posted on October 23, 2009 at 2:34 am

my mother joyce is 81 years old today
she was born in london a long time ago
one of 8 kids
her mother n father working class strugglers
she spent much of her childhood vaguely embroiled in ww2
getting bombed and hiding out in the underground or in shelters
her dad was a bit of a leftie
and her mum was puffing on cigs as she made the dinner
the kids ‘ad a bath once a week n all shared the bathwater
they all slept in the same bed too except the biggest 2
joyce was third
not a good position to be in i guess
better to be oldest or youngest
my mum was quite a good sort
sometimes i get shocked seeing pictures of her i havent seen before
you can easily imagine why my dad fell for her
she is so thoroughly english
she could live in australia or india or iceland for a hundred years
and she would remain staunchly herself
she would not pick up an accent or change her anglocentric worldview
as opposed to me
who is so changeable and wanting to be whatever i’m not
my mother doesnt change
she bears good fortune and grief stoically
thats what happens when you spend your early days in a war
you toughen up
you dont sweat the small stuff
and you get a bit of a distance too maybe
i tell you this
i never saw my mother gain or lose weight
her hairstyle didnt change much over the years
and the blonde turned to a lovely ash silver almost imperceptibly
she always had a load of energy
and she still does except her dodgy knee has slowed her down
but she still hops around
bombarding you with loads of confusing choices
ie me n the fambley drop in on her
joyce : what do you lot want for lunch…..?
us : oh anything…what you got….?
joyce : but its too late for lunch
us : why cant we have lunch
joyce : well sonny jim, you should have gotten here earlier…
us : well can we have dinner…?
joyce : its too early for dinner son, dont be silly
us : well ok…we wont have anything…
joyce : but you must be hungry…!
us : then lets have lunch…..
joyce : well you should have come earlier then…
now my mum n dad were married for eight years before i arrived
so no one accuse em of a shotgun wedding please (not like aunty X!)
and i dont think they were expecting me to be me
and i think i was a hard child to like
i am still hard to like
despite being vaguely goodlooking n talented
you might assume this makes people like you
but it doesnt
there is an inherent selfishness
an almost cultivated stupidity combined with flashes of brilliance
an embarrassing lack of social skills (asbergers lite perhaps)
i still dont know what to do with people
i didnt know what to do with my parents
and they werent sure what to do with me
you see it was peace time
and we migrated to australia
thus accidentally denying me the chance of being a much bigger rockstar
had i remained in england
where i wouldnt have kicked against so many pricks
and i wouldnt be compared to geezers i preceded by years
they wanted to emigrate from cold bombed britain
either canada or australia
both woulda had pros n cons for me
i guess i could have been a half canadian bloke without much trouble
we come here
dad does well coz hes a charmer with the cockney malarkey down pat
and the aussies used to be impressed with poms n yanks
they still are a bit…its true…not all poms n yanks natch
but if youre a classy pom or yank in australia you gotta foot up
anyway i turned out to be cheeky
not nice cheeky neither
i had a big rude mouth and i opened it a real lot
i pissed off all my dad n mums brothers n sisters that were here in aust
and then pissed off all their other friends n rellies
my mum did not namby pamby me much n all that
neither was she cruel or hard
but she was stern
and she had that true grit to back it up
much more afraid of her than my dad
my mother didnt really have much of a philosophy
about raising kids
a wallop if needed
a good dressing down frequently
a bit frosty if you played up
she was pretty even handed
she didnt really seem that jazzed about being a mother really
i always felt that my mother could have dedicated herself to a career
like being a librarian or something
she never would have missed having a husband or kids
she always seems to have a detachment
she never worries too much
she never counts her chickens
she just kinda gets on with it without any soap opera
my mum was a good tennis player
even tho she was often attacked leaving the tennis court
by our very own boxer dog, lionel
who had a strange fetish of hanging round the tennis court
and nipping womens backsides as they went in n out
anyway when she retired she become a state champion bowler
with many cups n trophies till her knee stopped her playing
i dont think my mother double guesses herself too much
which is one of my faults
in that she is like eve
they just do things and thats it
whereas me n say aurora
we always talking ourselves out of things
my mother was never phased that much by my ups n downs
she didnt change her attitude to me when i got lucky in show biz
it was business as usual for her and thank god
i wouldnt impress her much if i won the gold whatnot or whatever
shes like a constant in my life
no matter what joyce is joyce
and she cant n wont change
whether youre some bigshot manager
or some humble fan looking for an autograph
joyce will be the same
a few years back she wrote an amazing book
the tale of the old iron pot
my brother john helped her immensely in getting it published
it is quite an eye opener n should be rated AO for the language
tho my mother herself rarely swears …she quotes others freely
yes it is a great read
i’m not in it all that much
just towards the end
but wow it was an entertaining
if sometimes ever so slightly farfetched book
so thats a talent i inherit from her
and i hope i inherit her longevity and her energy
and i wish i could have her cool detachment from highs n lows
anyway 81 aint a bad innings
and i’m glad i had a mother who treated me fair n square
she let me be most of the time
my parents forced no manifesto on me
other than their intrinsic englishness
i was free to become me n luckily
the times permitted such a selfish luxury
because at the age i was discovering trex
my father was killing geezers in europe
so you can imagine it was a bit different for them
i love my mother
shes a real brick as they used to say
and i am thankful to her
she did what she could with me
and it all turned out ok
(in the end)

