Taylor’s Well

Sunday Blog 87 – 4th June 2023

This year I have been trying my hand at submitting to writing competitions. Responding to writing prompts leads to fun and innovation. And submissions have been keeping me at the desk, writing, while waiting for feedback on the novella manuscript.

When the Writing WA, Night Parrot Press and Raine Square opened the 2023 Love to Read Local Flash Competition, it focused on landscapes – or flashscapes, as we had but 100 words to tell a tale about a WA landscape.

That got me thinking about Taylor’s Well. When I was growing up, my father always talked about Taylor’s Well, just outside Pingelly. He lived there in the 1920s and 1930s with his father, mother, two sisters and three brothers. He always said that was when he had his first conscious memories, and his affection for that piece of WA lasted right up until his death in his mid-nineties. I was taken to Pingelly and Taylor’s Well in 1965 as a babe in arms (see the photo above – my dad, mum, brother and four sisters. Top marks to my mum for smiling while being the mother of six children under the age of eight!)

I went again with Dad in 2019, not long before he died. When he got out of the car his memories tumbled from him like poorly packed luggage from a plane’s overhead locker. He was not with us, he was back in 1930s Taylor’s Well.

The site of his home was by then a blank block with the house long gone. Never mind, it was the bush that was his home, his back and front yard, his food and entertainment system. In the morning he and his three bothers (“we four boys”) would head out bush with a bottle of milk and a slingshot. They’d catch lunch, and would also hunt rabbits for their pelts to sell to the rag and bone man. It was boy heaven.

The town of Pingelly was a short horse ride away, so too far for my grandmother to walk in for groceries or socialising. Six children in a deeply unhappy union, she was by now stout.

Here is a snap of the Catholic Church steps in Pingelly above-in 1964 so I am yet to make my appearance (I was born in 1965). These are the church stairs where my grandmother stumbled and fell, and received words of ridicule instead of concern from her irascible husband. She would go on to have another five boys with him, and follow his slow progress through small schools across rural WA until they ended up at Rosa Brook.

When I visited Taylor’s Well with Dad in 2019, I thought I could glimpse his careworn mother, my Granny, still only in her late twenties or perhaps early thirties. Five children. Sweat dripping from her face. No running water. Carting water for the laundry, combusting over the boiler to clean the clothes, making food, keeping the modest house clean. The loneliness and the sheer ache of slogging so hard with a contemptuous husband old enough to be her father. Irish brogue slinging insults, nagging for service, boots up while she scrubbed around him.

How did she ever survive?

Congratulations to all the short-listed Flashscape writers! All entries including mine are being published on this link (by Wednesday 7 June). This blog is one of my earlier drafts I radically cut to make 100 words!

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