My Town Magazine, Discover Queensland Edition 8th September 2014 Edition 41 - Page 60

SandCliffe Writers Festival 2014 by Breanda Cross T he 11th century philosopher believed in the simple life. Something many of us strive for in this busy world, but do not achieve. So with the last weekend of winter behind us, and spring ahead, the poet’s sentiments are equally appropriate to a comfy chair under the shade of a tree as much as in front of a warm cosy fire. The Sandcliffe Festival provided the opportunities to not only purchase some good books, but hear from the writers, of the long and weary road associated in writing them. The bizarre circumstances involved in the research of Stephen Bishop’s, expose on Police Commissioner, Frank Bischof, The Most DanDetective, A jug of wine, a loaf of gerousmaterial he were as interesting as the uncovered. Stephen bread and …. a good took us not only through the police corruption scandals from the 1930’s book.” right up to the Fitzgerald Inquiry, but also the extraordinary circumstanc(With apologies to es surrounding the availability of the Omah Khayam) formal documentation on Bischof. Some may well remember the “Australian outrage leading to an inquiry,” back in 2011, when all the files were first found to be missing, then revealed for public scrutiny, (and now locked away again.) The Archivist has since insisted the information “must not be used,” said Stephen with a grin. “And of course I won’t use it, because it’s already in the book.” Lingering Doubts, by Janice Teunis and Deb Drummond is partially about “An ordinary family holding an extraordinary secret.” It’s also about rape, murder, a questionable suicide, and police corruption. The cousins only became aware of this in 2005, and immediately realised the immense burden their parents had carried for so long. So by careful research they began to delve into the 67 year old case in an attempt to resolve some of the questions and many discrepancies of their grandfathers’ conviction. Stephen’s earlier account of police corruption 60 simply gave extra credibility to the writers’ claims that not only was their grandfather innocent, and the investigation full of ridiculous deviations in evidence, but there was good reason to suppose members of the 1940’s police force had gone out of their way to charge an innocent man. A change of pace and style after morning tea, gave us the opportunity to meet with the delightful Aunt Ruth Hegarty, an indigenous writer of extraordinary character. While she had us almost in tears one minute hearing about her woeful childhood as a Dormitary Girl at Cherbourg, she had us laughing the next, as she spoke frankly of some of the twists of her life that came about due to her bold spirit.. “How can you not be bitter and twisted after such treatment?” was a question asked from the floor. “Because it’s all behind me,” was the simple answer. “Once I write about it, it just becomes a story.” Such a story won her the 1998 David Unaipon Award in 1998 when she was 70 years young, and there have been many since then. Jack’s Story, and Suffer the Children are her latest. The Sandcliffe Festival is an amalgam between Shorncliffe and Sandgate, and puts a strong focus on Indigenous writers, as could be seen from other aspects of the weekend programme, including Sam Watson, another award winner. While the two conveners, Cheryl Jorgenson and Adele Moy must be congratulated on their eclectic mix for the weekend events, we should be aware that is comes with the financial support of many local government contributors. We are fortunate that this area is enriched by not only such generous financial support, but the energies of so many people keen to provide us with opportunities to inform and entertain ourselves – all for free. With the cold of winter behind me, I look forward to the summer to find the shade of a tree, a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit. Not quite as eloquent as Omar Khayam, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy that with the addition of one of these excellent books, I’ll enjoy it just the same.