43 Responses to “happy birthday joyce bennett 81 today and mother of perhaps (arguably) one of the best lyricists(of his type) in the (southern hemisphere) world!!”

  1. avatar
    Saint Louie | 23 October 2009 at 4:53 am #

    I hate reading long replies (please forgive me) but mine ended up like that after reading yur blog today:

    Talkin' bout Mums and Pops…my Dad has been in and out of the Hospital and Nursing Home's last 3 months and I'm dealing with that right now too among other things, insurance, medical care, doctors, nurses, work, and Pops…so hold your loved ones dearly n as close as you can…as stubborn or lovingly as they can be…always love them more, because you never know what LIFE can throw at you?

    My Dad had 2 L1L2 broken vertibraes 3 months ago, went to hospital, then got a pacemaker unexpected, recooped somewhat in a crummy nursing home, went to temp nursing PT faclity, developed phuemonia, went back to hospital, was on breathing machine and feeding tube (the whole works!) from August to last Monday, monday was admitted to hosp then just got over Pheumonia last Thursday…I'd say he's a lucky guy that someone is looking after , God…

    Just last week I thought I (and family) lost him, but through the miracle of God and modern medicne prevailed and survived, but NOW he's as stubborn as ever AGAIN…back to his old self I'd say…he's refusing Pysical Therapy, pills, oxygen, etc…amazing, and he doesn't realize that he almost died last week as much as we re-iterate it!

    As much as our Mums and Pops get on our nerves, love us to death, help us out to the brink of poverty, or ignore us in life, give us the utmost attention, we still stick with em' through thick and thin for the loving sake of "till death do us part"…flesh and blood will do that to you πŸ˜‰

    We should do that with anyone close to us in life, if the whole world acted like that we'd have utopia.

    Stick with em' (Mums n Pops) through thick and thin no matter what!!!…life is too short and love em' with all yur energy, everyday, every minute, every second, with all your that is comprimised of your SOUL— no matter what!!!!!

    God Bless Everyone n Everyone's Mums and Pops!


    P.S. Again, sorry everyone for such a long reply to this blog today…it's just when you mentioned bout yur Mum it hit home for me today πŸ˜‰

  2. avatar
    Mary | 23 October 2009 at 5:04 am #

    Happy Birthday to Mom Joyce, wow 81is great, thats a great blog today, thank you for sharing with us!

    love always

  3. avatar
    Saint Louie | 23 October 2009 at 5:20 am #

    I apologize to SK and gang about the silly long blog I wrote before (don't blame SK for deleting it if so chosen)…just what I was thinkin' at the time after reading yur blog today Stev'O

    Most Importantly…

    HAPPY Birthday Momma B, or Momma K, or Momma Joyce!!!!

