AT THE SEASIDE NOBODY HEARS YOU SCREAM
CHAPTER SIX FICTION FOCUS
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In the summer of 2013 Annette Bethany Brown went missing without trace. Her boyfriend Toby Channing was the last person to see her, the only person who knew where she had spent the previous days.
In February 2014 Tobias Elliot Channing, private investigator, was still roaming the country, a camper van detective specialising in missing persons; hoping to discover why so many people go missing. He was visiting every place that had a connection with Anna, there were still no clues to her disappearance.
At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream
How long does it take to write a novel? I am going to go for 2014 as the conception of At the Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream. The character of Tobias Elliot Channing, the holder of a degree in psychology and registration as a private investigator, first appeared in a short story ‘The Ambassadors’ in Audio Arcadia’s audio book anthology imaginatively called Short Stories Volume One. It then appeared in a paperback edition An Eclectic Mix Volume One in 2015, with a wonderfully colourful cover. Toby’s actual birth came about when our exercise for writers’ group was to create a detective character. The story idea came from Pete at my other writers’ group – write something inspired by the painting The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger which hangs in the National Gallery.
In February 2014 the Valentine’s Night Storm gave me an idea for the start of A Story, but what the story would be I had no idea. Compared with other natural disasters in the world our storm in Britain was a minor event, but three people were killed. Our house shook during the night even though we are ten minutes walk from the cliff top, further along the coast a Valentine’s romantic dinner in a beachside restaurant turned into a disaster movie; a ‘freak’ wave picked up shingle and smashed it through the panels that make up the front of the art deco building, the diners were eventually rescued by army vehicles.
The weather forecasts warned everyone to stay away from the coast the next morning, we walked ( okay I dragged Cyberspouse, saying it would be fun to take the scenic route to the local shops ) to the cliff top to see high tide. It was exciting, no chance of being blown off the cliff as you could lean into the south westerly coming off the sea and taking your breath away. But as we clung to the low fence on the cliff top and peered over, we got a shock, piles of smashed wood washed over by waves, rows of beach huts reduced to matchwood. And that is when I had my idea; you will have to read the novel to find out why Ellen Green was so afraid when she looked over the edge of the cliff that morning.
Fed up with waiting for me to get on with writing the novel, Toby Channing drove his camper van into two very different novellas I was writing, which along with The Ambassadors are part of the collection ‘Someone Somewhere’ published in 2017. ‘Someone For The Weekend’ and ‘Durlswood’ became two of his strangest cases.
What has happened in the intervening two years? Lots of blogging and writing; strangely only five months pass during the novel and the passing of time makes no difference to Tobias Elliot Channing because he is firmly fixed in 2014. It is just as well this novel had a fixed starting point, because writing novels ‘in the present’ is just about impossible. How the world has changed in the past five years...
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AND MEET TOBIAS CHANNING, CAMPER VAN DETECTIVE IN
SEE SOME OF THE PLACES TOBY CHANNING VISITS
AND READ ABOUT ONE OF HIS SHORT CASES
IN AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL.
READ ONE OF TOBY CHANNING'S LIGHTER CASES
A 1000 WORD SHORT STORY
Debbie spotted the camper van as she walked across Riverside car park in her lunch hour, it was a handy short cut between the shops and the library. She read the poster in the window and imagined the private detective inside as a slightly seedy, middle aged man thrown out by his wife. But perhaps he could solve their library mystery. When the serious young man welcomed her she was worried he would consider their case flippant, but it seemed unlikely a private investigator operating out of a car park would be taken seriously by people with important cases to solve. She sat down on the narrow bench seat as he placed two mugs of coffee on the pull down table between them.
‘Mr. Channing, this case may sound unimportant, that is why we have not reported to the police.’
‘Many small events take on an importance only in retrospect; you must have reason to be concerned.’
‘When events went beyond the library we became worried, but it started several weeks ago. Books went missing; according to the computer they were on the shelves, but neither we nor library members could find them. Days later they would turn up; slipped amongst the DVDs, next to the public computers, even in our office or tea room.’
‘What sort of books?’
‘Always Agatha Christie, that’s what made it creepy, someone obsessed with murder or just a practical joker?’
