In The Australian War Memorial: A century on from the vision, Steve Gower, the highly successful director of the Australian War Memorial from 1996 to 2012, gives a comprehensive account of the development of the Memorial from its inception just over a century ago.
The book recounts the many challenges in establishing the Memorial and then in developing further its galleries and displays, the extensive collection, associated events and the overall supporting facilities. It also goes behind the scenes to provide insights into the many facets of a major, modern cultural institution.
In this extract from the final chapter of the book, Gower reflects on the importance of the Memorial, as well as the way the Australian people. have interacted with the Memorial over the years; some with disdain and contempt, others with a sense of solemn pride. He notes that directors past, present and future have always had the betterment and preservation of the Memorial at the front of their mind.
It seems relevant to ask why so many people are interested in what happens at the Australian War Memorial and why such passion is aroused at different times. I would suggest the reason is that the Memorial deals unmistakably with an agreed, major Australian narrative, not the only one but. arguably the principal one, which had its origins in the Gallipoli campaign and which has resonated with successive generations. That narrative has been challenged and dismissed by some: others demand that it be interpreted their way. Minorities have attached what they believe it stands for and have confidently predicted its imminent demise. Notwithstanding, the narrative has survived and is probably stronger now than it has ever been. It belongs to the Australian people, with all their strengths, weaknesses, pride, foibles. and innate decency, who by their support have expressed their satisfaction with its very essence. it comes from the people voluntarily, not imposed from above.
The Australian War Memorial, as a custodian of the narrative, belongs to all Australians. It’s not owned by the defence force, whose members carry the burden of the nation’s expectations that they live up to the values implicitly recorded there. I have no doubt that can be a source of strength and resolution for them in fulfilling their duty. The .institution is not owned by veterans, despite their service and sacrifice and the fact that some regard it as the sacred cathedra of a secular Anzac religion. And it’s certainly not owned by the staff of the Memorial, the Director, historians, curators, or the like. Having said that, every Director and staff member down the ages has believed strongly in the Memorial and had its interests and advancement to the forefront of their minds.
The greatest privilege conferred on all staff is holding temporary stewardship of the narrative. and its contemporary meaning. In accepting this task, it’s their challenge to meet the collective high expectations the general public has of this great. and uniquely Australian institution. This sometimes requires a degree of resilience and fortitude not usually associated with museums and a sensitivity to nuances and subtleties.
In 2015 I asked Peter Burness, that long-serving. servant of the Memorial, what he thought Bean’s reaction would be were he to come back now. Burness thought he’d be thrilled. Bean’s vision had not only blossomed. but flourished, perhaps well beyond his original dreams. he might even be a little surprised by. the esteem with which it is held by the public, and its prominence as the central repository of .Australia’s remembrance of war. The Memorial is a great tribute to his. determination, persistence, and powers of persuasion in seeking the fulfilment of his vision.
As for Treloar, I believe he, too, would be pleased, but as an undemonstrative, hard-working, self-contained man, it is probable that he would suppress any satisfied smile. But inwardly, he’d be very proud of seeing how the place to which he’d devoted his life had progressed. His life’s work has become a lasting legacy, as he had hoped.
Both would be well pleased with how the record has been guarded over the last century. And so should anyone else who has been associated with the Memorial, in whatever capacity.
Steve Gower was Director of the Australian War Memorial between 1996 and 2012. He is a Duntroon graduate and Vietnam veteran who gained an Honours degree in Engineering from the University of Adelaide, followed by a Masters degree by research. He spent 37 years in the Australian Army, attaining the rank of major general before resigning to become the ninth Director of the Australian War Memorial, a position he held for over 16 years.
To purchase a copy of The Australian War Memorial: A century on from the vision, visit us in our Mile End bookshop, give us a call on (08) 8352 4455, or find the book in our online web shop.
Over two weeks we’re sharing summaries of and extracts from some Wakefield Press gems, in blog posts put together by work experience student Maddy. (And yes, we briefly had two Maddys in the office! Never enough Maddys, we say.)
In this extract from The Hounded, Monty finds himself alone with beautiful Eliza from next door, and in her bedroom no less …
“You enjoyed it, didn’t you? Watching her suffer like that?”
“What if I did?” she grinned.
What if she did? She was not going to hide it. She’d accepted her nature long ago. It was now up to me to accept the darkness. I’d got her so wrong.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “It was my fault.”