    I'm playin' the Beatles cut "Birthday" in yur honor right now.


  4. avatar
    andmoreagain | 23 October 2009 at 5:30 am #

    Good story, very much like my (seventy eight year old) mum.

  5. avatar
    princey | 23 October 2009 at 8:03 am #

    Thanks for passing on your talent to your eldest son Joyce, we love 'im!
    Happy Birthday:)

  6. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 October 2009 at 8:19 am #

    Wonderful. And, actually, some of the most genuine, heartfelt things I've ever heard from you. I hope your mum reads it. Happy birthday, Joyce.

  7. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 October 2009 at 8:26 am #

    well, your mum joycie sounds very familiar to me of women that age from that country, and i've only known one – but i think i know a thing or two, anyway, your mum sounds cool to me, you know authentic and i reckon that is not something to underrate, so i want to wish her a happy birthday, and tell her, i think she did a really fine job on mothering you so she she be proud of that.

    i think you probably have the finest parts of her in you as well, you just won't accept it, always arguing the toss.
    and your dad too can't be underestimated here, he sounds like someone i would have loved to be around.

    would like to also add, you must be alright if i bother spending my time bookmarking you in my favourites under friends. i'm still a regular reader and believe i understand what's good and what's not and today's post was a shiny bright gem amongst a lot of dross.

    hey steve, you're ok and if you'd only let the love in, you'd end up loving yourself too.


  8. avatar
    cazziem | 23 October 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Thanks SK! A fantastic blog, and although from time to time the internet in particular unfuriates me, after reading your tribute to an obviously wonderful lady, its great knowing that this will remain out there for all the world to see. Priceless!!

    I lost my own Mum very suddenly and unexpectedly in 2007; she would have been 83 last week, and had lead a very interesting and full life, although as far as personalities go, she was probably more like you than your Mother. She lived and breathed music, and was even performing just 3 weeks before she died.

    So, from one British Mum to another I'd just like to say, Happy Birthday Duchess! I wish you good health, happiness and many, many more birthdays. xx

  9. avatar
    Space Alien Interplanetary Being | 23 October 2009 at 9:03 am #

    Are we going to set foot on Mars anytime soon? Those tinker tots we sent need a little push!

    Besides, I want to live in a Dome, in the Desert, on Mars, plug in my boom box, and listen to The Church all day long oh high volumes, suck in the summer red breeze and then sneeze.

    Or is a day on Mars equal to a day on Earth? We'll see soon enough…

    Vroom vroom away wee go-go

  10. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 23 October 2009 at 9:56 am #

    mums are wonderful people, aren't they?

    happy birthday, missus k!

    love always….

    (ps yesterday's comment is floating out in the ether somewhere…)

  11. avatar
    linjo | 23 October 2009 at 10:06 am #

    The term 'don't throw the baby out with the bath water' comes from the 16th century when it was common practice for the whole family to use one bath to wash, first the men, then the eldest sons so on, then the women and girls and last, the babies, so as you can imagine the water was black by the time they bathed the bubs. Congratulations to your mama Steve, 80 is the new 60! A wonderful characterisation of her from you today, salt of the earth she is.
    Having two teenage sons, they give me their music, have been listening to 'Zounds' by Dappled Cities, omg it is so fkn fantastic. Linda xxxx

  12. avatar
    Freddie | 23 October 2009 at 10:10 am #

    Happy birthday to your mom
    and good luck to her with the book
    I like the title & cover, might look for it later πŸ™‚
    Loved today’s blog.
    You may not have been
    an angel of a child
    but you're not that bad either.
    Love to you.

  13. avatar
    veleska1970 | 23 October 2009 at 11:23 am #

    happy birthday, mom!!!

  14. avatar
    pete, standing alone | 23 October 2009 at 11:32 am #

    I love the little detail about the Boxer who'd try to bite women.

