May 21, 2013

Remarkable Women at AWRF: Aorewa McLeod, Memé Churton, Jacqueline Fahey.

Ana from Readers Services was enthralled by a trio of "Remarkable Women"
Three feisty women who have made their own destiny and have had very eventful lives. Some things they have in common, but they are also very different. The three came together for a fascinating and entertaining presentation at the Auckland Readers & Writers Festival.
Aorewa McLeod
Aorewa McLeod is a lesbian academic and poet. She taught for forty years at the University of Auckland.  Although she doesn’t look the shy type, she says she was very much so and had a bad case of nerves (she didn’t put it quite like that) before each of her lectures for 10 years.
Memé Churton’s memoirs read like a novel, although it’s all true.  Half-Italian, half-Chinese, she grew up in Trieste and came to New Zealand in 1950 when there wasn’t anybody here: “The streets were deserted”. She believes in “destiny”, and married a New Zealand soldier.
Jacqueline Fahey
Jacqueline Fahey is a painter, who inspires us through her work. She married Fraser McDonald and has written two memoirs, but she paints constantly. She doesn’t like to talk about “destiny”, thinks that’s a romantic idea. She “made her own destiny”.
Aorewa went to live in England and worked there as a nurse - aid, but returned to New Zealand to take care of her elderly mother. Her “destiny” would have been completely different if she hadn’t.
Memé had a lot of men friends constantly pursuing her; Jacqueline says she was the girl that boys took to parties when they wanted to give their mother a fright, but that, as was “very typical” in those days, she was a virgin for a long time. Aorewa, on the other hand, notes she was “constantly having sex” through the 1960’s. 
Memé Churton 
At one stage, the talk turned to dress and food. Memé dressed in Christian Dior, while Jacqueline claimed to spend 80 per cent of her time in gumboots. Aorewa was in England,and being colonial, had the advantage that nobody knew where she came from so she wasn’t cold-shouldered for her clothes. She was independent and washed her “smalls” regularly.

Memé's likings: coffee, smokes, and prosciutto, and when you are around her, these are always on hand.  Jacqueline once worked in a coffee shop, was put in charge of the espresso machine and not being a practical person, wrecked it. While Meme smoked, Jacqueline drank. Aorewa drank too, because she says there was nowhere to meet but in the pubs.               
Three remarkable women who entertained us for one hour with their stories. They are all very different but what they have in common is their individuality and love for life.
When you read their books: Memé : the three worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander by Memé Churton,  Something for the birds and Before you forget both by Jacqueline Fahey and Who was that woman anyway?: snapshots of a lesbian life by Aorewa McLeod you’ll learn more fascinating things about them.
-- Ana Worner

Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 17:30


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