“Sal,” said my good friend Katrina (“Sal” being short for “Sarah”, and the name by which I am largely known, saving “Sarah” for banking emergencies, formal achievements, and any official documentation, like visas, marriage documents, and passports), “Sal, your life has been so interesting and you tell it in such an amusing way. Why not share it with the world?” Well, the principal reason is that it involves telling amusing stories at the expense of my close friends and family, and not just myself. No problem revealing to the anonymous world my many foibles and crises; big problem revealing those of other people’s, however hilarious. But I suppose it’s only fair to set out the beginning of this fun new life of mine, a middle-aged married housewife, living in the bush.
Back in 2013 I was a busy barrister and single mother, turning fifty with an indulgent party in a smart hotel in St Ives, Cornwall. Six months later and much to my own surprise, it was January 2014, and I was holidaying in Australia with my son Tom on what I believed to be my last big trip for a while, having abruptly stopped being a barrister and facing an uncertain future. That last sentence sounds like I experienced a sudden disgrace, but it really wasn’t like that. One day very soon after I hit fifty, I realised that it was time to follow my dreams. One of those damascene moments. So I gave up my career, started writing a novel, and took Tom out to see his Australian father for Christmas, sincerely believing that it was unlikely I would be able to afford to fly with him on future Christmases, and grateful for my son’s intrepid willingness to travel in future to see his dad and two little paternal brothers without me. And there I was, at the annual Elvis Festival in Parkes, NSW, making the most of my last big trip, walking with a crowd of girlfriends into The Railway Hotel to join in some karaoke and general goodhearted revelry. And on that fateful Friday evening, near the crowded bar, I spotted the man who became my husband.
There’s more to tell than that, of course, but I’m keeping this short. Basically, Garry (yes, two “r’s”) took the same sort of shine to me as I to him, and, displaying an alacrity that amazed his family and friends, in short order acquired a computer and an email address (a very complex email address that only the technologically unfamiliar could achieve when following the simple set-up instructions), learnt to text (this highly expensive means of communication was the one we relied on, as he firmly rejected my suggestion he acquire an iphone, and WhatsApp proved impractical), and set about getting himself his first passport in order to visit me in Cornwall for his winter holidays, that following July. A year after that, and he was helping me pack up my beautiful roomy house in Cornwall so that I could rent it out and travel with my son to live with him in Parkes, exchanging the coastal beauties of the south west of England for the landlocked dryness of the central west of New South Wales. We took with us the elderly cat I first acquired in Sydney back in 2000, an essential family member whose travel arrangements cost far more than any human’s. That Garry, a dog-lover, was willing to fund Tigger’s ticket was yet further confirmation of his wonderful suitability.
Starting our new life in what could only be described as a bachelor pad in August 2015, Tom entered year eight at the high school, and I set about making a brand new life. It’s worked out incredibly well, not least due to the generosity of both men in my life: Garry’s willingness to undertake all sorts of changes in the interests of family life, and Tom’s willingness to settle in and seize every opportunity. Even the cat has shown great adaptability: just as Tigger used to pretend he couldn’t see the hedgehogs in our English garden, so he now pretends he can’t see the blue-tongued lizards in our Australian yard. Garry and I got married in the Japanese Gardens in Cowra in March 2016, and have been doing our best to be kind to each other ever since.
I love living in Parkes. I spend my time writing, painting, reading with kids at one of the primary schools, playing cards, catching up with a wide circle of friends, gardening, reading, cycling, canoeing, swimming – seriously, if it’s at all simple and fun, I tend to do it. And I hope to please my good friend Katrina with as many amusing stories as I can.
I miss my family and friends back in the UK, of course. And nobody’s life is a simple path of wine and roses. But, subject to my beginner’s status and the fact I really should be addressing my audience (of three close friends and anyone who lands on this page accidentally) about world events and serious things, I plan to try and amuse with regular posts.