Dear Miss All: My childhood dream 8



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I was raised on a dairy farm on the north west coast of Tasmania. Many would consider this an idyllic childhood, and in retrospect it was. However, I longed to be anywhere else but there. Owing to a steady diet of comic books, my preference was for the United States. I wanted to drink double malted milkshakes and root beer. I longed to bound down our farm lane on a pogo stick, eating a Hershey bar. So powerful was my desire for escape that for some time I imagined a line of hedges on the horizon to be a stationary train, waiting to carry me away. It was a shattering blow when I eventually realised my mistake.

By the time I was about 12 I was full of early adolescent angst. One day I saw an advertisement in Pix magazine which read: DO YOU WISH TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE? (Yes I did!) ARE YOU AS HAPPY AS YOU DESERVE TO BE? (No, I wasn’t!) I completed the accompanying coupon and sent it off.

A couple of weeks later a large envelope arrived. Much to the amusement of my siblings it was incorrectly addressed to Miss P. All, instead of Allen. To my humiliation they demanded to know what was inside. It was a cheaply printed booklet with ‘blotting paper’ pages and a slightly sinister black cover. The text consisted of glowing testimonials and meaningless waffle. It provided no clue whatsoever about how to change my life, but requested a considerable sum of money for a course which would guarantee the fulfilment of my every desire.

Now I only had about five pounds in my bank account, and anyway it dawned on me that I had been very silly. I threw the booklet away and tried to forget about it.

Three weeks later my older sister Robbie collected the mail and appeared with a letter and a big grin; ‘Letter for Miss All!’ Oh my hat! It was another request to send money. Over the next few months the letters became more pressing. One said; ‘We know you are interested Miss All, or you would not have contacted us’. I interpreted this as a veiled threat. Of course my sister was thoroughly enjoying the situation. She told me that someone would arrive at the farm, to sign me up. Whether I sought reassurance from my parents I honestly can’t remember, but Robbie’s warning shook me to the core. I began to dread the sound of a car arriving. I also felt slightly sick whenever the mail was delivered.

In the end I wrote to the company telling them that I was now happily married, that my life was wonderful, and that I did not want to receive any more letters! I signed it Mrs P. Green (perhaps I unconsciously chose this name because my father grew peas). Thankfully they removed me from their mailing list, and the ghastly Miss All saga was over. Mind you, I was still a 12-year-old full of angst and aspirations. And I regret to say that it was not the end of my foolish attempts at developing a new persona!

I eventually made it the United States in the 1980s. To be honest, root beer tasted like cough medicine and Hershey bars were not a patch on Cherry Ripes. But was Miss All disappointed? Not a bit!

Did you ever do something like this as a child? Tell us below!

Pauline Conolly

I have written two non-fiction books, The Water Doctor's Daughters and All Along the River: Tales From the Thames – both were traditionally published. I have also written a couple of hundred articles for Australian publications such as The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and Quadrant. I write history, travel gardening and humour. My website was recently selected by The National Library of Australia as one of significant historical and cultural significance. It is now being permanent archived. I live in the beautiful Blue Mountains of NSW, but spend several months each year in the UK and France.

  1. Lovely story! Yep those comic books made me what to fly like Superman! We climbed up our big peach tree,onto the Ablution Block roof,suitably attired with pillowcases round our necks,and jumped. The two boys landed up in hospital with fractured arm and legs and I landed in Mums prize rose bushes, with nothing broken but big bruises, my pride, and a long procedure of painful prising of the Rose thorns!

    1 REPLY
    • Oh my word Cathararine, It’s a wonder you are here to tell the tale! You obviously didn’t have the right brand of pillow case!

  2. Lovely story. I always wanted to buy clothes from Marks and Spencers in London. I did not so long back. Small ambition fulfilled.

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    • Hi Vivienne, so glad you were able to fulfil your dream. I wanted to go shopping in Bloomindales, and eventually did. I still wear the trousers I bought 30 years later!

  3. Thanks for the memories, Pauline. I enjoyed your tale.
    I had the same background as ‘Miss All’ – dairy family in Circular Head – and had dreams, too. My dad used to subscribe to Scientific American. As a lad going to school in the early 1950s, I would immerse myself for hours in every issue, wanting so badly to enter the world of scientific research. I never did although, as an adult, I went part way there by working my way through an engineering degree.
    Keep up your entertaining writing.

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    • Hello John, how lovely to read a response from a fellow dairy farmer’s child. I used to daydream so much I would let the buckets run over while separating the milk. haha!

  4. What a delightful story Pauline; those ads on the back of magazines were so full of promise. I relate to your story; what a rich life books offered me as I became Heidi, Katy, Anne etc etc.

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