Random Thoughts of Sheila White

The works and random thoughts of Sheila White.

My nanna, Sheila White, was quite an accomplished lady in her own way, yet all that remains are fading memories, and as the days pass into years, into decades, more and more are lost, forever. These poems have sat forgotten on my hard drive for the past 20 or 30 years, it is time past they were brought to light.

She was a published author, her memoirs recorded in "That’s How it Was" (published in 1986 by Regency Press (isbn 0 7212 0702 2)). Yet to my knowledge I have the last known printed copy and even then I never thought to ask her to sign it for me at the time. It was never reprinted and while it remains listed on Amazon and the likes, no copies ever surface.

That's How It Was by Sheila White (cover)

She was also a pianist and songwriter too. She told me once of how she wrote a hit song – unfortunately she sent it to a then unknown South African who recorded and published it in his own name, helping him become famous. My aunt recalls two others that similarly accepted her songs and subsequently released them under their own name, again with no acknowledgement, credit or royalties. I’ll have to ask my aunty Jean but I think all her sheet music is long, long gone. All that remains of her songs and music I have – on reel to reel tapes that few can read any more. I must make an effort to get them copied somehow before even those are lost. There are companies like Great Bear who can try to rescue them. Better do it sooner rather later I guess.

Just two small tapes, one addressed for the ‘International Songwriters Association‘. Not sure of the contents as I got rid of my reel deck decades ago and can’t play them, but they are labelled with the song "Who are They" and (I think) copyright Percy on one, Percival/Liddane on the other – Percival being her maiden name. Folded up small inside one sleeve were the typewritten words to the song:

Who are they

The mother cries for her dead son,
The widow cries for her only one,
The children cry for a father gone.
They call it war, yes, they call it war.
But who are they that kill and maim.
And live to fight and kill again?
The Devils spawn weak and misled.
Cursed by the dead, cursed by the dead.

They know not life, who live by hate,
Nor do they, who do nought but wait,
For them and they are but poor sheep.
Who’ve lost their way, yes, who’ve lost their way.
But who are they that die so young,
Who lost their lives in a world gone wrong?
They were wee lambs, in pain they died,
And loved and cried, and loved and cried.

[ “Reel-to-Reel tape have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years – after this they will degrade and the audio could be lost. Recordings made before 1996 are at high risk” ]

Nanna and auntie Jean, Sept 1982

Poems :

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