


“Ignore him, Mammy, he’s just being evil, we both know you would never do such a thing”

“Oh, thanks you, Massa James,” exclaimed Mammy as she bowed and headed back downstairs.

“What book are you reading?” asked Henry.

“It’s called Innocents Abroad by a new writer, Mark Twain.”

“What’s it about?”

“I have to read it before I can tell you that so read yours and stop distracting me.  Or at least put one of those cakes in your mouth so I can read in peace.”

With an amusingly dirty look, he did just that.

After some tea and a cake, I looked out to the cotton fields in the distance where the Negro workers were busy with the planting.  I took a deep breath of the sweet spring air, returned to my book, and felt that all was right with the world.

* * *

Down in the fields, the spring sun was starting to get a sting to it.  It was early afternoon, the supervisor, Riley, was nowhere to be seen and only a few of the adult Negros were still working on planting the last of the cotton seeds for this first field.  They were singing among themselves as they worked.  Their voices resonated with deep emotion born from struggle, sorrow, pain and hope as if they were expressing what they held in the depths of their souls.  A depth of emotion that I never understood at that time but often wondered what was the source of it.  It was not religion, their words far more profound than the dull hymns we sang in church.  It was not from poverty, their life was not without its basic comforts of shelter, food, companionship and a hard day’s work.    It also seemed that their singing and the expressing of the deep emotion provided them with a healing release.  If only I was permitted to express myself so freely.  Father always demanded we behave so properly, so “stiff upper lip” and so grown up.

* * *

Our reading was suddenly interrupted by the sound of feet running up the main staircase.  Our two dogs, Shakespeare and Avon, burst onto the balcony followed closely behind by our younger sister, Mary.

“Hello, you two, what are you up to?” asked Mary, cheerfully.

“What have YOU been up to is more the question,” I responded.

“I was out for a walk with the hounds and spent a while by the river watching the Nigger children playing and swimming,” she answered, cautiously, “I didn’t get too close to the water, I promise, I was very careful.”

“You know that father would be furious if he found out.  He told you to never go down there unsupervised.  He would blame me if something had happened to you,” I scolded her.

“Your lemonade, Miss” announced Mammy as she appeared through the door.

“I was fine, James,” protested Mary.

“I told my Jacob to watch over her, Master James,” explained Mammy Jane.

“He was there with me all the time,” Mary added.

“Thank you, Mammy, that is appreciated,” I confirmed.

“Father would not think so,” interjected Henry.

“Well, father is not here, is he?” I snapped as I stood and dropped my book onto my chair, “I’m    going for a walk. Are you two coming?” I asked the dogs, but Shakespeare just whimpered as he looked longingly at the uneaten cakes still on the plate.

“That was a no,” advised Mary.  So I left them to it and headed down the stairs.  I heard Mammy call after me, “Wears your hat, Massa James,” which I collected from the hallway then headed through the front door and out into the sunshine.

* * *

I walked alone with my thoughts as the afternoon shadows grew longer.  My head was always so full of ideas, questions, doubts and dreams.  After some time I realized I was near the river.  As I approached I could see someone through the low trees.  It was Jacob, he was there alone now.  He had been swimming and was just emerging from the water.  The sun was glistening off his wet, dark skin and it highlighted the muscles in his shoulders, arms and chest.  I knew he was my age but I was struck by how he was much more manly looking than me.  I envied him in that way.

He sat down on the riverbank and I could clearly see the strength of his back muscles under his black skin.  I wanted to speak to him, I was about to ask, “Do you come here often?” which would surely make him laugh, as we both knew full well that he loved coming here.  In fact, we had known each other all our lives, but I suddenly, strangely, felt self-conscious and uncomfortable.  I decided not to disturb him and quietly made my way back to the house.  It would be time for dinner soon, I reasoned.

* * *

The next day started out like a typical Sunday.  Up early, washed and dressed in our best clothes then the long buggy ride to the local church that served the many plantations and farms in our   Parish.

With mother and father away, Mammy Jane and her man, Moses, were responsible for making sure we attended and stayed on our best behaviour. It would never do for the children of Patrick Edward Andrews-O’Malley to be seen disgracing him in public!

The ride to church took over an hour and would normally be a very boring and sombre journey since we were expected to behave piously on the Lord’s Day.  Except on days like this when we were without our parents and Mammy, Moses & Jacob all rode in the carriage with us.

There were two carriages of Negros following behind us as they were also expected to attend church at least once every four weeks.  Father said the plantation couldn’t be left unattended, not even for the Lord’s Day, but insisted that they all needed to get a share of Christian education to temper their wild ways, so they took it in turns.  At least this trip we were all enjoying a moving sing-along together and their voices were a gift that I believed God should never be denied hearing.

