A Conversation with Lindy Standage
Q. Where are your Roots?
A. I was born in the U.K. at Southend-on-Sea. In a seaside town there was much to do. I liked running along the pebbly beach to buy fresh fish from the fishing boats and strolling along the longest pier in the world which was one and a half miles long with open topped trains, amusements and orchestras playing. It also has seven miles of illuminations along the front which the trippers used to come in their thousands to see. In my childhood days they travelled in charabangs. Nearby, in Hockley Wood I loved picking mountains of bluebells in Spring.
At the beach I remember lovely sea shells, hankies on heads knotted at the ends, peeling hard boiled eggs then munching on them. There were also cockles, mussels and shrimps (prawns are ten times bigger) for sale. I particularly loved soused herrings baked in vinegar and eaten hot. They cost about sixpence each in those days.
When the tide was out people would throw money over the pier to artists who would do beautiful paintings on the sand beneath.
Once in 1962 the sea froze for a mile and a half out. On doorsteps the milk was frozen, standing in a milk bottle shape with the glass shattered all around.
During the war there was barbed wire all along the front because the British were frightened of invasion from the sea, so my mother and I evacuated to her sister’s hotel in the country at Marlowe, Buckinghamshire. It is one of the prettiest places in the Thames Valley. I loved the woods, walking by the river, talking to fishermen and picking the blackberries and the nuts on hedgerows.
We shared the hotel with servicemen who were wounded, sometimes mentally as well as physically. They spent their leave with us. Sometimes they only had a twenty-four hour pass there.
One serviceman was the only survivor of his whole air crew, who were burnt to death around him. He took a long time to get anywhere near normality again. I was eight years old at the time, and he was a good friend to me. Another soldier used to bring his microscope and show me things like spiders, snowflakes and sugar granules to spark my brain.
One guest, a Mr Reynolds, wrote a book for me with stories of giants and all sorts of things in it. It was written in 1945, the year the war ended, and he called it Lindy’s Stories. My friend Margaret Cornwell recently retyped and printed it for me.
Q. What sort of work occupation did you find?
I was inspired by the work of Monica Dickens. She did nursing and wrote of her experiences in a book called One Pair of Feet. I started my nursing training when I was eighteen years of age at the Canadian Memorial hospital at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire but I left in 1957, six months before I finished, in order to marry. It was one of those situations where he was being called up for conscription. Many marriages were hasty in those days of trouble in Suez, Egypt.
Q. How did you come to Australia?
A. My husband and I came out on the ten quid migrant plan and were booked into a migrant hostel. We arrived in Adelaide in black swan breeding time. When we came out of the hostel to go to town, the black swans, which bred on the banks of the lake nearby , always seemed to be waiting and sometimes chased us.
We bought a small farm and planted tomatoes and strawberries, which we sold at the farm gate and to local shops. I travelled to many weekly markets in a station wagon with a large tandem trailer. Sometimes I carried up to ten or twelve steers or anything else that enabled me to wheel and deal. Meanwhile my husband also worked for the airlines.
I completed a City and Guild course at Melbourne College of Textiles in spinning and weaving and wool classing. We students created superb crafted materials such as homespun jumpers and rugs, many of which sold here and overseas.
Later, in Tasmania, I shared my knowledge of this beautiful craft for eight years teaching spinning and weaving in Adult Education at Launceston. I also had a craft shop, Spin and Weave, which I cherished for nine years. People called my craft shop an Aladdin’s cave because there was everything in it. I had spinning wheels imported from England and New Zealand – some of which were made of Scottish oak. There were looms on which I used to teach French gobelin weaving in silk. I did buying trips for fleeces, which I loved. I could test the fibres, and only bought ewe fleece.
Q. What brought you to the Gold Coast?
A. My husband’s transfer to the Gold Coast I took as a challenge. First I worked as a night supervisor for a women’s safe house. Then I went into geriatric nursing at Tweed Heads. All of this life experience has given me fascinating material to draw on as well as some very special lifelong friendships
Q. Tell us about your involvement with GCWA
A. Being introduced to the Association by a friend has given me a lovely path to tread. I do enjoy working in groups. I was an inaugural member of the Ten Penners and enjoyed making my contribution to Shock Horror Gasp and Fastastical Tales. Led then by Maria O’Donnell the group went as volunteers into several schools and we were all amazed at the students’ keenness, and how they shared their stories and dreams with us.
Now Marion Martineer runs this great group.
I am also grateful to Di Baker who leads the All Genres group.
For more writing fun I also joined the S.T.A.R.S. group and wrote some stories in their Seasons and Celebrations anthology.
Q Have you set any writing goals for the future?
A. No. I just have fun scribbling!