SEW BE IT: The banned quilt.
What's happening to this column? Is it descending into the gutter? This is the second PG-rated item in a week.
Yes, don't let your children read on without guidance because this is a story about how a quilt with the word ''f*****s'' on it has been denied a place on the walls at the coming epic Canberra Quilters Inc Members' Exhibition at EPIC. The Quilters committee knocked back, in its presented form, Lynley Ducker's quilt Self Help, which, as well as being a strikingly orangey and lemony creation, carries the sentiment, not diluted by the asterisks we must use here, ''When life gives you lemons get on the roof and hurl those yellow f*****s at passers-by.''
This quilt, Ducker explains to us, was her heartfelt reaction to all the ''power of positive thinking'' gibberish that gets flung at cancer sufferers, telling them to think of their cancers as life-enriching gifts.
''But cancer is not a gift,'' she insists, ''and when life gives you lemons you are allowed to get a little bit cross about it.''
The committee agonised a lot over what to do, Canberra Quilters president Michelle Law tells us. But in the end it was decided that because there are child quilters, because the quilting display at EPIC will be ''a family quilting show'' seen by children and by ''grandmothers and great-aunts'', and for all sorts of reasons like that, the unexpurgated quilt could not be shown. The committee invited Ducker to sew some asterisks onto the naughty word (the way I've sewn them onto the word here in this family column) or attach some sort of flap (or loin cloth?) to cover the word.
But Ducker refused to do that and so the quilt is banned. ''Once you start doing that kind of thing the impact would have been lost,'' she says. ''The whole point was to give the quilt a bit of a jarring nature. It was to have people see it and go, 'Oh! Real emotion!' I was very fuming at first, I think because the quilt was the only chance I'd ever have to say what I want to say on this subject.
Wendy Saclier's Liberate and Celebrate.
''The committee has been quite good about it all, but I still think they're wrong.''
She says that quilters are still a bit conservative while other crafts can be much more open and graphic.
''The felters are always felting genitals,'' she informed, as this blushing columnist wondered if he must have misheard what she said.
STEAMING: The PS Canberra on the Murray at Echuca. Photo: James McDougall
Quilters seem to be quite some way away from being that explicit, although Ducker laughs that some of her quilting supporters are bombarding her with lewd suggestions of explicit quilts she might submit next year to give the censorious committee something even more shocking to agonise over. Meanwhile readers, bracing themselves for the shock, can see the offending Self Help by Googling ''Lynley quilts''.
Moving back into the decency zone, here is another star exhibit from the coming exhibition that the unexpurgated Self Help has been banned from. In Wendy Saclier's Liberate and Celebrate the two swans, one white, one black, normally held captive on our coat of arms, have been liberated and are celebrating (in party hats and garlands) the city's centenary.
The Canberra Quilters' annual Members' Exhibition is part of the Expertise Events Craft and Quilt Fair at EPIC from Thursday, August 8 to Sunday, August 11.
The other Canberra chugs past its own centenary
With a prayer that readers are not suffering centenary fatigue, yet, we report that exactly 100 years ago today, on August 2, 1913, a sweet little paddle steamer was launched into the Murray River at Goolwa, in South Australia.
This is such a parochial little column that we wouldn't normally go as far away as Goolwa, which is at the mouth of the river, but we must today because, you see, the paddle steamer launched that day was named the PS Canberra. The city (named in 1913) and the craft are both centenarians.
PS Canberra is still its name (prominently emblazoned on it) and it's still paddling strong. This weekend at Echuca, the PS Canberra and its 100th birthday are the focus of a celebration of paddle-steamer tourism.
For example, on Friday and Saturday there will be what organiser Vern Beasley tells us, modestly, is going to be ''the celebratory sail-past of the world's largest paddle steamer fleet'' - up to 14 of these charismatic vessels.
Beth Conner is from the family that commissioned and first owned the Canberra (at its launch it was a fishing boat, but it has been an adornment to tourism for decades).
We asked her how on earth it came to be given the name Canberra. She said that the new craft was added to a small family fleet already blessed with city names (there was a Melbourne and a Sydney) so that Canberra might have been thought ''the next logical name''.
The city's naming ceremony had been a newsworthy thing just a few weeks earlier, and so Canberra was on the minds of the folk as far away as rural, remote and riverside Goolwa.