The silliest thing was how they all looked.  They were all dressed up in bright colours like my sister’s dolls, but with black faces.  They reminded me of those dancing monkeys that would perform with the travelling amusement shows, so uncomfortable and unnatural, which I came to learn was exactly how they felt.

When we arrived at the church, Dr Lawson, his wife, his daughters and his sister were waiting for us.  They lived on a farm less than an hour from us.  They were family as Dr Lawson had married my mother’s sister, Elizabeth and they would naturally keep an eye on things when mother and father were away.  We sat with them because the Negros were never allowed inside the church; they would gather outside by the windows and hear the sermon from there.  Usually, a message about how evil and sinful we all were and only Jesus could wash that away.

After church, we travelled back to the Lawson farm for a wonderful lunch.  The Negros went back to our plantation but Mammy, Moses and Jacob came with us as we followed the Lawsons home. Miss Anne, Dr Lawson’s sister, was also our school teacher so along the way she would call out questions for us to answer, mostly spelling and sums which we would fight to see who could get the right answer first.  I sometimes let the others win.

By the time we arrived back at the plantation both Henry and Mary were struggling to keep their eyes open, the pleasant afternoon air and the results of a big lunch were taking their toll.

Mammy took Mary up to her room to settle her in for an afternoon nap and Henry said he was headed up to his room for the same purpose.  I was not tired so I retreated to the library to entertain myself with some further cataloguing of the hundreds of books we kept there.  Mother had an idea of the content of many of the volumes in our bookcases but was pleased that I was making myself a project of creating a full catalogue.  As usual, I quickly lost track of time.

* * *

An hour and a half had passed, though it seemed only a few minutes when I was brought back to reality by the sound of the dogs barking and Jacob shouting from the front of the house.

I ran to see what was wrong.  I found Jacob at the foot of the stairs holding an unconscious Henry in his arms and Mammy in a fit of panic over them.

“Oh lordy, Masser Henry,” she cried, “Whats has happened?”

“I draggs’d him out the river, he is a breathin’ but not awakes,” replied Jacob, breathlessly.

Instinctively I took charge.  “Mammy, can you find Moses and get him to fetch Dr Lawson, tell him to take the fastest horse, and tell Dr Lawson that Henry has had an accident,” I instructed her as many of the other Negros were approaching to see what all the fuss was about.

“That be your father’s horse, Masser, he not be pleased with my Moses for that.”

“Just do as I say, Mammy, I will answer to father. Now hurry, fast as you can,” then turning to Jacob, “Help me get him to his room, Jacob.”

As we carried Henry into the house, Jacob told me what had happened…

He was walking near the river when he suddenly heard the dogs start barking.  It was an unusual and distressed barking that told him something was wrong. He ran to the source of the sound. He could see the dogs standing by the edge of the water and just beyond them he saw Henry floating, face up, in the water.  He called to Henry but there was no response, he was floating lifelessly away from the river bank.  Jacob noticed marks in the mud at the water’s edge that he realised must have been where Henry slipped and fallen in.  There was also a rock there with what looked like a little blood on it so he assumed that Henry must have hit his head when he slipped.  Jacob ran into the river, pulled Henry out onto the river bank and saw blood coming from the back of his head, confirming his thoughts.  Jacob used his shirt to wrap around Henry’s head to slow the bleeding, picked him up, and ran as fast as he could back to the house with Henry over his shoulder.

We were halfway up the stairs now and there was a scream from above us.  The noise had woken Mary; she was at the top of the stairs and saw us carrying her brother.

“Henry!  Henry!” she screamed, “Is he dead?”

“No, Mary, just unconscious,” I reassured her, “Open his door for us and get a clean cloth to put under his head, quickly.”

She had opened the door by the time we reached the room and was returning with a cloth from the upstairs washroom.  We laid Henry on his bed, put the cloth under his head, removed Jacob’s shirt which revealed dried blood at the back of Henry’s head.  I sent Mary to find Mammy and fetch water and bandages to clean up his head wound.

“Thank god you were there, Jacob, he may have drowned otherwise, I … I …” I started to feel the world dissolving around me and my knees give way.  Jacob rushed over, grabbed me firmly in his arms and lowered me into the nearby chair.  He brought me some water from the bedside table which I sipped and as I recovered I noticed the deep concern in his eyes.  I took hold of his hand and assured him “Thank you, I’m fine.  I cannot thank you enough for saving my foolish brother.”

