Merry in March: Mel and Shell

by | Mar 21, 2021

Happy equinox to you, Dear Reader!

I am fantabulously excited to let you know that the ABBA novel, as was its working title, now has not only a launch date (September) but an actual cover (see below). The blurb and a sample chapter is now available here. Thank you Fremantle Press for such an inviting cover to the story of Mel, Shell and Scary Sharon; horses, rollerskating, and puppies; and how we think about the past in the present.

1979 was the year of ABBA’s Voulez Vous, rollerskating, Skylab (incomparably written about by Meg McKinlay), the Mucky Duck Bush BandLeela as Tom Baker’s companion in Dr Who, and the Year of the Child.

[Aboriginal readers please note: the text below contains references to people who have died].

If you were a primary school kid in Western Australia in 1979, it was hard to miss the whipped up enthusiasm around the celebrations of 150 years of white settlement.

Less commonly mentioned in schools was that at 1979’s New Years Eve concert, Noongar leader Ken Colbung, hired to play the didgeridoo, handed the Governor an eviction notice, wittily reproduced on the same form as those presented to Aboriginal people being evicted from Homeswest properties.

WA 1979 Memorabilia
Thanks to Hesperian, Creative Commons

I remember wondering (possibly due to reading the Little House on the Prairie series) what had happened to the Aboriginal people who had been around in 1829, and dug in the banks of the Canning river to see if I could find their artifacts (I didn’t realise their descendants were all around, despite the government’s best efforts). I tried to imagine what Perth would have looked like without all the roads and buildings, and felt sad, imagining how those people would have felt, watching the boats come in.

I am so proud of this book, and grateful for the continuing connection I have with old primary school buddies who helpfully supplied memories, anecdotes, cartoon names, and jingle earworms. Thanks to the fun nostalgia of the Perth Reflects Facebook Group (and Warren Duffy). Thanks to the patient staff at the State Library of WA for providing a haven and microfiche self service

And most especially, thanks to Dr Nobbly James, to whom the book is dedicated, and whose continuing friendship, wisdom, wit, and ABBA paraphernalia is appreciated beyond words.

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