Everybody has a story in them.
It’s true. Although I’d go a bit further to say everyone has many, many stories in them, whether they know it or not.
It’s one of the best things about my job that each week I get to meet and talk to people. I love it as I find people endlessly interesting.
Now, in my job I’ve met a celebrities, TV and radio personalities, a couple Prime Ministers, Governors and Governor Generals and an endless succession of politicians, but it’s not their stories that grab me. [Politicians, as a rule are not usually very interesting… well at least not when they are being politicians! The exception to this is the former Member for Murray Darling, Peter Black, who was always very interesting, but not always for the right treasons.]
No, for me the best stories come from the people you don’t expect. Ordinary people with a passion for something. And the funny thing is, more often than not, these are the people who don’t consider themselves interesting at all. So often I’ve heard people tell some variant of ‘Why are you talking to me? I’m not very interesting’ and then they go on to casually deliver the most amazing tales!
One person that comes to mind is Cedric, who I could never convince to sit down for an interview and sadly, has now passed.
Cedric was full of amazing stories that I only got snippets of over a few Resches at the local club. Leaving the German merchant navy to come to Australia in the 50’s, somehow he only first learnt to swim in the rock-holes at Byrock, 700 kilometres from the sea and nowhere near a river!
“What? Your boats don’t float?” was Cedric’s reply when asked about his swimming ability by the recruiting officer.
Then there’s Mary, who held the title of Australia’s oldest publican, and was still serving beers at Barringun well into her 80s. Or Ray, one of the few remaining golf leaf gilding craftsmen in Australia. Mock, the poet and modern-day boundary rider on the Queensland border. Deidre, the trained opera singer who married a western grazier and used to sing arias to kangaroos at dusk. Alma Jean the Paroo Queen, a fishing guru. John, the professional roo shooter and bird lover, who’d dropper feed his young chicks while out hunting at night…
I’ve spoken with champion show cooks, leatherworkers, artists, UFOlogists, family historians, fifth generation graziers, goat rustlers, ex-undercover police, gardeners, shearer’s cooks, cryptozoologists, farmer philosophers and countless more.
And I love it! I find talking to people about what they are interested in incredibly interesting. There is visible shift in body language and demeanour when you get someone talking about what they are enthusiastic about and it can be infectious.
I try my best to share glimpses of these people’s stories with readers, but I know I never really do them justice. So, just know that if you don’t find a piece interesting it is entirely my own fault and not that of my subjects.
I also don’t take the task lightly. I know it can be confronting for some people to hand over their story to someone for them to then share with the world. I consider it a privilege.
I’m just looking forward to seeing what stories pop up this week!