Debbie saw Mr. Channing was taking her seriously, perhaps too seriously. She smiled ‘Some of our regular library members were not happy.
…a big library and I can’t even get an Agatha Christie novel, suppose she’s not politically correct...’
‘Describe your library.’
‘A rambling Victorian building, two and a half floors, lots of rooms, nooks and crannies, easy I guess for things to happen… there were the fires.’
The private detective sat up straight. ‘Surely those would need to be reported?’
‘Tiny fires, the first in the waste paper basket in our office, luckily a quick thinking visitor dashed in and put it out before the smoke alarm went off. But we couldn’t think how it started, it’s not like the days when staff smoked in the office. Then strangely it happened again, in the tea room bin. I smelt smoke, poured the kettle over; it must have started only a few seconds before.’
‘Have you noticed anyone strange hanging around?’
‘Half our visitors are strange… I mean they might be perceived that way. This is a big town, we welcome everyone. It’s somewhere warm and free to pass the time, people with learning difficulties or mental health issues,’ she glanced up at his framed psychology degree ‘or the unemployed… some look shifty, think everyone is staring at them.’
‘Okay, a very busy library, visitors wandering around, plenty of places to lurk unseen…’
‘And then there are the chocolates, left in our office, or on the shelves, but this week three of us found a box on our doorstep when we got home…’
The young man’s expression alarmed Debbie.
‘Why didn’t you say before, you’re rightly worried that someone is following staff. I’ll take you on, expect to see me wandering around the library, but do not acknowledge me. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to call the police if something…’
‘We could hardly dial 999 to say someone gave us chocolates’ she laughed nervously.
The library staff were fascinated by their private investigator, he revealed nothing of himself and blended in with library users.
For a week events continued, flowers appeared, the young detective showed staff a picture on his mobile phone, a young man with dark features.
‘Oh, that’s the chap who put the fire out.’
‘He’s not a member?’
‘No, you have to prove you are a local resident, we tried to explain to him… is he homeless?’
‘…and stateless. Calls himself Dave, he is mentally frail, but harmless. He has nothing to prove who he is; brought on a very long journey from a village as a young boy. He could have been born anywhere from the Balkans to Afghanistan. He loves the library and the staff, hence the ‘presents’, the fires… attention seeking. I have found a charity that can help him.’
‘But why Agatha Christie?’
‘His grandfather loved Agatha Christie, the most widely translated author in the world. Dave remembered how he cherished the books. It was all the old man knew about England, when he told the boy where he was going. Reading them was Dave’s only link with the past.’
‘So he didn’t want other readers taking them away!’
Later, the staff realised Mr. Channing had asked for no fee, curious, Debbie set off once again across Riverside car park, but the camper van was gone.
Toby had spent a week trailing around the Middle England town, from the bus station to all night MacDonalds, 24 hour supermarkets and of course the library. Toby even found himself sharing a changing room at the swimming pool with ‘Dave’. Finally he got to talk to him at the Salvation Army, letting them believe he was also homeless and as a young single man unlikely to get help from the authorities. The suspect was as lonely as himself, as lost as Anna, but ‘Dave’ was not missing, because he did not exist, did not have a sister to go and visit or a mother to ring him up. Toby had certainly learnt a lot about real homelessness and if The Salvation Army officers had suspected he wasn’t genuine they had kept it to themselves, for it was Toby who had managed to draw ‘Dave’ out of himself. He hoped the young man would take the help offered by a specialist charity organisation. The library staff had loved the story and promised no authorities would hear about the events at the library.
SCROLL DOWN TO FIND OUT ABOUT
MY OTHER NOVELS AND COLLECTIONS
ByAnita Daweson 25 September 2018
Spaceships, encounters and strange goings-on, all so much more interesting than the film with the similar name and as I read this story, I couldn’t help wondering
how I would cope in similar circumstances.
Right back at the beginning of her marriage, Susan longed to be a mother, but it looked as though she was destined to be disappointed. Then something strange happened. She was taken to a spacecraft where the aliens promised her she would have the baby she longed for.
Emma, the baby who duly arrived soon after, was perfect in every way, as all babies are. But as the child grew up, she seemed extraordinarily perfect and the exact clone of her mother. She didn’t cry and was never ill.
