Category Archives: memories


My very first doll I ever selected for myself, was … in today’s perspective … very un-PC. I was five or younger when I chose it. From our dairy farm in Whangarata, in the Waikato, the family went on a day trip to Auckland. It may have coincided with a visit to my mother aunt, Aunty Raynee – I’m not sure. But it coincided with a visit to Farmers, then known as Farmers Trading Store, in the main street of the big city. Farmers was known for its size (multi-storey) and the vast range of products. More importantly to us children, it was known for its extravagant children’s department, which had an entire floor for kids, including a playground.

More significant to us that day was the toy department. So many aisles of toy shelves! And…dolls! They were not the adult reach height of modern stores. All were only the height of a child’s eyes, and the top shelf sloped in layers stepping up higher towards the rear, allowing the dolls to sit each one behind the other, clearly visible to any child. Each different model of doll had its own section, clearly demarked from its neighbours, and overhead was the sign naming the type of doll.  We two children strolled back and forth along the aisle in front of the dolls, until we’d chosen the dill we wanted.

My choice was a little baby doll, dressed in a

"Nigger" doll as sold in the 50s
My choice was not dressed as this is. Image found via Google search

 blue-and-white domed fastened shirt, and a pair of blue overalls. His head was black and tightly curled, his skin was brown, and his lips were pink. On arriving home with my new doll, Mum (Dad?) asked me what I was going to name him. A redundant question to me – the store had his name well displayed, and no new name was needed, I thought. “He’s got a name. Nigger.” I remember saying it in a very determined voice.

No one suggested that was not appropriate, so Nigger he remained – for thirty years. I knitted him (garter stitch) a pink tee-shaped pullover, a pair of knickers, and a cap. I kept him with me when at age eighteen I left home to attend teachers’ college. He came with me when I married, and when my new family moved to Huntly (NZ’s then new power station town) he came too. He’d aged in colour, but still sat on the top shelf of my wardrobe. Between 1980 and 1986 he had to go for repairs – his rubber bands in the joints had given up. Sadly, the woman who replaced the rubber bands used too tight a band, and the tension was too much. The body part cracked at the neck joint. When it came back from that repair she’d not been able match the colour of his skin, and eventually he broke again, this time beyond repair. Putting Nigger into the garbage was heart-breaking!

Many years later, Mum took up doll making. Hers were china dolls, for which she sewed and stuffed the body, affixing the head, arms and legs. Being one who’d sewed, knitted, stitched smocking and tatted lace for baby clothes, she clothed each doll herself. No store-bought ready-made clothes for these babies. Each was displayed in her lounge, and on the guest beds or dressing tables.

One we had was her very first china doll, which she had over-glazed. Another was one she made for our daughter, and dressed in a beautiful long frock to match a dress-up frock one she’d made for my daughter from a bridesmaid’s dress we’d found in the gutter outside our house while on a walk together. I so wish I had a photograph of the two girls together!

Composed for the self-imposed ABC for 2018 challenge, the ‘D’ prompt

Four Books Of Impact.

Words of wisdom and wonder, which change lives…

Many of us – most of us – have a portion of our life filled with regret. Or worse…nothing.
The feeling of being empty? That is worse than the feeling of sorrow, whether for loss, for past decisions, past actions, or past words. We look for answers, from “someone”, or “something”, and may find a temporary shift in our mood or being.
A guru here, a life-coach there, a member of this or that church, a friend, an elder relative…we turn to any or all of them. We go to our medical practice, to a counseling service, a retreat, a clinic…we seek what we need in any or all of them. We distract ourselves from our real needs by filling the void with people in groups or clubs in which we have no real interest; we go on a shopping spree; we go on a drinking binge – alone, or with other people…we try to find what we’re looking for anywhere.

Does it work? Do any of them work?
Some do, whether by coincidence – a connection between the ‘source’ and our situation, or real effect. Some don’t – from a lack of connection between the ‘source’ and our situation, or lack of a real background of applied theory.
Me? I’ve not had a lifetime of settled emotions, nor of constant good health. I’ve had times when I’ve faced misery, misfortune and misjudgment. Having a vivid imagination hasn’t helped keep my head clear of disruptive thoughts (“stinking thinking”, as it is known in some circles). I’ve blame-shifted. I’ve grown my resentment by never expressing it to anyone who mattered. I’m guilty of having at times expected more than was possible of myself, and worse, of others in my life. I’ve chased my own ‘gurus’ of one type or another. Neh – hasn’t worked.

