Chapter two – part one

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So far in Embraceable You. Josefine Hanrahan, the neglected daughter of mining tycoon St John Hanrahan, has escaped from her boarding school to play her saxophone in the mist garden beside the National Art Gallery. There she will connect spiritually with her mother Liv, who died when Josefine was six years old.

 

the three of them cropped

 

 

Chapter Two

The sound filled the mist laden space inside the Canberra garden with a smooth, mellow, honey-wine moan. With her eyes closed she imagined herself back in on the Jutland Peninsula in the blue sitting room of her grandparents’ small white house, with a frozen waterway just outside, glittering and brittle in the thin light. Her mother was reclining on the sofa just across the white shag pile carpet and every now and then the soft scuffing at the door indicated that Mormor Axelsen had crept stealthily past, looking in at the two of them, as they blended together into a precious memory wrapped in the cadence of Embraceable You.

“I’ll be hugging you whenever you play it. Wherever you are, you’ll know I’m watching you and loving embraceable you.”

Josefine was not drawn out of her memory by the occasional scuffing sounds, as tourists, visiting the lovely misted space, made the round white pebbles tinkle in sharp vibrations. There was an agreed quietness whenever she played there and she was grateful for the thoughtfulness of strangers. It was kind of them to hush, to let the girl play. Their unseen presence, outside the pink-veined membrane of her closed eyelids, somehow added to her sense of spiritual reconnection with Liv.

“Love’s the only thing that matters,” she whispered to herself.

“That’s it, Princess. Don’t you ever forget. My sweet Embraceable You.”

Liv’s reply seemed so real it was hard to believe she wasn’t there. Her mother would have been sad, but unsurprised, that her daughter made no friends at school. She would have understood and been lovingly reassuring as her awkward girl grew into a mismatch of features that had not blended. It had been the same way for her, Liv insisted. It was hard to believe that her mother had been an ugly duckling as a teenager but even smiling Mormor Axelsen had nodded and agreed that it was so.

“Your mother’s mouth and legs grew like topsy but then, when she was seventeen or eighteen, it all stopped and the rest of her caught up and look what a beauty she is now. My lovely swan emerged in all her glory.”

She’d always be looking at the portrait of Liv on the wall when she said it for the pale sick version of Liv was not the swan she was talking about.

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About lynettefinch

Dr Lynette Finch. Once I was a poster designer and illustrator. I ran a small poster business called Mantis Prints, specializing in political posters during the odd days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government in Queensland. I’m told my posters hung on the walls of Rizhsky railway station in Moscow, although I’m not sure about that. They are in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, on several on-line websites, and in the following book: Lynne Seear and Julie Ewington, eds. Light II, Contemporary Australian Art 1966-2006, Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, 2007, pp. 110-117. In my next incarnation I was a senior lecturer in history. I published books and articles on urban health and feeding people in modern industrial cities, on the Queensland home front in the second world war and the role and history of war propaganda. Sometimes I wrote about Marxism and its impact around the world as well as intimate oral histories of communists in Australia, their experiences in conservative society, their role as social and political radicals in small towns and cities. Once I went through a death phase and wrote about the role of the Coroners Court in colonial society, about abortion and infanticide in nineteenth century cities, and about the role of gossip in policing. My research took a decidedly happier direction when I was granted an Arts Fellowship to Antarctica in the 2007/08 season, as research for a biography about Antarctic surveyor and explorer Syd Kirkby. I bunkered down in a blizzard in Brooke's hut near Davis station and imagined what it was like for Syd, caught for twelve days in a 150-knot blizzard, high in the plateau beyond Mawson in 1960. Some of my books: Australia’s Frontline: Remembering the 1939-45 War. With the rapid escalation of the Pacific War in 1942, Queenslanders suddenly found themselves perilously close to the frontline, especially those in the far north. The book is based on interviews of men and women who worked their farms in the north, some of them Italians and Germans who were interned as enemy aliens. Nevertheless, the book is essentially a story of courage, of community spirit and neighbourliness, and of the public and private war effort of a community facing crisis and loss. Dark Angel: Propaganda in Modern Warfare. This book traces the origins and development of propaganda and media manipulation from the 1800s to today’s ‘spin’ and ‘false news’. Why have governments at war allocated resources to propaganda leaflets, broadcasts, movies and art during major military conflicts? Read the book. You’ll find the answer. The Classing Gaze: Sexuality, Class and Surveillance. Concepts like sexuality and class share the same moment of birth during the nineteenth century as social inquiry turned to analysis of the workings, population growth, thought patterns, economic systems and internal bodily workings of humans (or Man, to be historically accurate). How did these ideological concepts impact in the real world? A great deal, is the short answer, outlined in this book. Young in a Warm Climate: a history of childhood in Queensland is an edited volume about childhood on the Queensland frontiers, at school, at home, in hospitals and other institutions. Fixing Antarctica: Mapping the Frozen South. In 1956, in the height of the cold war, the biggest wintering expedition that Australia had ever sent to Antarctica set out to map the great frozen landmass of Antarctica, driven by official fears that the Soviet Union meant to take the continent for themselves. The fourteen scientists were chosen from a field of hundreds of applicants. The surveyor, the central character in Fixing Antarctica, was Sydney Kirkby. Over the next twenty years, Syd Kirkby explored and map more unknown regions in the world than any other person in history. Earth, Wind and Fire is essentially twelve generations of my father’s mother’s family but it’s much more than that. It’s kind of Game of Thrones without the dragons. It starts with a kidnapped girl in Shelford, Nottinghamshire in the east midlands of England in 1618 and follows an unbroken chain of recorded births, deaths and marriages which spans four centuries until, six generations later, her descendants flee their farms in Ireland and join the diaspora to Australia. Using family stories, family photographs, published diaries and official documents, it’s the interwoven stories of five families struggling to survive amidst the most tumultuous times in European history. What’s next? I’m wandering into the boggy territory of creative fiction, writing a series of crime stories set on King Island, a beautiful windy island in the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve finished the first draft of Book One, The Rock. There will be seven, I think. I’m also writing a stand along novel, called The Key Collector. It’s about a World traveller, Angela who settles in a Tasmanian village near her daughter and grandson where she witnesses a car crash that kills three women. Convinced the collision was an act of murder, she digs into the tragic lives of the victims and is mired in a mystery stretching across three continents and reaching into the second world war.

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