Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Post-busy blah

So I should tell you all about the cocktail party Kate Constable I went to on Friday night where there were no cocktails but lots of fabulous people. Scott Westerfeld was funny and eloquent, Meg Rosoff read fantastically, Sonya Hartnett sounded like she was talking underwater (from where I was standing) but I am sure she was brilliant and someone else was also underwater but brilliant but I can't remember who she was and this smart library guy talked about curatorship and young people (and about how they're going to have jobs that don't exist yet, dealing with technologies that haven't been invented, which I found simulataneously chilling and exciting) and I talked to all my gorgeous editors, all of whom looked far more glamorous than me - when did children's literature become glamorous? - and I felt a wee bit mumsy and not quite so fabulous. I looked very hard and didn't see Lili anywhere or Justine (and I'm not sure if I'd recognise her, even though I've met her before because I've got her mixed up with the girl on her book covers and someone famous, um, oh I know, Mary-Louise Parker), but I did see the very tall and very lovely Mike Shuttleworth, who I know peeks in from time to time (hi Mike). I also sat at a very large table in Kri Kri with more fabulous people, including the very interesting Lisa Shanahan (we love Gordon's got a Snooky and Bear and Chook) and her lovely baby and many others. It was a great night and apparently there are rumours flying about that Reading Matters (a two day kids book conference, for those of you who don't know, of which the cocktail party was part, unfortuantely I couldn't make it to the conference) is going to be podcast, perhaps Lili or Mike can shed light on this rumour. But in the meantime Simonne Howell is blogging about it on inside a dog.

We then went on to have a huge weekend with lots of kids parties, then I had to stay up till midnight to finish my semester's work. Today I felt a bit flat and blah, sitting at home listening to the rain, reading and loving Saving Francesca, and thinking about what I'm going to write next. We're vaguely househunting again and it really is a dispiriting experience.

So I am tired of me. Let's talk about you.

Tell me: what was your childhood home like? Did you move much or live in one place? What was the best hiding place? Did you live on a quiet street or a main road? What was the best place to play? Who lived next door? Did your neighbourhood have a haunted house?


  1. I can't believe you and Kate were there and I didn't see you! Justine was most upset not to meet you.

    And there was this hilarious thing where someone said "did you see Penni?" and I thought they meant Penny Hueston from Text, and I said 'yes! she's over there with a broken arm', and someone said 'she has a broken arm? i didn't know that. she has such a great blog,' and i said 'i didn't know penny had a blog' and then cogs started to turn and lightbulbs turned on but by then you were gone.


    there will be a podcast. in fact there will be lots, rolling out over the next six months. but the first one will be up in the next couple of weeks, at the new www.insideadog.com.au Downloads section.

  2. We moved several times, but always around the same beachside suburb (after moving across the world from London to Melbourne, that is). But we spent a good few years in each house and they all had their special places.

    One had a magic faraway tree (a liquidamber), and my bedroom had a full length casement window that I could step out of as if through a doorway, into the 4am gloom to peer throught the slats in the fence at the milkman and his clydesdale horse.

    Our next house had a cherry plum tree that led to the roof. Once a tree lopper came to prune it and slashed his artery with his chainsaw. My mum ripped her clean white sheets off the clothesline, wrapped his arm up and drove him at top speed to Sandringham hospital. She always finishes that story with the wistful sigh that she 'never got those sheets back.'

  3. Anonymous2:42 PM

    How cute is Lisa Shanahan's baby? I think it's actually an alien. No human child is that lovely. (Except one's own, of course.)

    By the time I was 25, I had lived in 25 different houses. I moved house four times and stayed at the same primary school.

    Reading Matters was a blast (sorry about the cocktail party sound system...had I known it would be so cr*p I would have booked a decent one, as we did for Storey Hall and the debate.) David Levithan is a star.

  4. I think I moved too much. I lived on too many continents. And now I'm particularly sensitive to insensitive comments about other cultures.

    Meh! Back to my thesis now! Great blog, Penni.

  5. I also moved heaps and heaps but it stopped by the time I was twelve. My parents still live in that house. I LOVE it. And now I am an adult I see help bent on constant motion. Hmm.

    I was disconsolate not to meet you! I looked out but wasn't sure I would rec you either. And obviously didn't.

    Mary Louise Parker! Hah! I am both taller and way less skinny than she. Plus no facial resemblance. Except that we are both female and white. On which basis I also look like Ava Gardner and Alida Valli.

  6. what was your childhood home like?
    A classic large Edwardian with huge rooms, beautiful ceiling roses and a long hallway. I remember though that before my parents did the early eighties rennovations, my brother's bedroom was the walkway into a really large laundry (which due to my mother's rather aversion to doing laundry became the collective floor-wardrobe) and the bathroom. It was agnosing going to the toilet and wondering if my brother was hiding in his room ready to pounce on me and tease me.

    Did you move much or live in one place?
    Stayed in Munster Ave for 18 years and then onto a large rambling acreage home in Lara.

    What was the best hiding place?The street out the back. Our house didn't have another house backing on to it like in many Melbourne suburbs. It opened out to another street which was a dead end with a walking lane at the end of it. Perfect place to hide when I knew I had done the wrong thing.

    Did you live on a quiet street or a main road?
    It wasn't a main road and I would have called it quiet but in reality it was a mini thoroughfare. The street out the back was far quieter. It was a classic semi-inner suburban street though with Edwardian houses and big trees out the front.
    What was the best place to play?
    In the house...the old outside laundry room which housed the hot water heater. It became my space ship for many years.
    Who lived next door?
    Ann lived next door with her husband and in later years their miracle child Daniel. She was a secret alcoholic and he was a spoilt overly smothered boy. They lived in a pristine kept seventies themed Edwardian. She was obsessed with hosing down her driveway and the pavement out the front of her house nightly.
    Can't remember the names of the kids on the other side of me. I just remember feeding the youngest boy dog biscuits once and convincing him they were real ones.
    Did your neighbourhood have a haunted house?
    Yes..ours! Not that I was overly aware of it as a young child but certainly as a teenager. All my friends and myself and 'experiences' in our house. I always felt safe though. In the back street there was an old woman who lived on her own and was sadly labelled as a witch by the local kids. Some of the group would play tricks on her and she was sadly just a lonely old woman :-(

  7. Anonymous6:08 PM

    I was at the same cocktail party too.
    Childhood home: large Edwardian in NZ, between two streams, 3/4 of an acre. Spoilt me for life.
    I lived in the Northern hemisphere twice by the time I was eleven. So my first school was a French Catholic convent (my sister and I were the only Protestants, or as my mother put it, heretics there). It didn't stop her playing the Virgin mary in the school play, which probably spolit her for life...
    Best hiding place was a hollowed out bush, but I didn't use it for 6 months after I found a dead thrush there.
    Quiet street--very. The best place to play was all over the garden.
    Who lived next door? A teacher who gave me guinea pigs, an elderly man who in retrospect was a near rock-spider.
    Haunted house. Not that I remember, but I have a cousin who sees ghosts.
    Lucy Sussex
    (who also lives in Brunny)

  8. Thanks for commenting everyone. I love reading about your childhood territories.

    Lucy, I was obsessed with Frances Knorr for ages because of your beautiful, compelling and rather frightening essay in The Thing She Loves. I still have a half written verse novel collecting shadows and cobwebs in the proverbial bottom drawer (ie the depths of my hard drive).