One Minute Crying Time


One Minute Crying Time


Barbara Ewing grew up in mid-twentieth-century New Zealand — a ‘golden era’ long ago and far away, and yet, all too familiar.

Clever, flirtatious and playful, Ewing was also intuitive and a deep thinker. These qualities enabled her to ‘sense the energy in a room’ and led to a successful career as an actor, and writer.

One Minute Crying Time transports us back to Ewing’s tumultuous youth in 1950s and 1960s Wellington and Auckland, when coffee shops, foreign films and rock ‘n roll were king. Drawing heavily on the diaries she kept from the age of 12 — full of vigour, heartache and yearning — Ewing reveals the struggles and angst of her formative years. These recollections led her to some surprising conclusions about herself, memory and truth.

Ewing’s diaries recall her passion and talent for acting and how, in an era where advice on how to get through difficult times ran to going to bed with a hot water bottle, she was at times crippled by anxiety and panic attacks. Her complex relationship with her
brilliant, frustrated, angry mother and her decision to learn te reo Māori at university are faithfully recorded. This was a major turning point in Ewing’s life: her love affair with a young Māori man, destined for greatness, was complicated by Pākehā society’s unease about such relationships. But it also gave her rare access to a world closed to many Pākehā; access she has always cherished.

As she wrote in her diary in July 1957: ‘What a wealth of material I have, in these diaries, in my head, about so many people — as well as about myself. Perhaps one day I will write — and it will always be about people. Everyone — all the people I know — have problems to face as well as me. I suppose really this diary has seen the most important thing in my life. I became frightened of my mind — I must be stronger than that and rather understand my mind. To do that now is to prepare myself for the life that lies, excitingly, frighteningly, ahead of me.’

This is the first time Ewing has turned the spotlight on her own life and the result is a bold memoir. Evocative, courageous, and superbly written, One Minute Crying Time is also quirky and humorous — it includes, for example, the story of famous actor Donald Sutherland accidentally breaking one of Ewing’s ribs on a film set during rehearsal. Recording a long-gone New Zealand, Ewing’s memoir also captures enduring truths about identity and love.

Barbara Ewing is a New Zealand-born actor, novelist and playwright. At university in New Zealand she completed a BA, majoring in English and Māori, and then, in 1961, won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. After graduating from RADA, Ewing went on to become a well-known television, film and stage actress. She has written nine successful novels. She is based in London, but Ewing returns home in New Zealand every year.


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