Tuesday, April 03, 2012
THE SOUND OF WATER -Former Auckland journalist pens memoir
Valerie Davies new book is about two years of life in a Northland village, partly diary, partly memoir, journal, history. It evokes the natural life, birds, flowers, storms, covers the inner journey of the mind and soul, dips into the past, from memories of living at Belsen in post-war Germany, making music in Malaya, encounters in Hong Kong, to sleeping in a haunted hostel at Waterloo and other memories. It describes intriguing people and incidents, from Lady Mountbatten to Vivien Leigh, Winston Churchill and others. It talks about books and food, friends and gardens.
Valerie Davies is well known to readers of her columns in The Auckland Star and NZ Woman’s Weekly in the seventies and eighties. In her weekly magazine column, she became a voice for solo parents, hither-to-marginalised, and then for families, mothers and children. Her controversial column,Viewpoint in the Auckland Star, was a favourite with both men and women. As Women’s Editor of the Star, she inaugurated the first weekly pull-out for women, covering topics from feminism to child-rearing, to women’s achievements and activities both here and overseas, which had a wide readership..She also contributed to Eve Magazine at this time
Previously she was Women’s Editor of The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Since retiring from journalism she has contributed to The Listener, Grey Power Life style magazine, and parenting magazines. She has published several books., including a much read guide called’ Signposts for Solos’, and a sixteen book series on New Zealand called “This is the way We were”
Before coming to this country, Valerie grew up in an army family, serving in the army herself After marrying and living in Hong Kong she learned journalism on the run when her marriage broke up, and she had to support her children. In 1970 she came to NZ with the children, aged five and six, and arriving with three suitcases, no home, no job, knowing no-one, to start life from scratch in a new country.She applied to The Auckland Star, and was interviewed by the assistant editor, Pat Booth, who gave her a job. They married a few years later and now live in Northland.
Valerie has led an unusual life, living through the blitz in England, working through a stint in post-war Germany with her army family, living in the Beast of Belsen’s flat at Belsen, travelling to school in Malaya in an armoured car convoy through bandit- infested jungle, finding herself trapped in the middle of a Red Guards march in Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution in China,, waking to see a grey- suited man with a stocking over his head in their bedroom during Pat Booth’s fight for Arthur Thomas, and when the Mr Asia gang put a price on her husband’s head, finding that her car had been tampered with to cause an accident.. Since those turbulent days, she and her husband have retired but continue to write and enjoy their children and grandchildren.
To give you a feel for Valerie's style here is her introduction to The Sound of Water:
This isn’t so much a diary of a nobody, as a well stuffed Gladstone bag crammed with the pleasures of books, food, music, memories, stories of war and peace, events and people in far-flung countries, fragments of life and experiences which emerged from their sleep and forgetting into the light of common day, as the date in the diary jogged the memory. So though it began as a diary and a confidant, it became a journal, a memoir, a nature diary, a journey, all ‘the earnings and gleanings of a busy life’.
It’s also about the inner life, lived in a tiny fishing village of just over four hundred souls, on a remote harbour – almost at the ends of the earth. And always there are the seasons, the sea, storms, sunshine, birds and butterflies.
And though yet another traveller’s tale from a person like me is of small account in the history of the world, yet maybe I’m speaking to some who walk the same path, since all stories are the maps and spiritual log books of the human race. And maybe some people may find themselves amused and entertained by the detours, deviations, wrong turnings and resting places on the winding path of an easily distracted wayfarer.
The poet Antonio Machado, said: “Travellers, there is no path, paths are made by walking”. This is my walk.
Telephone 09 4226431
Price $35 plus postage:$4.50