I was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, when it was known as Southern Rhodesia. It was a wonderful time to be living there, and I have many happy childhood memories. Some of the earliest include spending hours in my tyre swing in a tree, watching chameleon’s change colour as they moved through the branches, and sitting in the chook house (we kept a couple of hundred at one time) with a big chicken on my knee. Thankfully there are a couple of incidents I was too young to remember, like when I was playing with a poisonous snake that I thought was a favourite and harmless ‘giant millipede type creature’ called a chunkalooloo, and mum and my brother beat it to death with a broom while I screamed, and another when I was grabbed by a neighbor’s monkey, understandably irate at having to live it’s life on a chain.
Dad was building houses in Bulawayo at a time when the building industry was booming, and ‘colonial’ life was good. I began school at 8 a.m. and finished at midday. After lunch, at the hottest time of day, we all had an afternoon siesta. (very civilized) By the sixties, dad thought the ‘climate’ was becoming unsafe, so we moved to England, my mother’s birthplace. After surviving the coldest winter on record (barely) in 1963, we migrated to Australia.
I would like to be able to say I wanted to be a writer from the time I was four, but alas that is not the case. I’m one of those people who firmly believe everyone has a talent, but it took me a long time to find mine. I now refer to myself as a “late bloomer”. I just thank God I did bloom! It would be awful to go through life and not ever discover your God given talent. Still one question I am most asked is where did my writing talent come from. My brother is an author and retired journalist, but up until a recent trip to Ireland, my father’s birthplace, I was at a loss to answer this question with any conviction. But while in Sligo, I discovered the city was full of writers and artists. So although dad’s family were farmers, perhaps back there somewhere, hidden in the family tree, there are some writers. They may never have been published, but they might have sat huddled around a turf fire after tending their animals all day, and written stories, or just their thoughts and feelings.
Apparently dad always complained to mum that I was a daydreamer. He was right; I was always imagining scenarios between people and working out the dialogue in my head. I still do it, but now I put those scenes down and paper, and get paid for it. Dad passed away many years ago, but I like to think he’s smiling down on me and thinking all that daydreaming is finally paying off.
I returned to Zimbabwe in 1986 with my brother, sister and mother. It was wonderful to see where my sister and I were born, and the house that dad built and we lived in when I was just a baby, which still looked good. Unfortunately, Bulawayo had made no progress. If anything it had gone backwards, with many shortages, e.g. food, petrol and the general standard of living was very low. With the present political climate, tourism has suffered also. I don’t know what will happen to Zimbabwe, because as it is now, it has a very dismal future, which is a pity because it’s a very beautiful country.