i walked as i had
a millennia before
to the Pantheon
as a lover
you would not let me
as a windmill
a play thing
bark your language
as i am one
olive and brown
stranger in your town
Oh, when you discover!
these foreign anothers!
the games erupt.
loose morals corrupt
dust and dirt
Where doth your Mothers linger?
Sisters and Aunts wander?
liberated Women scold not?
“To shame,” i cried when I was Josephine
as I do now
scourge cursed soil
no decency to mask
I remember you
by the Pantheon at night
I remember you
in the warmth of twilight
when I was Josephine
when I my modern maiden then
THE CROWNED ONE
how dare you.
to my breast
to my front
ruiner of ruins
presser of flesh
all of you
fallen as you did
I My now?
THE CRONE? THE CROWNED?
Another version of a #too
most likely arrested.
What of the Pantheon?
– forever yearn
will never return.
In doing my research for The Warder’s Cottage it has been super frustrating how little information there is on Henderson Street, particularly visuals. I’ve come across the basics regarding its timeline, a little history and a few random stories on Facebook mainly from the 50s and 60s. But, I have found stuff-all about the people who actually lived in the cottages around the Victorian era and surprisingly have struggled to find the Fremantle of my grandparents era. My Fremantle.
I’m taking it as a nudge to be creative.
So when I recently visited after YEARS of trying to gain access – things were very trippy and surprisingly – weird.
Everything seemed wayyyy smaller than I remembered. My recollection was number 13 had the highest ceilings in the world – but not so. When you’re a child everything seems high and impressive.
Excerpt from… So You Are… An Anxious Avocado!
Number 13 felt very wide and open, yet somewhat suffocating. The space had a sense of feeling trapped and isolated. While life was happening outside – once the door was closed and triple bolted – you were relatively oblivious to it all. That could also have a lot to do with Nan’s paranoia of every serial killer on the planet breaking in, so having the tv blaring until you both passed out was her way of preventing that inevitable eventuality (at least you’d be sound asleep when murdered). That and shutting Fremantle out at 4pm every damned day was “the norm”.
Nan: “Ok, time for a bath, then dinner.”
5 year old you: “Ay? Playschool hasn’t even been on.”
Nan: “It’s nearly bed time, love. Come on, get going.”
You: “The sun is still in the middle of the sky, Nan.”
Nan: “Yes and soon it will be dark and then that lot are gonna be drinkin and ya-hooing, so we need to lock up and get upstairs.”
T’was a logic that repelled all rational debate. Non-boat rocking, good girl you had a bath, ate din-dins and traipsed upstairs mid-afternoon to spend the next 8 hours bored shitless. At midnight you’d nearly break your neck balancing on the edge of Nans marshmallow bed to turn the “telly” off. She was right about the noise. You’d lie wide eyed for hours listening to drunken ya-hoos cavorting on the streets of Fremantle and peek out from under the 58 layers of blankets and duvets – sweltering under the weight – waiting to have your throat slit, or poisoned with razor flavoured apples, or kidnapped or one of the myriad horror stories you’d been brain washed into believing were absolutely a daily possibility. Nan snored as soundly as an old brown bear oblivious to this nightly ritual with her frazzled and exhausted granddaughter. She wondered why you constantly slept in.
I prepared myself for some strong emotional reactions and was honestly just hoping to keep it together in front of my cousin and the real estate agent – who so graciously let us in knowing full well we had no intention to buy.
But it never came. Probably because the tenants who came after us – left number 13 in a dark, veritable feral shit storm. What they didn’t touch with their really, really, really shocking take on interior design, the workers certainly bulldozed any remnants of my memories to rubble.
I couldn’t find my past. I couldn’t see it anywhere.
The paisley wall paper my grandfather had put up for my Nan to make it more “homely” – gone. The Bulldogs V for Victory tape markings on the metre box – gone. The entire back verandah where I spent MANY hours playing – gone. The shoddy paving out the back and the heavy silver gate leading onto the laneway where all the hippies and junkies had once hung out – gone. The bright red concrete porch my Nan would get down on her hands and knees and polish until she could either see her reflection or someone would trip arse over tit on – gone. The frangipani tree my grandfather used to pick the best flowers from the high branches so I could put them in my hair – gone. The bloody hippie peace sun stickers randomly remained.
