"It took William Badger some time to understand that he was going to be left behind, deliberately abandoned, what seemed like a thousand miles from home. His mother had simply asked if he would like a nice seaside holiday, and he had said yes.
"When William Badger is ten years old his mother Rose takes him to a boarding house in Manly - Seven Miles from Sydney, and a Thousand Miles from Care. Left there, abandoned by the glorious Rose, who once danced and twirled on her little pointy shoes, William sits in the hedge and waits for her return. But the Rose he longs for never returns; the mother sho comes back is much too angry to twirl.
"The only clue William has to this bewildering change is the name on a document he sees in the dining room sideboard: Longleg, the perfect name for an imaginery friend, or an alter ego...
"In this imaginative Tour de force, Miles Franklin award winner Gelnda Adams explores with tenderness and grace the life of a man who seems destined to find his mother in all other women."
"There is no other Australian novelist writing at present with such a finely judged mixture of zany wit and unforced wisdom, with such a control of character and material, such urbanity and exuberance." - Barbara Jeffries, The Australian
It took William Badger some time to understand that he was going to be left behind, deliberately abandoned, what seemed like a thousand miles from home. His mother had simply asked if he would like a nice seaside holiday, and he had said yes.
His father was in the corner of the kitchen at the time, his back to William, mixing stale bread and raisins and milk, making something they called heavy (because it was indeed very heavy), which they pretended was real cake. William was eating his Vita Brits, Vita British he secretly called them, British submarines surfacing through the milk, so that when he swallowed them he felt he was acquiring strength, the steel and the courage of the navy at war with the enemy, even though the war had been won several years before.
William was still searching for an appropriate name for his inseparable companion and best mate. Dash, perhaps. William Dash. Billy Dash. They would share the same first name. Williams Badger and Dash.
Rose Badger pulled out a chair and sat opposite William, her elbows on the table, her chin in her hands. 'Wouldn't that be simply super? A lovely, delicious, adorable exquisite seaside holiday?'
William looked carefully at his yellow-haired mother, the youngest, loveliest mother in the world, then over at his father, at the counter next to the sink, a tea towel tucked into his trousers as an apron, the oldest father in the world, with grey, creased elbows and a back that bent so that the shoulder blades protruded, fin-like, and caused the shirt to fall loosely like the skirt of a dress, down his back, the oldest father with a back now curved over a cracked mixing bowl and hands whose skin looked like old work gloves, squeezing the bread and dried fruit and milk together.
From the Angus & Robertson hardback edition, 1990.
This novel was shortlisted for the 1991 Miles Franklin Award.
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Last modified: January 28, 2003.