Three healthy boys followed, gloriously ordinary boys. You could be forgiven for thinking the story ends there, but you would be wrong. All manner of strange things continue to happen to Susan and her family, until a simple blood test throws a bunch of spanners into the works, causing trouble and suspicion.
Can Susan keep the secret and her family safe and out of harm’s way?
The aliens visit more than once, but instead of helping, I thought they made matters worse. A complicated, well-written story, believable in spite of the unusual storyline. The characters are lovely, reacting the way you imagine ordinary people would if presented with these circumstances.
I loved the way they all tried to make the best out of a sometimes difficult situation, and I am glad there is to be a sequel so we can follow Emma’s baby as he grows up.
This story is a little long, but I wouldn’t suggest shortening it in any way for fear of ruining such a perfectly plotted story…
In the early years of the Twenty First Century, widow Susan Dexter has more to worry about than the recession. For thirty years
she has kept a secret; she is not sure if her daughter is human. New events lead her to other people who need to find the truth.
How do ordinary people cope with the extraordinary?
Mystery, music and medicine are at the heart of this family saga; sub plots are woven amongst several very different love stories, as the characters question what it is to be human and what is reality.
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Since Peter died Emma came round more often, though it was rare for both of us to have a weekday off. That day we were looking forward to enjoying the late September sunshine in my garden and she had news to tell me. Emma was arranging the loungers as I made the coffee.
Suddenly she cried out ‘What’s that in the sky Mum?’
I stepped out, followed her stunned gaze up to the clear sky and froze; I had always dreaded they would come back. Above us was a huge shimmering shape, elegant and beautiful.
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A CHARACTER WHO WALKED UNINVITED INTO THE FIRST NOVEL NEEDED TO TELL HIS OWN STORY – THAT BECAME THREE AGES OF MAN.
ANNA ALSOP TAKES UP HER OWN STORY FROM THE DAY AFTER THE FIRST NOVEL ENDS IN LIVES OF ANNA ALSOP.
SCROLL DOWN FOR SHORT STORIES
AND READ ABOUT QUARTER ACRE BLOCK
Anthologies, collections of various authors’ stories are an attractive prospect for many new or not so new, but still aspiring authors. The chance to have your writing in print, your story chosen by strangers is an affirmation and you have something to show your relatives. Your story will be surely be read by all the friends and relatives of each person who features in the anthology and perhaps one of them will be a publisher or even a film producer... The route to these exciting possibilities is often via a competition, you might also win some money and impress your family.
Back in 2009 I was browsing in Borders, a heavenly mix of music, books and magazines; lurking on a bottom shelf under writing and history magazines was a colourful monthly publication called First Edition. Get Yourself Published For Free it proclaimed. Of course that meant they would not be paying YOU for your stories, but that didn’t seem to matter and one of my stories, Reality, was accepted, my brief biography sent off and in due course my free November copy arrived in the post. I immediately rushed off to check the shelves of Borders and WH Smith to buy another copy to send to my mother. I then e-mailed friends and family who hunted in their local branches; I could say I was in print nationwide. Alas, that edition, only the ninth issue, was the last and by the end of that year Borders had suffered a similar demise in the UK. I wonder what happened to the second story I sent them?
‘Dorset Voices’ was compiled by Poundbury Voices and published by Roving Press. Writers were invited to submit short stories, articles and poems; photographers were invited to submit black and white pictures. My story ‘Four Days In June’ was accepted and the book was launched at Bournemouth Library.
My favourite covers are ‘An Eclectic Mix’. I have stories in volumes one and two, published by AudioArcadia.com 2015
In 2018 my story ‘Thanephant an Elephantasy’ was included in 'Shoal', published by Thanet Writers and launched at Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate.
You can read Four Days In June and stories from Eclectic Mix in my third collection Times and Tides
TWO MORE SHORT STORIES
OR SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE BACKGROUND STORY TO MY NOVEL QUARTER ACRE BLOCK
Down My Lane
This morning I woke to find my lane full of reporters and cameras; after yesterday’s events I was not surprised.