Her look softened and she shook her head in disdain, refusing my apology. A knock on the door startled us.
“Quick! Get in there,” she ordered.
I hurried into her bathroom. She closed the door on me, and I stood in the dark, trying not to move. Blood gushed through my veins. The noise was a roaring loudspeaker in my ears. I was sure the sound would give me away. Wasn’t there some Voodoo guy in Haiti who could stop his heartbeat, just by thinking about it? Now, that was control. I thought I’d give it a go and held my breath. I concentrated on my heart, willing it to stop, or at least slow down a bit. It didn’t work. I just made myself dizzy.
“Eliza, dinner’s ready.”
“Thanks Doreen,” Eliza replied. “But I’m not hungry.”
I pictured the scene in the bedroom. Doreen would have the door open just enough to peer in tentatively. Eliza would be seated on the end of her bed, bolt upright with not a thing out of place. By the tension in her throat, I could hear Doreen was unnerved.
“But your father won’t like that,” she whimpered.
“I don’t care what he likes,” Eliza said calmly.
The door closed. A few seconds later, Eliza came into the bathroom to find me holding my breath. I gasped. I began to wobble. A floating gaseousness invaded my feet. I reached out for the shower curtain but missed and passed out. I woke to find myself upside down behind the toilet.
“Why are you such an idiot?” she asked.
“Just the way I am,” I replied.
On his fifteenth birthday, Monty is at rock bottom. Ignored by his parents, bullied at school, and with a brain that’s prone to going walkabout, he’s all by himself.
Until he meets the black dog for the first time.
It’s just like any other dog, except that only Monty can see it. And it talks. And Monty’s not sure whether it’s a friend – or a foe.
The black dog gets him talking to pretty, popular Eliza Robertson for the first time. It takes him to places he’s never been.
Eventually it will take Monty, and the people around him, to the very edge.
The Children’s Book of the Year Awards: Notable Book
Queensland Literary Awards finalist
Shortlisted for the 2014 Adelaide Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award
About the author
Simon Butters is a screenwriter in film and television, living in the Adelaide Hills with his two hilarious kids, a very busy wife, and a scruffy little dog that definitely doesn’t talk but does do a weird grunt when patted behind the ear. Simon’s credits include Wicked Science, H20 Just Add Water, Maiko: Island of Secrets, and others.
We hope you enjoyed this extract from The Hounded. The book is available at our bookshop on 16 Rose Street, Mile End or online.
Big Rough Stones
They surged across King William Street, around and up onto the bronze Boer War horseman at the corner of North Terrace. Ro linked arms with the woman next to her. ‘Take the toys from the boys’, they sang. The hero almost disappeared under a festoon of women, but clung valiantly to his rifle, bronze upper lip stiff. It was his horse who looked most horrified.
Meet Ro at thirty-something. She is committed to cures for every ill from monogamy to orange armpit fungus. Her ambitions are passionate, her energy boundless, her intentions generally good …
Thirty years later, are the edges any smoother?
‘You thought feminism would stop violence against women,’ said Julia. ‘And that would stop war. And stop people trashing the Earth. You tried.’
‘Not alone,’ said Ro modestly. ‘I had help.’
This is a story of community, friendship, sisterhood, and the coming of age that continues all our lives.
Read an extract of Big Rough Stones below.
The road was narrower now and soon began to twist. Trees met overhead. Valleys, green with tree ferns, fell away beside the car. They turned off onto a dirt road that became little more than a track through a gap in the towering forest. Gerry stopped the ute in front of a battered wooden gate.
‘I’ll do it,’ said Ro, reaching for the door handle.
‘I’d better. It’s a bit temperamental.’ Gerry jumped out and Ro watched as she unlatched the gate and lifted it slightly so that it could swing. The gate posts stuck out at odd angles. Ro wound down her window and breathed in the late afternoon air, eucalypt, a touch of smoke and a dark coolness that would be mist in the hollows by nightfall.
‘I’ll have to go straight over to Steve’s and see what’s happening with Lark. Might have to borrow Steve’s float to bring her back.’ Gerry looked up at the sky, gauging the angle of the sun. ‘Or maybe wait till morning for that. But I have to go and see. Thought you could stay here and get the fire going. It’ll be cold tonight.’
The track wound round the side of a steep hill through orchard trees, bright green against the dark background of the forest. They passed a clutter of sheds and curved round to a cup-shaped hollow in the hillside.
