Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Parenting Phase 3

Once upon a time the greatest worry I had was whether I picked her up or let her cry.
I wish it was as simple now.
She lacks direction. She lacks confidence. She is searching. Rejection is everywhere.
She desperately needs a break, for someone to take a chance on her; for I KNOW she will not disappoint.
But in the meantime I have to watch her pain.
Her withdrawal.
Feel her taking out her frustrations on me.
And all that's ok if it turns out in the end.
And I am sure it will.
At least I'm pretty sure.
Yes, I am sure. It's in my gut.
As surely as I knew it was better to pick her up than to leave her crying, despite what experts said.

Parenting is a shit hard gig eh?
I don't think it gets easier until you are like my mother; searching through her memories to identify the people all around her.
At least she's not wondering whether she should pick them up.

Strictly Pleased With Myself.

Having thoroughly enjoyed my limited role in Can Can, I was eager to see what my next endeavour might be. A couple of shows were auditioning: Miss Saigon, Dusty, Pirates of Penzance. Ensemble for Dusty was interesting but...the company is based in the northern districts of hometown so, difficult logistics.

My WWRY director was also putting on 'Strictly Ballroom: The Musical".

When he first announced this I had thought....meh. I can't ballroom dance. How is this even going to be a go-er for me? My Dad has spent most of life entreating me FOLLOW.  Most of our father daughter dances have ended in bruised toes. I just don't seem to be able to let go!!! Can't see how I'm going to fit into THIS musical.

But then there was a BBQ at my place and my WWRY director gave me a quick cuddle and asked, "Are you going to audition for SB? There's some great roles for older women..."

Now, I could have been outrageously offended by this remark. Older women? Huh!!!!!! I mean...I'm not QUITE 60 yet!!!!!!!!!!! (Oh my God....I'm an older woman....)
But instead I took encouragement from the fact that he'd suggested I audition! A quick scan of the movie, and the parts, threw up the character of Shirley Hastings:

Image result for strictly ballroom shirley

Oh. MY. Goodness. She. Is. Awesome!!
She has classic lines like "I've got my happy face on today!" and "It was going to be SCOTT'S YEAR!!!!!!!"

Now in my heart I knew I could handle the acting. The singing however was another matter.

I spent two hours with my singing coach the week before, practicing the transition from my chest to my head voice. We worked out a marginally passable method of getting me up to the two or three notes that I needed that are, theoretically, 'out of my range'. It was a hard and humiliating slog. Add to this the fact that she is a very Aussie character with a nasty nasal accent. It was pretty screechy.

On the Saturday I made my way in for the group audition.
We met up at Central Ballroom Dancing studio, where the local, award winning ballroom dancers had been co-opted into auditioning and choreographing the show. The first thing they did was a demo. Watching them, I felt like a one legged orangutan with control issues. How was I going to 'follow'? How was I going to hold myself upright with that angle of the head????
Image result for stance for ballroom dancing
The first dance they taught us was the Viennese waltz.
Now I have always wondered about the bloody partner waltz. I mean I can waltz 'ballet style:'
But that whole random waltzing around a floor, propelled by a bloke who may, or may not, know what he's doing???? Anathema.

After a bit of minor confusion I got the hang of it. Forward together...wait....back side together. Repeat!
Sadly, having googled waltz and Viennese waltz, I can find nothing that remotely resembles what we were taught. I suspect I am not a natural!!!!!

ANYWAY, we all learned the little thing they taught us and we took turns with partners trying to reproduce the basic look of ballroom dancing. Methinks we may have a LOT of work to do.

Later that day I returned for my individual audition. I had dressed for the part and I was RIGHT in the zone!

When I got back to the studio, it wasn't long before they called me in. I decided to go in 'in character' from the outset.
"HULLO everyone. Now, I've GOT to saay. I'm not MUCH of a singer. I've been going to a little man but he's a bit opera in his approach and I'm much more Country and Western....."

Our WWRY director was watching me with a huge smile on his face. The other three people (who didn't know me) looked completely confused! When the pianist looked offended as I suggested she'd better play me an introduction I felt slightly guilty...but I decided to go with it. It wasn't too long before she realised what I was doing. :-D

Screechy notes aside. It must have worked because the next day I got the call to say I had won the part! My first really big character role here in Adelaide! I am SO excited!!!!!

