Do you remember Social Studies at primary school? Social studies – that strange mix of history, geography, current affairs, famous people.
I’m reading the scraps of a primary school social studies book that I brought home from my mother’s when I helped her downsize.
The book was published in 1954. Well before I was born. How I came by it, I can’t remember. Possibly, a teacher was decluttering and gave it to the little avid reader, the little girl who always had a book in her hand. But wait. What’s that name in the front? Bobby Schweizer. That rings a bell. Weren’t they the German family who owned a restaurant and my mother was the live-in housekeeper come childminder? Yes. Yes, they were.
This book has moved interstate twice and moved in and out of many houses, possibly never being unpacked for the last quarter of a century from the box with my school workbooks and reports. With all that movement, it deserves to be read. Otherwise the thought of all that effort in moving and storing stuff for no purpose doesn’t bear thinking about.
So beyond feeling the need to justify all that storage and schlapping from one part of Australia and back again, why read it?
Well, it’s interesting. To see changing perspectives of what’s important and to see how things have changed.
Did you know it took seven and a quarter (I’m sure that quarter was important) hours to fly from Adelaide to Alice Springs!!! with several stops on the way. God, that’d be a long seven hours.
The photos of Sydney in the 1950s are amazing. So much green space. The harbourside open and clear. Not a skyscraper in sight.
In the section on Places and Objects of Interest in Australia, the unnamed author who says he is indebted to Miss H. J. Urquhart, the Headmistress of the Public School, South Strathfield, writes about Burning Mountain. Mr S and I have been there. We found it extremely interesting but I’d never read about it anywhere before, so it was funny to see it as worthy of putting in a third class text book in the 50s. It’s on the road from Sydney to Tamworth. The sign “Burning Mountain” attracted me so one time we stopped. Mr S wasn’t so keen as he thought it’d be nothing, just a name of a place. I really had to talk Mr S into stopping as once he’s on the route home, he doesn’t like to stop. Well, we were both amazed – it was definitely worth the stop. Burning Mountain has been burning for centuries – the fire following an underground coal seam and scorching the forest above. Still, a strange place to be included in a list of places of interest.
The social studies book has given me some places I want to visit. Never heard of Egg Rock on Mount Buffalo in Victoria. But after reading this, I’ve just added the Victorian high country for a summer exploration sometime.
There’s more references to the French sailors (who were here when the First Fleet sailed into Botany Bay) than I remember in my texts books at school. I didn’t know that Laperouse went missing so the French sent another boat to look for him.
The book made reference to a poet and poem of whom I’ve never heard – Adam Lindsay Gordon. Shock horror. Where have I been? Turns out to be considered one of the best earliest Australian poets. AND a couple of his poems have been turned into songs by Elgar. Sentimental ballads of the era had fallen out of favour when I was at school. If not for this book, I’d never have discovered The Sick Stockman. Worth a read.
But most, what’s the word I’m looking for?, disturbing..??? Shocked to the point of laughing in disbelief in this book is the casual racism. The unselfconscious contradiction. There’s so much to take your breath away, it deserves a post of its own.
So they will. On a Ranty Tuesday.
What I’ve been reading: tried a couple of items – Olivia Newton-John’s autobiography on audiobook, being one. She is reading it and she has a great voice to relax and help you fall asleep. Started reading a book on coming out gay in the 70s but there’s too much explicit S&M for me.
What I’ve been watching: Second episode of Fisk had me laughing as much as the first. This will be a series I will re-watch. Watched first series of Escape to the Chateau. It is escapism for all of us! And which constant, continual declutterer doesn’t like a decluttering show? Extreme hoarders always make me feel good about my stuff. But in the hoarders on Space Invaders, I see myself. I wouldn’t mind the team doing my house.
- Sleep: not enough!
- Water: I’ve started tracking my water and as I knew, I don’t drink enough. We’ve had days of torrential rain – it’s funny how you are more likely to forget to drink water when it’s cold or rainy.
- Exercise: several usual walks
- Decluttering: lots of paper gone. And other top