Age 82 I had finally written a memoir. While the book dealt with family events, it more so told the story of 14 years of life in a god-forsaken, bloody, bastard town way up in the North of Australia in the Northern Territory.
I had come to Australia in 1958, following my fiancée from Germany. I was young, brave and full of bravado: no English, no money, NO PROBLEM!
I flew directly into Darwin from Cologne. Who had ever heard of Darwin then? Not I nor a lot of Australians either. We lived a unique life up there among people who were often eccentric. If you take the characters of They’re a weird mob, Crocodile Dundee and Red Dog – I have met them all in those years in Darwin.
I quickly ‘grew’ into an Australian, a true sheila. Marriage and two daughters followed. Friendships were forged that lasted a life time. I wanted to preserve those years, the inimitable life style. I chose BLOODY, BASTARD, BEAUTIFUL as the title of my memoir because we fell in love with Darwin and the bloody, bastard town became beautiful.
I sent the manuscript to the Historical Society of the Northern Territory. They loved it because it depicted life in Darwin during the years from 1958 until 1972 when I left. It was history.
Then things started to go wrong. Two days before leaving for Darwin for the launch, I did not pay attention to where I was going and promptly crashed onto the footpath. Phew, nothing broken but shoulder hurting like hell, left wrist throbbing with pain and a big gash out of my middle finger. The next day my nose started to run like a waterfall and I felt just awful. With the help of Panadol and my two girls I managed to pack and get me onto the plane.
Before landing in Darwin, Susan handed me a Mintie. “Chew this, mum, it will help your ears when we go down.” I chewed. Then I felt something hard and spat it out: it was the crown of one of my teeth. My two daughters collapsed with laughter in their seats. “What next Mum?”
I had hoped that a member of the HSNT would be at the airport to greet us when we arrived and to finally bring the book. There was no person from the HSNT, there was no book.
I was trying to reconcile myself to the fact that I would have a book launch without a book. I rang the president of the HSNT and he assured me there would be a book and it would be nice. Oh yeah? Daughters, friends and I drowned our anxiety in champagne in the hotel.
About 50 people had accepted my invitation, including the Mayor of Darwin. I mentally prepared a speech, in which I would announce that instead of a book launch we would just have a ‘party’ when everybody arrived.
They came, they were poured champagne, they mingled, they greeted old friends, they looked! Where was the book? The members of the HSNT had not yet arrived, I was past worrying.
Then I saw Kim coming towards me, hiding something behind her back. There was a big smile on her face as she thrust the book into my hands. It was beautiful and sold like hot cakes. There must be a special Saint for authors and I thank him or her from the bottom of my heart that they made sure that I eventually had a book at its launch.
Born in Germany but true-blue Darwinite by 1960, Mocco is now a recognised poet and author who lives in Brisbane. She has nine poetry books published as well as winning prizes for poems published in newspapers and anthologies. Her memoir Bloody, Bastard, Beautiful was published in July 2017.