    Happy birthday wishes to your mother SK!

  15. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 October 2009 at 11:37 am #

    I always get the impression that you had a great mum and dad.
    So, er, WHY were you such a little scrote?
    What made you such a brat when you were brought up by great parents?
    Why do you think that Russell and John weren't like you?
    I'm not slagging you off here – I just can't work it out!

  16. avatar
    Richard | 23 October 2009 at 11:54 am #

    I like the sound of your mum

    the Steve Kilbey I 'knew' in my youth didn't really have a mum

    on a different tack

    here's a link to a little labour of love that I hope some people here will enjoy

    operetta video

  17. avatar
    Celticat | 23 October 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Happy Birthday Mrs K, you must have got it right cos your lads tuned out alright!


  18. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 October 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Hey last night watching Flashback here in the US, I saw the Lincoln ad with Sia singing "Under the Milky Way"

    That has to be good for a few quid.

    Lets hope other Church songs will start getting more exposure.

  19. avatar
    restaurant mark | 23 October 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    happy birthday to your mom! may she enjoy many more…

    take care

  20. avatar
    John Garratt | 23 October 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    Congratulations on her first 81 years.

  21. avatar
    Ellen | 23 October 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Sending your mom a warm birthday greeting from "across the pond." God bless her.

    What an incredible blog today! I love it! Your mom sounds like a true gem, Steve. There are traits she has that remind me of my mom (she's 87).

    There are so many things that are whirling in my head that I want to comment on, and yet I can't seem to get them sorted out.

    Today's entry really made my day – I mean that. Thanks.

  22. avatar
    Ellen | 23 October 2009 at 3:54 pm #

    After reading Kraig's comment, I want to reiterate what he said about sticking with your mom and dad no matter what.

    Today's blog entry has brought up a lot of things for me because, you see, last week my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I can barely make myself write that God-forsaken word because my mother has ALWAYS been so healthy and sturdy. She lives alone in a big house, is active in her community, her voice is still strong and she still walks upright. Her only complaints are that she has a touch of arthritis – that's it!!!

    And now … this devastating news out of nowhere.

    Anyway, I don't mean to drag the blog down, it's just that you really don't know where life will take you and you really don't know how much time you've got with your precious mom. Cherish the moments.

    God bless good mothers!

  23. avatar
    davem | 23 October 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    Happy birthday Joyce!
    He's the best lyricist and singer in the universe.
    No swearing today fiends for Joyce!

  24. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 October 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    Happy birthday to your mom

    Brian aka Melquaides

  25. avatar
    bc | 23 October 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    a touching tribute sk. happy birthday to Joyce!! i'm looking for her book. obviously a beautiful woman as well as a sportsperson extraordinaire.

    I just lost my Mom (and Dad) this year… and miss that constant in my life. your Mum seems like a super-cool person. now I see where the your englishness comes from…and indeed…you would be Sir Steve by now if in England.

    Cheers to Joyce for letting you be yourself…most of the time.

  26. avatar
    Cee | 23 October 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    Happy Birthday Joyce!! My Mom and Dad are catching up quickly…
    Thanks for all you've done – now go out and have some CAKE!!

  27. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 23 October 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    81 years old. Unreal! I can't even begin to imagine what that must be like.

    Happy birthday, Steve's mom!

  28. avatar
    Jasperina | 23 October 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    After reading your wonderful blog about Joycie I dreamed about my own Mum last night… Maria del Rosario. Her childhood was also frought with the terror and chaos of war. My Mum is a remarkably creative being. At 73 she is currently working on a commission carving a 2m sculpture of mother Mary out of huon pine! She is my guardian angel, my greatest inspiration and a truly beautiful soul.

  29. avatar
    Chris | 23 October 2009 at 9:32 pm #


    Other Southern Hemishphere Lyricists of Note:

    Caetano Veloso
    Jorge Ben
    Tom Ze
    Luis Alberto Spinetta
    Charley Garcia
    Raul Seixas (though I think Paulo Coelho wrote most of his, before he began to peddle cozy New Age smut)
    Rita Lee

    Great cases for learning Portuguese and/or Spanish!!!