The last time I’d been in the building was the year the government forced all residents (prison officers and their families) out in 1989. I thought revisiting as an adult would have me super melancholy. Instead it felt like a foreign version of the beautiful and bizarre childhood of my mind – I didn’t feel anything at all except spun out.
It was a hybrid shell of its earliest beginnings and a weird mixture of different eras, much like Freo itself – frequently torn between its historic foundations and the modern world.
It allowed me to really imagine my characters moving and breathing and occupying the dwelling in their time because that’s how much of it had been stripped back. All the way to the prisoner laid limestone walls and dusty wooden floor boards.
I would spend HOURS looking out this thing and sitting up on the ledge. There was boarding up where the new railings are now (in the photos below), so no one could ever see up and you had to go out on the balcony to see down. You really did feel totally boxed in. I used to love it when a storm whipped in and the rain would defy the boarding and hit the glass of the window.
The balcony was walled up between the cottages, so no one ever knew if you were out there unless you stood up. It was my favourite place in the world when I could convince my Nan I wasn’t going to climb up and plunge onto the street to my death. I’d sit for hours and people watch, looking out for miles and watching the day as it changed. I don’t think I ever saw a night time view – wayyyy too risky for Nan!
More views from my Nan’s window down onto Henderson Street.
I sure didn’t. There were no fireplaces anywhere to be seen in the house when we lived there, it was as if they never existed. All boarded up and painted over or my grandfather wall papered over them. No wonder it was so friggen cold and draughty!
My room! Very ominous! I don’t even remember the mantle, but I’m sure it must have been there.
This was an odd bod space. I had a bit of a love hate with it. I loved it because it was the brightest place in the whole house most times of the day. Nan didn’t have trinkets or breakables in here so there was actually space to play though it always seemed to be dusty. And the dust in Fremantle truly was ancient dust, like bits of the original dirt and muck from the Victorian era would escape the cracks and crannies every now and then. It had an odd smell, like chalky, peppery oldness. It was eerie.
This was another spot Nan was never keen for me to play. It didn’t harbour the same dangers as the balcony where the chance of kidnapping was high. But it was above the heighest drop point of the stair case and in true Nan fashion there were far too many variables of death or injury, so she would often shut down my pleas to use it as a play space. But the views always had me daydreaming.This view is from the spare room. I never liked the spare room and only began to use it as a teenager when it was sweltering hot in summer in my room. Also I had outgrown my single bed with my long spaghetti limbs and enjoyed the stretch out of the double bed.
The spare room was a bit of a negative force for me. It was the bed my parents used when they would stay, which usually meant triple the snoring! Plus with them around I couldn’t get away with my usual cheekiness. Sometimes my Uncle’s would stay if they were on night shift at the prison, and I would be ordered to play quietly or told I wasn’t allowed upstairs at all which would ruffle my feathers a bit. For the most part, I had free reign of the entire house and got used to reigning over my kingdom with no one else around.
We joke about it now and actually seeing it as an adult, it seems minuscule in size considering the amount of drama it caused! Known as the “death trap” in our family, it certainly was narrow. When we lived there, it was carpeted and the cousins and I would hoon down each step on our backsides at great speed to my nervous nelly Nan’s horror!
When she found out I had started sleep walking she made my grandfather jimmy up a gate that had to be bolted across every single time we were up or down. I did fall arse over turkey down the stairs once and nearly broke my arm. I had to pretend I’d dropped something so Nan wouldn’t have a conniption. I also woke up one night asleep on the spare room floor. I never told her about it – she probably would have gone even more Flowers in the Attic.
