Australia’s Vera Lynn is a pint-sized centenarian.
In her much younger 70s, she drove herself from Melbourne to Cape York and then on to Perth, and for her 100th birthday, she bought herself an outdoor couch she could sit on during the Melbourne spring.
Her name is Enid Williamson and this week she received cards from everyone, including the Queen and the Governor-General.
Enid never really sang — only in church her son Bruce tells me — but just as the now-late Dame Vera inspired and comforted a generation of Brits with her war-time songs and doughty sense of optimism, so Enid did something similar on my show this week.
We rang to wish her happy birthday — how we needed some warm and happy news this week — and Enid sang us her song of resilience and hope.
Enid was married for almost 40 years. Her husband Bob was in the 7th Division Cavalry, serving in New Guinea and Borneo. She lives alone and cooks for herself, thank you, only lately reluctantly accepting some help.
She recently wrote a letter to her local member, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, assuring him that this too would pass. As she recounted to us, she said that Australians were a resilient people and would meet all these challenges.
“I said that after the pandemic is under control we would rise like a phoenix and handle all the problems presented … perhaps working together has made us more integrated, more caring and more hopeful and perhaps we can look forward to a better world: whether that happens or not I don’t know — but it’s what I need to believe for my own survival.”
She signed off with a phrase that has now become my unofficial motto: “Hang in there — it will get better”, she told us in a quavering but steely voice that echoed her generation’s hard-won experience of survival.
Today is Victory in the Pacific Day, the end of World War II, so when Enid — who has lived through wars, and depressions and now two pandemics — offers to show you a sure-footed path of faith and hope through the dark times of right now, I’d follow it. Follow her — Enid’s is the voice that sings most powerfully to me right now.
Seeking the secret door out of here
This weekend, it’s all about commemoration — but for many of us it’s also about the polar opposite: escapism.
I tried to watch the British-French co-production that has re-cast HG Wells’ War of the Worlds into terrifying, contemporary times but while brilliant, it was so stressful I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
Instead, I switched it off and made my husband watch Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility with me — ABC Life has found that I’m not alone in looking for the secret door out of here; and if backstairs royal gossip is your thing (oh fess up — you know it is) our former London correspondent Lisa Millar has you covered.
Have a safe and happy weekend — my thanks to Julia Baird for turning me on to the artless joy that is Twins the New Trend, the YouTube channel of Tim and Fred Williams from Gary, Indiana as they listen to very famous songs for the very first time (encountering Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You — “Whoh! Man, I thought she was fat! But she looks good! I got goosebumps!”)
It’s everything you’ve ever felt about music that moved you but written all over the faces of two guys who are here to feel every note — and delight in the surprise. I will live in hope for the day they actually get to meet Dolly Parton after flipping out to Jolene.
Here’s what they mean.
I mean, what I mean.
Oh you know what I mean, Jolene.
Take care this weekend and go well.
Virginia Trioli is presenter on Mornings on ABC Radio Melbourne and the former co-host of ABC News Breakfast.