  30. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 23 October 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    I would like your mother. She's the vehicle that brought Sk into the world. Talented lyricist, vocalist, musician, vegetarian, blogger, poet, painter, environmentalist.

    On an unrelated note I'm listening to Siousxie Sioux for the first time in years. What a great vocalist and their animal rights song "Cry" is all killer no filler.
    I don't care for their early albums that were punk oriented. their last few glam gothic albums were great.

  31. avatar
    stealthblue | 23 October 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Yes, indeed. Here's wishing a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Mum Joyce!! I would venture to say we're all very thakful to her as well!

    I love to hear your recollections of "those" days, Steve. That dog sounds like a champ! Good ol' Lionel…nipping at the women's bums!

    Yeah, apparently we cannot chose who our biological parents are and most of the circumstances we are brought up in. Overall, it seems you had a pretty good break just in that that your parents were exactly who they were and the path they chose immensely formed a part of you. Don't you think, SK? Life has been good to the Kilbeys, and thank God you are who you are. Seriously, I thank the universe that a lass named Joyce and that bloke Les Kilbey survived the war, and made a go of it, and the rest is history…

    I raise a glass to your, ma, Steve.


    Ben V.

  32. avatar
    A.M. | 23 October 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    Happy Birthday to your mum. Great blog as always. Love coming to visit and reading for a spell.

  33. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 24 October 2009 at 12:13 am #

    I'll have a pint of rye to celebrate SK's mum. England rules !!

  34. avatar
    meh | 24 October 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Congratulations to your Mother, and a Happy Birthday to her!

    I love to hear about someone elses English "Mum" as I always see a bit of my own Mom in there. She grew up during the war as well – only 4 years behind yours. Being raised a Yorkshire lass, she didn't have to suffer the level of bombings that her London siblings did. But, that toughness is still there. The war was everywhere. (And my Dad is German, so I've learned both sides)

    She's also faithfully English, no matter that she's been in in the States since 1958. Never bothered to become a citizen here, and still will call England home. Stubborn, I tells ya, but I ain't knockin' it!

    So, again, best regards to your wonderful Mother on her 81st. It's a fortune to have them as long as we do.

  35. avatar
    lily was here | 24 October 2009 at 2:12 am #

    A very happy birthday to you Joyce for yesterday. I always smile when i spy your book on my shelf. I think Steve your folk did well because they had that quality of recognising you were all so different, accepting those differences and encouraging them? God bless'em.


    ps a bowls champion? You must have great calves too Joyce?!

  36. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 October 2009 at 3:37 am #

    You are incredible with lyrics Steve, my personal favorite is ladyboy. That song and S&G's Bridge over Troubled Waters were both inspirations for my life. Dax Linkletter

  37. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 October 2009 at 4:39 am #

    A very happy birthday to Joyce. Yes, the old iron pot was a really great read. What a page turner.

    Lady Di

  38. avatar
    loolaabillions | 24 October 2009 at 5:47 am #


    happiest of
    to joycie
    a beautiful

  39. avatar
    fantasticandy | 24 October 2009 at 11:25 am #

    wish i'd had a mother like joycie…

  40. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 October 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    This is a rough year..
    Mom's not doing well had a stroke,
    My only son is in fucking Iraq,
    and my wife is living in another town,
    and I'm down to seeds and stems again too,
    I got the down to seed and stems again blues.


  41. avatar
    Thelonious | 25 October 2009 at 3:39 am #

    Happy Birhday To Juicy Sk from the KC family who all enjoyed your Mum's book!

  42. avatar
    Anonymous | 25 October 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    Very late, but happy birthday to your mother, Steve!

  43. avatar
    eek | 26 October 2009 at 10:30 am #

    I'm certainly late to the party, but happy birthday wishes to your mother from me too!

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