We don't start rehearsals until April but I think I shall take up any ballroom dancing offers that are presented to me in order to develop my woeful skills. After I get back from the UK that is.

I'm off on Monday for 5 weeks. There is the small matter of my mother who is going downhill rapidly with Alzheimers but I hope to offset that with a skiing trip in January.  Here's hoping the lurgy stays away so I am able to really enjoy it this time!

POST SCRIPT: got home to find I had not posted this! Further UK and skiing adventures to follow!

Monday, 15 October 2018

You Can Can Can Too

By the crikeys the 'come down' from 'We Will Rock You' was hard. Hard, because I'd loved the show. Hard, because the production process had not been easy.

Magically, at a particularly low moment, a friend from Sugar messaged me to say someone had dropped out of the cast of another show, 'Can Can'. There was not really a 'role', it was ensemble work, and not much to do at that....but at least we could have a few beers together!

Amazing how convincing beer can be :D

And so I joined the cast of Can Can. Now, this is no ordinary amateur cast! One of our dancers has just returned from 9 months working in Paris at the REAL Moulin Rouge!!!She is also one of the beautiful 'Cats' I did make up for in 2015!

Another of the dancers is set to join a Spanish contemporary dance troupe in the new Year! We are blessed indeed by their outstanding talent!

The rest of us are bog standard really.  :-D

But I feel so included. So much a part of the furniture. And for a girl whose life has been constantly in motion, this is a good feeling.
I think they're going to encourage me to joint the board and take over the marketing and publicity role.....(I've heard rumours :-D)

Well. That may be a good thing.


I am feeling more like I have a place to 'belong' recently. And although my role in Can Can is minor (in the extreme) I will be eternally grateful for the camaraderie I have encountered on this production.

If the Bass in the Saskatchewan can...baby you can, Can Can tooooooooo.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Poem For My Kid: Lemon Butter

My mother made lemon butter.
Yellow, creamy, sweet.

My mother made lemon butter.
Golden, creamy, sharp

It sighed into jars, retrieved from the cupboard
It heaped into jars, recycled and quirky

My mother made lemon butter

It exploded on my tongue
Followed,  buttery sunshine
It filled my spoon
Like liquid, honeyed love

My mother made lemon butter

Yellow as my hair
Sweet as my curls
Sharp as my will

I consume it all.

When you taste it, daughter
Will you think of me?

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Ex Fat Bottomed Girls: With Apologies to Queen

Two things to spruik about today.
Firstly, I am SIZE 10 AGAIN!!!!!!
For those in more remote locations, that means I have lost 10 kilos and two dress sizes.
In December I looked like this....

Now, to be fair, this is probably distorted somewhat by the wide angle lens (I haven't been able to find another photo that looks quite THIS bad...but on the other hand, I suspect I have been avoiding photos for a while) but I know that when I was measured for costumes in November I had a 40 inch bust! This from a girl who was a 34B for years!

Now the BA gave me a special Christmas present, which was a subscription to a food company known as 'Lite and Easy'. These guys deliver meals for a week based on a calorie plan (of your choice) and, for someone like me who hates thinking about food, it sounded like a pretty good option. Nevertheless, it took until March for me to actually place an order.

It has been a Godsend.

I started on the 1800 cal/day plan which was waaaaay too much food. Then I moved to the 1500cal/day although, to be fair, I was still stopping off at Hungry Jack's (aka Burger King) for a cheese toastie or bacon and egg muffin, every morning. Surprisingly, I was still losing weight. It was slow but steady and definitely on the downward trend.

Another lifestyle aspect that I had to amend was my usual behaviour around buns in the staff room. Given that I was spending money on this other food, I decided that I had better not mess it up with liberal consumption of buns and donuts when they arrived, from the bakery to the staff-room, once a week. For the first few weeks I had to simply take myself OUT of the staff-room whenever buns arrived, but, I have been finding that as long as I don't START eating them, I can do a pretty good job of resisting (typical addictive personality).

I also changed from a lunch and dinner plan to 3 meals a day, thus eliminating the need for a fast food breakfast on the way to work, and dropped to the 1200 cal/day plan. Suddenly the weight began to drop off!