Time for a change! Time for a kick up the proverbial. And I have to be the one to do it! I got myself into this mess – and that being unknowingly, does not change who’s responsible for where I go to from here. I have to make the change – me, myself, on my own.
But…but where to start?
Books.  Why not? A one-off price, available at any time you need, the facility to return to earlier sessions and review what you’ve faced, learned, or wondered at. Portable. Permanent.  You can annotate them, highlight, turn corners down to mark great passages (hold that ‘gasp’, please – bear with me here… Oh, alright, you can tuck a card bookmark in them). And now, the question arises :: Which Books?

cover_King james BibleWell, the Holy Book is a start.
Christian or not, I’ve lugged my Bible with me wherever I’ve lived. Firstly a small version of only The Bible, now a fully annotated King James Version. I hear a quote, and check the whole Chapter. Maybe even that before and that after the one I’m reading.
Please take note: the Christian Bible is not the only Holy Book.
The Torah to those of the Jewish faith, and the Koran for those of the Muslin faith, are of equal significance to their people. All three religions are collectively known as the Faiths of The Book – and not for nothing.

For me, coming back to The Bible arose from a most unusual inspirational book. For my last year (to my shame) I had spent my non-learning moments at a Catholic Convent Girls’ Boarding School – as a “day girl” – denigrating the Catholic beliefs. This for the spiteful reason of denigrating the school, inadequate as it was. But the nuns (and my parents) had more patience (tolerance) than I had realized. I could not get myself expelled for any reason. So, because of my determination to “strike” during my whole last year of compulsory education, I never did qualify.
{Grumbles to self – “All that work for nothing!”

cover_Mr God This is AnnaThe book which brought me back to the Bible was an unusual one. A tale of a London dock-worker who late one night on the street befriends by accident a four-year old child. At home, his mother and the rest of the household discover the child has been a victim of physical abuse. She never leaves their home, but attaches herself to the writer.
He in turn is educating himself, and as the girl observes his gadgets being created and working, and as he observes her “way” of interacting with other dock-side people, and questioning Sunday Services and other people’s interaction, each helps the other come to understand life…and God.
Even in the sadness of the final scene, there is a moving message.
The book is Mister God, This Is Anna, by Fynn. Look for editions which include the Foreword written by the then Archbishop of Canterbury. This is the book which made me do more than drop in on the Bible, but read it – a continuing process.

Now, what brought this post about…I am struggling with artist’s block. And I’ve been looking all around the wide, wonderful web, at blog, self-help and writers’ help sites, reading how other writers deal with this. If I’d saved everything I’d read, I’d fill an external hard-drive. Then, I found mention of firstly, “Morning Pages”, and then of a particular book. Reviews on Amazon, and blog posts describing and recommending it, led me to the author’s website. As soon as I read the website’s content, I shot back to Amazon, and purchased it.

cover_Artists WayIt is The Artist’s Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron. Mine is the 25th Anniversary Edition – that alone helped me decide it was worth a shot. When it arrived, I browsed the contents (read the T O C), and began with the Foreword and Introduction. There arose a glimmer of hope.
This is more than an artist’s self-help book. It is a life book! Ms. Cameron’s guide to self-examination is presented as weekly readings, with probing self-analysis, questions to ask oneself, and suggestions for finding the answers. Hers is the concept of “Morning Pages”, of which I’d begun written a few while awaiting delivery of her book—albeit not every morning.
The Artist’s Way applies to all the arts, design, and creativity in general—and writing is one of the creative arts. I began Week One, and within only two days discovered something important bout myself and my artistic efforts in the past. (I continued through the first week’s Tasks, and am writing this as part of the end-of-week Check In.)
My discovery about my past art attempts has led me to renew my interest in visual art. Which leads me to the fourth book of impact.

cover_Drawing With ChildrenThe fourth book? Back in the 90s, I was laid up recuperating for plastic surgery for metastatic melanoma. Well, not really “laid up” – being in that state was to wait for the late 2000s – but resting each day in a LazyBoy chair, leg raised. I had a book in a back room which I’d bought for using to teach drawing to children, but never at that point opened and read. I asked for it to be brought to me, and a pencil.   By reading through the beginner activities in Drawing With Children *, by Mona Brookes, and trying some of the tasks (drawing in the wide margins) I found I could draw. I drew a self-portrait, from my reflection in a nearby wall mirror. I drew a perfect drawing of my jacket which had been left for days draped from the back of a chair, in such a way that both the outer side (dark blue, with metal studs for fasteners) and the lining (a broad tartan) in view.
So confidant I felt after creating those drawings, I began using Brookes’ method in my Junior Primary classes, for three years. Moving on to HOD of the Intermediate division of a secondary school, I applied the techniques there as well.