But I was not happy; Tesco delivery van once a fortnight is the norm, with occasional visits of scruffy cars and vans to Marty and Lucy’s. You would recognise the view of my lane, on calendars and place mats, but few people know where that photograph was taken and who lives in the two old coastguard cottages.
If we still had a coastguard here perhaps it wouldn’t have happened and I would be left in blissful peace. I don’t do babies and I don’t much like visitors, except when they’re leaving.
Marty and Lucy are okay, they assume I’m an eccentric old lady who lets them grow organic vegetables and roam free range chickens in her garden in return for a share. They don’t know I’m a writer; pen name, well known before all this self publicising and multi media business. They would be shocked if they knew what I write; violent crime thrillers set further along the coast in Brighton.
They’ve got a baby now, I suppose that’s why they felt they had to do something. I was just looking out the door yesterday, wondering why a helicopter was buzzing round, when Lucy came running up and shoved the baby in my arms.
‘Lock yourself in, we don’t know what they might do, or how many; but we must help the mothers and babies, let the police deal with the rest.’
Before I could utter a word she was gone and for the first time in years I locked the door. The baby wriggled and I tried to quell my panic. I had to put it down somewhere safe before its delicate head hit the flagstone floor. Laundry basket, full of towels, nice and soft; the baby glared at me. I realised the back door was open. As I closed it I caught a brief glimpse of activity on the shingle beach and it finally dawned on me what was going on. I’m not that isolated, I listen to the radio. Kent, Sussex… and now I knew it was true. Illegal immigrants, refugees, people smugglers, whatever they were; invaders had landed on my beach, National Trust to be precise, but if feels like my beach. I wondered why on earth Marty and Lucy had got involved, they should have locked themselves safely in their home with their baby and waited till the police and army had rounded up the strangers.
I soon got my answer; a rapping on the door.
‘Quick, let us in before we’re seen.’
Lucy burst through the door, followed by several bedraggled figures clutching bundles. Marty followed and locked the door behind him.
‘They don’t speak English, but they’re scared of the blokes,’ he said ‘what else could we do? Put the kettle on, run a bath, find as many towels and blankets as you can.’
‘Where’s the baby?’ said Lucy, fleeting panic crossing her face.
In an instant my home was no longer my own. Lucy was slouched on my settee feeding her baby and using sign language to reassure our guests; they smiled and let her peep at the bundles in their arms, but were terrified of me and Marty. I retreated upstairs to open cupboards; he was right behind me pulling out my best towels and sheets along with ancient eiderdowns and pillows. I looked out of the tiny window under the eaves.
Way below, the beach was full of yellow jackets escorting a mixed bunch of people; some slouched in despair, several trying to run away, stumbling on the shingle.
It didn’t work, trying to hide them; the police came to check if we were safe, said there were procedures to be gone through. I was relieved. It was Marty’s idea that if the press got hold of our story the authorities would have to look after the women and babies properly. We were going to follow up what happened to them. I reassured my young neighbours they had done more than their share to help.
Now I’m beginning to realise the press invasion is far worse than yesterday’s invasion, my only consolation is that I have a new idea for my next novel; my publishers have been hinting for a while that I need to update and become more relevant. People smugglers…
DOWN MY LANE IS ONE OF THE FLASH FICTION TALES
IN SOMEONE SOMEWHERE
24 May 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Janet Gogerty...What a super writer of short stories. I have read
many of her stories and this collection hits the mark yet again. As a writer myself I marvel at how many she has penned and never once covering the same ground twice. That is no mean feat. There are
twenty seven gems in this collection and they really are a diverse assortment of tales. Amongst my favourites are:
Janus - A frightening look at how genetic tinkering can lead to horrifying results.
Bones on the Beach - A news reporter finally solves the mysterious disappearance of Miss Tyler's lost love.
You have One Friend - You may want to keep an eye on your Teddy Bear and for goodness sake don't leave him unattended near your computer.
I have rated this Collection Five Stars. Well worth purchasing and losing yourself in Miss Gogerty's imagination.
Dreadlocks and The Four Bears
Delia answered the phone promptly, it was her agent.
I’ve got you a star role, back to the cinema.
Initial excitement was followed by disappointment.
You won’t have to leave London, it’s a voice over.
