Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It's a fact of life that we can all rub somebody else up the wrong way.
And that a group of women living together under the one roof can be bitchy, particularly towards other women they view outsiders, and not one of them.
Jimmy Governor's wife, Ethel Page, complained in court that she had been subjected to that type of mistreatment by the Mawbey women and the school teacher, Ellen Kerz.
These women had behaved badly towards a couple of other female school teachers who had boarded at Mrs Mawbey's house before Miss Kerz arrived.
In the case of Ethel Page, being a white woman living in a blackfellow's camp beside a creek would have been well and truly beyond the pale for women who viewed themselves as being well brought up 110 years ago.
But a couple of other female school teachers at Breelong had complained to the Department of Public Instruction about their ill treatment by Mrs Mawbey.
The first, who had boarded in Mrs Mawbey's house, had resigned on the ground of ill health because of difficulties she had experienced.
The second, a Miss Squires, moved out of Mrs Mawbey's house and went and lived with another family, much to the chagrin of Sarah Mawbey.
She was so put out, that she refused to supplement the salary paid Miss Squires by the Department of Public Instruction, as she and the other parents with children at the school were required to do.
The next school teacher, Mary Edwards, did not board at the Mawbey's at all and only stayed at Breelong for a short time.
I have been in a similar situation myself.
At the retirement village where I live, there is a small group of women who look down on me because they think I am not of the same social class as them.
They make it very obvious and therefore very hard to ignore.
So I can put myself in the shoes of Ethel Page, and to some extent, her husband Jimmy, who had to constantly bear these slights.
In those days there were no counsellors to go and talk to about it like there are now, to alleviate some of the resentment that builds up around being treated in this snobbish way.
Like Jimmy, I am part of a group that is generally looked down upon in Australian society, a public housing tenant, so this too gives me some understanding of his situation.