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Guest blogger: Cheryse Durrant

4 June 2017

Move over romance, here comes Maxine

Quaint humour rocked the newly plastered walls of St Andrew’s Hospital, Toowoomba, last month when both my mother and husband ended up next door to each other on the same ward, after individual surgeries. More than a few mum-in-law/son-in-law jokes roamed the ridges as I zipped from room to room, helping with showering and feeding, in between shooting off to teach scheduled classes at nearby schools.

I remember driving home quite late the second night to tend to my elderly father (an amputee who is still recovering from chemo/surgery). I’d only just put him to bed (his sleep machine requires a university degree) when my geriatric 17-year-old cat (that’s 85 in human years) started throwing up. I cleaned up the mess, settled her down and collapsed back into bed, only to be woken half an hour later by a another cascade of retching and vomit. Like all kids and the elderly, my adorable cat didn’t contain her performance to the one theatre timeslot but repeated this act six times before daylight. By then, I was wondering whether I was Mary or Martha, or maybe Maleficent.

Scamp, my 17-year-old cat, doing my laundry for me

It’s when I’m this exhausted or stretched that I try to remember the wry advice of Hallmark icon Maxine who touts that life shouldn’t be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather ‘to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: Woo Hoo, what a ride!

As a nit-picky journalist who wed a fabulous but medically unwell man, and has now gained elderly parents into the bargain, I’ve spent my life skidding sideways, notepad in one hand, tea towel in the other, yearning for a third hand to seize upon the chocolate or martini.

It’s a thought held by most women as we struggle through each day, trying to be a good mother, sister, daughter, wife, career woman, housekeeper, cook, gardener, accountant, charity coordinator, problem shooter and save-the-worlder (That’s not a word? I’m sure it is, or at least it should be).

It’s also why reading plays an important role in our lives. We all need an outlet, whether its sport, art or drinks with our mates. For romance readers, that escape package comes in the delicious form of a paperback—and now ebooks. ARRA isn’t just about talking books and romance. It’s a safe haven, our Garden of Eden, where we balance and lighten our constant real world problems with our love of reading and writing. By relaxing with a romance novel (or scribbling words across the page, if one’s an author), we are able to recharge our batteries and return to that crazy, chaotic, skidding sideways world that we love, at least most of the time.

When artist John Wagner first created Maxine for Hallmark™ in 1986, many feared that her caustic comments and negative stereotype might offend, but most of the world fell in love with her. Maxine’s wit adds unexpected humour to our day, but we also admire her honesty. She is who she is and she takes on every issue fearlessly. Just like our favourite heroes and heroines.

Next time you feel like the world has swallowed you whole, then chewed you up, and you can’t steal away time for your reading for at least 12 hours, think of what Maxine would do or say, and let that add a smile to your day.

After all, eventually there will be another chocolate, another martini and certainly another romance. And those treats are even better when the wait has been longer.

Cheryse Durrant traipsed the writing world as a journalist for 20 years before publishing her debut novel, The Blood She Betrayed, which made the ARRA shortlist. A dabbler in various genres, including adult and YA markets, Durrant has now had six books published. These include non-fiction titles. Her children’s picture book, My Big Bear Story, is used in schools and counselling rooms across Queensland and was showcased at a global conference in Prague last year (2016). Durrant also runs the Creative Dragons writing school

You can find Cheryse here: Website | Facebook | Twitter


  1. 4 June 2017 4:09 pm

    Cheryse I can SO relate to the skidding-in-sideways idea. And “Amen!” for the reading as salvation. If I couldn’t lose myself in the worlds of my characters (and other people’s) I think I’d been been committed by now! I do hope you’re finding some time to write amid all the hospital visits and teaching.

    • 4 June 2017 10:13 pm

      I think we should coin a new term – “skidding in sideways to write”. Maybe that would catch on? Thanks, Lou, for your never-ending inspiration x

  2. 4 June 2017 10:51 am

    Poor Scamp. Hope all the geriatrics and patients are on the mend and you have time to grab that chocolate and settle down with a martini and a book,

    • 4 June 2017 10:17 pm

      Tee hee. I think you already know I’d trade the martini for a red wine any evening. Come to think of it, I’ve never tasted a martini. I must fix that at our next con. All the patients are recovering nicely, now, Shell, except Scampy who vomitted again tonight – maybe it’s an encore act for my ARRA blog? Back to the vet again tomorrow and we’ll see what’s going on. I think she’s lived on about 999 cat lives so far…! I can certainly vouch that my fave cat has lived a Maxine life, with heaps of chocolate milk in one paw and Whiskas martini’s in the other. Hugs, Cher x

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