So here I am, 4 months after I started the diet and I am under 60kg!! Although weight loss has slowed recently (due to late night snacking which I shall speak of in a moment), I have not gone backwards and I am happy to report that last week I bought my first pair of size 10 jeans for about 10 years!!!

 Part of my motivation for this, apart from general health and well-being, was a desire to keep up with the young ones in the cast of my latest production, 'We Will Rock You!' This is the Queen jukebox musical, with impossibly thin plot by Ben Elton and AWESOME songs by Queen. I am the lowliest of the low this time; ensemble Bohemian; mostly hidden at the back of everything, but I am having a BALL!!!!

That's me on the left with the badass red wig!

And a slightly less flattering shot of me about to leap in the air (get the concentration!)

Late nights, like tonight, after the show have meant an increase in supper snacking and beer of course;  BUT I have been watching my intake during the day and trying to limit myself to three meals.

So I'll keep you posted as to whether or not I can keep the weight off but, so far so good!
Loving my new(old) bod!!!!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Twenty Three is a Lot of Birthdays

Twenty three years and 14.5 hours later and I am sitting looking at this picture of an impossibly small Baby Angel and an impossibly young me.

She is a little peeved that I only managed this reproduction thing once.
"I'll never be an auntie,"she wailed recently.
Sorry kid. It's not the way I had planned it, believe me.

Nevertheless, we've had some pretty good 'Kodak' birthday moments along the way. Facebook excelled itself in the memories section today. Every single memory was of a birthday, going back to 2011! Well I can beat that facebook!

Look at this tiny baby...only one day old in her hospital 'goldfish bowl'!

And This! My oh so serious little elf girl with her blue blue eyes and the navy babygro I embroidered with roses....(6-8 weeks maybe?)

 Here's one from her FIRST birthday... the day she discovered grapes...

And wearing one of the many lovely items of clothing we received for that birthday (the cardigan above was a gift too, hand knitted by the BA's lovely Godmother....)

The ubiquitous studio portraits...this one at just over 12 months with her dress from another one of the grandparents...way too big for her still.....

And this one at 18 months, wearing my dress, bought for me by my aunt before we departed for Australia in 1961.

Here's me in the same dress. Not quite as pretty as the BA I'm afraid....

And looooook......

The first visit from her Dad when she was, again, about 18 months old. This was taken by a stranger on the Isle of Wight. Look at those little pink cheeks in the cold!!!!!

And oh oh oh!!!!! This little face! Aged about 2 and a half with her friend F at a fun park just out of Southampton. Oh the trips to that park. We had an annual pass and each visit required the obligatory ride on the train, visit to the dinosaur park, trips on the mini roller coasters and a wander around the maze. I sooooo loved that little hat she has on 💓

Oh and here she is, just turned 4, on our first trip back to Australia. This was a great age....

And before you can blink she is 5 and at school   :'-(

So many photos to choose from, but this one cracks me up! Taken aged around 7 (yes, her teeth took ages to fall out), we were at a theme park in Spain, scene of many spaghetti westerns. We all got to dress up and pose for the cameras.......

Alright. I couldn't resist. Here is BOTH of us!!!

 In our first year back in Australia at 7 and a half. Still speaking with an English accent......

And starting to look like a proper girl aged around 8 or 9.

But I have to stop somewhere...so I'll finish with this year. Here she is graduating from Uni in April....

...and here, celebrating her birthday in her usual dry style, with snapchat.

It's lovely that we have all this social media, but it is extra special to look back through those real life albums and take a trip down memory lane. So many birthdays BA. Here's to many, many more my feisty, funny, independent and entertaining Angel. Love you for ever.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Onward To Glory I Go: Farewell, Lord of La Mancha

How do I begin to tell you about Keith?

Handsome, clever, rugged, romantic and yet practical. Athletic and yet not a team player. Gregarious and yet an outsider. Supremely confident and yet deeply defensive. Loving and accepting and yet unswervingly set in his beliefs. An eldest son and a country boy from a Silesian immigrant family, in Australia they turned their hands to orchards and made a good fist of it.  Keith's talent and ambition however,  far outstripped that worthy, but pedestrian, endeavour.

At a tender age, in a milk bar in Adelaide, Keith saw the girl who would turn his life upside down  and keep it that way for over seventy years.
Daughter of a well to do Adelaide family, his modest background and contempt for authority did not endear him to her socially conservative family. This was to be an ongoing battle.
But this pretty, creative and gregarious young woman found, in Keith, her lifeline.

