Published in "Divagations, 2010"
Copyright Jill Mellick, 2010
That the cadence of my mother’s and my speech and references echoed Angela Thirkell I was not aware until decades after my mother handed me my first green, cloth-coated Barsetshire tale.
We came by our addiction with sedate, devoted, colonial gusto--undoubtedly one of the qualities that propelled Thirkell from Australia back to England.Before I was old enough to go to town alone, my mother, Letty Mellick, nee Katts, and I would take the bus from our hilltop Brisbane home looking out to Australia’s Great Dividing Range into the city. (Few families had second cars.) We would walk past the Brisbane City Hall, whose tall, elegant clock hands my grandfather had made, along Ann Street past the stone church where my parents married on Pearl Harbor Day, and climb the wide steps of the School of Arts Library (should I say “libery”?). Risking Thirkell’s scorn, we would borrow books. Given my mother’s arcane, deep, and lifelong interests--from Diaghilev to T.E. Lawrence to mysticism to the Raj--and an economy struggling after prolonged participation in the war, borrowing was first port of call.