I did not set out to write The Uncrowned King. Some twenty years ago I found myself deeply and profoundly impacted by my Mother’s efforts to keep our family story together and by the extraordinary level of care she had taken, over so many years, to preserve the Lindrum record.
This was no mean feat. The material evidence on the Lindrum history is substantial and my Mother’s commitment to the Lindrum family is to be applauded given her own impressive family history and, indeed, her own personal history. During World War II Joy was stationed in Hut 4 at Bletchley Park where the British broke the Nazi enigma coding system. Her efforts were recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron in May, 2010.
Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge believed there was always a reason why a man or woman picked up his/her pen to write. In my case two events bore and continue to bear heavily upon my soul, so much so that I am certain author George Orwell was right when he wrote: ‘Writing is such a painful pursuit, such a struggle, no man or woman would take it up unless he/she was angry about something.’ George Orwell’s works, like the works of many other authors, critique society and publishing works that critique society is not always easy; painful as it is for society to confront the Truth.
Down and Out in Paris and London (1936), Homage to Catalonia (1938), Animal Farm (1945) and Ninety Eight Four (1949) all have something to say in the hope that society will have a Road to Damascus transformation.
So what were the motivating factors that led to Jan Lindrum putting pen to paper? There were two. The grab for the Lindrum name for use on a hotel in Melbourne. That act bore all the hallmarks of corporate corruption. I do not propose to discuss the grab for the Lindrum name here other than to say my family name was hijacked.
The downfall of Lindrum wines – attributable to a poorly managed Federal Government project under the Howard government which saw me lose ‘all’ our assets and three years hard work building a brand that still lingers in minds today and is still perceived, by many, to be a ‘still functioning’ large corporation.
Those two events tore into the fabric of my family causing extreme anxiety, hardship, fear of bankruptcy, almost continuous worry about an uncertain future, depression and so on.
What the hell was I going to do with my life?
How would I ever hold my head up in front of my grandchildren? Curiously, I do not recall applying for entry into Notre Dame University in Sydney in 2006. I do, however, recall attending the interview with the then Registrar, Dr. Peter Dean. I informed Dr. Dean of my intention to re-hone my performing arts skills but other fields captured my attention; behavioural science, developmental psychology, the politics of motion pictures, the history of western civilisation, US Foreign Policy, Gothic literature, philosophy, ethics and so on.
Seas were frequently choppy and, on more than one occasion, I thought I may not make it to the shore. Physically, mentally and emotionally challenged, actor Ray Bolger’s scarecrow frequently flashed across my mind; the words of his song so attributable to me: “My head I’d be scratchin’ while my thoughts were busy hatchin’, if I only had a brain.’ I suppose it might be argued that my writing of the story of The Uncrowned King was written in the stars. I was born into a family of champions and inherited the history/story of that family and was, therefore, destined to write the tale.
Other family members could equally have written it and may yet write it with their own set of perceptions, memories and experiences.Equally, it might also be argued this story is the product of pure coincidence; traceable to my entry into university in 2006 and, more particularly, my participation in a creative writing class in 2007. It was never my intention to study creative writing. Creative writing was an option on the university timetable which just happened to fit with my electives. If I had selected a different subject, The Uncrowned King may never have been written.
Because of the enormity of the Lindrum story, and because of my attachment to it, I have experienced periods of great joy and periods of deepest depression. I describe the journey as my Frankenstein. A labour of love on the one hand, a monstrously demanding and emotionally draining process on the other.
Looking into the rear vision mirror is never easy, particularly when one is looking back over one’s own life; a task that inevitably forces you to reflect on decisions taken on the journey through historical time. On more than one occasion I’ve felt like throwing in the towel – “throw the whole bloody lot on a bonfire” – and I’ve been forced to tell myself: “Lindrum, for Pete’s sake, don’t get emotional”.
At the very beginning of the project the aim was to get the story written as quickly as possible in order to restore the Lindrum name and history to its once hallowed position which is something my Mother wanted to see happen. Sadly, my Mother subsequently slipped into a state of progressive vascular dementia and will never come to appreciate the restoration. I draw comfort from her reaction to her own life the day she turned the pages of a picture book we’d put together as a gift for her on her first Christmas in full-time care. She turned the pages slowly and carefully, appreciating the remarkable life being played out in front of her.
A happy memory, it was beautiful to watch.
For more of Jan’s Pilgrimage go to “Family, Nation & Sport: Writing the story of The Uncrowned King”, Jan will then continue her journey in “The Next Chapter: In the Blood”.
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