It still rankled with Delia that she had been passed over for Marigold Hotel.
No, no CGI.
‘A spy film?’
No computer generated image, like Toy Story, Paddington Bear…
Delia wondered how much worse it could get. ‘A children’s film?’
Nothing wrong with that, all the stars do them now.
‘Who else is doing it?’
You know, she sent that Twitter and hasn’t worked since.
On Thursday Delia turned up at what her agent called a bijou studio. She had not dared ask any more details, she could not afford to turn it down, but the young strangely attired young man who greeted her was friendly, enthusiastic and solicitous.
‘First one here, great, now how much do you know about the film?’
‘Nothing, I like surprises, this is just a bit of fun for me, I do like to support up and coming talent.’
‘…and we are very honoured to have you on board. Basically we’re going back to basics, a classic tale not yet retold, want to get in before Disney; Goldilocks and The Three Bears.’
Delia laughed. ‘I know it’s only a voice over, but I think my voice may be a little too mature for Goldilocks.’
He joined in the laughter. ‘Brunhilda… the brown bear, not the Valkyrie; you will be magnificent as Mother Bear.’
The smile froze on Delia’s face. ‘Who is playing Father Bear?’
‘There is no father bear, we have to reflect the modern family.’
‘I don’t understand, there have to be three bears.’
‘Yes, Big Mama Bear, that’s you, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.’
‘Very funny and how did they manage to produce baby bear?’
‘I thought this was a children’s film, now you’re telling me the family has aids?’
‘No, artificial insemination by donor, Big Mama’s egg, Polo, the only gay Polar Bear in the Arctic, was the sperm donor and Pandora, Mama Bear, was the surrogate mother.’
‘Polar bears in the wood, this gets more and more bizarre.’
‘We have to show diversity.’
‘So what is Pandora?’
‘A Panda of course.’
‘Pandas are not real bears.’
‘I know, but we can’t be seen to be prejudiced. Pandora escaped from the zoo, it wasn’t working out with her husband, this was her only chance of becoming a mother.’
‘So what is the cub, a Teddy Bear?’
‘I love your sense of humour; I’ll show you the first rushes on the lap top.’
Despite her reservations, Delia found herself taken by the lively colourful characters. ‘It is rather lovely, someone must be good at drawing. How sweet, a coffee coloured cub who’s afraid of the water and refuses to learn to fish. What’s happening now?’
‘The family have gone down to the lake in the woods, where Polo has lived since being ostracized by the Arctic community. Every Sunday they invite him back for breakfast, the access visit to see his son.’
‘Leaving the porridge to cool off?’
‘Vegie Kedgeree actually.’
Delia was getting into the spirit of the film. ‘Can I see what’s going on back at the cabin? …who on earth is that?’
‘We could hardly have the stereotype young blonde girl, that is Dannie Dreadlocks, she’s left home because her parents won’t take her to the gender reassignment clinic. We have to make sure the film is inclusive of the GLBT community.’
‘What has any of this to do with sandwiches?’
‘Sandwiches? Oh, you’re so funny Delia, you mean BLT, bacon lettuce and tomato. I’m talking about gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender.’
‘I think you are making this film too inclusive, can’t you just have a nice story?’
‘It will be, most of this stuff is back story, only the parents will understand. Let’s skip to the next scene, we’ve already added the sound track.’
Delia watched as the androgynous Dannie Dreadlocks skipped up the wooden stairs inside the cosy cabin, complaining in a strong Glaswegian accent that they should have gone to Ikea. In the first room she found a tiny wooden bed and sat down, but it snapped in half. In the big room she found the enormous four poster bed that Big Mama and Mama shared. At that moment a huge shadow filled the room and Dannie turned to see Big Mama blocking the doorway. The frame froze on the lap top screen.
‘Oh, what happens next?’
‘We haven’t written that part yet, we thought we’d let you all go down the Mike Leigh route and make up the script.’
20 September 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Yet another delightful collection of short stories from the irrepressible Janet Gogerty. This time twenty five
stories on almost every subject imaginable.
The variety of themes are astounding and I will only mention a few in this review.
The opening story, Blind Date tells of just that, a blind date between Michael and Jessica accompanied by Michael's guide dog Bella. Not a dog to tangle with.
