A won­der­ful piece of work

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS -

enough to un­der­stand, it must surely have had a neg­a­tive ef­fect on his own self-es­teem with his par­ents, his sib­lings and his peers.

How­ever, he adored his fa­ther; a vet­eri­nar­ian, he of­ten took Bary with him on farm vis­its around Bal­larat, and the boy rel­ished it. He was a real helper in all the tasks, and some of them were fairly grue­some, given the method­ol­ogy used in the 1930s and 40s.

This book is an im­por­tant pic­ture of a typ­i­cal Aus­tralian coun­try town, es­pe­cially dur­ing the World War II years. The fam­ily was rel­a­tively well-off, own­ing and op­er­at­ing a phar­macy, and liv­ing op­po­site Lake Wen­doree, which be­came the au­thor’s child­hood play­ground.

It is to be hoped Bary’s school days were a long way from what we see in Aus­tralia to­day, given the cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment meted out to the boys (never girls) that he de­scribes. His aca­demic progress was slow, de­spite his fam­ily’s in­ter­est in his de­vel­op­ment. But at 16, his mother at­tempted to change what she con­sid­ered his im­proper be­hav­iour and en­rolled him in a pres­ti­gious pri­vate school in Gee­long. The out­come was dis­as­trous. He does not pick up his story again un­til age 59, when he sees a psy­chol­o­gist and un­der­goes a pow­er­ful treat­ment regime. It ul­ti­mately leaves him with the in­sight and un­der­stand­ing to go on with his life.

We learn from other sources that he be­came a farmer, a gar­dener and a writer. Mud­eye, his child­hood au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, is a won­der­ful piece of work.

— Lee Stephen­son

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