Bryden Allen's Website

The Voice of the Fire

This is the front cover of the book

In this story a family, living in Lindfield Sydney, goes for a holiday to a small self-sufficient farm just across the Blue Mountains. But the family goes in two groups because the Mum, the narrator Sophie, and the older daughter, Vicky, are free to leave earlier. Then Father, George, and younger son, Michael, join them 3 weeks later.

But Vicky decides that she is now due to have a nice personal type of adventure with one of the guys there (Aaron). And this adventure will finally result in the whole family, together with many of the people at the farm, starting a new permanent full self-sufficient community. I think the circumstances that cause all this to happen makes a fun story in its own right.        

During this story I go into a fair amount of detail as to how a community can become self-sufficient in food, water, energy and its own construction. And, besides this, the final two chapters (called Equity and Fire) deal with the difficult problems of finance and the community’s governmental form. So the story also covers quite a lot of technical detail.

The name of the story comes from one of Louis MacNiece’s poems called the “Streets of Laredo”. The poem appears in an old Sydney of University songbook, which the community use when they have their weekly campfire. The performance of this song is woven into the story line.


The chapters are:

1.         Lindfield                 

Initially Vicki and Michael are strongly against going on this holiday. They need to be bribed to go. And Sophie is very worried because George's female work-assistant, Vera, seems to be taking an interest in him. And leaving George alone for three weeks could be dangerous. So there could be problems.

2.         ‘Back-to-Reality’ Farm 

On the train journey over the mountains, Vicki tells Sophie how she will put on a great act of being keen on "green living" just to impress her student friends back at home. But she still thinks it is all a load of rubbish. This infuriates Sophie who really does believe in a simpler more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Also Vicki accuses Sophie of being too timid in her interactions with guys. But she, Vicki, will push her along into a fuller life. Then, when they arrive, there is a very suitable neighbour called Bernard, who could fulfill this part. But Sophie is definitely not interested in him.


This is the songbook which they use.

3.         Aaron  

At the farm Sophie soon meets a guy called Aaron who it very keen to start a full democratic green community. Sophie gets keen on Aaron and says she would like to help him. But Vicki thinks Aaron is a suitable person for her to use for her first sexual practice in this world. Vicki tells Sophie to back off Aaron. And so she does a little. But then, at the Saturday night campfire, Aaron and Sophie do a skit together based on the "Voice of the Fire" poem. (Aaron imagines himself as being the "Voice of the Fire".) This infuriates Vicki.

4.         Bernard 

Vicki's solution to 'Sophie's problem with Aaron' is to get Sophie more fully enmeshed with Bernard. Sophie accepts this a little because Aaron desperately wants Bernard to join his new community as well.

5.         Vicki     

Vicki is now free to pursue Aaron. But soon they have an almighty row because Aaron doesn't believe Vicki intentions about "green living". Vicki goes to her good friend Bernard instead for comfort. Then, while Bernard is consoling Vicki, Sophie and Aaron do another skit together called "Vilikins and his Dinah" at the Saturday night campfire.

Vicki's reply to this further provocation is to proclaim that she will lead a group of people to start a full green community. And Aaron, Sophie and Bernard are all forced to join her.

6.         George  

George and Michael finally arrive on the farm. But they are sharing the car with Vera. George immediately talks with Sophie and explains that he wants their marriage to continue. But Sophie feels she could be safer with Bernard.

George and Vicki organise a large skit based on the "Good King Wencelass" carol, which everyone joins in. They receive huge applause. That night George announces that he will sell their Lindfield house and fund the new green community.

7.         Equity 

Aaron explains to Sophie that this new community must have a financial system by which everyone will eventually have a fair share in the equity of the community. Sophie passes this message on the Bernard and Bernard passes it on to Vicki and George. A large meeting of about 20 interested prople is called with Bernard, Vicki and George in charge. All these people want to join the community and they plan to meet again next week to form the regulations of the new community. Vicki suggests a general form which most people accept. This form is in fact fully democratic.

8.         Fire 

Aaron disappears for a few days. But Sophie finally catches up with him and berates him for not joining the general joy of the new community now being on the road. Aaron explains to Vicki that the suggested regulations will allow a ruling clique to form. He is writing a large handout, which he feels is how a community should run. Sophie explains to Aaron that everyone is happy Vicki's proposal. But Aaron is pig-headed and will persevere with what he thinks to be right.

The big day finally comes. At the start both Vicki and Sophie announce that they are now pregnant so two more members will soon be on their way. There is great rejoicing. As before Bernard, Vicki and George are in charge of the meeting.

But, after a while, things go wrong. Aaron announces he will not be a permanent member unless the regulations are changed. Vicki is angry but tells everyone that Aaron will be forced to stay with them. He is the father of her child. Aaron is silent. But then Vera stands up for Aaron very forcefully indeed. Finally Vera says that she is also pregnant. And Vicki suddenly realizes what is going on. She accuses Vera and Aaron of having an affair. Vera, in a flaming rage, leaves her seat and goes to the front table with pen and paper in hand. She signs a legal document saying that George is the father of her child and she will have a blood test to demonstrate this. And Vera challenges Vicki to do the same thing for Aaron. Vicki goes white and then bursts into tears. She announces there will be no community. Bernard, Vicki and George leave the room.

But Vera is also in tears. But, she tearfully says, 'We all want to form a community. We just can't agree on the regulations. Can you at least read what Aaron has written.' The whole group agrees they will now read what Aaron has written - but they are all sure that they would now agree with Aaron. Aaron leaves to find Vicki; Sophie leaves to find Bernard; and Vera leaves to find George - all to make peace with their partners.

By the afternoon, everyone is reconciled to Aaron's regulations and the community is very happy to form again.


       Please click on – Forming_A_Small_Self-Sufficient_Community – novel”(pdf), if you wish to read the whole story.



You might now also like to look back at:

either my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website and lists all my webpages),

or My Novels(which introduces this major set of webpages).


My next normal webpage is The No-Boots Club.


Updated on 17/11/2016.