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Today's quote:

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"We'll Never Go Back."

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While reading the excellent book "Half the Perfect World - Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 19955-1964", I came across a reference to the above article in the Australian journal "The Bulletin" of October 1962.

To quote, "Charles Scriber - George Johnston's Sydney friend who, with his wife Ruth, had previously sent several flattering accounts of the Johnstons' island lifestyle on Hydra back to the Australian press - provided a fictionalised and by no means kindly portrait of Australian writers "Norm" and "Julie" who live on an unnamed Greek island. The story's narrator, Phil Stanton, focuses on Norm and Julie's unwavering commitment to the island, including Julie's oft-repeated refrain that provides the story's title, 'We'll Never Go Back'."

Someone in Australia recognised that the story was based on Hydra and sent Johnston a copy. He responded explosively, treating the story as an act of betrayal. When interviewed about this incident some years later, Scriber responded not unreasonably that "it is all right for George to write about others, but not for anyone to do it to him".

George Johnston and Charmian Clift may have pitied the poor mugs in Sydney - "We'll never go back you know, never go back ..." - but in the end they did go back - as I did, as we all did - because in reality we never quite integrated and our presence was resented by the locals while at the same time our ties with the homeland grew weaker.

We all still call Australia home!

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Downloadable study notes:
Australian Writers, Expatriates and the Greek Experience
A Journal for Greek Letters, Pages on Australian Society
Australians in Aspic: Picturing Charmian Clift and George Johnston’s Hydra Expatriation