I was born in a small town in Rhodesia, called Selukwe. I was the second of three children born to Frank and Joan Hosie.

My folks had met during WWII.  Mum, Joan Pinder, was born in Morely, Leeds, UK the eldest of 7 children.  Dad was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia and had a brother and two sisters.

Dad served as an aircraft mechanic in England during the war.  My mother had been a WAFF and after a bout of pneumonia she had been moved to become an aircraft mechanic’s assistant.  They were married after knowing each other for only two weeks. After the war, dad returned to Rhodesia and mum followed as a ‘war bride’.  They lived in a small mining and farming town called Selukwe.  

My elder brother Robin was born in 1947, myself next in 1950 and then my younger brother Brian three years later.  Mum wanted six kids, dad apparently wanted none. They compromised and had three.

We, three siblings, grew up at a time when children were supposed to be ‘seen and not heard’. Fortunately for us my parents thought that was ridiculous and declared us ‘apprentice adults’ and we were encouraged to participate in all conversation at any time. Our participation was simple and there were three things we had to do in order to be able to remain in adult company.

  1. Show respect to adults at all times
  2. Only speak when you have something relevant to say
  3. Never interrupt someone speaking

If we made an inappropriate remark my dad just looked at the door and we said goodnight and left. 

Remember, this was a time when there was no television, no DVDs and the only time we saw a movie was if we went to the Movie House to see the weekly movie on a Saturday.  We did have radio and used to listen to music, stories, serials etc.

My parents held regular soirées, or get-togethers and, so long as we kept to the rules – we were included in the conversations.  The folks used to entertain a fantastic collection of friends, and it was not uncommon to have the lounge so full that people sat on cushions on the floor.  I think mum liked to mix things up a bit and enjoyed having people with strong opinions included.  Many a ‘good argument’ ended with the parties ‘agreeing to disagree’! 

Some characters that come to mind include, Father Colpi – the local Catholic Priest who was Italian; Cannon Cranswick, an Anglican priest; Shirley Cranswick who wrote the maths curriculum for Rhodesian schools; Phil Cranswick who had once been to jail for ‘salting a mine’; plus farmers, miners, bankers, doctors and accountants. 

Everyone was welcome, and I guess the three rules applied to them too because I noticed that if anyone upset anyone – they were not invited again!

Unlike today, where people tend to talk over each other in their need to be heard those conversations were enjoyable.  People were encouraged to give their opinion, even us kids got a turn to speak and be listened to.

I discovered with interest, that the person who sat quietly, not saying much at all often contributed the most to the conversation when encouraged to do so.

No subject was taboo – and we were encouraged to discuss things we had learned during one of the soirees at any time afterwards.  Sex education at it’s best.

One of the biggest takeaways from this different childhood was that I believed if I saw or heard of injustice and did nothing to intervene it felt that I was as guilty as the perpetrator of the ‘evil’. Natural Justice 101.

I went to boarding school, aged 13, full of confidence and with the courage of my own convictions.

One of the first ‘injustices’ I discovered was the juniors at the boarding school were made to carry the books of the prefects – it was called ‘skivying’.  I refused on the grounds that it was demeaning and a form of slavery.  Oh dear, as is often the case – my voice gave others courage and I was branded as a ‘trouble maker’.  Skiving ceased but from that time on my life at boarding school was not the most fun time of my existence. Fortunately, I loved school classes and in the afternoons there was swimming and diving.  Life was not all bad.

Religion

Growing up, when I did, it was the norm for everyone to be christened or baptised into religion.  The main denominations in our town were Anglican, Catholic and Baptist. Dad’s grandfather (Wimble) had been the Bishop of Norwich, and so religion was significant to his family growing up. Mum was brought up in a ‘God Fearing’ family and so mum and dad decided that they would not baptise us but allow us for ourselves if we wanted to be baptised or christened into a religion. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s all forms presented for completion always had a section for ‘Religion’.

I went to Chaplin School in Gwelo.  It was compulsory to attend church before being allowed out on an ‘exit’ Sunday.  They did not mind which church you attended so long as you did attend a church service on Sunday.

This is where things got serious.  If I attended any of the normal, mainline church services I would only be free to go home after 11 am.  If I attended the Anglican early communion service I could leave home directly after breakfast, around 8:30 am.  We had to be returned to the boarding house before 5:30 pm, my attending the early service gave me an extra 2.5 hours with my family each Sunday.

I began attending the early service at the Anglican Church.  For some reason I was the only girl from my hostel who attended the early morning service.  I used to enjoy walking across the playing fields and looking back at my footprints in the white frost on the grass as I walked in winter.Things went along without complication until my last year of high school.  It was decreed that ‘only children who had been confirmed or who were taking confirmation classes would be able to attend the early morning Anglican Church Service’.

It was an easy decision to make and I began confirmation classes immediately.  The priest that took the confirmation classes had a great sense of humour and there was a good mixture of boy and girls.  I looked forward to them.

Two weeks from when we were scheduled to be confirmed the priest asked for us to bring our baptismal certificates – of course, I didn’t have one.  After much confusion and hilarity, arrangements were made for the local Selukwe priest to baptise me the following Sunday.

Mum declared that she would not be attending as she felt what I was doing was ‘self-serving’ and that I was not ‘true’ to myself.

She did, however, bake up a magnificent afternoon tea for everyone to enjoy after the service.

I recall Jean Breen, who was the wife of Dad’s partner, Doyle, got baptised with me – she had decided to change from being a Catholic to an Anglican.  To be sure, Jean’s experience was far deeper than mine was.

My take on the whole exercise was that I had got 2.5 hours extra time to spend with my family each Sunday and all I had to do was ‘get religion’.

Despite my compulsory acquisition of religion, I never was convinced about the need to belong to a specific church and all the rigmarole involved with attending services.

The confirmation classes did give me an ability to argue religion ‘intelligently’ which I enjoyed greatly. 

I continued to write ‘none’ on forms that asked for Religion.

My own children were not baptised and, although forms in South Africa still had a place for ‘Religion’, I do not think it made any difference to their lives growing up.

Throughout my life, I have come across people who become confused when they discover that I do not hold any religious beliefs.

The conversations go a bit like this:

Question: “So you don’t believe in God? – you MUST believe in something, everybody believes in something.”

Answer: “I do not believe any anything the fact that ‘I am’ that is sufficient.”

This made perfect sense to me and so I no longer bothered arguing with anyone at all about religion.

The knowledge of the Christian Church that I gained during my confirmation classes when I was 15 years old came in handy when I worked for the Archdiocese of Hobart. The Archdiocese of Hobart is the Catholic Church in Tasmania, Australia. I worked in the Human Resources Division for seven years until I turned 60.

Throughout my life, I have learned many different things. One thing I share with confidence is that no knowledge is useless, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, mind you, I have not yet found a use for algebra…