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RAINBIRD'S AWAKENING

RAINBIRD COVER
 

This is the story about a shameful part of Australiaís history, as seen through the diary of a fictional teenage girl called Rainbird. 

Rainbird, in her simple but evocative style, tells how her father, who died under mysterious circumstances, had been a secret volunteer in a highly confidential undertaking by the Menzies Government in the 1950s. 

Rainbirdís elder brother, Archer, embarks on a mission to reveal the truth, and in so doing, discovers a massive government cover-up. His quest to find the truth and gain compensation for the people who have suffered and lost their lives, is met by intimidation, bloodshed and murder.

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ISBN:   978-1-921919-89-3
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 303
Genre: Fiction

Cover: James Marley

Author: Robert Menzies
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2013
Language: English

Authorís Note  

Whilst the documented historical events in the book are accurate, the plot, scenarios and characters are all fictional. 

Although the activities of my characters are loosely based around real historical events, I took literary licence in doing this, thus creating events that appear factual, but are in fact, fiction. 

I tried to imagine how real people would have acted, given the same conflicts and moral dilemmas faced by the characters in my story. 

It is also important that I point out that the many instances of inaccurate spelling, grammar and punctuation are intentional and essential for Rainbird to tell her story in her own words. 

Robert Menzies

Review

Wow!
What a story! This is a must read for all Australians, and not just Australians.
Told in a simple diary style that takes no notice of convention in grammar or punctuation, this is a spell-binding story from start to finish. I was immediately drawn to Rainbird, the simple-living but highly observant fifteen-year-old country girl who has been born with the weight of the world on her shoulders. I have to admit to weeping at Rainbird's terrible misfortunes and moral dilemmas as she describes the awful things that happen to her and her hapless brothers through no fault of their own.
Thankfully, I also found myself laughing out loud at  Rainbird's unique and colourful way in which she describes her environment, her conflicts and the disasters that fall upon her. Some of the similes and metaphors she uses to describe her life and those around her are just pure magic.
But don't be fooled. This is a serious piece of writing about events in Australia's history that'll make you cringe with embarrassment and contempt for our government during the 1950s and '60s. Robert Menzies has researched his history carefully and thoroughly to paint a new perspective of an event that is both alarming and nauseating to the reader.
This should be compulsory reading for every man, women and child living in Australia today-and the rest of the world as well. I believe it should be compulsory reading for all Australian high school students.
David Thurston.

 

By the same author 

Beyond the Labyrinth Ė Zeus Publications 2010  

 

About Robert Menzies 

 

Robert Menzies BA, Dip. Ed.,Grad. Dip. Ed. Admin., M.Ed.Admin. was born in 1949 in a little country town called Dorrigo, in the northern tablelands of New South Wales, Australia.

During his childhood Robert came in contact with a large range of dysfunctional characters Ė usually itinerants or seasonal workers passing through the fringe-dwelling community of North Dorrigo. These characters were often on the run from deserted wives or the law Ė or both, and all of them had their stories to tell. It is from these contacts that the inspiration for many of Robertís characters is drawn.

In 1972 Robert resigned from his teaching job and, with just three hundred dollars in his pocket, took a flight to London. He could not find work and he quickly ran out of money. So he took the only choice available and became an itinerant, wandering around Great Britain, sleeping on park benches or in Salvation Army flop joints, if they would have him. He continued this lifestyle for a couple of years and it was during this time he believes he became a writer, even though he did not publish anything until three decades later.

He met some fascinating characters during this time and he developed the habit of always keeping a notebook handy. He would jot down quotes, comments, witticisms and observations made by the wide range of fascinating characters he met on the road. He did hundreds of sketches and wrote dozens of poems and short stories. Fortunately he kept all these jottings and now they sit in a very large folder on his office desk. He refers to them regularly and uses them as inspiration in his writing.

He now lives on Hope Island on the Queensland Gold Coast with his wife Merilyn.

PROLOGUE

HAVENíT TIMES CHANGED?

 

I was rummaging through some old things in the attic this morning and I found something that brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

It was an old diary that I had kept as a teenager, the first entry being May 3rd, 1963, just fifty years ago. I sat myself down in the dust and the cobwebs and the scurrying cockroaches and read the diary from beginning to end. I cried many times and I laughed often. I also cringed with embarrassment a number of times. And when I finished reading, I just sat in silence for I donít know how long, in a kind of reverence for times gone by and for the events in my young life that contributed to my rude awakening. 

Today I made the decision to start keeping my diary once again and for nostalgiaís sake I am going to use the same book: my first entry in forty-five years. There is so much I want to say dear diary, I really donít know where to start.

Let me begin with something that deeply disturbs me. Upon reading my own naÔve and simplistic diary entries, I have realised that, despite the enormous so-called scientific and technological advancements, the world has changed so little in forty-five years, and in many ways it has regressed. The advances in science and medicine have been nothing short of breathtaking, but in the things that really matter, we have made very little progress. In my ageing mind, still the greatest technological achievement of all time occurred in 1969 when we put a man on the moon; we havenít surpassed that amazing feat in all that time. 

But something else continues to amaze me Ė and frighten me witless at the same time. Back in 1969 as a naÔve teenager, I honestly believed that within a few years the planet Earth would be destroyed by nuclear war. At the time there was so much talk about Ďthe atom bombí and the terrible threat of nuclear annihilation.

