COVID-19 upside: my read on how it’s bringing us closer together

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Erin Donnelly and son Corbin, 4, read a book together.
Camera IconErin Donnelly and son Corbin, 4, read a book together. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

I was very lucky. I had a wonderful childhood.

It is, perhaps, only today I am starting to realise how fortunate I was growing up in Geraldton in the late 1970s and early 80s.

I had lots of family and friends around, in a world that seemed unaffected, with organised sport and a happy school environment.

On weekends and holidays, we would join up with the other kids in our street for fun and adventure, and we would ride our bikes all over the place; trips to the park, or down the Chapman River.

Often you could find us all at a deli (corner shop) playing pinball or Space Invaders, while eating chips and reading our favourite comics.

It was a carefree life that was, somewhat, taken for granted.

Now, there is often a reason behind why people have a favourite number or colour.

My favourite number is four. Why? Well, when I was primary-school age, I attended St Lawrence’s in Bluff Point.

St Lawrence’s is still a wonderful hub for formative education, but back in my time, it was run by the lovely Sisters of Nazareth.

The same order that are responsible for the wonderful Nazareth House nursing home and the best fete, ever.

Back to No. 4.

Well, my Grade 4 teacher at St Lawrence’s was Mrs Rita Farrell.

Even before I attended her class, Mrs Farrell had been at the school for a long time.

Yes, there have been several other teachers who have had an impact on me, but none more than Mrs Farrell, when it came to an introduction to reading.

I recall fondly, afternoons, soon before the home-time bell went, when Mrs Farrell would allow us to sit, or lie on the floor and listen to her read.

Now, this was not just any piece of writing, or any book.

It was the adventures of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five.

Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five was a favourite book during my childhood.
Camera IconEnid Blyton’s The Famous Five was a favourite book during my childhood.

Yep, she had us captivated in the lives of Julian, Dick, Ann, George and Timmy the dog.

As Mrs Farrell read aloud these post World War II tales, there wasn’t a stir.

She read them so beautifully, that I later bought the whole collection, which I still have to this day.

I understand that the Covid-19 situation has seen many families and individuals head back to the past in many ways.

There are those who have got out the paints and brushes, and jigsaws and board games are also doing a roaring trade.

And perhaps, just maybe, reading aloud to our youngsters has come back into fashion.

Hey, if you want a copy of a Famous Five adventure, you can borrow one of mine.

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