2017, 177 p. NLA Publishing
In choosing Noeline Brown to write this book, the NLA was obviously going for popular culture and a dry sense of humour- and they got it. I can remember Noeline Brown in the Mavis Bramston show : indeed, she was Mavis Bramston in the pilot and first five shows. When she went off to England (as most 1960s show business and music people did) she was replaced by Maggie Dence who became better known as the face (and hat) of Mavis Bramston.
I must confess that this slap-stick style of humour doesn’t really appeal to me, and Noeline Brown’s career, most of which was on commercial television, mostly passed me by. I remember her in Gough Whitlam’s ‘It’s Time’ advertisement and I was aware of her in the support that she gave to Graeme Kennedy as his health failed. She has been an Ambassador for the Aging, and recently received a lifetime achievement award from Actors Equity.
There are eight chapters in the book: politics, the arts, music, fashion, family life, our town, women and sport. The text is conversational in tone, and interweaves Brown’s own personal anecdotes between snippets of information. It’s largely a young-person-at-the-time’s guide to the social life of the 1960s, and as might be expected from a stage and television personality, very much based in the realm of music and the popular arts. It’s a very light touch, with no theoretical framework or bibliography at all. It’s an easy and undemanding read and the sort of book that can be picked up for a chapter or two, then put down.
The book is generously illustrated with images from the National Library’s collection, and includes political ephemera, photographs by Rennie Ellis and Wolfgang Seivers, and magazine advertisements and photographs ( drawn most particularly The Australian Women’s Weekly). The layout is beautiful, as is the case with most NLA books. There are small breakout boxes of timelines and facts, and page-length featured topics, but the photographs do most of the work. It focuses mainly on Sydney and Melbourne, is probably more focused towards women, and rural life is barely touched at all.
The book, with Brown’s narrative as voice-over, felt very much like a back-to-the-sixties television documentary, full of nostalgia and wry amusement.
Source: NLA publishing review copy through Quikmark Media
I have posted this review to the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge site.
[P.S. A little plug for something close to my heart: If you’re interested in local history of the ’60s in Melbourne, and if it’s still November 2017, why not visit Heidelberg Historical Society’s ‘Remembering ’67’ exhibition? It’s open on Sundays 2p.m. – 5.p.m on 12th, 19th, 26th November at the Heidelberg Historical Society Museum, Jika St Heidelberg, entry $5.00]