‘Here we are,’ Gerry said, voice nervous. ‘I’m still working on it.’
It was a small fibro shack with a chimney pipe sticking out the top. Nothing was square or symmetrical. On one side a lean-to slid down into an apple tree. On the other side a smaller shack was connected by a roofed-in walkway. All three structures were propped up by tanks. The overall effect was fungal, a strange grey mushroom that had sprung from the hillside and was now subsiding back into it again.
But this was not an abandoned ruin. When Ro looked more closely she could see evidence of loving attention. One side of the main shack had been opened out, the wall replaced with stained glass windows at various heights. In front of the house one of the few flat areas had been paved with old bricks. Garden table and chairs had been painted a neat green.
‘It’s beautiful,’ Ro said, moved by the signs of careful work, prepared to embrace any amount of rustic charm.
Gerry eased the tarp off the back of the ute and lifted their packs out.
‘Dot and Maria live the other side of the hill. There a track to their place further along the road. You’ll see tomorrow.’
The house was not locked. Gerry pointed out a basket of kindling, chopped wood and the old Metters stove.
‘What say you light the stove? I won’t be long,’ she said. ‘Oh, and I’ll bring Hester back. Okay?’
Without waiting for an answer she backed out. Ro heard the engine cough into life and the ute recede up the track. She sank into the one armchair. Hester? She, Ro, must have made a mistake. This wasn’t a seduction scene at all, not with someone called Hester staying here as well. The space was tiny.
Surely she hadn’t made the live-in girlfriend mistake? One of the worst in the available range of seduction mistakes, most of which Ro had made. The very worst was to come on to a woman, assuming she was a dyke, and find she was straight. The discovery of a live-in girlfriend wasn’t as bad as that, but disappointing enough.
Her radar couldn’t be that faulty. She and Gerry hadn’t actually discussed it, but none of the signs pointed to a live-in lover. And everyone she’d asked had spoken of Gerry as if she was single.
Now that she came to think about it, Ro wasn’t sure that she herself had mentioned Sascha. That would have to be dealt with. She dismissed the idea quickly. Tomorrow.
Another thought struck her. Could Hester be a daughter? Ro’s heart sank. That would be worse than anything. Gerry looked an unlikely sort for a mother, but who could tell?
Ro jumped to her feet and pushed open the door of the lean-to. Bathroom. And a window in the right place so that you could sit in the bath and look out into the branches of a tree. A chip heater, but no toilet. Must be outside.
She crossed the main room to the walkway and passed through into the one bedroom. The bed was a chipboard platform on milk crates with a mattress on top. No sign of toys or kids’ clothes. Oh well. She’d find out soon enough.
Big Rough Stones is Margaret’s third book with Wakefield Press. Margaret’s previous novel, The First Week (2013) won the Unpublished Manuscript Award at Adelaide Writers’ Week, and then was shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferis Award, the NSW Premier’s Award and the Onkaparinga People’s Choice Award. In 2014, Wakefield Press published her Fables Queer and Familiar, illustrated by Chia Moan. The ‘Fables’ started out as an online serial and they have also been broadcast around the country as a radio serial.
Join us for the launch of Big Rough Stones by Chia Moan at The Joinery on Friday 13 April from 6pm. If you are unable to attend the launch, but would like a copy of the book, visit us at our Rose street bookshop or find it online.
A macabre murder during the Women’s Australian Open golf tournament at one of Australia’s most prestigious golf courses sees food and wine journalist and amateur golfer Rebecca Keith on the murder trail once more. Fortunately, Rebecca’s sleuthing takes her on a journey of eating and drinking through many of Adelaide’s bars and restaurants. Little does Rebecca know that her visits to nearby Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island will reveal clues that will become crucial in the hunt for a killer.
A Royal Murder, a light-hearted thriller full of intrigue and betrayal, features a full cast of eccentric characters set against the rich backdrop of South Australia and its lush food and wine culture.
Read an extract of the book below, as our heroine, Rebecca Keith, is first on the scene of a grisly discovery at the Royal Adelaide golf course.
The Adelaide-to-Grange Line
Rebecca had drunk more than she should have. When the phone alarm went off at five o’clock, she had to stop herself from flinging it across the room. She listened to the news and weather on the radio.
She couldn’t face breakfast and instead spent the extra time in the shower.