Georgia was the 'non-son' of a staunchly conservative man and a deeply self centered woman. Not the boy they were hoping for, a little too much trouble to be bothered with, Georgia was dispatched to boarding school at an early age, to better allow her mother time to attend to her older, 'more talented' sister. But, irrepressible, Georgia grew and blossomed so that when Keith laid eyes on her, in that milk bar, there was no turning back. She finally had someone who not only saw 'her', but thought she was a pretty big deal, to boot.

Four years after their daughter Bestie was born, an English family moved in 'down the street'. Bestie remembers her mother entreating her to 'go and play with the little English girl'. I have no such recollection. For me, Bestie was just 'always there'.

Bestie and I were an unlikely and yet inevitable combination. Incredibly different in character to begin with; me a volatile eldest wild child with edgy looks and a tomboy attitude, she a sweet and pretty only child with a strong sense of fair play and a ridiculously open and honest relationship with her parents ("I cannot tell a lie. It was me who chopped down your cherry tree father....").
We united over a love of books, imaginative play and learning.
Intellectually we challenged each other; in character we enriched each other; in many ways we competed with each other. But we lived in each others pockets, three houses down, for 16 years (feels longer).

Bestie's parents were so different to mine. They were a little older and they seemed very exotic to me. I remember Keith getting his pilot's Wings. (Bestie's dad flew planes!!)

My own parents were Northern England; working class and really just discovering a world of culture, living 12,000 miles from the small coal mining town where they were born.

Georgia, seemed incredibly elegant to me. She was brought up with privilege, exposure to the arts and a sense of style that always left me awed. My mother was crimplene mini skirts and synthetic carpets. Georgia was flowing kaftans and axminsters. Here they are with Smoky Jo at our house in the 60s. Check out our matching chairs and curtains :-D

Georgia introduced Bestie and I to 'the musicals'. We sat for hours with the record player, listening to:
Gypsy, The Pyjama Game, Camelot,West Side Story, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha.....

What impressed me was that Keith, too, loved  the romance and the nobility of these musicals
My dad listened to Sibelius and Benjamin Britten whom, in my naivety, I saw as 'boring'. Keith and Georgia would sit and talk us through the stories of the musicals, explaining the messages, the lessons, the romantic myths.....and then they would sing along.....

I was captivated. My parents did very little together.

One of Keith's favorites was 'Man of La Mancha'.  With his extraordinary deep and resonant voice he would bellow out the chorus:
"I am I, Don Quixote, The Lord of La Mancha, my destiny calls and I go...."


When we were about 12 or 13, Bestie's parents bought an enormous property in the north of the state. Keith built the ranch style house himself, by hand.
He called it 'La Mancha'.

Oh the times we spent at La Mancha. What a place it was for the city girls we were.
We rode horses, skinned rabbits, ran from enormous spiders, saw herds of cattle, met the local boys, got terribly sunburned, discovered rum......

But this post is about Keith.
Keith who smoked camels and was the definitive man's man.
Keith who engaged me in 'debate' and frustration through my teen years because he was always 'right' and whom my little sister dubbed 'HK' (Horrible Keith) because of his post war domineering manner and delight in teasing her.

Keith who read chapters from the Narnia stories to us on Saturday afternoons.
The juggernaut personality who crafted jewellery out of opals in his back shed and patiently carved exquisite saddles out of leather.

What a conundrum he was.

When we visited Australia in 1999, the BA was 4 and we weren't quite sure what she would make of the tall, bluff, blustering Keith. We needn't have worried. She took to him like a duck to water.

At one point he had to ask for assistance so he could visit the gents without his 'shadow'. hahahahahaha

Keith had such an impact on my life.
He could make my Mother laugh.

He showed us what it meant to truly love another; through thick and thin, unconditionally, for the long haul.

He always said he didn't want to be the invalid in a hospital bed.

Father of The Bestie, inextricably entwined with my life, Keith made his decision, determined and deliberate as he always was, and left us on Saturday 21st October 2017. He was 85.

I am so grateful that he was such a big a part of my life.

One down Bestie. Three to go.
God we've been blessed.