The most bizarre thing of all was the back half of the house was not only missing, but any likeness to it’s former self was completely gone. The entire enclosed verandah is now an undercover decking and the door that led out to my grandfathers magnificent bar where many, many, many a celebration was held, now led outside. The infamous lane way no longer exists – at all – and a tiny pathway runs along the bizarre wooden picket fences. Which is a weird concept that the residents will never be able to park their cars out the back. Having said that, there are probably people who still remember the nightmare that lane way caused for the tenants, their visitors and market patrons. I was privvy to much abuse from all parties as we were either trying to get in or out when the markets were on. Fun times.There was always an eerie vibe in certain spots usually where it was darkest. But the attitude that my Nan had towards living there, which was a very negative one, was echoed within the place itself and I remember sensing that as a little girl. Like the wives who would have endured the space from 1850 on – and initially sharing levels with other families – one at the top, one occupying the bottom! There must have been a lot of resentment towards the cottages.
Perhaps that was the vibe I felt in a couple of areas. I would always feel like I had to run in between the hallway and under the staircase as well as the staircase itself. It felt as if someone was coming up behind me, trying to grab me before I got away.
I wish I had taken better photos of the kitchen and the main parlour and the darkest room in the house, the dining room. This was another fire place that was boarded up. I think they had a free standing stove that stood to the right of this picture. It seemed pokey as hell and we were scratching our heads at how they managed to get an oven, fridge, cabinetry and table and chairs in this minute space!
It would be my dream to buy number 13. It would be surreal to do it up again, maybe use it as a place for writing or rent it out to curious tourists. I would have loved to have owned it. It will always be a part of me. I truly adored staying here and miss those lovely days and my beautiful childhood memories of Henderson Street, the markets and Fremantle.
My name is not Molly Meary.
I’m not trying to be clever and it wouldn’t be hard to figure out my real identity (please don’t though – believe me you’ll be bored shitless in seconds). Regardless if my books are successful or not I hope whoever finds my work enjoyable can also appreciate the real reasons I chose to use a pen name.
I tried a few.
People have often mistaken me for a Josephine and a fortune teller once told me if you get called a name more than three times it means it was probably from a past life so clearly that must be true. Joke. Not sure if I believed that completely, but it sounded cool, so Josephine Clory was born. She didn’t last long.
It’s one of the most random things to have to consider – using a name that’s not your own. I grappled with every pro and con regarding whether or not I should publish So You Are… Pregnant! under my real name. In the end I chose the alias for the protection and privacy of my children. While it’s therapeutic to air my issues and help others heal and get our global collective vibe on – my future teenage/adult children may have a different perspective on their early childhood being splashed out for all to know.
Molly is a character introduced in Part 3 of The Warder’s Cottage – who morphed into a hybrid/alternate version of myself. Molly Meary is technically the grown up Molly – who supposedly goes on to write books that will help fill the world with wisdom, rainbows, gluten free sprinkles and a shit tonne of humour. Well, that was the very loosey goosey plan I hoped to achieve.
So here is the truth behind Molly and her origin story. Enjoy.
“Well Molly Whuppie ye are a clever girl and ye’ve managed well. If ye could see what I have seen, ye will manage more and better.” Molly Whuppie by Joseph Jacobs
Mollie Whuppie and The Giant was one of my most treasured books and until very recently I was unaware of its origins. An English fairy tale set in Scotland which is fitting as my main character in Warders Cottage begins her journey in Orkney.
As a child, Mollie Whuppie was one of my favourite characters. She was strong, fearless, brave and had no time for dickery of any sort. Taking on an asshole giant and his asshole family with shit-all support from her sappy older sisters was next level for a little girl. She was my hero.
And even though the whole marrying everyone off before any of them probably had their period to boys who probably hadn’t gone through puberty is highly questionable trope – the message of the story is still stellar.
I had the weird 80s art deco version, which was both fascinating and trippy.
In researching for this book and searching for a significant element to tie the entire crux of the story together, it was Mollie Whuppie that found me once more, decades after falling in love with her the first time.