Sadly, I decided to quit teaching. Nothing to do with the job—more to do with the ridiculous over assessment required under the most recently deployed new curricula.
Even more sadly, after graduating in IT, I “culled” my teaching books collection, and tossed the Brookes’ Drawing With Children.
But, since beginning to read The Artist’s Way, I have bought a later edition of Drawing With Children.
* (My first copy was the edition with a child’s drawing of an elephant on its cover.)

All four of these books have given me inspiration, understanding, and courage. I am so grateful to have all four beside my bed, to read and refer to regularly.
I would strongly recommend any of these as a “must have” in your book shelves.

Please, share your views on any one of these books, or any other book you have found inspiring to your artist.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Futures Past.” : As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that dream?

As a “kid” of sixteen (my final year of secondary school), if anyone asked me “what do you want to do when you leave school?” my reply always was the same. It shocked my mother so much that every time a customer (in our family dairy, where I worked after school and weekends she would interrupt and find a “job” for me to do in the back room.

“I’m going to be an educated bum.”

My feelings were based on my decision at the beginning of that school year to go “on strike” at school. And that was based on three years of attending a school at which a very, very small number of the teaching nuns were trained as teachers. The school was ill equipped, text books were years out of date,  we never worked once in the science lab, and the atmosphere was gloomy–except for the grounds, to which I would retire during catholic education classes, on the pretext of going to the grounds to study … whichever subject that nun also taught me.

I had barely scraped through the previous year’s qualification, School Certificate. At the time the passing requirements were a 60% pass in English, and enough %ages in four other subjects to amass more than 200 marks. I managed 204. And the only two reason I managed that were…

  • As an Elocution student since the age of twelve, I had learned much about the classics for performance reading in the annual exams. I had been so good a student that by the end of Fourth Form my elocution teacher had offered to allow me to study during the following year for an Elocution teacher’s certification. I had decided not to, as that would have been on top of studying for School C. (These days, I realise I should and could have done both.) But what I’d learned made the School C English exam a doddle.
  • At the dairy, among the magazines was one of those collection publications – buy one a week, maybe the binders, and by the end you had The Purnell’s Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the Second World War *. My dad allowed me a magazine weekly, and I would take it to school and read it whenever I could. And re-read it, many times over. When I went into the exam room for School C. History, I dreaded it, as I knew our school lessons had been worthless. But the second question was “Explain the many factors in Europe which led to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, and its consequential effects.” Bonanza! I spent the whole three hours writing just on that question alone, asking the invigilator for extra answer paper.

As for other subjects… I had studied Biology by asking the lads from the state school when they came into the dairy for a milkshake or ice-cream “Are you studying Biology tonight?” and if he/they weren’t, I’d borrow their Biology text and read it between customers, and he/they would collect it from the dairy on their way to school the next morning. For their cooperation, dad would give them a free mince pie. Sadly, I didn’t get a good exam result – just enough to get barely over the required 40% pass.

Hence my flippant response.

On my final day at school, I walked into the dairy to work, and Mum pointed across the shop to me …

“You start work at the accountant’s on Monday.” That was that. (Imagine that happening these days? Yeah, right.)

After a year there, they let me go. So I decided (much to Mum’s delight, she being a teacher) to try teacher training college. At the interview for selection, I was asked the usual …

“And what makes you want to be a teacher?”

“I don’t really. I can’t honestly say ‘because I love children’. I just want to have a go, and see how I feel after qualifying.”

“Well,” said one of the selection panel. “That’s probably the first honest answer we’ve heard. We’ll see you in Kelburn in February.”

How easy was that? And although I took a break during training, I did graduate and qualify. The certificate is framed. and leaning against the base of the wall, waiting for new glass. I’ve taught full and part-time children at all levels of compulsory education, some years of part time work in a different class level each half-day. I’ve taught in the State system and in a private secondary school. I held a Principal teacher (sole charge) in a way-out-back rural school. I’ve taught in the WASP communities, and in mixed ethnic communities. I’ve taught gentile mother’s little darlings, and hard-case forgotten children. I’ve lectured at tertiary level, after taking a degree in I.T.

