Swanbourne Nostalgia

Sunday Blog 123 – 18th February 2024

This year I promised myself I would attend more workshops at Mattie Furphy’s House, the Fellowship of Writers WA base in Swanbourne. Mattie was part of the Arts and Craft movement in Perth. The home she and her husband created has been moved a short distance away from its original position. It’s now just a few blocks away from my mother’s former family home in the 1930s and 1940s – Reeve Street in Swanbourne.

Living up to my promise to myself, recently I attended a travel writing workshop there. As instructed, I wandered around Mattie Furphy’s house and gardens, taking pictures of the water tank, the outside toilet, a sturdy creepy snaking in and around timber framing. I riffed on the travel theme a little-I went back in time. Here it is, my short piece:

Dad-Dad bought the house in Reeve Street, Swanbourne in the 1940’s. Cheap as chips, no-one wanted to put themselves in the direct line of the bombs that would surely target this military area. Mum’s happiest years until Dad Dad’s  dreadful, fateful decision to sell Swanbourne and buy a shop in Collie. She, a young adult, stayed behind, watched them disappear down the road in the car, down, down and away to domestic horrors that unfolded there.

The Reeve Street house is now long gone, but here’s Mattie Furphy house, a short walk away. The screech and call of birds from the trees framed in blue, blue sky is the sound and look of the past. Then the passing motorbike rips up this fantasy like an unwanted note, tears it to small pieces and delivers me back to Swanbourne today.

I wander around the ruins of the memories that are not mine.  The outdoor toilet with its domed roof, the daddy long legged spiders gyrating madly whenever a human approaches. It still doesn’t work, we can see you and if we want, we can kill you.

The water tank, the little drip-drip which would feed the mint plant placed under the tap and keep it green even in the hottest of summers. The stilts and slats under the house, the wooden lattice that enclosed the outdoor sleeping area.

Everything passes.

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