Tuesday, July 25, 2017

As a school child, author Dianne (Di) Bates was a ratbag. In kindergarten at Carlton Public School (NSW), she single-handedly managed to clear her whole school from their classrooms by telling a whopping big fib. (She shouted, "The school is burning down!" so dramatically when she saw and heard a fire engine coming down the street near the school, that all the children believed her and became hysterical.) This exercise in "creative storytelling" was Di's first inkling she was destined to be an author, and how she learnt the meaning of the word 'detention'.

Di-3-yrs(I was about 3 here in this photo)

Later, in primary school at Mortdale Girls' Public School, Di was almost expelled over a piece of chewed chewing gum which she rubbed into a classmate's hair. Di's very favourite teacher was her fifth class teacher, Miss Arthur, who sadly died in hospital at the end of the year. Miss Arthur had a huge influence on Di's life.

Di (and her younger sister, Volda, and brother Larry) worked hard on the family's poultry and goat farm at Peakhurst, NSW, and on adjoining pig farms. She was an unhappy child and often ran away from home as she was scared of her tyrannical father. Once, convinced she'd been kidnapped, the police searched for her all over the state.

Di-pony(This picture shows me and my sister Volda and our pony Twinkle on the poultry and goat farm. That's me standing.)

When she was in sixth class, Di's family moved to another farm at Appin where she attended a two-teacher school. The principal there praised and read out a story Di had written about her ideal home.

The other students thought Di had copied the story, and teased her: This upset her so much she didn't try to write well for a long time after that.

As a teenager, Di attended Campbelltown High School where she was the last of the NSW secondary school students studying for the Leaving Certificate (now known as the HSC). Her best friend was the English master's daughter, Pamela Barraclough, with whom Di would write scripts based on a popular TV series, "Adventures in Paradise". Both Pam and Di were seriously "in love" with the series' hero, Adam Troy! They were also "in love" with The Beatles (especially John and Paul). On sports' days, Di would hide in a cemetery near the oval and draw other students. She was determined to be a famous artist!

After high school, Di worked for a short while in an underwear factory before learning she had won a scholarship to attend college in Wollongong. There she trained for two years to become a primary school teacher.