I found this letter and other writings inside a bottle washed up on Bastion Point Beach.  Its authenticity would under normal circumstance be highly dubious.  However scientific analysis unequivocally puts the date of its writing from the year 2050 plus or minus 10 years.  How this could be I leave to your own judgement.  Bet and her friends are the continuing subject of my current works.

The intriguing question remains – is the future changeable?  Can we intervene and change our behaviour to give Bet and her friends a life better than she so poignantly recounts below?

Don Ashby, Mallacoota 2017


Hello Grandmas

My name is Bet. I am your great grand-daughter. My friends are Marta and Phobe. Phobe has a girl. She found her in some ruins. She was almost dead. Her mother was. My mum is. Marta found me too. Marta is a bit mad. Her head is full of bad angels. She talks to them.  Her girl we call Kid.

It is always hot. We can only go out early or late. We hide in an old place. It is full of old stuff in glass boxes from a war. A bomb killed America. A long way from here.

When the heat is bad we just lie still. Marta tells us stories of your old time. Marta went to school once in a Good Place. There was machines to keep you cool. It was the last Good Place. They had medicine.  They ran out of diesel. They dead and gone to bones. We go there sometimes looking for stuff. It doesn’t smell bad anymore.

Marta tells us of the stuff you did. Your big cars that could go anywhere. You all had one each! You flew anywhere and took pictures of your dinners. You sent the pictures to your friends. You had phones. We find them everywhere. They don’t work nomore. You made the air bad.  You burnt all the diesel.

We mostly eat rats and some stuff we grow. Marta says there were birds. We find the bones. She says you caught them to eat by tangling them in plastic string with little hooks. We find that too everywhere.

The sea smells bad. It is slimy with stuff called plastics. Our special rockpool is clean. Marta says there is a spring. We come there alot.

What were fish?

Grandma I wish we could talk. I would ask you lots. What was golf? You did it all the time. We have some books with pictures. Marta says these stick things are trees. Why did you cut them all down? Marta says it was to make stuff to wipe your bums. Is this true grandma?  What happened to all the animals?  There are pictures in the books.

Marta is writing this for me.

Phobe is watching. She can’t speak. Bad men happened to her.  Sometimes she cries for no reason.

Grandma you knew all about this bad stuff. Why did you leave everything like this? In our books there are pictures of wonderful things. We don’t understand lots.

Marta says we should be grateful. We have big fat rats to eat. There is water in the old place. The bad men have all gone. Marta and Phobe killed them to save me. I was too young.

Marta says we should be grateful for what we have.

Phobe just cries.

I am putting this in a bottle and will throw it off the big rock. Maybe you will get it.

Marta says to say thank you because of ironic.

I don’t know why.


Thank you Grandmas.


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