Magda's Memoir : Reckoning
I had three perfect excuses for reading all day - It was a frying-eggs-on-the-car-bonnet kind of day, when solar power can save turning on the stove to cook, that’s if you have an appetite for more than salad. I need to return my book as somebody has a library hold on it, to say nothing of the fact that it has me hanging on every word. I don’t know how I haven’t read it before now… but it won’t be the only time. I’m heading to a bookstore to get my own copy..
Reckoning begins in October 20016 with the funeral of Zbigniew Szubanski, Magda’s beloved father. Remembering him takes Magda back to her childhood. She was born in Liverpool, England in 1961.
Along with Magda, sharing her childhood joy of playing in the bush, her fretting and her pain in teenage years, trying to be accepted as one of the gang, Sharpies they were called in those days, her isolated existence - I loved her huge pale golden moon hanging at the top of the hill and her family, all of them - from the Scots to the Poles. Aren’t we the lucky ones - that Magda’s parents took the huge step to move to Australia when she was 5 years old.
After Zbigniew Szubanski escaped war-stricken Europe, he went to Scotland, determined to train as a paratrooper and return to Poland. Impossible for him to go back, he stayed and married Margaret McCarthy, with a Scottish mother and an Irish father.
I smiled to think Magda’s father was not far away from Dad at the time, and perhaps may possibly have been one Pole to cause Dad a headache. With Scottish ancestry on his mother’s side, Dad has something else in common with Magda and on a timeline, I’m about the same age as Magda’s older sister, Barbara.
Who would think that one day we all could know this Magda, growing into comedy and acting on-screen and from her memoir, the personality behind the scenes. Whether it be comedy or tennis, science or the arts, Magda is very clever. But it wasn’t easy for Magda, caught in the undercurrents of life, her family adjusting to an Australian landscape and society, and then there’s her struggle in acknowledging her Lesbianism. What a champion in so many ways!
Magda’s English teacher got it right when she wrote on her report card that she was ‘a gifted student with quite a flair for writing.’ I loved Magda’s expressions - especially describing her father in his shorts mowing the lawn, that sounded more like a cow paddock, in the midday sun.
Magda has written with heart, compassion, generosity and courage in telling her story, courage that her father and her mother’s father had in their loss and survival, re-building their lives. This was evident in Magda’s journey in the SBS series, ‘Who Do You Think You Are,’ as she went to Ireland, Scotland and Poland to trace the places and people who shaped her world.