When I was 13 years old, our English teacher, the delightful Miss Seedsman, gave us an exercise in biography. The task was to interview someone about their childhood and write it up in three sections: family life, school life and a description of a game played at school.
I interviewed my dad.
Dad, John “Jack” Leo COGHLAN, was no doubt a willing participant and, I can imagine, I was a diligent interviewer. I don’t remember the actual interview but, fortunately, I have kept evidence of it in the form of my finished assignment.
On reading it now, forty six years later, it seems very formal, especially referring to Dad as the ‘collaborator’! I’m sure this would have been Miss Seedsman’s idea not mine.
The following is the finished assignment with Miss Seedsman’s comments. There are a few cheeky details that Dad sneaked in. Was I being so diligent that I didn’t even notice or did I think they were funny too and included them on purpose? Who knows. I can’t remember. Whatever the case it gives the piece his ‘voice’ which is lovely. Hope you enjoy it.
The setting for Dad’s childhood is Bullarto, near Daylesford, Victoria.
The year of interview is 1970.
First up, a description of school life…
Naughty me. I didn’t write a conclusion!
And now, some details of Jack’s home life…
Not sure what happened to that sentence, ‘His mother…’. I can imagine she wouldn’t have been too impressed with snowballs dropping onto the stove while she was cooking.
And lastly, the description of a game played at school.
Dad picked the game, ‘Trains’…
Yes, I agree Miss Seedsman, it sounds very chaotic. Not a game that survived the passage of time.
It’s hard to believe that what I documented is life as it was in country Victoria now more than 100 years ago. It’s not the best biography ever written but it sets the scene of a boy who had a pretty idyllic childhood and who liked to give a bit of cheek. Unfortunately, his mother, my grandmother, died before I was born. I would loved to have quizzed her about her boy and his pranks. I’m sure she would have had some stories to tell.
This is one instance where I’m glad I’m a bit of a hoarder.