Elwood resident becomes author

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By Sally Jane

Proving it is never too late to write a memoir, Elwood’s Ros Collins has launched her first book, age 84.

Her late husband Alan Collins, an acclaimed Australian writer, picked her up for their first date on a scooter in London he affectionately named La Cicada.

He brought his scooter from London once they moved to Melbourne and settled in Elwood.

Scooters were permitted, but not passengers.

“I sat primly on the pillion wearing a headscarf – just like the Queen – and clutching a shopping basket which looked domestic and suburban. “The cops were not fooled; they’d hide in the tea trees along beach road in Elwood and pounced on us,”Mrs Collins said.

Ros Collin’s said her memoir is a meshing of ‘memory and truth’. “Being truthful in a memoir can lead the writer into murky waters,”she said.

She said she had not been interested in writing a book that began with grandparents from Omsk or Tomsk or wherever and then continued to chart family life in a strict chronology listing all the characters one by one. “I knew I’d never stick to it and would wander off the track.”

She said her editors at Lamm Jewish Library “rescued me from some of the worst excesses”.

Some time with writer’s block ensued but after six years since both her husband’s death and also the birth of a new grandson, Mrs Collins said she was made aware of the passing of time.

“I decided to start afresh.”

She sought help from friend and poet Alex Skovron who gave her sound advice.

“Start with leaving your wedding on the back of Alan’s Lambretta,” Skovron said.

After that Mrs Collins said the writing came easy.

He told her to “Let your grandparents enter the story whenever they choose to turn up.”

“It was enough. I had that first paragraph and after that it all became compulsive.”

Mrs Collins said in her marriage her husband was a comedic force and she was very earnest.

Now, after his passing the shoe has changed foot.

“Even so late in life as this, temperaments can change and latent characteristics emerge.

My earnestness has now taken a back seat and I have aimed to entertain the reader with humour and –a little apprehensively –with honesty.”

Mrs Collins said the best part of publishing was the reactions to her work, which were so unexpected.

“From my orthodox Jewish chemist and his wife to completely secular non-Jews such as my hairdresser and the young woman in the pet shop who bathes Roxie my corgi; from my left-wing probably atheist accountant to my young progressive American rabbi; from old academic friends to the lady in the chicken shop, everyone seems to find something to relate to in the book,” she said.

The book was launched last week in Caulfield by Melburnian, Jeanne Pratt.

Mrs Collins said the book can be purchased at the Avenue Bookshop, Elsternwick, Readings, St Kilda, Grumpy Swimmer, Elwood or accessed at Lamm Jewish Library of Australia.

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