It was just before seven o’clock as she walked alongside the railway tracks at Royal Adelaide, heading to her position on the second tee. The course was again bathed in a golden glow. Her footsteps left imprints on the fairway still damp from the overnight watering.
Rebecca heard the train’s whistle, signalling it was about to pull off from the Seaton Park station. She could hear the ding of the boom gates. Within a couple of minutes, she saw the train in the distance as it emerged from the bushes by the fence line and started its journey alongside the fairway. Rebecca was surprised when she heard the train’s whistle again. It startled her. Something was wrong. The train only whistled as it approached walk-crossings on the golf course, and it wouldn’t be approaching one for a few hundred metres. It shouldn’t be sounding its whistle now, nor should it be putting on its brakes. She could tell by the screeching that the train was stopping hard. Rebecca looked along the tracks and spotted a large red duffle-like bag sitting squarely in the train’s path. There wasn’t enough time to stop. She watched as the red bag was flung aside, rolled down the embankment, and came to rest just on the edge of the fairway.
Rebecca stood up and started to jog toward the train. Before she reached it, the driver jumped out of the cab and ran toward the red bag. He looked distressed. Within moments, Rebecca was standing next to him and they were both looking at a bloodied, severed arm lying a couple of metres from the torn bag. The duffle bag appeared to be made from expensive silk, embossed with what Rebecca thought was Chinese calligraphy. She was in no doubt the rest of the body was in the bag. The protruding bloodied leg was a giveaway.
‘Oh my God,’ moaned the train driver as he lowered himself to a crouch on the ground, resting his head in his hands. Rebecca was pretty sure whoever was in the bag was dead, but she needed to know for certain. She walked up to it, undid the drawstring at the top, and gently lowered the silk to uncover the victim’s lacerated face. Rebecca stared. The glazed lifeless eyes appeared to be gazing up to the sky. Rebecca not only knew the victim was dead, she also knew who it was.
Join us at the Beetson Lounge at Grange golf club at 1.00 pm on Tuesday 13 February for the launch of A Royal Murder, in conjunction with the re-release of the first Rebecca Keith mystery, The Popeye Murder. If you cannot attend the launch, but would like to purchase a copy of the books, they can be found on our website, coming soon!
Valour and Violets, the latest release from Wakefield Press, is a meticulously researched catalogue of the stories of hundreds of South Australians who gave their country everything.
Close to 35,000 South Australians enlisted for service overseas during the Great War. Around 5500 never came back. Countless more returned with physical and psychological injuries that would affect them for the rest of their lives.
Valour and Violets brings together for the first time the stories of the campaigns and battles in which South Australians served, set against the backdrop of the South Australian home front. Here are the stories of Frederick Prentice, the first of three Indigenous South Australians to be awarded the Military Medal; Thomas Baker, the gunner who became an ace pilot; and Sister Margaret Graham, awarded the Royal Red Cross for her contribution to army nursing. Here too are lesser known stories, such as that of Alexandrina Seager, who formed the Cheer-Up Society back home and worked every single day during the war, despite losing her youngest son at Gallipoli. Or Clara Weaver of Rosewater, who not only lost five sons to the war but also her husband, George, who died at home before the war ended.
Drawing on the work of the many who have written on the subject previously,Valour and Violets provides a wholly South Australian perspective on the impact of the Great War on individuals, on families and on our state’s coastal, regional, and outback communities.
Copies are available online, and from our bookshop in Mile End.
Special thanks to Veterans SA.
Life as a fifteen-year-old boy is difficult for Sandy Douglas, who’s not only facing the challenges of girls and friendship, but battling the gut-wrenching grief that came from losing his mother.
With his brother Red, who is constantly filled to the brim with rage and his dad, who, despite his best efforts, struggles with their situation, Sandy endeavours to define himself in the Mallee.
Below is the first chapter of Mallee Boys. To read more, or to purchase the book, follow the link to our website, or visit us at our Mile End bookshop.
Chapter 1: Sandy
New Year’s Day
You know, when you walk into a murky river you could step on anything. I’ve never understood how easily some people will just leap on in when they can’t see a thing. I suppose it’s like life; maybe I could do with just stepping in more and looking less.
We’re staying at Uncle Blakey’s shack. We’ve been coming up here every summer for years. The breeze is baking today but at least the air is moving. It’s too hot to even go for a walk, almost too hot to swim, but the lure of the river is tempting, so I’m thinking about it.
‘Sandy, get your arse in here. It’s fine!’ Dad’s yelling from way out in the water.