It was truly surreal to be looking through fairy tale books written around 1897 (when my historical fantasy is set) & randomly stumbling across the original version! The literary stars aligned! Writing woo-woo is totally a thing, especially in this case and the dates fit perfectly historically! Look out for her! She comes at a pivotal point in The Warder’s Cottage.
As the beautiful images of the brown haired, brown eyed girl rolled out onto the screen, I like countless others, fell in love.
It was like watching footage of my actual childhood in French! A surreal experience of memories long forgotten of silly games and boredom busters I would fill my time with on Henderson Street.
I too would draw funny faces on my hands, put raspberries and cheezels on my fingers and dominoes probably prevented me from completely losing my tiny mind! Definitely did the ear dangling cherry thing and a few other quirkies. Like colour co-coordinating my grandfathers casino chips along with the myriad bottles of booze. Did anyone actually drink that Vok shit? Especially like chook yolk yak one?
Most of all I related to Amelie as an observer, which as an only child is sometimes all you have to amuse yourself.
Fremantle was a hive of observation for a little girl no one paid much notice to, let alone suspected she was watching and listening to everyone and everything. I took the lot in like a sponge and very much like the French fictional character, invented my own stories and conclusions of the people I encountered.
Freo was much different then, very quiet and rather loathed. People didn’t really go there for something to do and it certainly was not a tourist must-do. Most came with a purpose and didn’t linger. The streets, especially on Sundays were like a ghost town and I remember it being rather dull, grey and everyone often seemed sombre, like they were trapped. So any abnormal sight or sounds were often magnified and if you were interesting enough, you found your way into a little Strawberry Shortcake notebook.
When the movie Annie came around, I like most little girls, was obsessed and besides the name, I resonated with Molly’s character as well as the actress playing her. She looked like me and for a little girl surrounded by Barbie girls and Holly Hobby look-a-likes – a sea of blond, red haired and freckly kids I looked nothing like – Molly was a breath of fresh olive air.
And even out on the playground when I was often cast as Pepper, or the other girl with the long black plaits – because of my height, it was always Molly I adored and related to.
Mischievous, cheeky, brave and always wanting to be carried.
Molly Jones was like a television angel who sadly is most famous for dying. Her final episode was a massive talking point in the early 80s and many years after – where she quietly passed away while watching her husband and sweet daughter Chloe, flying a kite in the beautiful backdrop of Wandin Valley. Half the nation fell into some kind of surreal mourning, the majority were women. My Nan and I were among them.
Frustratingly, it dulled the character who was probably not only the most important one in the show, but a favourite to a generation who found comfort and joy when they watched her. Initially known for being the ditzy country girl, she was full of random incite and enlightenment.
Vivacious, silly, joyful, kind. Such a strong court jester who shunned conformity in every way. I absolutely adored her and desperately wanted my parents to buy a farm by some sloping hills so I could chase around chickens in my hot pink wellies and over-sized Jenny Kee sloppy jumper.
Molly mimicked all the buzzwords of today. Authentic, organic, genuine, real. She truly was one of the original hipsters.
And while the little brown eyed, pig-tailed girl related to the Molly from Annie, the adult she became appreciates Molly Jones for what she truly represented. A strong, kind, independent woman unafraid of being herself.
If Molly Jones was a character written today, I imagine her being a grown up version of Dirt Girl. Ego-free and generating cool shit… literally. Showing there is a way to live a life that does not revolve every waking minute around serving self, or dragging others down.
These Mollies all may have been fictional – but they had a lovely influence on little me and helped shape the character of Molly from The Warder’s Cottage.
Excerpt from A Country Practice Website:
“Mad Molly Jones”
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we didn’t know
The kindness that was hers to spare
The joy that she took everywhere
We simply didn’t know.
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we hadn’t heard
How she could fight to save a flower,
And give each man and dog his hour
We simply hadn’t heard.
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we hadn’t seen
That she could make a dull day bright,
That she was colour, warmth, and light
We simply hadn’t seen.
Molly Jones, it’s over
Yet we cannot say goodbye
For all the loveliness we knew
And love of life and friendship true
And laughter brave once dwelt in you
And how can such things die?