And loved it all.

* Title may be “off”…the long-term memory is set to write-only/

Outburst of Rage – (Daily Prompt)  Krista posted: “Tell us about a time when you flew into a rage. What is it that made you so incredibly angry?


I was aged sixteen, in Sixth Form at a Catholic Girls’ School for my final year, and there under much reluctance. No – that’s not strong enough – bottled fury would be closer.

You see, I’d done my first three years secondary school education at this school, and by the end of Fourth Form I had realised the staff were not effective at teaching, the classes were well over-stuffed, the text books were grossly outdated, and the curriculum was designed to split the girls into two streams – “academic” and “commercial””, regardless of a pupil’s talents or interests. I had as good as failed the national School Certificate examination at the end of Fifth Form – a 60% pass in English and a 50% pass in three other subjects was required. I ‘d passed with a total of only 204 marks.

Passing at all was the result of, every school evening working in my parents’ “dairy” (NZ term for I guess a US drug store), I would ask every state school student who called in for a milk shake or ice-cream cone what books he had in his bag, could I borrow it overnight and he pick it up from the shop in the morning. Those modern texts were the only way I learned a small amount of math, a smaller amount of French and a heck of a lot of history. I’d finish up at the dairy at 9:30, walk home with Dad, watch a bit of t.v. with him (The Virginian, The Untouchables, Dean Martin Show…) off to bed and rise at five in the morning to study.

When I received my pathetic results I asked my parents to transfer me to the town’s state school. They refused (the costs of a new uniform for one year, probably). I swore that returning for Sixth Form would be a waste of their money, a waste of the nuns’ time, and a waste of my time, as I would be “on strike” from day one. It made no difference – I was in the Convent school’s Sixth Form classroom on day one.

And on strike.

I refused to carry exercise or text books from school to home. I read war comics in class. In “study break” (when the nuns left us thirteen senior students unsupervised) I would bring out an electric kettle,  send a boarder to the school kitchens for a jug of milk, and we’d gulp instant coffee, regale each other with the female version of BS, and no one would get any study done.

During religious education lessons (I was a non-Catholic) I would openly scoff at the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Faith, until one day the teaching nun said that that day’s lesson was for Catholics only, so would I mind taking some study material to the Library. I headed off, got a few paces along the corridor and stopped. I went back. As I walked in again, the catholic girls’ faces were stunned.

“Excuse me, Mother – if this is really a lesson for catholic girls only, why are Irene and Sue still here and not asked to leave?”

“You don’t want to leave the room?”

“Not under that pretence, thank you,” and I sat down in my seat.

“Very well–Catholic girls, pick up your materials and we shall work in the library. Maria – ask the caretaker to come and light the Library fire for us please.” And she sailed out (nuns always sailed out), followed meekly by the good catholic girls. Lynne – nil; nuns – one.

No matter what I tried I could Not get them to expel me – they knew about my Strike, you see, and weren’t going to give me the satisfaction. So there I was full of hostility, frustration, impotent to change things…

And as we sat one day, gossiping, me for a change actually reading a history magazine, a girl sat on a desk behind me, swinging her foot to rap against my wooden chair back. I remember gritting my teeth. I turned around to her and said with controlled courtesy

“Please stop doing that – it is annoying me,” and turned back to my magazine.

She persisted.

I turned around a second time.

“Believe it or not, I am actually wanting to study this magazine. I’ll ask you a second time – stop kicking my chair back. Thank you” and turned to my own desktop again.

After a pause, she began again. Again I turned around to her.

“This is the third and last time I will ask you. Please, stop kicking the back of my chair. If you continue, the consequences will be yours, not mine.”

I turned back to my desk again. By now, almost all conversation in the room had stopped. I sat over my magazine, thankful that five years of elocution lessons had taught me how to control my voice and tone. I know I was looking at the desktops beside mine.

When the stupid girl began again, I grabbed the heavy Catholic Prayer Book from the neighbouring desk, swung around and cracked her knee-cap. The snap echoed in the silent room, but was soon covered with her scream of pain. She tried to leap off the desk and hurl herself at me, but made the mistake of trying to land on the leg with the broken knee cap. She buckled, shrieked again …

… and the door hurled open as two nuns rushed in. They were Furious with me, although they did accept that I had given her three warnings (I did have some friends in the room).

