Here’s a link to a post I wrote two years ago! I noticed it was getting a bit of traffic so people must be looking for stories about Cracker Night.
This weekend is the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend again. As was the case two years ago, there’ll be no fireworks tonight. COVID restrictions are almost all lifted but large gatherings are still prohibited. Even without COVID19, I doubt I will hear many crackers tonight.
It’s no longer a thing. In my childhood, it was a huge event, eagerly anticipated. We would save up to buy crackers for weeks. It was not without its problems. This article from the Sydney Morning Herald points out the inherent dangers.
The Sunday Post will be a weekly short, casual chat about trivial matters. (Perhaps that’s no different to my normal posts??!!)
I recently (and about 5 years after the rest of the world) discovered the historical bodice ripper, Poldark. I binge-watched Season 1 on a long haul flight, interweaving it with another British series Line of Duty. Both series were recommended to me by the hosts of a podcast, Chat 10 Looks 3.
I am now racing through the Poldark catalogue. It ends at Season 5.
It got me reminiscing about the shows I used to love to watch.
St Elsewhere? I am still really, really careful about cleaning out the bath after one of the main characters died by hitting their head on the bottom of the tub. Stars a very young Denzel Washington.
A Country Practice… An Australian favourite – people, well people my age, still talk about the scene where Molly died.
The Bill – the original series – it got a bit weird after a while.
ER – George Clooney….swoon….
NYPD Blue – Bobby and Andy with a sweet spot for John Kelly!
LA Law – think shoulder pads.
Law and Order before the splinter shows.
More recent favourites have been
Offspring– Nina Proudman’s brain is as noisy as mine.
Grace and Frankie – perfect demographic for old chooks
The Handmaid’s Tale – will Aunt Lydia turn? That’s the big question!
Virgin River – when IS Season 2 coming!!!!
Sex Education – thank goodness it’s made by the British and not the US.
I didn’t get into Game of Thrones – I have not watched one single episode. I might yet crumble on that one. One day.
I got bored with Outlanders after staying up ALL night watching Season 1. The staying up all night part didn’t bore me. Season 1 was great, but the next season did not hold my interest.
The Good Wife! How could I forget! I never understood how she had time to be so well put together! You NEVER saw her go shopping. How could she have such fabulous hair and clothes?
Sea Change! Another great Aussie show. Now the memories are pouring out. Sigrid Thorton and David Wenham. I’m still waiting for my Diver Dan. This was a 1990’s show but they resurrected it in 2019 with a spin-off featuring the now grown-up children…I don’t think I will watch that.
The Sopranos – so much of that watched through fingers half-covering my eyes or my fingers in my ears blocking out the scary bits.
Way, way back when I was still at school, I remember waiting till my dad had gone to bed so I could watch Banacek with George Peppard.
What are your favourite shows from the past? Let me know in the comments below.
It’s funny how your memory gets sparked and where that memory will take you. Down rabbits holes of forgotten actions, people and secrets.
When I saw words Ob-la-Di-Ob-la-Da tattooed on the arm of a colleague, it made me fly back to 1969 when I was in Year 3, eight years old, blond and tiny. It took me back to the time when eighty students crowded around a TV borrowed from the local department store to watch the moon landing. It took me back to playing elastics and jacks. To skipping ropes and sour milk.
Those particular words from that jaunty little Beatles tune brought back a mix of fun, embarrassment and guilt
The Fun Bit.
My class was preparing to sing Ob-la-Di-Ob-la-Da for the weekly assembly. This was a BIG deal! We had been rehearsing with our hip and gorgeous teacher Mr Chinner for weeks and weeks. Our class, 3A, were doing a new song! A chart-topper! Not a choir of screeching descant recorders, but a grooooovy Beatles hit! It was a top-secret mission. We were not allowed to tell anyone! We were asked to bring a towel to wear around our shoulders like a Mexican poncho.
The Embarrassing bit.
Because I was small, I was scheduled to be in the front row. Because we were sworn to secrecy, I didn’t tell my mum why we needed the towel. Thinking it was for art clean-ups, and without a better explanation from me, she gave me a faded tatter of a towel. When Groovy Mr Chinner saw my faded rag, I got relegated to the back row. I couldn’t see over the tops of the bigger kids. My bubble was well and truly burst. I felt humiliated by my family’s lack of bright Mexican-like towels.
The Guilty Bit
In the same class, but in a different episode, I am simultaneously ashamed and amused to confess that I committed a fraudulent act. Our class had been chosen to go on an excursion to the Herald’s newspaper printing factory. Only 25 could go although our class had 43 students. In the spirit of fairness, Mr Chinner decided to pull the names out of a hat. As the names were called out, the lucky ones were clapping their little hands with glee. In the middle of all the excitement, the end of the day bell rang and the draw was not completed. It was declared that it would continue the next school day – Monday. I was heartbroken that my name had not yet been called out and even back then I realised the odds were not looking good.
