If you’ve watched TV at all over the past five decades, you will have spent time with Belinda Giblin. The soapie star has acted in classics such as Sons and Daughters, The Sullivans and Heartbreak High. In Home and Away, she has played not one but two different roles – first Cynthia Ross in the early 90s, then Martha Stewart, the long-presumed-dead wife of Alf, from 2018.
Giblin grew up in Tamworth in the 1950s and began acting in the 70s after a year at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Nida). She is still working today, currently preparing to star in the Griffin Theater production Ghosting the Party, which runs from 6 May to 4 June in Sydney. It’s a pitch-black comedy in which Giblin plays an 87-year-old who decides her time has come, forcing three generations of family to face brutal questions about mortality.
Ever since she was a teenager, Giblin has been a faithful keeper of journals. She now has six decades’ worth – a collection she would rush to save in a fire. Here, the actor tells us why those “jottings” are such a vital tool for self-reflection, as well as the story of two other important personal belongings.
What I’d save from my house in a fire
I would be devastated if I couldn’t save the journals, diaries and jottings I have kept for the last 60 years, going back to my high school days.
They are a record of my life, and range from family activities and musings about my life growing up in Tamworth to my time at school, university (in the period of the Vietnam war, moratorium marches and hippiedom!) and eventually Nida. There are volumes and volumes of my life as an actor – 50 years’ worth – first in radio drama, and then theater, television and film.
I also have musings about my experience of marriage and childbirth, my children and grandchildren, many trips overseas, my time as a corporate trainer and speech writer, and my experience with breast cancer, over 12 years ago now (all good – the trick is to catch it early).
I occasionally look over them all and impress myself with what an optimism and self-determining person I am.
My most useful object
My handbag, of course! I could spend a week away and not need a suitcase.
It’s amazing how much I can fit in there. My wallet, cards, keys, phone, four pairs of glasses, tissues, umbrella, toothbrush, toothpaste, a selection of masks, tablets, a myriad of pens and pencils, a tape measure, hair clips, lipstick, perfume, a cut- out SMH cryptic crossword, a comb, a scarf, dozens of business cards, prescriptions, theater tickets, a magnet, addresses of people I can no longer remember, a mini screwdriver for broken glasses, several packets of Fisherman’s Friend and the script I am currently working on.
The item I most regret losing
I have kept a large dress-up box of costumes, all of which were made by my darling mother for the various ballet concerts I performed between the ages of five and 17. My son and daughter spent their childhood dressing up in them and now my grandchildren have discovered them – they come in handy for school dress-up days.
Sadly, a beloved goblin costume seems to have disappeared.
My husband and I did a massive house declutter after Christmas and threw half our possessions into a skip, along with, I suspect, this goblin outfit. I know it’s just a “thing”, but I’ve kept it for over 60 years, goddammit, and it drove my mother to tears making it!