I loved 'Solar Power' with its idea of a solar powered hat for elderly Daphne. It certainly put a spring in her step. I chuckled over Ms Gogerty's comment of 'Burger Syndrome Spectrum thingy.'
'Up, up and away' was an eye opening story involving a hot air balloon disaster - the method of dealing with the rogue balloon was quite shocking. 'Making an Entrance' Wow! Never upset a fellow thespian.
'Restoration Project' had a very spooky ending...I loved it.
The last story, 'Christmas Eve' has all the elements of just how traumatic Christmas can be especially when guests descend with little warning.
Click the link to open the book.
In the nineteen sixties many ‘ten pound pommies’ had never left England before and most expected never to return or see loved ones again. George Palmer saw Australia as a land of opportunities for his four children, his wife longed for warmth and space and their daughter’s ambition was to swim in the sea and own a dog. For migrant children it was a big adventure, for fathers the daunting challenge of finding work and providing for their family, but for the wives the loneliness of settling in a strange place.
Prologue December 1963
As autumn brought dark evenings and the walls of their terraced house closed in, George began visiting Australia House in his lunch hour. The winter of ‘63 had been the last straw. George and Helen wanted to emigrate to Australia. They did not expect to make their fortune, but reasoned they would rather live on a tight budget somewhere warm. During the summer of 1963 they had faltered; to move to the other side of the world and never return seemed unthinkable; but late one December evening, alone in their small dining room, George and Helen whispered and pored over brochures and forms.
‘One thing’s for sure,’ said Helen ‘we’ve grown out of this house.’
Her third pregnancy had been a surprise and the arrival of twins a shock; owning their own house had been a dream come true until then.
‘When they built these little houses in the thirties, people were thrilled to have an inside bathroom’ laughed George.
‘...and a garden’ added Helen.
‘Everyone lives in detached houses in Australia, with a laundry as well. By next Christmas we could be in a new house on a quarter acre block of land. Jennifer could have all those pets she wants and I could have my workshop.’
‘Oh George, I don’t think I could bear it if they turned us down.’
‘They won’t, it’s an enormous country with hardly anybody in it; why else would they be paying our fares? Ten pounds to fly across the world.’
‘Or voyage across the oceans.’
‘Six weeks at sea with our lot, no thanks. Besides, I’ve looked into it; if we opt to fly, we should get our passage much quicker.’ He gathered the attractive brochures into one pile and the forms into another. ‘If we post these off, we’re going to go, no turning back. But we can not tell anyone yet, not your mother, or your sister or Joyce and certainly not the children; it wouldn’t be fair to get their hopes up until we’re absolutely certain.’
She kissed his cheek and handed him the pen.
Quarter Acre Block is based on our family’s experiences, but is not autobiographical. Readers ask which parts are real? I needed my mother’s help to get the adult point of view, but the Palmer family are not my family. I wanted the story to be realistic, so the Palmers follow the same journey as we did. The ‘six week holiday of a lifetime’ sounded fun and I was envious of those who had come by ship, crossed the equator and met King Neptune, but the Palmer family had to fly.
I knew no one who had been in the migrant camps: I don’t think my father would have persuaded Mum to go at all if she had to face the prospect of a camp! Dad knew ‘someone from the office’ who had migrated and they sponsored us. The chap met us at the airport, put us in a caravan well gone midnight and returned at nine am to take us down to Scarborough Beach. His family had taken to beach life and were living ‘the dream’. My younger brother and sister were terrified of the waves and I clung to a plastic surfboard, too embarrassed to tell their children I couldn’t swim. After that experience the only beach my parents wanted to sit on was Crawley Beach by the Swan River. It was very pleasant and I taught myself to swim there. I have always loved the water, but my parents hardly ever ventured in.
You can read a little of what my life was like in the six months leading up to our departure in my Tidalscribe blog
- Quarter Acre Blog.
17 October 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was written by my friend at writing class. I absolutely loved its clear and incisive descriptions of life for the Poms who decided to make new lives in Australia. She has written several more books and collections of short stories and I would recommend them to anyone.
