Saturday, 16 May 2009

ABC Radio - The Family Home

I had my one minute of fame on the ABC Radio 'Life Matters" program yesterday. And I blew it.
It's a very strange experience being the last in a queue of callers talking to a radio host you've never met. There's no time to warm up. And therin lay my downfall. I expected a conversation but what I now realise is that I needed my story ready to roll and it needed to be short and punchy. I can do that in a live studio setting but over the phone! Ah well. that's why I have a blog.
The other reason my minute of fame was cut to 30 seconds is that I was on another track. Richard Aedy and the other guests were focusing on the nostalgia and deep connections with family homes and I said to Richard something to the effect that I'd moved on and that the memories were more important that the house. Once it was empty and the 'life' no longer present it was just a shell. More of a trigger for memories. Which is what the "Ordinary House" stories are about.
Then as I was swimming my 20 laps in the local heated pool this morning it occurred to me that I have a stronger association to my father's family home at Wardell on the Richmond River in Northern NSW. Strange I thought. Why would that be?
On reflection I figured that this is where the nostalgia lies. Even though I only ever visited that house a few times as a young child and never even stayed overnight it's the place that holds the story, the big story of my past. Or more acurately the story of my father's family's Italian heritage. The New Italy story of an ill fated voyage and a villanous French Marquis who fleeced the gullible Italian peasants of their life savings with a promise of paradise and a reality of a tropical nightmare in New Ireland (New Guinea) . The story told and researched and retold over many years has an iconic place in the Capelin family. (see previous blog - Frenchman's Beach poem )
That house at Wardell, which was sold in 1965, over forty years ago, still draws me back. I take the detour and drive by every time I'm in that part of the world. There are relatives scattered throughout the area; there are cane fields which were the scene of my fathers youth and it's beautiful country. (see previous stories - Journey 1-16)
It's much easier to feel conections to that rich story than to a war service home in a singularly unattractive suburb in Brisbane's eastern suburbs. Which is not to deny the significance of that house in my life. Fifty seven years as the family home is a long time.
Which is why my stories are about the ordinary. There is beauty in the ordinary and that is something I value strongly. The ordinary sometimes carries stories and details which are every bit as rich and life affirming as any grand narrative associated with BIG stories.
Who knows, perhaps the Moolabar Street house will have the same resonance for my children when they reach my age.

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