He’s bright red. His big bald head bobbing on his big round body. A cheerful, bloody snowman. For a farmer he’s a surprisingly good swimmer. In fact he loves it. When we’re at the shack he gets up early and swims for hours against the flow and then drifts back with the current.
I decide to go in.
I wanna be part of the crowd.
The river is a soft brown colour, a perfect mix of water and mud. There’s absolutely no possibility of seeing anything. The mud squelches between my toes as I inch away from the bank. I’ve deliberately chosen the least reedy stretch but even here I can still feel the slippery stalks stroking my legs. I launch off. I’m not out very deep so the slimy bottom skims my bare chest. Yuck. I kick faster and harder to get away.
I swim like a dog, my neck stuck out as far from the water as I can manage.
‘Put your head in, Sandy!’ I can hear Dad heckling me before he fearlessly ducks down.
No way. Walking and swimming in this is bad enough without getting my head in.
I remember when I was learning to swim Dad used to hold me under and I never really got over it. ‘I’m gonna count to three. Here we go. One … two … three.’ His voice was all muffled as he pushed my head down. My body arched hard against his hand, pressing up, praying he wouldn’t mess up the count. So now that I can swim I never put my head in.
The water is cool and it does feel good. I feel clean, washed free of the summer dust. I roll over onto my back. I’d forgotten, since last summer, how nice it is just to float. To let something else do the work.
Dad’s shouting for me to swim over to him but I pretend I can’t hear him. I know if I go over he’ll start tossing me around and pulling my legs under. Then my head will be in for sure. I can hear laughing. Uncle Blakey and Big Joe Barrel have jumped in. They’re all splashing and carrying on, three old farmers acting younger than me.
‘That boy’s got an old head on young shoulders.’ If I had a dollar every time someone said that about me I’d be pretty cashed up by now. Apparently my mum, Ellie, even said it about me when I was baby. I didn’t have those weird rolling eyes that most babies had. I just looked hard and straight at her with my clear blue ones, which never did turn brown like the rest of them. So, why the bloody hell did they call me Sandy?
Think of someone called Sandy and I bet they couldn’t look less me. For a start I’m a boy. I was told the name comes from some rellie back in Scotland but secretly I think it comes from Dad’s first dog. So do I have blond or red hair? No. Do I have a big friendly smile? Nah, not really. My eyes are still blue, my hair nearly black and I’m tall but not filled out yet. I do smile but it’s one of those shy, less-teeth-showy smiles. I’ve left that to my older brother Red. His real name is Josh. Imagine him: a big handsome redhead.
So, un-sandy Sandy I am.
‘Get back over here, mate!’ Blakey calls.
I’m not going over to them. They wanna duck me, for a laugh. I push the back of my head deeper into the water and scull away from them, cocooned in the muffled silence. I don’t really think of sculling as swimming. It’s keeping me up but it’s more like flying, using little flaps of my hands as I look at the sky.
I’ll be sixteen in July, and Year Ten starts in a few weeks. I can’t believe it. This year is a big one, the last before things really change. Our country school is too small to offer much choice in Year Eleven and Twelve. We either have to leave, do some correspondence study – like that’ll ever happen – or go to boarding school in Adelaide or Melbourne.
I decided long ago I wasn’t going to Melbourne: too many bad memories. I flap out a little further into the river. What the hell am I gonna do next year?
I quite like school, not that I’d tell anyone, especially Red. He couldn’t wait to get out of the place and caused a lot of trouble on his way through too. But for me it’s been alright, once they realised I was nothing like my brother. I like looking at things, taking them apart, trying to figure out how everything works. It doesn’t seem hard. In a funny kind of way school makes more sense than a lot of outside stuff.
Dad’s yelling at me. Off they go again. I can hear them all
through the heavy wet.
‘Sandy, shift your arse! Quick! Hurry up!’
The tone is unusual, not the normal knockabout teasing. There’s a bit more urgency.
I roll over onto my stomach and then I see it. What the hell?
‘Sandy, get out of the way!’ But the warning is too late. The big brown thing is gonna hit me.
I launch into a pathetic dog paddle trying to get away. My legs kick in a frenzy beneath me and my neck stretches out like a llama. I feel a bash on the back on my head and it pushes me under. All the shouting from the bank softens. My heart is pounding as old memories of being ducked as a kid kick in. I can’t get the thing off me. I can’t see anything. I push up with my hands and they find something soft but really heavy. My head keeps butting up into it, trying to ram a way through. I panic. My brain doesn’t know what to do. My lungs are bursting. I’m desperate for a suck of clean, fresh air but don’t dare open my mouth. The burning is excruciating.
