I so enjoyed speaking at the fabulous literary lunch at the Mona Vale Library.  I had a very attentive audience, a lot who had borrowed “A Spanish Love Affair” at the library and were already reading it.


The event was completely booked out a couple of days beforehand.


Thanks to Brigitte and Michelle from the Mona Vale library.  Great work girls.


I’m so excited that I just cant hide it!

There are only a few remaining tickets for my talk at the Mona Vale Library on Tuesday 22nd.  And I’m so excited to be able to share my story.  Me modelling a Fred Perry dress at the Hurlingham Garden Party – Lea Pericola, Italian tennis player famous for swirling to defeat in a Teddy Tinling creation and for lobbing every ball.At Queens with George Blue – he and his wife were our English parents and endeavoured to keep Sandie and I in check – without much success I’m afraid.I was renowned for playing in tournaments in beautiful, exotic and interesting locations but Antigua took the cake.  I can remember sipping the biggest pino colada you could ever imagine on a huge balcony overlooking the sea while listening to reggae.  My idea of heaven!  Unfortunately, the Half Moon Bay Hotel was completely destroyed in a cyclone otherwise it would be on my Bucket List – right at the top.

WIMBLEDON – Continuation of Thomas Keneally talk


On the middle Saturday of the tournament, my brother, John, and I are set down to play on the centre court against Margaret Court and Marty Reissen. John is touring in the Davis Cup team managed by Harry Hopman and this is the first time we’ve played at the same tournament since Palermo.

Although we are the next match on, and have been duly instructed where to wait, I am the only one who is sitting on the hard, board seats in the small room behind the centre court. The other more experienced players and my brother, who no doubt has been counselled by Harry Hopman, remain in the comfort of the change rooms until the very last moment. Unfortunately this gives me too much time for my already shattered nerves to kick in, especially as right above the doorway leading out to the centre court are the lines from Rudyard Kipling’s poem:


“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same.”


Triumph I can handle easily. It is Disaster that is my main concern.


I find it hard to believe that I am about to play on the hallowed Wimbledon turf, the scene of so many long and torrid battles fought by past champions. As a young girl growing up, I dreamt of this moment, as I’d lain sprawled on my parents’ bed, sipping hot, sweet tea and listening to crackly radio broadcasts from Wimbledon in the early hours of the morning. Now I am here and it is about to happen.


When the others arrive and I stand up to go out on the court, I can’t feel my knees. They’ve completely gone to jelly. Nor, as hard as I try, can I get the butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation. They are running wild. I make the mistake of looking up at the stands, which are full to overflowing with people. They shimmer in the afternoon sun, appearing to rise out of the ground, almost perpendicularly. I pray fervently to the god of all tennis players that I will play my best, not let my partner down, or worst of all make a fool of myself. I step gingerly forward, desperately wishing that I was a turtle and could just disappear into my shell.


John advises me to lob every ball and the tactic works. We lose but only just. The good part is that as only the third brother and sister combination in the history of Wimbledon we are the underdogs and thus the crowd favourites. We are cheered loudly every time we win a point. Mum will certainly be very proud and happy as it has always been her dream for John and me to play mixed doubles on the centre court at Wimbledon.                               







PROLOGUE from “A Spanish Love Affair”




Last night I dreamt I was in Madrid again.


As I make my way up the Gran Via, I can smell the sun hitting the pavement.   The aroma of strong coffee wafts out of sidewalk cafeterias.  The familiar dry, musty odour oozes from the vents of the magnificent old buildings lining the street.   Sculptures of angels and other winged creatures in carriages appear ready to launch from their rooves.

I am young again!



I tap my feet on the pavement and raise my arms in the air, clicking my fingers to the Flamenco music, belting out in my mind. I feel so alive, so rapturous, as if I am going to burst.


Later on, I wander through the Museo del Prado. As I enter each salon, my spirit soars when I gaze upon masterpiece after masterpiece – especially Titian’s generously proportioned women and Goya’s weary dark-robed penitents.


In the late afternoon, I tango up and down the length of the living room in our apartment in Chamatin, with Pedro leading me masterfully, held tightly in his arms while Carlos Gardell’s husky voice belts out his heartache.

When evening draws near I wander down the Calle de los Mesones in the old part of Madrid, where I eat the most delicious tapas and sip full-bodied Rioja. Afterwards, I dance at The Stones Club with all the boys I know, one after the other, moving to the beat, losing myself in the rhythm, singing the words of soul songs, long forgotten.

It is almost dawn when I walk up my street, General Oraa, clapping my hands for the Sereno to let me in. He emerges in a cloud of smoke from a nearby cafeteria and bustles self-importantly towards me with his huge bundle of keys to open the front door.

The hallway lights come on. The door on the first floor apartment opens revealing an old Senora, silhouetted in the doorway. She is wearing a quilted dressing gown and teeters on her high-heeled fluffy pink slippers. Her hair, sprouting large rollers, is covered by a chiffon scarf.  “Muy tarde, Senorita Susan.  Muy tarde.” She says tapping her watch.