Bloody hell, how long has it been since I’ve done one of these? Some “regular” feature this is turning out to be…..


The Cats
by Joan Phipson

Long before Book Depository, and Fishpond; back when Google was a number and Amazon a river; when “e-books” was something a Geordie said in a library, a nine year old me made his one and only purchase from the colourful Scholastic school book club catalogue that my parents normally used to pad out any spaces in the garbage bin, and this was the book I ordered.

To be honest, I remember very little about the book: it had a creepy, blue-shaded cover in which a group of kids were threatened by some Scooby Doo shadows with glowing eyes while a giant cat in the foreground watched on dispassionately; the eponymous cats of the title may or may not have been telepathic (I have a vague memory but I refuse to commit to it); and at a time when I was overdosing on Doctor Who and Alfred Hitchcock’s Young Investigators books, it was very, very Australian.

Phipson aught to be a God amongst Australian authors. She published a veritable fuckload of books, won two Australian Children’s Book of the Year Awards and was awarded a member of the Order of Australia (for writing children’s books!). Sadly, I can’t find any of her work in any of my regional libraries, and she seems to have become something of a forgotten relic of the pre-Cosmopolitan Australia (Causmopolitan? COZmopolitan?) Age of Twee. It’s a pity, because I feel that I should remember more about the book, and certainly learn more about an author whose work was the first to attract me so that I wanted to spend my money on it, and wait for delivery, and undertake the purchasing process that has helped the owners of Book Depository name their latest yacht after me.

So, like Frank Roberts, I cast my mind back to my earliest understanding of the writing and reading industries, and find myself influenced by an Australian whose greatest moments have fallen into– at the very least, relative– obscurity.

If I believed in omens……

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