By Debra Wirth
The Modern Girls are Strong Diary, 1992 (with Hermoine the Modern Girl)
By Kaz Cooke
Allen & Unwin. $19.95
Reviewed by Debra Wirth
Do you get to January or February (even March) of a new year, then go frantically searching through newsagents for that elusive but essential item — a really good diary? Do you always end up settling for something which you don't like (it's got a dull blue imitation leather cover), which was far too expensive (like $24.99) and really not much chop? Well then, 1992 can be different!
The Modern Girls are Strong Diary is marvellous! It's got a lurid pink hard cover so it won't crumple or curl in your bag, it's printed on 100% recycled paper, it's got enough space to write important things to remember on each day — but not too much so it looks like you never remember to write important things in your diary and huge blank spaces appear whenever you open it up.
Best of all, it has really funny lists and really good conversion tables in the front and great little cartoons, sayings and important dates throughout. October 9, for example, notes that on that date in 1986 BHP's Australian Iron and Steel lost a discrimination case brought by 34 employees and was ordered to pay the women $1 million in compensation. March 25 notes Aretha Franklin's ("the world's best soul singer") birthday.
The conversion tables show the old and metric amounts for liquids and weights; Fahrenheit and corresponding Celsius heats for ovens; and how to figure out the various (ie Australian and US) clothes and shoe sizes — all very handy.
Ten things feminists do and don't want are listed in the front. Equal opportunity, the right to abortion on demand, and $4 million are listed among the dos, and oppression, wars and a penis are among the don'ts.
At the back, along with the standard pages for names, addresses and "telly fern" numbers, and a not so standard menstrual calendar, are contact numbers for information and services in each state, one or all of which most of us need at some point. These include taxis, general women's information and referral exchange centres, emergency counselling, Aboriginal services and racial and sexual harassment and discrimination contact phone numbers.
Modern Girls has all the elements of that really good diary that I haven't found up until now. It's bright, funny, spacious but not too spacious, politically sound and it has all those pieces of marvellously practical information. I, for one, won't be
frantically searching through newsagents in January next