All that happened at number 26 is the story of Denise Scott who may be familiar either as an Australian comedian or from her appearances on Spicks and Specks depending on your TV viewing habits. For the over 35′s you might also remember her on the ABC’s The Big Gig.
Scott writes with a light comedic touch and sounds much the same on the page as she does on TV so you feel like you are getting the real Denise Scott, not something cleaned up for public consumption. Of course this isn’t quite true because if she included everything the book would come in volumes not a slimish paperback. The book charts the adult part of Denise Scott’s life from meeting and marrying her husband, having children and buying No. 26:
We just knew it was going to be ours. It was so awful and ugly and repulsive in every way.
When it rains the kids wear raincoats until her in-laws quietly pay for the roof to be replaced. Scott and her husband are both working as itinerant performers so funds were few and far between and Scott becomes a full time mum when she realises that her children are allergic to just about everything and it is just easier to care for them herself because no one else will be able to cope with their dietary needs or eczema. She does try one disasterous day at daycare, when she goes to collect the children they are both bleeding from the incessant scratching they have been doing all day. “We didn’t know what to do” the mortified carers explain.
The book also details the ups and downs of both Denise’s and her husbands careers, for her from a high of working on a Steve Vizard show and a regular income, to a press release that says the show will be back in the new year with one line at the bottom saying that Denise Scott will be pursuing other projects. “Did you know that?” she enquires of her husband “I think that means you are sacked” he responds.
She also touches lightly on her affair with a builder who was also a friend of the family, and later her husband’s affair while he was travelling for work. The section on their estrangement is brief but since you find yourself feeling for this funny smart woman you feel the lows with her too. Fortunately they both decided that they were happier together than apart and come together as a family again. This book doesn’t deal with any big issues, but I found it warm and funny and enjoyable.
This is my first review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012.