I did have an excellent teacher for my two months of primary school at the end of the Australian school year. With a totally different curriculum, he encouraged me to get good results in the tests so I could start high school a year early. We moved to our new house and suburb before Christmas, in time to meet some local children before I started at my new high school. A large school, much as I describe in the novel.
By Jayne Lucas on 16 March 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were three dimension and ‘real’ and I felt part of the family. It kept my interest all the way through and I was disappointed for it to end – will there be a sequel? I found myself wanting to know how the story developed and what happened to the characters. I shall be looking for other books by the same author.
By Mr M G Stratford on 29 November 2013
A fascinating insight into the cultural changes and challenges experienced by a family emigrating from the UK to Australia in the 1960s.
By Jane Deans on 5 December 2012
Quarter Acre Block is the story of an ordinary,
middle class English family of the sixties' experiences as they make the momentous decision to emigrate to Australia to obtain a better standard of living. Told mainly through the eyes of the young
daughter, Jennifer it is both heartwarming and evocative of the era. Anyone old enough to have been subjected to the delights of Spam, The Beatles, Tupperware parties,Sunday church and transistor
radios will appreciate the detail.
As they grapple with the difficulties that face them in their newly adopted country the family encounter many new characters and experiences. Dad, George must find employment, they need somewhere to live and Mum, Helen has to adjust to life as a housewife and mother in an environment that is totally alien.
The story is told in an anecdotal style and charts the family's progress during their first year.
This book is a gentle read, with no major shocks or thrills, but nevertheless enjoyable.
By Rea on 22 July 2016
Quarter Acre Block from Janet Gogerty is a
fascinating peek into a year in the life of a "ten pound pom". Following the decimation of World War II and as an encouragement for immigrants to come and repopulate Australia, many British families
were offered the opportunity to emigrate to Australia, for just ten pounds fare.
Quarter Acre Block follows the first year of the Palmers' new life in Perth, Australia. I found the story very interesting and was able to identify with so many of the issues facing this young family; loneliness, homesickness, finding employment and just making new connections on the other side of the world.
This was a really good story, well written and easy to read. Although it is a novel, there is clearly some autobiographical influence from the author in this story. If you like stories about real people facing real problems, you'll love this book. I can definitely recommend it.
By Jane Krabbeler on July 13, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Quarter Acre Block
BY: Janet Gogerty
Reviewed By: Long Island Dreams Book Reviews
Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
George and Helen Palmer are loving and caring parents who desire to give their four children every advantage that life has to offer. When the opportunity arises to emigrate to Australia from their native England, the Palmer family seizes the opportunity.
Quarter Acre Block follows the Palmers as they embark on the journey of a lifetime. You will cry as they say goodbye to all their family and friends and travel around the world to their new home.
The author spins this tale in such a way that you will completely identify with the Palmer family as they begin to adapt to their new environment. You will feel their apprehension through out all their firsts, from taking the bus to the shops, starting a new job and attending a new school.
I have no doubt you will feel their joy as they see the beach for the first time, learn to swim, make new friends, buy a new home and so much more.
You will feel Helen Palmers loneliness as she struggles to adjust to her new life away from her extended family and all that she has known. I have to say Helen Palmer jumped off the page at me. I wanted to wrap her in a warm embrace and reassure her that she George and the children would triumph in their new home.
Quarter Acre Block is a heart warming story of love and perseverance. I found myself laughing, crying and cheering for this family. This is a four star page turning hit, that you definitely won’t want to miss.
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READ EXCERPTS; the story of the Palmers' new life is told from both mother and daughter's point of view.
That evening she was allowed to stay up later, till the twins were safely asleep. The television was switched off and she and Simon were told to sit in the front room to hear important news.
‘Australia,’ exclaimed Simon ‘why didn’t you tell me?’
‘We are telling you now’ grinned his father. ‘We haven’t even told your grandparents yet, no point in getting everyone excited or upset till we know for sure.
‘I’m excited,’ said Jennifer ‘going on an aeroplane to a hot country; I could learn to swim and we could have a dog.’
‘I’m sure you can, when we’re settled’ smiled her mother.
‘Or a horse… like those children on television.’
‘What about my friends?’ complained Simon.
‘They can come on holiday to see you’ said Jennifer.
