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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

BEV PULÉ (article first published : 2005-11-3)

A new contributor for artSMart comes in the form of Bev Pulè who will offer a column titled Musings of a Meandering Mind which will appear in whichever discipline she chooses to take her meanderings to.

Bev will be remembered by many long-term radio listeners with young children - and for those young listeners now at a more mature age - for Bev’s Birthday Book on SAfm. She left the SABC In October, 2004, when SAfm decided on a policy of all-live-broadcasting. Now aged 58, she is happy in the knowledge that she shares a birth date with people such as Elvis Presley, Stephen Hawkins and Galileo!

Reading was a passion at an early age and by the end of primary school she was devouring up to a dozen books a week. She recalls early aspirations to be a writer and her high school English teacher had high hopes of her final exam achievements. However, Bev and a friend formed Club 51 and discovered “Fun”, with monthly dances held at the Durban Deep Recreation Hall featuring bands such as Dana Valeri & The Diamonds, Dicky Loader and the Blue Jeans, Four Jacks and a Jill and others.

She did manage a University Level pass and went on to do a secretarial course at the Witwatersrand Tech, where she made history in that institution in achieving a 100% pass in her final shorthand exams. Apparently this feat was published in the Government Gazette! This came in useful when she launched out on her secretarial career with American tractor company, John Deere. Marriage soon after took her to Natal, where she spent a few happy years with British company Smith Industries.

One evening, having tucked her three-year-old daughter in for the night (by this time she was a single mom), she settled down to tune in to Springbok Radio and became enthralled by Don Ridgway’s performance as Heathcote in Wuthering Heights. In that moment she began to consider a career change and little did she know that Don Ridgway would become her mentor and great friend.

A phone call to the SABC and a successful interview later found her as Assistant to the Programme Organiser of the then English Radio Service (later Radio South Africa and now SAfm). During her 21 years on the full-time staff, her work took her into the fields of religion, sport, magazine programmes, drama and music – the latter two were her firm favourites. Added to her enjoyment were the many years working alongside Don Ridgway who was Drama Producer.

Bev worked closely with one of South African broadcasting’s most adored and respected personalities, Midge Doherty (“Auntie Midge”), and eventually took over the reins when Midge retired. She put out her own children’s programme “Bev’s Birthday Book” which ran for a couple of years until all children’s programmes fell away from the schedule of the station.

She then “sort of semi-retired” and spent six “extremely enjoyable years” transcribing several of SAfm’s education-type programmes each week for their website, on topics ranging from health to law to language. Among her favourites were Patricia’s Glyn’s interviews with folk who “pushed the limits and tested the boundaries”, as well as Monica Fairall’s In Pursuit of Health and Alan Swerdlow’s book review show on Sunday mornings.

As mentioned, she finally left the SABC in 2004. Without an income, she also began to be plagued with back pain. Although she has battled with weight issues for most of her life it’s never kept her from enjoying swimming either in the sea or municipal pools. She’s fond of quoting her heroine, namely Oprah Winfrey, who once announced that each person had a dream for their life – and that was the moment Bev realised that hers was to write. However, spinal degeneration had taken its toll and for several months she spent long hours lying on her bed with a heating pad listening to music.

It was another very wise soul – health guru Monica Fairall – who told her if she wanted to write she had to be disciplined, even if it took rests in between ten minutes at a time at the computer. Five weeks later Bev had churned out ten short stories and hopes she might be published one day!

“Another word of wisdom from Oprah was that God throws people a couple of pebbles before dispatching a whole brick,” says Bev. In her case, it was a diagnosis of diabetes which later brought on painful neuropathy in the feet. Even worse was the day when a neurosurgeon told her that, due to her weight, the medical world could do nothing to relieve her back pain and it was a case of “The ball’s in your court, my dear”, at which point Bev confesses she almost lost the desire to keep going.

However, after tucking her into bed that sad day her devoted daughter left her to ponder on these parting words: “You know how you’ve written stories you so badly want published? Well, you are the author and you can change the ending any time you like. And so it is with your life, mommy, darling: you can alter the end.”

Next day saw Bev begin her LIFESTYLE CHANGE (in capitals, you note!) project and in the past 16 weeks she’s lost 20kg, her target being another 15. A dear friend she corresponds with recently informed her that her letters are sounding “positive peppy” these days.

“The universe is rapidly handing me so many challenges that there are barely enough hours in one day for me as I find more and more energy and spurts of creativity bursting forth,” says Bev. With her health and her outlook on life improving in leaps and bounds each day, artSMart looks forward to capturing Musings of A Meandering Mind on many varied topics in the months ahead.




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