Attended a literary luncheon at my local, The Grand View Hotel, this week. The Grandy is the oldest licensed hotel in Qld, and has Brisbane’s best beer garden with sweeping views across Moreton Bay to Straddie ( North Stradbroke Island). She is a fine host and I have enjoyed many celebrations under the palm trees over the years : Graduations, Birthdays, and Engagement Parties.
William McInnes is an Australian television and stage actor, although my personal experience of his thespian talents is limited to an ABC miniseries twenty years ago when he poured himself into a wetsuit. And poured himself so very well, may I add.
McInnes is also an author and writes a weekly column in the weekend paper. He gently touches on social commentary with a dash of whimsy and nostalgia.This weekends article was about undertaking trombone lessons at high school and only ever achieving sounds reminiscent of flatulence. Stupid but we’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Born in Brisbane when she really was a country town McInnes speaks with a distinctive deep voice. When you read McInnes you can hear that voice. He tends to write about nothing in particular and includes memories of growing up by the bay, when times were totally different; when fishing off the Redcliffe Jetty with mates was a top afternoon, as was eating hot chips wrapped in newspaper. These were the days when you were thrilled to receive a watch or a pen with your name inscribed for your 18th birthday, and not a brand new car from Mum and Dad like today’s Muppets.
I read his first book over ten years ago, “A Mans Got To Have A Hobby”, which was literally, advice handed down by his father. Like how to master the handshake.Important stuff.
His latest book is based on a subject that is very close to his heart. Fatherhood is about family, about memories of his father and the memories he’s creating as a Dad himself, with his own son and daughter.
The blurb says that this book “contains memories of hot summer days and cooling off under the sprinkler while Dad works in the garden with the radio tuned to the sports results; that time Dad tried to teach you to drive – and then got out of the car and kissed the ground; or taking your own kids on a family road trip.”
McInnes is a storyteller. He is genuine, modest, and I don’t think he is aware that his stories are so funny. Coming from salt of the earth, hardworking stock his family life has provided the basis for many of his stories. It’s the commonality that makes him so endearing.
This is a tale he shares of his dying mother, which I think sums McInnes’ upbringing in a nutshell.
I walked into the hospital one day to visit Mum and found a Sister of Mercy beside her. She leaned in to tell Mum her son was here. Mum asked, without opening her eyes, “Which one? The fat one or the stupid one?” The sister half-smiled and said, “I don’t know.” Then Mum opened one eye and looked at me and said, “The stupid one has gotten fat.”
I grew up in a household of similar ilk.
McInnes’ wife died when the kiddies were School age.
I was brought up by a Storyteller, a storyteller who flew Lancaster’s over Germany during WW2 yet suffered horrific nose bleeds every time he took me out for a driving lesson. A storyteller who listened to the races on the radio whilst gardening and who taught his daughters about equine bloodlines, how to fix a lawnmower, and who encouraged us to run under a sprinkler on those stinking hot summer days because people who had backyard pools were poseurs. I also lost a mother far too young and was shaped by my family.
I’m probably also the stupid one who has gotten fat.
Great afternoon, thanks Bill.
PS. Some trivia :
This waterway is where Angelina Jolie had the actor playing Louis Zamparini in Unbroken cast adrift in a raft until the Japs picked him up, where Johnny Depp filmed parts of Pirates of The Carribean number 2, and the second Narnia movie was filmed. But that’s another story…..