Dear reader,

This week I have arrived at a quarter of a century of writing for a Daylesford newspaper in it’s various forms. Not counting the occasional pothole it has been a pretty smooth ride.

There have been various local newspapers. At one stage, not that long ago, The Advocate, without anyone being told, disappeared into thin air, never to be seen again. On another occasion I was given my marching orders because the new editor at the time wanted my popular spot. However she didn’t last that long and soon I was back.

My involvement with The Advocate started in a special way when, during June 1998, I wrote a letter to the editor, informing readers that the Pantechnicon Gallery was hosting the inaugural Swiss-Italian landscape painting competition, a wonderful exhibition that shouldn’t be missed. The editor and owner of the paper, Brian Robinson, placed my ‘letter to the editor’ with a special border around it, in the centre of page three, (which after the front page is the second best spot in the paper). This really tickled my fancy so the following week I wrote another letter, this one about a play, performed in the cellar of Parma House – a wonderful venue hosting a wonderful art related event. I could go on because I have a big folder with each published story saved and printed.

My main objective, going ahead, was to promote the various art related events in the Shire, of which, at the time, there weren’t that many. So I gave the column a title, The Artist’s View, which gave me a wider scope. Without having made any contact as yet, the owner/editor accepted the changes. Over time this became a presentation with many more pieces of how I related to the world with an emphasis on the creative spirit. This, of course, landed me occasionally in hot water, with such threats, in Vincent street, of a forefinger pushed into my chest, or an occasional abusive phone call. But in the main I received many more positive than negative responses – mainly as a result of the choice of subjects. Here are the starts to some of them:

After my 200th column when I wrote a funny story, I was asked, “Where do you get those stories? The answer: “Whatever presents itself to my pen”, and, in addition, “I give my pen the freedom to roam”. This resulted in some amazing columns and word pictures.

As a story teller I created my columns by using words, string, ladders, rainbows and many other amazing materials. I chipped them from heavy stuff, like earth and stone. I created them from the soft puffy clouds of pure imaginings. I wrote a story about the easy way to get rid of your cash (by taking it to the casino, or to the bank). I constructed numerous stories about the loveliness of our environment. I composed “yellow tulip”, a column about poetry in action (where a young woman recalls her mother’s spirit by floating a bunch of yellow tulips down the dark green water of the canal, across the road from where she used to live).

One of the more moving columns I presented was partly written by me, partly written by a reader. The letter to me initialy came about from an accidental meeting with a woman in a local coffee house. She was seriously considering suicide. (This alone was worth the writing of all the columns). We had many talks over a coffee at Frangos. And some time after she had left town I received this letter.

Dear Petrus,

I once stopped myself from dying when it was all I wanted to do, by searching for something, anything, that was worth living for. There was nothing in my immediate life. I could have slipped away without being missed.

But I thought of all the paintings I had loved and all the stories that had transported me to other worlds, and all the music so sweet and rich which had filled my soul from the belly up. And it was in art that I could see the splendour of human life that shone through and despite and
because of human misery. It was the beacon that kept me here. It was literally what I lived for.

I am sure you don’t have to wonder why I keep this letter in my special correspondence folder.

And on we write, my magic pen and I, into the next 25 years.