Creative Writing

We have a creative writing group that meets 9.00 am – 11.00 am every Friday at CQU, Ooralea and you’ll learn all the ins and outs of writing. Members have, in the past, had books published. We are a self-help group and do not have actual tutors.

We had a great start to this year with seventeen members on our books. Not all of these are active, however the progression into using emails for those who cannot attend, is working well.
As we give every member a chance to choose the subject for two weeks, the next month will see the rotation start with Jenny followed by Rose. A very pleasant two hours on Friday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. with tea, coffee and biscuits to round off. It never ceases to amaze, the variation and often the similarities in the presented subject. Our small activity that follows the reading of the contributions of the members, promises to be diverse and interesting.

I know I was cleaning it outside on the little table, and then the phone rang. I got up and answered the phone and when I got back to the table, IT WAS GONE ! All the jewellery cleaning gear was there, I lifted everything up, nothing… I went inside thinking that I may have inadvertently taken it with me when I answered the phone. I backtracked every place I went…nothing. I caste my mind back to recollect if I had heard a car or footsteps, or even the dog being restless…nothing.
I WAS DEVASTATED. This had been my mother’s necklace, given to her by my father before they were married. On the back was the initials, LEL to JMS ’48. Yes Leslie Edward Liddell to Joy Margaret Swanton, the 48 was for 1948. It would be easily identified if it was found. Such a lovely finely crafted piece with a lovely shining blue stone cut to reflect light. I had just finished cleaning it and the silver shone beautifully. But it was gone. I had no idea how valuable it was, but, I loved it for the sentimental value. I searched my photo album and eventually found a picture of Mum with the necklace on, at least I had a reference point.
The sun was shining, he looked into the yard and saw the biggest sparkle ever, and there was blue as well, his favourite colour. That is just what I need to complete my efforts to entice my ladylove to accept me as her spouse. Quick as a flash, it was his, dangling in a way that was catching the sunlight. He felt so good, it had taken a long while and each of his efforts had been rejected, this surely would be his saving grace. She was such a lovely thing, with wise eyes. It was not that he considered himself a thief, far from it, however his heart over road his conscience.
In desperation I copied the photo and put the image on face book, hoping that someone may have seen the necklace. No replies. As there had not been a break in and to tell the truth, I was still questioning myself as to if I had thoughtlessly picked it up and put it somewhere.
Months passed and still no necklace. I had now convinced myself it had just disappeared into thin air, for who would have done this to me?
Leafing through the albums again and reflecting on the lovely photo of my mother, the phone rang. Leaving the photo album open, I picked up the phone. I had an unusual feeling in the gut as the mail voice said, “I think I may have found your necklace.”
For a moment I was speechless, “Are you still there’ it is Gerry the Twitcher, you know, bird watcher.”
“Oh, sorry Gerry, for a moment I was stunned, tell me does it have the initials on the back?”
“Oh yes, and you will never guess where I found it. I was walking through bushlands and came to a grassy knoll a bit away from everywhere and saw this bower. Knowing that there had been Great Northern Bowerbirds blown into this area when the cyclone came through, I was curious, so went closer. There nestling amongst three eggs and several other pieces of blue plastic, was a shining, something. Normally I would not touch it, but I remembered the facebook post and the conversation my wife and I had when we saw it. How devastated you must have been, so I got a stick and snared the chain out of the bower. I looked on the back and there was the initials, just as you said. I could hardly control my enthusiasm. When I got home I looked up your number straight away. Would you like me to bring it around to your house. I’m afraid it is a bit dirty.”
“By all means Gerry and thank you very much. I can clean it, but not outside this time. Thank you so so much.”
He took the shining thing back to the bower and held it in his mouth as he paraded in front of his loved one. She was very impressed and immediately made it known that he was a very special being and moved in straight away. After a while she laid several eggs and they had bought up their family in a grassy area away from dogs and cats and any other predators. She had laid three more eggs and as always the shining blue thing was always close by. She loved that thing. One day he came back to the nest and could not find the shinning thing, he looked everywhere, he enquired of his lady love. No… nothing. No idea where it was. His lady love was devastated, but she had three eggs to hatch, so just sat on them and looked very sorrowful. She had a lovely, handsome partner, and after all the shining thing had done its job and they were proud parents of one lovely brood and another on the way. She wondered, however, who would have done this.
Gerry came to the door and held out his hand. There in his palm was a very grubby but precious necklace. With a smile Gerry said “Looks like this piece has not lost its charm, there were three eggs in the Bower and I would not be surprised that these were not the first clutch of eggs. Just as your father won your mother with this gift, so sis the Bowerbird. I would be very careful in future, where you clean your jewellery, especially if it is blue. Bowerbirds love blue.”
“That is amazing’” I replied. “My father bought it for Mum as he said it matched her eyes, and she always looked good in blue. No mystery anymore.

Guiding Life
Miss Alcorn was the epitome of a Guide Captain. Tall, wiry- thin and serious she was dedicated to her role. Along with the rector, the headmaster and the doctor she played an important role in the life of our village community in the Scottish village where I grew up.
Childhood in the village was idyllic. All of us joined the scouts and the guides as these organisations formed a major part if not all of our social lives. Indeed a highlight of the social calendar was the Scouts Christmas Party. How we all anticipated this event with excited giggles!! I won a Twist competition one year and imagined myself headed for stardom!! Postman’s Knock was a popular game as this party……h’mmm perhaps we might leave that story for another time!
Guiding involved working towards badges to be proudly sewn on to your uniform. For my Thrift badge, a friend of my mother’s offered her daughter’s dress and showed me how to turn it into rompers for her new baby boy. I stitched in elastic and sewed two buttons on. I have no idea if the unlucky child ever wore my childish efforts but I gained my badge! For my Cooks badge I remember going to the home of our District Commissioner, Mrs Rowbotham (cheekily known by the guides as Ma Ramsbum!). She lived in a very smart big house on the right side of the train tracks!! I made soup as I recall. Again, I don’t know how the soup was and I don’t think I made any more for 25 years but I do recall how impressed I was with the posh house!
An annual highlight was the Guide Camp! Off we would go into the hills of the Clyde Valley weathering midges and Scottish drizzle to learn such skills as pitching a tent, cooking on a tripod of sticks over a campfire and the joys of digging latrines. The images of campfires and raucously singing Kumbaya, are surely locked in the memories of many of my peers the world over.
A couple of years into my membership Miss Alcorn retired. A new captain was sought and it was initially quite a shock to me when my mother took over. It was a role she excelled in. Mum had joined the ATS at the start of the War and always reflected fondly on her military service. She thrived in her new role as a Guide Captain.
It was a time of happy memories for our family. Mum was the village Guide Captain, my sister was a Brown Owl in the Brownies, I was a Girl Guide and Patrol Leader of the Nightingale Patrol. Dad played his part as general taxi driver, fixer upper, speech writer and maintenance man!
I was also Pack Leader (junior assistant) for a newly formed Guide Company at Quarriers Homes. Quarrier’s Homes, just outside my village, is a world famous children’s home renowned for it’s (in those days) innovative strategies and programs. It consisted of a group of beautiful, large houses each with its own house parents who cared for the children in a family style arrangement. We had many happy times there.
I have returned to my village several times recently. I have been delighted to find the Guide Hut still proudly stands just as it has for over 50 years.
Oh, the tales and memories that haunt those wooden walls….. (especially of the Scout Christmas Party!)
Elizabeth Springall – U3A Mackay Creative Writers’Group

If you would like to join the Creative Writers Group, please phone Rae Halpin 0407639356



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