Listening Divas

When we were young, Dad told us bed time stories. They were always silly with us in starring roles.

Dad liked Spike Milligan and AA Milne. Sometimes he’d recite his favourite poems and direct them to one of us. Snatches of AA Milne come back to me at the oddest times, with his poetry of children whose parents run away and cautionary tales to not step on the cracks in the footpath.

Dad’s stories were funny and satirical but sometimes we protested about the way he portrayed us. We were unruly characters, tiny divas, jostling for bigger and more complimentary roles. We directed our storytelling Dad just so.

Our favourite thing was Dad giving us magical powers. We told him the names we wanted and what we should be doing.
‘No I wouldn’t do that.’
‘I should be taller’
‘I need to run faster’
‘I’d jump to … the moon’

We loved to take over his stories. Sometimes our diva listening ways were so out of control they would make our storyteller abandon his tale and he’d grab out the Muddle Headed Wombat book to read to us and do all the characters voices for us. Tabby Cat, Mouse and Wombat became our friends. I read all the books when I had mastered the art of reading.

These stories were important because when we were very small our Dad was often away for long periods working as a labourer. Partly because of not having qualifications from his years in Papua New Guinea and partly due to prejudice over our Mum’s race he found it difficult to get and keep other work.

Our Mum told us when Dad came home after long labouring jobs my little brothers had forgotten who he was, and would hide behind her crying as the strange man with the overgrown beard came to hug us.

When Dad was finally home again for most of the time, we were able to know him again through the storytelling ritual.

Just as we were getting used to on tap Dad, he was away again to study and become a teacher and then later a librarian. Luckily I could read some of the books he had read to us so I didn’t miss him too much. Dad lived in another town with a landlady and sometimes we would visit him.

Dad hitch-hiked home to see us when he had a chance. This time when he came home we would come running out to meet him and my younger brothers would pipe up with ‘a story, a story.’ I listened for old time’s sake.

I was less of a listening diva because by this stage I was writing my own stories – partly thanks to my Dad’s early storytelling efforts to reconnect with his children.

You can read more of June’s Stories at  her blog Pearlz Dreaming

First Published by ABC Open, 500 Words, November 2012

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family will also have broken links when the site goes down on the 30th of June 2019


2 thoughts on “Listening Divas

  1. ABC Open comments

    Jacqui Halpin

    What a lovely story, June. Thank you for sharing it 🙂

    Carolyn Douglas

    What important and influential people dads can be, to those of us lucky enough to experience their love. Great story.

    June Perkins

    Thanks Kate, loved your story of the cliff hanger specialist, your own Dad- sweet! It reminds me also of another family ritual you say a line I say a line that we did with our kids until a couple of years ago, might be time to do it again, perhaps with a campfire under the stars.


    Thanks Diane, Gail and Pam for your kind comments, they are good memories and very precious. Glad to have captured them for my own kids so they can know their grandfather a bit better.

    kate campbell-lloyd

    Very touching June: brought tears into my heart and eyes with your warmth and inside family story. I too had an off the cuff story telling dad who would hold suspense right to the end and then turn to us and say……’till tomorrow night’ and we would ‘no dad, no dad pleeese’! Mother read to us every night that dad didn’t tell us a story. Priceless moments! I’m known to read to my ‘in his 30’s’ son…..who loves to lie there and listen…..still.


    What a wonderful man – thank you for another glimpse into your heart, June – no wonder it is so warm in there.

    Diane Finlay

    Now I know where the story telling passion comes from.

    Pam Farey

    Loved your story June, what wonderful memories.

  2. Reblogged this on Pearlz Dreaming and commented:

    ABC Open will be archived and no longer available at its current spaces after June 30th. They kindly wrote us an email to give us a chance to make sure we had all our stories backed up (which is good practice to do anyway). I am sharing my favourite ABC Open contributions on my memoir blog. If you look up the category ABC Open they will appear there. Not sure if I can save a copy of the documentary on our After Yasi experience done by the ABC, but will see what can be done.

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