What actually made them even angrier was my choice of weapon – the Prayer Book!

The girl with the knee was packed off to hospital, where they pinned her patella, plaster-cast her leg, and she was excused sport for the remainder of the year – dang it.

So, in all honesty (now) the kicking of my chair back was only a trigger for the inner rage at being stuck in a useless school. I cannot even remember who the girl was. (She probably remembers me rather well, poor cow.)

Funny “Ha-ha” – daily prompt

Funny Ha-Ha

As a child, I was talkative, with a good-sized vocabulary for my age, as I read early and lots of different material. We (sister and I) used to listen to radio comedy shows, and my Dad had a wicked sense of humour. I would often get into trouble at school, by making “smart-mouth” wise cracks aside from the teacher’s lesson.
Then I was sent to elocution lessons, as I was speaking poorly, due to my brain working faster than my speech organs could keep up. During the study of elocution, I came to learn how people’s accents were formed by the placenment of lips, tongue, use of hard or soft palate and teeth, upper throat constriction etc.
And, along came television. Black and white, one channel, showing dreadful locally produced shows, US westerns, and classier dramas and more significantly comedies from the UK. Accents! Lots of them!

And, thanks to the elocution lessons, I could reproduce the accents. The first I mastered was Harold Corbett playing Harold Steptoe (Steptoe & Son), with the running gag line “You Dirty old man!”,  Warren Mitchell as Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part,, Michael Crawford as Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do ’Ave ‘Em. and the whole cast and scripting of It Ain’t ‘Alf ‘Ot, Mum.
In my final secondary school year, attending a Catholic Girls Boarding School, I was the only pupil (being a “day girl”) who got to see the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night. During class study classes, without a supervising nun, I would repeat the film’s dialogue and sound effects and entertain the other twleve girls in the class.
I mastered the double entendre and innuendo, so could (and did) slide the odd line into conversations at parties, leaving total strangers snickering or bellowing with laughter, often directed at one of their party.
But, am I good at comedy? Not really – just a bit of a show-off, and making strangers laugh was easier than getting to know people closely.

But humour definitely plays a role in my life. When at age seven /eight I got my first pair of glasses, my Dad prepared me for the inevitable school teasing, by spending the weekend calling me every nickname anyone would come up with for a wearer of glasses. I was teary at first, but after a weekend of it, and it becoming less and less painful and more and more amusing to try and imagine “new” nicknames, Monday was a breeze. Yep, the kids in school tried them all… “Four-eyes”, “Specs”, “Goggles”, “Glassy”, “Frame-face” – and I was able to laugh them off, suggest far more interesting nicknames – and leave them at a loss of how to take it. (What? She didn’t cry?)
I’ve used humour to defuse playground fights – “Oy! Don’t punch ‘im – pull the hairs on ‘is legs!”. When a pupil did something angry-making, I’d use humour – “Do that again, and I’ll rip your arm off and hit you over the head with the soggy end.” (Not an original line, that one – a steal from a Brit comedy.)

Over the years I’ve found that words considered offensive become funny if delivered in the right accent. Who’s not laughed at Father Ted’s routine…
“Fether, what would ye say tae a nice cup o’ tae?”
“Feck off, cup!”
There are funny people, and there are comedians. And as a rule, US TV comedy is not funny. I, as most Nzers do, prefer Brit comics. Benny Hill, Morecombe & Wise, Kenny Everett, Dick Emery, and other UK comic actors, brought from the variety show heritage, set a standard for comedy not matched by many “new” comedians. Stand-up comics – I can only name a few, and they are … completely forgotten right now, so fleeting an impression did they make.
Of the latest comedians on screen, those I rate most highly are Catherine Tate in her own show, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in Absolutely Fabulous, Miranda Hart in her own show.

In real life – the funniest person I know would have to be either (on equal footing) my husband, or my daughter’s fiancé . Both have a wicked sense of fun, are quick with rib-cracking innuendo and wise-cracks. I love them both. They can also be poranksters or practical jokers, and bring fun into the routine of daily life.
Humour can relieve boredom, lighten a mood, split tension, entertain, provide a “way in”, and make and keep friends. Blessed is he who brings a smile to your face, a twinkle to your eye, and a chuckle to your lips.

© Lynne R McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2013

In response to the daily prompt of 26 August ’13 at
“Do you consider yourself funny? What role does humor play in your life? Who’s the funniest person you know?”