I told him that he should go outside and get a drink himself after his long run back from the river.  As he left the room Mammy and Mary arrived to fuss over us both.

* * *

Around eleven that morning, mother and father returned.  Miss Anne greeted them.  She had been walking in the garden with Riley who had been in the nearest town, apparently on business, and had also returned earlier that morning.

“Anne,” called mother as their carriage came to a stop at the front of our home, “What brings you here?  Shouldn’t the children be with you in the schoolroom?”

“Welcome back, Ruth,” she began to explain, “Now please, stay calm, there has been an accident.”

“What?” asked father, “What happened? Can’t we ever go away without something going wrong?”

“Let her explain, Patrick!” interrupted mother.

“Where were you, Riley?” snapped father, “You are in charge of the slaves, why weren’t you supervising them?”

“It’s nothing to do with the Negros, Patrick, and nothing to do with Riley either,” Miss Anne corrected him, as only she could.

“No, it’s about the children isn’t it?” reasoned mother.

“Yes, Ruth,” explained Miss Anne, “Henry had an accident yesterday afternoon but he is doing

fine now.  He’s up in his room.  We decided that I should stay here last night to comfort the children and John will be back this afternoon to review his condition.”

“Oh, my poor boy!” cried mother as Riley helped her from the carriage. Then Mary ran out from the house to greet them chattering away with excitement about how her brother had fallen in the river and Jacob had saved him.

“Riley, get these horses seen to,” barked father, as they headed inside, “What happened, Anne”.

I had overheard all this through the upstairs library window and headed for Henry’s room where he was reading, still in bed.  Mother came rushing in first in tears and hugged Henry.

“Mother, I’m alright, just a sore head,” explained Henry. Then father, Miss Anne and Mary came in.

“James, how did this happen, it’s your responsibility to watch out for your brother and sister,”    accused father, “Why was he at the river alone?  Where were you?”

“Henry and Mary had come to their rooms for afternoon nap, I was in the library and had no idea that he had left the house without telling me,” I protested.

“You are always in that damn library or with your head stuck in a book,” he growled, “Get you head back into the real world.”

“Patrick, please, enough!” said mother, “Henry, is it true, you went there without telling anyone?”

“I’m so sorry, father. I wasn’t tired and just decided to go for a walk, the dogs were with me so I thought I would be safe.  I didn’t mean to get hurt.  I’m sorry,” apologised Henry in tears.

“So you slipped and fell in the river?” continued mother, “Henry, you could have drowned.  We are so fortunate that Jacob was there to save you”

“Yes, without him being there it may have been a very different outcome,” confirmed Miss Anne.

“No, no,” protested Henry, “That’s not true, Jacob did it.  He saw me standing by the edge of the river, he hit me with a rock and I fell in”.

“What?” I said angrily, “Why are you lying, Henry?  Jacob saved you.”

“No, father, please believe me. Jacob hit me.”

Mary and mother looked shocked. Miss Anne was lost for words and father exploded with anger.

“How dare he? I knew that boy was trouble.  Where is he? He’s gonna pay for this,” roared father as he stormed out of the room.  The ladies were shouting after him to stop. I ran after him.

I tried to reason with him. “Father, Henry’s lying.  Jacob didn’t hurt Henry, he saved him!”

“Did anyone see what happened?”  he shouted at me,  “No!  So you want me to take the word of a

Nigger over that of my own son?  What is wrong with you boy?  You turning into some nigger lovin’ simpleton or something?  I swear I’ll throw you out of this house!”

I stood in front of him, blocking his way.  “Get out of my way!” he ordered.

“No, Jacob did not hurt Henry, you’re wrong father.  Henry is lying!” I stood my ground.

Then he slapped me across the face so hard it knocked me to the floor.  I heard Mary scream.  As I lay there in shock I heard him shouting Jacob’s name as he headed out the back door…





Decided to go to my hairdresser this morning, on a whim, to get a shorter restyle.  No appointments so just drop by, queue and wait your turn.  I arrived there 15 minutes before they open so I could be first in.

He started cutting my hair, two others arrived after me and took a seat in the waiting area.  Then, this big, loud guy comes in, sits in the cutting chair next to me and interrupts the conversation I’m having with Steve, the hairdresser.  I understand immediately that he is loud because he is insecure but he still annoyed me.

Then Steve and I both realise that last time I was there, this same guy came in and sat in the same place and did the same thing … Steve was amazed.  I had the chance to explain to him that was just another example of the magical ‘synchronicity’ that happens in my life.  The universe’s way of showing me that I am exactly where I should be in my life journey.  LOVE IT!