‘It’s a bit further than the Isle of Wight’ he sneered.
‘You’ll make new friends son’ his father reassured him. ‘Besides, the way things are going, you won’t be the only boy at your school emigrating.’
She and Simon were sworn to secrecy; the twins must not know yet, they were sure to tell. No one must know, just in case; in case of what Jennifer wasn’t sure. Perched on top of the concrete coal bunker, nibbling her Easter egg in the watery spring sunshine, she hugged the secret to her eleven year old self.
A short bus ride took the family to the house that George had grown up in; the road was identical to the one they lived in now, the terraced houses exactly the same layout. Privet hedges and creosoted fences were a feature of nearly every garden in the street; George and Helen stood at his mother’s neatly painted narrow front gate and knew they were making the right decision.
He climbed up into the small loft at his mother’s request; no one had been up there since his father died. Peter and Tony delved into the box he brought down.
‘I should have passed it on to you ages ago, for your boys’ said his mother.
Inside were books and toys he remembered, but had no idea his mother had kept.
‘Sort out which ones were Dennis’ then take the rest, they should go with you, don’t forget the past.’
He opened a book and showed Helen the fly leaf.
To George on your tenth birthday, 1935, with love from Mother and Father.
‘How long ago that was, they were happy days weren’t they Mum?’
‘Yes indeed they were; your father and I were so proud to have our own house and be bringing up two fine sons.’
12 October 2017
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What an insight into taking the plunge to live in Australia. This is a well written story with believable characters and real experiences of living over the other side of the world. I shall look forward to reading more of this author’s books as she certainly kept me turning the pages. Mark Laming
Dad’s family followed us all out. First his brother and family who went on to have an Australian baby, then my grandparents and my aunt. But it was many years before one of my mother’s sisters came out on holiday. Dad insisted we would never go back, which is the best way to settle in. If migrants did not stay for two years they had to pay their outward fare back to the Australian government, some migrants took that as trying it for two years, while others treated it as a two year holiday, yet others planned to try Sydney if they didn’t like Perth. Most migrants assumed they were there for good and could not afford any other option. There were some who were whinging poms and others who went to the other extreme, dismissing Britain as 'finished', as if to justify their decision.
My relatives are spread far and wide with a variety of careers and lifestyles; some own land, have camped around Australia, gone scuba diving and done other very Australian things. There have been plenty of ups and downs like any family. I imagine that at least some of George Palmer’s family went on to live up to his hopes for them.
If you have any questions about the book or Australia you are welcome to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
REAL LIFE - THE DARK SIDE
But there is always a dark side; the Vietnam war was raging, Simon Palmer would have been eligible for conscription by ballot when he was twenty, the voting age was twenty one. ‘All The Way with LBJ’ - Australia would not let down the USA after their help in the Second World War. The boys in my class at college were very happy when conscription was abolished just before their twentieth birthdays.
There were other hazards for migrants. Some new migrants did drown in the Indian Ocean. Everyone got their driver’s licence at seventeen and old bangers were cheap for teenage boys to buy and bomb around in. One of the English boys in my class was killed in a car accident; unlike the modern way of counselling, special assemblies and flowers at the gate, no official mention was made at school of his demise!
REAL LIFE –DARK HISTORIES
In 1964 we knew little about the Aboriginals, I guess we assumed they were living happily in their natural habitat out in ‘the bush’. Mixed race aboriginal children were taken from their families and put in orphanages. Whatever we came to know later on, there is no escaping the fact we were living in someone else’s country.
Nor did we know about the British children shipped out as ‘orphans’ and left in the ‘care’ of such as the Christian Brothers in boys’ homes out in the countryside. The dark side of migration for sure.
But human beings have always moved around, exploring and colonising. In the sixties Perth was full of English, Italian and Greek migrants and many others from Europe. The Mediterranean people were hard workers, better used to the heat no doubt and were brilliant at market gardening and corner shops. But that did not mean the British were lazy, in the work place and the arts they were at the forefront, taking the initiative. Asian students appeared, but were expected to go home after their studies at university! Fortunately Britain joining the Common Market was a sharp reminder that Australia needed to make friends and trade nearer home. Modern Perth has grown out of recognition in size and character.
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