I bought this book, thinking it would be about growing up in the 1960's and 70's (the era of my childhood), but instead it was mainly about FitzSimons and his family I dislike his newspaper articles and especially is huge ego and this book is a good example of how big his ego really is I acknowledge, however, that he has written some good books and books that need writing, eg telling the story of Nancy Wake as well as the iconic Australian battles of Kokoda and Tobruk although they positively reeked of Aussie jingoism To be fair, his childhood wasn't a classic example of growing up in Australia in the 60's and 70's He grow up on a farm to a loving Mother and Father which is a hell of a good start that a lot of kids don't see, but what particularly annoyed me (yes, I am easily annoyed!), was his attempts to make his childhood down to earth, especially the bits about going around in bare feet all the time, and going to school in bare feet It did happen in some rural areas, but then I was brought up in rural New South Wales and didn't have bare feet at school It's as if he is trying to make his upbringing sound a bit on the poor side, like Angela's Ashes, but when there are 6 children and they all go to an expensive city boarding school, you know it was an extremely affluent childhood Siblings that were school captains and prefects, the author himself playing rugby for Australia, it soundslike an English upper class family upbringing and of course the exact opposite of FitSimon's personal philosphy Is it the boy from the bush or the upper crust toffee nosed twat? I, for one wasn't fooled. FitzSimons has written some excellent books, that is why I read this one But it was a struggle To be fair it does avoid the bias manner of so many memoirs and autobiography's, so much so his considerably better than average adult life is mostly avoided The reader quickly discovers there are no regrets or skeletons, just a loving family that sees the best in everything and loves life in a simple existence.Many readers will be envious or doubtful of the life of FitzSimons, but it is the story of any ordinary country kid of that era. I enjoyed this a lotthan I expected! Peter FitzSimons grew up in the decade before I did but there were a lot of things that felt so familiar in his recount of his life some directly, some through stories I've been told by my parents I relate to his writing so easily that these could almost have been my memories and this was a lovely trip down that lane. I tried really hard to like this book, but I just couldn't Yeah, okay so I get it, the writer had a nice childhood However it felt less like he was discussing his childhood andsaying his childhood was better than mine.Its just a romanticism of days gone by You didn't have a TV? Congratulations I think the idea of a simpler time is pretty much bull It wasn't that the time he grew up in was necessarily simpler, it was that he was a child and being a child seemssimple.It also didn't feel like a nice retelling of the 1960s but it was Peter listing every unimportant detail There is like 2 pages or something dedicated to climbing a treeI was hopingfor a recount of life in the 1960s in general, but I guess with FitzSimons being a biographer I guess this is to be expected. My dear mother took a shine to one of Peter FitzSimon’s books, his take on the wreck of the Batavia She offered to lend it, but I demurred due to the pile of ‘must reads’ I already had waiting for me on my shelves One of those was, in fact, his memoir ‘A Simple Time’ I’d pick it up cheap a few years ago, somewhere or other Since that day it had slipped further and further down the order as other I consideredworthy tomes superseded it ‘Flesh Wounds’ is arecent purchase, but it too had suffered a similar fate, although I knew it’s arrival back in 2015 was to great acclaim It was about time I found out what all the fuss was about So I decided to read both in succession.My Mum was evenimpressed with my news that FitzSimons’ wife was television stalwart Lisa Wilkinson I also figured his latest, a retelling of the mutiny on the not so good ship Bounty might be an ideal Chrissy pressie for this amazing lady Who knows, I might even get around to reading it myself He’d never really been on my radar, Peter FS Being from Rugbyland didn’t help I knew he wrote columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and often commentated on the tele To his credit, he is also a leader keeping the flame burning for us becoming a republic And that, till ‘A Simpler Time’, was about all.In truth this memoir doesn’t set the world on fire It’s a pleasant enough way to pass the time, but his childhood is largely unremarkable – and probably all the better for that It speaks of a time when kids and freedom was a synonym, not the opposite, for better or worse He and his siblings roamed around, largely unfettered, from daylight to dusk, over his parent’s struggling acres.PFS was one of six young ones in a time before television and