Written by Robyn Swanson
I contacted the Australian government twice to volunteer my services as an entertainer in Vietnam and both times they knocked me back. Then in 1968, a good friend of mine (who still is), Shirley Simmons, got in touch with me.
“How would you like to go and work in Vietnam for three months, Barry?” she asked.
Shirley was a singer and a clever business woman who put shows together for the American troops. She offered to pay me $200 a week. Of course, I said yes.
After we finished our show in the sergeants’ mess, I walked to the bar at the back and asked for a beer. A young soldier was sitting there, staring into space.
“G’day, chum,” I said. “How are ya?”
He glanced at me with empty eyes and said in a flat voice, “I enjoyed your show.”
“Thanks,” I said. “Are you all right?” I’ll never forget the answer he gave.
“I killed my first man today,” he said.
What can you say to that? Nothing is appropriate. Nobody knows how hard it is to kill someone. There were a couple of times when I had to hold a gun and I was stuffed if I could pull the trigger. I decided to let him get over his grief in his own time.
From “Grandpa’s Story”
Written by Robyn Swanson
“Grandpa’s Story” is the story of John Evans, born in Ireland in 1853, who emigrated to Australia in 1874 and spent his working life as a teacher in rural NSW.
If you would like a copy, please email [email protected].
From “He Died in the Light”
by Leonie Hosey
Edited by Robyn Swanson
Over the years I wondered what it would it be like to have one of those ornery, spitting, kicking, loveable animals. So I asked Bill if I could buy an alpaca, and would he look after it for me. He stupidly said, “Of course!”
An opportunity came to buy one of his animals. He didn’t really want to sell it, but he needed to raise some money, so I bought a share of one, then another. He then informed me that to be a good owner, I needed to show the animals, and as there was a show coming up, he would enter them. Well, lo and behold, they both won ribbons. I was an owner of two champion alpacas!
A couple of shows later, I overheard a woman telling Bill that she had to sell her herd as she was breaking up with her partner. I jokingly said to Bill, “Ask her how much for the whole herd?” He looked at me and said, “The whole herd?”
“Why not?” I said.
He got back to me a week later to say she had decided not to sell the herd, but then he said, “I’ve found a better herd. The only drawback is they’re up in Inverell.” Of course, that meant a bigger cost to transport.
At this stage, I hadn’t even mentioned any of this to Warren; he had a way of raining on my parade and stopping me doing the things I wanted to do. Now I thought I‘d better tell him. Of course he had a fit, but eventually, after some compromises, we went ahead. ‘Leonie’s folly’ is what he called it; I called it my being independent and letting go of the restrictions I had placed on myself because of my strict upbringing.
“HE DIED IN THE LIGHT” is the story of Leonie Hosey, a medium, spiritual healing channel and homoeopath, and her husband Warren, the head of the School of Computing at the University of Western Sydney. Before he passed away in 2008, he asked Leonie to write their story.
To buy a copy, go to http://www.thegoldenray.net.au/books/he-died-in-the-light-a-love-story-book
I acknowledge and pay my respects to the Dharawal people, the traditional owners and custodians of the land where I work and live.