I can’t believe I’m gonna drown. Not today, surely?
There’s a jerk on the bottom of my legs. Something is yanking me under. This is too much. I can’t fight it anymore. I surrender with one last kick and then my mouth opens, hungrily gulping in water. My body wants it like air and it pours in.
There’s a bashing on my back, heavy and urgent, shaking me around. I’m floppy, with no resistance. My body stiffens. Rigid. Then the water comes splaying out of my throat and my chest heaves as it sucks in real air. Too desperate, I cough and splutter. I’ve got no control. My mouth sucking too hard competes against the spasms of my lungs spewing the water out. Eventually the craving and the coughing subsides enough and my heart settles.
Exhausted, I take a calmer breath. As I open my eyes I see I’m still in the river.
‘Ya right? Ya right?’
It’s Dad. He turns me round to face him, holding me afloat. I see how terrified he is. He hugs me so tight I start coughing again.
‘Bloody idiot, I had to bash the crap out of you.’
But there are tears in his eyes. He just holds me safe and strong till I settle. As his panic and mine begin to subside, he pushes me away slightly. It seems a bit awkward now for a grown lad to be clinging to his wet Dad in the middle of the river. We both get it at the same time and grin.
‘You’ve always been a crap swimmer, Sandy. Sometimes you get so lost in your own bloody head you don’t know what’s going on around you.’
‘Was it a log or something?’ I ask. ‘I just didn’t see it coming.’
‘No, it was a bloody dead cow! Looks like it died upstream and got washed down.’
I hear cheers and moos from the bank. Looking down the river I see the dead cow.
Bloated, floating and limp from trying to kill me.
Available as both a paperback and ebook, Mallee Boys is the winner of the 2016 Adelaide Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award. It is Charlie Archbold’s first publication inspired by her time living in the Murray Mallee region in Australia.
Shavers down, time to hit the store for the best beard balm you can find: it’s Movember. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian men, with 3000 dying of it each year – more than the number of women who die of breast cancer. Turn the focus on men’s health with this excerpt from Peter Endersbee’s memoir, Taking a Punt.
Anna accompanied me to the urologist for the biopsy results. I was still clinging to the possibility it might be benign in spite of the terrible PSA readings. When he came into the waiting room he was wearing a stiff white coat that belied his humble open-faced demeanour. He was tall and dark and handsome and younger than I’d imagined. Early forties. Certainly not the battle-scarred senior partner I’d associated with his field of specialisation. He seemed far too young to be playing God to a waiting room of old and middle-aged men. We were shown chairs, and sat down.
I could hardly bear to look at him. He smiled and praised me for having taken myself off to Casualty after I’d experienced the very flu symptoms he’d mentioned as an unlikely side effect of the biopsy. He said I’d done the right thing. His introductory gambit had my hopes up. It would be downhill all the way and I’d soon be walking out scot-free.
But after referring to more papers he looked me squarely in the eye and said they’d found carcinogenic cells from the biopsy. The PSA result had been bad enough, but hearing that I had prostate cancer was like being mentally winded, a feeling of vertigo. I glanced out the window, the plane trees and clear blue sky suddenly in a different world. I only half heard that my Gleason score was a seven on a scale of one to ten. I was told the Gleason was an indicator of how aggressive the cancer might be based on an aggregate number from the biopsy samples, where anything less than seven indicated a reasonable chance of a good prognosis; anything more than seven did not. The surgeon tried to reassure me that a seven was not so bad, at least it wasn’t an eight or a nine, which he had half expected, given my very high PSA. When I asked him what my chances were without the operation he replied, ‘Five to ten years, taking into account your readings and your age.’
As the first shock waves began to subside, I became aware of Anna taking notes.
On the way home we didn’t say much. Even over cups of tea at the kitchen table it hadn’t sunk in.
‘You’re taking it remarkably well,’ she said.
‘What else can I do?’ I was looking at the picture she’d painted on the teacup from which I was taking controlled sips, wishing I’d never answered the telephone that day. I clutched the soothing ceramic vessel.
‘I will support you in whatever you choose to do,’ she said. ‘We’re in this together.’
Find out more about Taking a Punt here.