Farewell, Gillian Mears

This is a sharp departure from my usual posts. No drawings. No jokes.

It’s a tribute to one of my favourite writers – Australian author Gillian Mears – who died this week, aged 51.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing her and corresponding with her for a while in 2003-2004. If you have the stamina, here’s a long-form article I wrote about Gillian Mears during that time.

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Brought to you by the number 7

When I was in kindergarten, I used to knit in the school playground. This lasted about a week, until the teacher on duty told me knitting needles were dangerous and I was not to bring them to school anymore. I was baffled; despite what the name implies, my needles were flimsy plastic ones and utterly blunt. I complied, nonetheless, and I never did finish that scarf.
Cartoon of a little girl in school uniform with knitting needles held above her head like weapons. The caption reads, "Lethal knitting ninja".

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Slaying Santa

Now that Christmas is in sight, I am once again readying myself for The Conversation.

It won’t be the first time I’ve had to do it, but it never gets any easier.

Each year they ask me about it, but no-one actually wants to hear the answer. As soon as the first sentence leaves my mouth, they swell with outrage, they call me a Grinch, they tell me I’m No Fun At All.

Mind you, these aren’t my kids we’re talking about – these are my friends and acquaintances. Typically they’re people with younger children, and they’re weighing up the best time and way to break the news about Santa in their household.

They ask: “When did you tell your kids?”, “What did you say?”, “How did they react?”

But I’m no help whatsoever, because I’ve never been in that situation.

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Predilection for fiction

Cartoon of a garbage bin with high heels, books and cans inside.

I have a friend who no longer reads novels.

She used to, but that was before we knew each other. When we met, she had a pile of books stacked next to her coffee table, up to the height of my thigh.  She’d read all of them, except the one on top, which she’d gotten partway through and stopped reading – not only it, but all fiction, altogether.

A few months back she did a spring clean and the books disappeared along with the expired cans of food, obsolete paperwork and an incredible array of shoes that were easy on the eye but extremely unkind on the feet.

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Why humans love fire

A few years ago, my son spotted a remote control helicopter out the back of a charity shop as we dropped off some clothes. He immediately wanted to buy it.

Unfortunately, the bloke at the store said he couldn’t sell it to us. Because it was a potentially dangerous, untested electronic item, he was supposed to throw it away.

However, he mused, perhaps he could trust us to take it and throw it away for him? Wink wink nudge nudge.

My son joyfully brought the helicopter home, powered it up and launched it high in the air on its maiden flight. It span briefly at its apex, burst into flames and plummeted to the ground, smashing on impact.

Far from being disappointed, he was thrilled by the unexpected outcome.
Drawing of a boy holiding a remote control and looking up at a burning helicopter, saying "It's on fire!!"
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When you know you are falling

There’s a stretch of sweet terrain between anxiety and depression that feels almost like bliss. Because when I find myself there, the tumult of anxiety falls quiet.

Drawing of a girl looking worried, with negative words swirling around her.Drawing of a girl cupping her hand to her ear, with the words "Everything is shhhhh" above her.

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The joy of anticipation

Anticipation can be one of the best parts of a holiday. Planning where you’ll go and what you’ll do can stir up a sense of excitement long before you go away. And it can colour the way you experience the holiday itself.

Cartoon of a girl saying, "I've looked forward to this for so long and now I'm actually doing it!"

The internet heightens this experience, exposing us to troves of photos and stories that help us plan and visualise the holiday. It also simplifies the logistics – because these days you can book almost every aspect of your holiday online.

Unless you have a significant physical disability, that is. In which case you can book almost no aspect of anything online, ever. Including holidays.

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