Crazy for Daphne

helentownsend 1950s-2 (2)Crazy for Daphne is a short story set in the Baby Boomer era. Read it here.  It’s a little girl’s view of her much loved uncle’s romance with Daphne, who arrives in the family with fake pearls and long red nails.

It was a time when Australians saw themselves as egalitarian, and seemed to be a white bread, homogenous society. No sex before marriage, no fast women, no cheating men, no foreign food, no queers and God Save the Queen.  Of course, human passions being as they are, there were fast women, sex before marriage, fake pearls and the rest.

I told the story from a child’s point of view because I wanted the naivety of that view as well as showing the deep passion of a child. In many ways, the post war period of the 50s and 60s in Australia was wonderful, but there was a dark underbelly of prejudice and intolerance.

Lizzie, the child, isn’t me, but I identify with  the confusion of the child who feels too much. Lots of children felt that way, which is maybe why we became hippies and took our clothes off and danced naked. Maybe our parents’ ambiguous attitude to class and difference later made us look at society in a different way.

But there’s a sweet naivety about the 1950’s, a sense of a nation growing up, or perhaps trying to be grown up. That’s part of what I try to convey in this story too.

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