Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's nice to remember where you came from ...

Those who read my blog may or may not know that I grew up in the town of Parkes ... you know ... that place in Western NSW made famous by "The Dish".   I like to think Parkes is famous because it was, and still is, the home of some really awesome people.

I've been a city girl since I was eighteen, but those first eighteen years I spent well and truly entrenched in country life.  I treasure that life ... whilst it wasn't always rosy ... it was where I grew up, and it made me who I am today.

I remember when I was eighteen I couldn't wait to move to Sydney.  I wanted nothing more than to get away from that small town.  I wanted adventure, freedom and a life where I didn't know what was around every corner.

I also wanted to escape the family I grew up with.  My first eighteen years were such a juxtaposition ... I loved what growing up in the country meant.  I loved the relationships formed and the close knit community.  I loved the values living in a country town taught me.  However at the same time I hated my home life.  I didn't love the life within my family, within the walls of the family home.  Terrible things happened there.  A totally dysfunctional family were living an even more dysfunctional life.

But you know what?  While that dysfunctional life was happening around me, I learnt to shut off from it.  I had an exceptionally strong fantasy world.  In fact, I could read a book and totally put myself in the story, to the point that when I finished a book, I was almost heartbroken.   It is why I loved reading a series so much ... I got to stay with the same people for longer.  Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven were a big part of my growing up ... for so many reasons.  Still to this day when I finish a book there is a physical pain I feel when I realise I'm going to miss the people who had become part of my life for that period of time, though it isn't as intense.  These days I have a happy family life and I don't need the fantasy, but I guess old habits die hard.

Along with my books, I had some amazing friendships.  There were families who made me feel like I was one of them.  In my secret fantasy world I was a part of these families.  The Bennett's in particular. Kim Bennett, my best friend since pre school with Mrs Faulkner.  Aileen and Gordon Bennett - treated me like their own daughter.   Lisa Bennett, had to put up with an interloper spending so much time with them, be it roast lunches on a Sunday or going away on holidays.  I was always there.   Without the Bennett's love I doubt very much I'd be the person I am today.

Neighbours also played a huge part in my life ... Warwick and Judy Johnstone and their three children who I babysat for as often as possible.  I spent many a night staying over at their place ... sleep overs were also key to saving my sanity.    Other neighbours also unknowingly gave me a safe place to stay.  Ann & Jim Jennings and Carol Godden.  These people have no idea the huge part they played in my life.

As I'm writing this I'm thinking about how life has a funny way of turning out okay.  If these people didn't open their homes and hearts to me, I doubt I'd be standing here writing this blog post, living the fantastic life I now have and feeling like I have a reasonable dose of sanity.

I have always lived my life as an adult caring about others, putting myself in their shoes and always making sure I have a place in my heart for anyone who needs it.  I haven't consciously tried to be this way, but I guess I am paying forward the love and kindness that was given to me.  No one knew of the life behind the walls of our home, no one knew anything ... yet people cared for me and gave me exactly what I needed.

What I am trying to say is that we really don't know what is happening in the lives of those around us, even those we are very close to, so to one person it might just be a "friendship" yet to someone else it might just be everything.  You never really know.

What started off as a little post to include some audio from a radio interview last night has turned into a missive of sorts.  The words just kept coming and it felt wrong to stop them.

Why am I so nostalgic for my home town?

Geoff Anderson, a boy in the grade above me (correction) my grade - oops, sorry Geoff, has managed to pull together the people of Parkes who are scattered across the world, by creating a wonderful Facebook page ... Parkes - In Photos of Years Gone Past.  In literally a week this page has almost 3,000 followers.   Bear in mind the population of Parkes is only around 10,000.

I am a radio producer at the ABC and I also have a weekly segment on Tuesday nights.  It just so happened that last night we were broadcasting to Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT ... which meant I was being heard in Parkes!   I talked to Rebecca Levingston about the Parkes Facebook page and how lovely it was to be in touch with those from where I once came.

If you missed it, you can download the audio here.   Enjoy!



  1. great post Annie. Takes me back to those that cared when I needed it.

  2. Hello Annie, ah this strickes so many chords with me. I grew up in a small Scottish village and went to high school in the next town which was rough as guts - still is and I'm still nervy walking down the high street there. And I ran, ran, ran away from our dysfunctional home as fast as possible. But I miss it... and Facebook has given me ack some of the friends I lost, many of us scattered now and some hoping to meet up when we turn 50 next year.

    Ah the 1970s in small town Scotland - not all bad, and lots of happy memories there too.

  3. There is nothing quite like living in the country and growing up in a tiny town. There are so many things that you learn and do that you would not be able to do anywhere else. We all dream of big cities and flashing lights but we will always remember our roots.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me x

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