certainly well before this era of tiny screen fascination His mother had married down to a man she obviously loved to bits – her yearly stipend from her rich folks helping to keep the struggling orange orchard on Peats Ridge solvent It also assisted in giving their children a jolly good education In the book there are tales of bullying, first love, yearning for sporting success (which eventuates), country values as well as the city versus the bush Later comes a journey to check out the family’s origins and a realisation that his dad, like so many at the time, had an unspoken of battle with depression And Peter comes to appreciate, as in my case, how wonderful it was/is to have a remarkable mother to aide him through all his own troubles and tribulations One tale that really hit the spot was how, in her later years, he came to have his photograph taken with her by a Walkley Award winning camerasnapper amongst the orange trees The image is on view in this biography along with many others from the family album.What a joy it is to read that, on her deathbed, when Helen was asked by one of Peter’s sisters what the best thing about her life had been, she replies, ‘Having sex with your father Anyquestions?’ Delightful.Now, whereas the above was delightful in patches, ‘Flesh Wounds’ is a treat from cover to cover Fitzy’s upbringing was quite normal for the time, but poor Glover’s was all over the shop.Wil Anderson has likened this contribution to the list of classic memoirs to the work of America’s great raconteur Seinfeld I loved it so much I rushed out and purchased Glover’s latest publication ‘The Land Before Avocado’ and if time permits, I will delve into his back catalogue too As with FitzSimons, this author hadn’t meant much to me as he is also Sydneycentric, but his name does now The columnist/broadcaster can boast, without possible contradiction that, in any parlour game of ‘Who Has the Weirdest Parents’, he would win hands down He’d clean up if any bets were laid Nobody else at any table could claim they were the result of a virgin birth Then there is the story of how his mother had such a close connection to English aristocracy – until, that is, it all came tumbling down There’s his father’s alcoholism and his stepfather’s nudism – a stepfather who was once his English teacher! What horror there was when his mum did a flit with him If these stories do not have you in fits of laughter they’ll, without doubt, have you cringing Eventually Richard sets out to discover the reason for his parents dysfunctionalism They were a bizarre lot.I am so thankful my upbringing farresembled that portrayed in the first offering, but as a read Glover’s exceptional effort is sublime I’ve always figured nothing could surpass Clive James’ ‘Unreliable Memoirs’ as a tale of an Australian childhood Glover comes close Just brilliant And don’t get me started on the teddybears. It was good, lots of wonderful stories and certainly the attitudes towards parenting are of great value Peter FitzSimons, no matter how much you insist this isn't really a memoir, it is Only one criticism, and that would be, how can one family be so 'nice' and wonderfully together and, despite life's upheavals, always do exactly the right thing? A bit too sugar coated at times but still delightful enough to enjoy. Peter FitzSimons's account of growing up on the rural outskirts of Sydney in the s is first and foremost a tribute to family But it is also a salute to times and generations past In this rollicking and often hilarious memoir, Peter describes a childhood of mischief, camaraderie, eccentric characters, drama The childhood of a simpler time Peter FitzSimons writes of a time that I remember well despite being several years his senior.Things that his parents said to him, I recall as words of my parents It seems that there was a kind of collective wisdom common to parents after WWII and in the fifties for most of us and into the sixties for those who lived away from the big smoke.Life was certainly a simpler thing for us as children, perhaps less so, as Trish suggests, for our parents who struggled with limited means to feed and clothe their growing families There were chickens, eggs, homegrown fruit and veg, handmedown clothes and simple childhood pursuits We had so muchfreedom than the children of today and becameselfsufficient because of it Like Peter, we retained our innocence much longer so that looking back, our childhood seems a pleasant and simple time.Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Peter. A great representation of young Australian lives, a lot of us grew up in different circumstances but there has to be at least one thing in this book that you can relate to A good homely story, happy, sad, everything in between. I couldn't get past about 40 pages I found the style hard to read and it felt like it didn't really tell a story Just a bunch of side notes from his childhood.
- 416 pages
- A Simpler Time
- Peter FitzSimons
- 14 March 2017 Peter FitzSimons