But strangely and thankfully, it has never happened. Some of the so-called experts say that it is because of the MAD principle: Mutually Assured Destruction. There are supposedly so many countries nowadays with nuclear capability that all of them are too afraid to press the button, knowing that to do so will result in immediate retaliation and annihilation of entire cultures.  

But sadly, I canít help believing the end is not far off. The nuclear tests carried out at Maralinga in the 1950s and the nuclear accidents since then at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukishima, have resulted in a terrible legacy of infertility, skin disease and cancer in present and future generations, and will only increase in frightening proportions as time passes. 

I glance at my image in the bedroom mirror. I see the greying hair, the crowsí feet clutching greedily at the edges of my eyes, the worry-lines creasing my forehead, and the hazel eyes, once bright and perceptive, which have now become hooded and withdrawn and framed by rimless Ďgrandmaí glasses. My body, once trim and supple is now sagging in all the wrong places and my once firm, upright breasts now droop sadly in remission.

Despite my ageing body, I would like to think that I am a much more sophisticated person than I was back then as a teenager. But am I really? I donít think so. I didnít bother to use proper grammar or punctuation in those days, but I had a kind of naÔve simplicity to my life and to my writing that I now find deeply evocative. Upon reading my diary entries from those times, I can now detect a wisdom which was well beyond my years, a wisdom which, although camouflaged by naÔvety, transcended the attitudes and values of the day and produced some observations about life which were strangely perceptive, deeply introspective and disturbingly prophetic.

My fourteen-year-old grandson has just walked into the room. I gaze at him lovingly and study his mannerisms. He is a tall, well-built, handsome boy, the image of his grandfather. He looks at me with those big blue innocent eyes and I melt like a snowman on a warm day. I love that boy so much.

It tears at the strings of my heart when I remind myself that in less than a year he will be dead.

  CHAPTER 1

MY LIFE IS RUINED

 

21/8/63 

I just want to die.

Mr Rimfire was dead right. Dadís took up with this woman he reckons he met in the pub. I reckon it was the gutter. None of us kids like her one liíl bit except Foxi that is. Dad brung her into the house síposedly to look after us kids but she never does nothing, just lays round the house smoking and drinking boose. She hardly even cooks a meal or does any cleaning Ė thatís all left up to me.

At night time in our bedroom, after we finish doing all the washing up and stuff and getting ready for milking in the morning, then school, we sometimes hear Dad and Marlene come home always drunk and making lots of noise falling over furniture and stuff and her giggling and fooling around. Then we start hearing noises from Dadís bedroom grunting and moaning and yelling and stuff. Foxi akses me whatís going on and I tell him not to worry thatís just Dad and Marlene having sex. Does having sex hurt, akses Foxi and I go I dunno I never done it yet but the cows and horses and pigs and dogs and them all seem to like it so it must be OK. The cows and them donít make as much noise as them two but and we all hafto lay there listening to it. It drives us all bonkers, let me tell you.

Dad and her go on benders for days on end then sheíll sleep it all off for a couple days. There the best times because we never see her and we all pretend sheís not even living with us.

Poor old Dad. His just never been the same after Mum died and I donít blame him for hitting the grog íspecially with her about. Sheís bleeding Dad dry like a fat leech on a cowís arse and thereís many a time when thereís no food on the table because sheís drunk all Dadís housekeeping money down the drain.

At first I tried to like her I really did. When Dad first brung her home I hated her. She stunk of whisky and ciggys and she never even spoke to us kids at first just kept touching up Dad all the time and snogging him on the neck and stuff. She makes me wanto spew sometimes sheís so horrible. But I reckoned she made Dad happy in some funny sorta way so I made an effort to get on with her in them early days, you know talk to her and stuff.

When Dad tries to get her to talk to us she just mumbles things like, How yas goin luvvies, alright. And not even look at us or wait for an answer.  

She never washes up or even dries up or helps us with anything in the house or the farm. When sheís not drinking or smoking sheís in the pub playing the pokies or betting on the horses. Sometimes, after I finish cooking the meal and me and my brothers are washing up and that, Marlene starts painting her fingernails or putting lipstick and makeup on and stuff, and gazing at herself in the mirror just like one of the ugly sisters the ugliest one. I feel just like Cinderella when sheís about honest I do.  

The other day to our horror Dad come home sober for a change and announced to us all that him and Marlene had got married. We was all just flabbergasted. None of us could say a word we was all so angry. How could you, I managed to say when I found my breath. We hate her. Sheís a monster. Dad just smiles funny aní says weíll all get along just fine and weíre to call her Mum from now on. Thereís no way Iím gonna call her Mum, I say even though liíl Foxi does but he donít know any better poor liíl bugger. Archer and Hiraji and me call her nothing except when we hafto then itís her first name Marlene. 

With Marlene as our new stepmother life has just gone from horrible to horribler. We all hate her and she hates us. I just wanto kill myself.

She never ever does any mother-type things in our family like our Mum useto do, like cooking or cleaning or washing or loving us kids, except insist we call her Mum.

Whenever we akses her to help round the house she sinks outa sight like a stream of dribble in a bowl of soup.

 All sheís ever did is bring unhappiness into all our lives all except Dad that is, who seems to love her spite the horrible dragon she is.  

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