Gertrude’s Biography

Gertrude's Diary

Gertrude was born in a hat box in Glebe in June 1908. Her 14-year-old gypsy mother lived to see the child”s fifth minute, and Gertrude was subsequently raised by wild dogs and the Salvation Army until being sent to the Girl”s Reformatory at Parramatta in 1920. After only 3 months of incarceration she organised an occupation of the warden”s office, and in the ensuing chaos escaped.

She took the name of Florence O”Flaherty and travelled the state as an itinerant performer, being billed as Australia”s only contortionist knife-thrower. After sell-out shows in Coonabarabran, Brewarrina and Coonamble, she returned to Sydney on a wave of public acclaim, and became the darling of the emerging Socialist set, participating enthusiastically in the Anti-Eviction movement. One incident in Bankstown saw her holding off 50 uniformed Police amid a blur of knives and cart-wheels.

Disillusioned by the schisms of the Left, in 1938 she left Australia to explore the jungles of Burma. There she established the Florence O”Flaherty School for Young Monkeys, a venture which provided an enjoyable diversion for the younger animals and a much-needed lesson to Florence in the appeal of primates.

After several years she began preparations to return home, only to learn that the school which she had intended to be her legacy to future generations was scheduled to be demolished for a proposed railway. Unpacking her razor sharp knives and donning her sequined leotard once more, she put on a display of resistance that heartened all who opposed the railway and scared the bejeezus out of its planners.

Returning to Sydney in 1949 she changed her name to Gertrude, settled into relative obscurity in Darlinghurst, and set about polishing her rather neglected skills in speech and writing. She later became a regular of The Sydney Push, and was often to be found in the smoky bars and cafes they frequented, discussing and refining her revolutionary ideas about education and societal change. In what was a great misfortune for the advancement of Australia”s intellectual development, Gertrude succumbed to a touch of lung cancer in 1963.

She was lucky enough to participate in the pioneering Age of Aquarius reincarnation programme run by the Carlingford Collective of proto-Hippy Heads, and thus was born at Ryde in 1967 to a hard-working and comfortable family that gave her all the food, shelter and love that had been missing from her previous life.

Eschewing the petulance of her fellow children, and bemused by their inability to appreciate the luxury of their lives, she was somewhat of an outcast among her peers. Her subsequent life has incorporated a career in marketing, tertiary study, and child-rearing – experiences she has used to develop her love and admiration of the higher apes and promote her understanding and forgiveness of their various shortcomings.

Her favourite qualities are humility and irreverence.

Her favourite food is butter.