"So Dame M. Have you ever seen a bushfire?" said I.
Surely she won't have a story about a fire.
"Well, yes, I was nearly burnt in one", she replied.
As a young lady, Dame M was sometimes taken to the country for holidays. One such holiday was to a family friend's farm at Launching Place, which I think is in the Yarra Valley or nearby. The year 1939, the day probably Black Friday, although she is unsure. She would have been fourteen years old by my calculations.
Dame M's mother was frantically trying to get to the farm to get Dame M and her sisters but the police would not allow her to pass. Instead a police officer said he would go and get them. The police officer arrived at the farm and they willingly went with him as they were afraid. The owner of the farm refused to leave and was subsequently boiled alive in his water tank where he sought refuge from the inferno. Dame M said that as he was pulled from the tank, the flesh just fell off him in strips. I doubt she saw that. She probably just remembers the telling of it.
"I was vain back then you know Andrew. With this inferno around us, I was more concerned with how I looked with my hair wrapped up in an old rag", she remembered. Even now she still has a fantasic head of rich golden coloured big big hair.