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Posted on 1 Dec 2022 in Non-Fiction |

MYF WARHURST Time of My Life. Reviewed by Virginia Muzik

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Myf Warhurst’s memoir of life, music, and the media is like reminiscing with an old friend.   

Many of us can recall a song we heard in childhood that blew open our world the first time we came across it. For a young Myf Warhurst, that song was ‘Howzat’ by 1970s Australian pop group Sherbet. Growing up in the rural Victorian towns of Donald and Red Cliffs, Warhurst was introduced to faster-paced city life through radio and TV, particularly the ABC’s long-running music show Countdown. She begins her memoir recounting how, as a three-year-old, she became transfixed by singer Daryl Braithwaite, waddling up to the TV to plant a kiss on his moving image on the screen.

From that time on, music, and my love of it, became my obsession. Put simply, Daryl Braithwaite from Sherbet was my gateway drug (and I bet you never thought that sentence would ever be uttered).

For Warhurst, and other music lovers, it’s more than just background noise:

It offers us mere mortals a way to access feelings and make sense of our thoughts, at times when we might not have the emotional or intellectual language to do so on our own.

This viewpoint underpins Warhurst’s memoir as she takes us through significant events in her life, weaving in specific songs to anchor the time and mood, giving her memories a deeper dimension.

Her voice is that of friendly storyteller. She spins a great yarn; we feel we’re reminiscing along with her. There are many meanders in her tales, which work to set the scene more vividly. For example, the Sherbet story takes us from descriptions of her clothes and appearance at the time, to detailing the town of Donald, the family house, her three older brothers and their love of cricket and Countdown, which influenced her own tastes. She describes Daryl Braithwaite’s satin outfit, then muses that it was the type of outfit the ‘hot new teacher from the city’ might wear to a dinner party, where her mum would serve beef bourguignon, Coolabah cask riesling and After Dinner Mints. (If you know – and grew up in the ’70s – you know.) These tangential sections peppered with pop culture references and brand names could be disruptive, but they give the narrative a warm, conversational feel, and add to the nostalgic appeal.

The story has a chronological flow, and each chapter has a cover page featuring a graphic of a record, its label bearing a song title that forms the main theme of that chapter. On the next page, the chapter title gives a further clue to the theme (e.g. ‘Howzat’ and ‘We are family’ for Chapter 1).

In her late teens, Warhurst moved to Melbourne to study at university, discovering share-house living and the city’s music scene. Working as managing editor of music street paper Inpress and volunteering in community radio, Warhurst was invited by comic duo Merrick and Rosso to join their Triple J team, which led to her own show on the station.

As Warhurst’s adult life opens up, her narrative becomes more reflective, philosophical and vulnerable. She’s candid about moments of failure or embarrassment, and experiencing loss.

Poignantly, Chapter 12 has no song title on its record label – just a blank black circle. This chapter deals with the unexpected death in 2020 of Warhurst’s one-time fiancé, musician Mike Noga. In her grief, Warhurst writes she was unable to listen to music until recently:

I didn’t listen to music at all. I couldn’t. I faced my own silence. I’m only just starting to feel ready to open that door again.

With her experience as a TV personality, most notably on ABC TV’s music quiz Spicks and Specks, Warhurst has attracted her share of fans and detractors – including fashion critics who were unkind about the outfit she wore to her first Logie Awards. She makes sharp observations on culture, the shaming of women in the media, creativity and the impact of social media on all of it:

All things creative need to breathe and, thankfully, [Spicks and Specks was] given plenty of time to breathe, grow, mess up and perfect, without the constant glare of judgement. I’m not saying that TV should be judgement-free, but I do believe that social media terrifies bosses, which has a trickle-down effect on what gets made … I worry we are losing some brilliant shows, performers and entertainment moments because we are all too quick to criticise.

An appearance on TV show Who Do You Think You Are? leads Warhurst to discover she’s related to forgotten 1960s Australian pop star April Byron, and two women, Maude and Margaret, who each overcame tough beginnings to take control of their lives at a time when women had far fewer rights. The experience was inspiring for Warhurst:

There is something comforting in knowing I stand on the shoulders of all the women who have come before me, who survived and forged ahead, despite setbacks, to make things better.

For all her ‘celebrity’ status, Warhurst comes across as someone who’d be as genuinely pleasant in person as she is on screen. Time of My Life is an engaging read with obvious appeal for Warhurst fans, but also anyone interested in pop culture or keen to tap into their own music-laced memories.

Myf Warhurst Time of My Life Hachette Australia 2022 PB 320pp $34.99

Virginia Muzik lives and writes on Gadigal land. Her memoir works are featured in the 2022 Hunter Writers Centre Grieve anthology and online journals. She is slowly working on a full-length memoir. Find her on Twitter @writeNOISEComms and

You can buy Time of My Life from Abbey’s at a 10% discount by quoting the promotion code NEWTOWNREVIEW or you can buy it from Booktopia.

You can also check if it is available from Newtown Library.

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