Q & A – Doreen Wendt-Weiradmin
Local favourites, sharing their insider tips on places and things to do on and around Tamborine Mountain – Your gold coast hinterland!
Doreen Wendt-Weir is a local author, well-loved speaker and occasional TV personality. She has just written her latest book, Gardening in Your Nineties.
Tell us a little about your life
I have been writing all of my life. I was first published in the Australian Women’s Mirror when I was in my twenties, with a story about hitchhiking in Italy. It had three illustrations, and I received my first exciting cheque!
I had already written two books about Logan Village when I commenced a Bachelor of Arts course at Griffith University, majoring in Creative Writing and Indigenous Studies. While completing my BA Honours degree, I was encouraged to research the sex lives of older people. This led to my best seller Sex in your Seventies, the book that changed my life.
How has COVID-19 affected your life?
I was born in 1928, so COVID-19 meant that I keep to myself largely. I am a keen vegetable gardener, so I decided, to fill my time well, to write another book on gardening. I realised that I thought a lot about my life while gardening, so the tale became a memoir. Because it was a true story, the intertwining love story was a necessity, and Gardening in your Nineties, the sequel to Sex in your Seventies became a reality.
I have had a chequered career. I was born on a dairy farm on the Logan River. The war interrupted my studies at the Brisbane Girls Grammar School, and I became part of the war effort in 1944 when I was manpowered to work for the US Army in their large post office in Brisbane. When the war ended, I was lost. I always wanted to be a journalist, but a BA was required in those days, and I did not have the Senior pass (grade 12) that was needed to gain entry to university. Adult education had not been heard of, so I went nursing, a decision I have never regretted.
After four years General Training in Grafton, I completed an Obstetrics course in Sydney. A friend and I then embarked for England where we completed our District Midwifery in Boston, Lincolnshire. We rode around on our bicycles, delivering babies in all sorts of conditions, just like the TV show Call the Midwives.
How would you best describe what you do?
I am really a raconteur, an entertainer. With my writing, I can inform folk, hold their interest, entertain them. I cannot stand anything boring, so I must always be interesting – or say nothing.
What are your main challenges?
Marketing my books is a challenge. But I seem to be good at it. I have my own website sexinyourseventies.com and have done a lot of guest speaking, entertaining folk and promoting my book(s) at the same time. One thing leads to another, and I have never had the need to advertise. An ABC radio interview (that won an Australia-wide competition) led to a television career that only ended with the advent of COVID-19.
Any particularly funny moments in your career?
The funniest thing to occur was when I was interviewed by Larry Emdur on The Morning Show, Channel 7. It was all about my book of course, Sex in your Seventies, and I was recounting the story of an interviewee who had cured her husband of his sexual problem with ‘quickies’. Larry and Kylie both thought I meant Quickeze, the indigestion remedy, and the next day went to great lengths to explain to viewers that it was useless thinking this little tablet would cure the dreaded malady!
I am to be envied in a way, I think, as I am finding fulfilment in my gardening and writing, and what goes with both!
I am now 93 years old, and despite a recent setback, live an interesting life. I have good friends, lovely family, a warm bed and good tucker. I count my blessings and only aspire to a simple life.
What do you do to relax?
I like to play (the card game) 500 and I love doing crosswords, both of which keep my brain active. We all need a laugh and I try to find the ‘funny side.’ I am never nasty. I love ‘doing lunch on the verandah,’ and adore good conversation.
Do you like to travel or go on holidays?
I have done a lot of travelling in my day, and now am content to visit family in distant towns, or have a day at the beach. The last time I visited the latter, I could not get up off the sand, and was helped by a lifesaver who had noticed my plight! I gave him my best smile and thanks.
I try to be interested and interesting. I love people and their stories. I have found that the most unlikely person has a story to tell. I once heard Sir John Gielgud speak, giving advice about life. He said to beware of the pitfall of becoming ‘a caricature of oneself’ as one grew older. Wise words, and worth thinking about. I consider I was once a victim myself, but Sir John’s words made me aware of my condition, and I now take care that I do not exaggerate any traits, good or bad, that I might possess.
A wise uncle long ago sent me this verse:
I shall pass this way but once;
Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now.
Let me not defer nor neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.