When we returned after the weekend, Mr Chinner admitted he had forgotten to write down the names of the children who had been pulled out and no longer had the strips of paper. He asked us to raise our hands if we had been selected.
A few classmates put their hands up confidently. As I looked around at the remaining faces of my peers and saw them faltering. They either couldn’t remember or they didn’t seem too fussed about whether they went or not. I took my chance, I shot my hand in the air. Mr Chinner wrote my name on the list.
For the next few days, I expected to be challenged. For someone to remember that my name had never been called out and that I was a fraud, that I had lied. No one did. I went on the excursion and had a fabulous time. This is only the second time I have revealed this story! The first time was to the tattoo owner! (Sorry mum another thing you didn’t know!)
I guess Mr Chinner could still be out there. I have never forgotten him. He was young in 1969. Perhaps he’s out there, somewhere between 80-100 years old, thinking about his time as a teacher. I know he won’t remember me. There are too many children that pass through a teacher’s life. Even so, Mr Chinner, I apologize for my deceit.
As I look back on him and the lessons he taught us, I realize I don’t remember the specifics of one single scrap of the maths or spelling or grammar he may have taught us.
As I am typing this, I can smell the faint aroma of dusty leather wafting from the photo album lying on the desk next to my keyboard. The photo album, a “Souvenir of Lord Howe Island,” has been hand-bound with a hand-carved, hand-stitched leather cover. The grey pages are covered with small black and white photographs, postcards, brochures, and travel tickets stuck in with sticky tape. The aging tape has dried up, and the photos fall out easily. The inscriptions below each photo tell a story of a one week stay in 1954 at Somerset, a guest house on the island.
It tells the story of my grandparents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary. My grandfather, Colin Hundt, made the album. He would have sat in the shed at the back of his house in Connells Point and laboured over it carefully and with pride. My grandma, Alice, would have popped in now and then to check on and praise his progress and remind him the cup of tea was getting cold. They would have laughed together at the dad jokes that are peppered throughout the pages and the particularly droll one written directly onto a waxed-paper air sickness bag.
Judging by the stains left by the sticky tape, there is an item missing from the front page. I guess it was a title of some sort, it’s lost now. I found the album in my mother’s things as I helped her unpack after a recent move. It spoke to me with vivid memories and love. My grandma and papa beam out from the pages with a sparkle of mischievousness. They look happy and relaxed.
Memorabilia: dross or future history?
The album is at least 64 years old. I wonder if the declutterers and minimalists would deem it useless and suggest it be thrown into landfill? After all, it serves no purpose. It takes up space. It’s only sentimental. According to Josh and Ryan (The Minimalists), I should scan it and throw the physical item away.
The modern-day minimalists have got things wrong. Well, not everything, perhaps, but when it comes to sentimental items, I think they do. I am glad this album has been kept safe all this time because it does spark joy. (TING)
I have written before about my concerns for the lack of meaningful artifacts that will be available for future historians. We have plenty of digital artifacts but with the rise of a throw-away culture, minimalism, the strive to be decluttered, and lack of physical artifacts, what will be left if the electricity goes out?
I don’t propose that we keep every bus ticket (not that you get a paper ticket anymore!), but I think there is a case for making and preserving physical items that can give our descendants a glimpse of who we were and what life was like beyond Facebook and Instagram.
It would seem that Grandma and Papa enjoyed Lord Howe Island so much they intended to go back. I emailed a scanned copy of this letter to the current owners of Somerset. Alan and his daughter Cheryl, sold Somerset 13 years ago. Alan died soon after. The property is still in the hands of family members (Gai), and you can still stay there.
Alan sounds like a fun sort of fellow!
These days, their listed attractions extend beyond the availability of hot water and tiled toilets!
This is my father, Bob, with his Dad, Vernon. My dad died too young, at 51 in 1988. He had Type 1 diabetes, a dicky heart and didn’t look after himself so well, as blokes of this vintage were want to do.
I pride myself in only posting photos I have taken myself, but sometimes you have to bend the rules. I have no idea who snapped it, although on reflection it was probably Uncle Rudolph who owned the grapevines. It has always been one of my favourites in the family album. Shot sometime around 1960 in Griffith, NSW. The original print is about 2 x 3 inches.
My blog is two years old today! Well, not ‘today’ today because I wrote this in May and the second birthday happens in July but I’m publishing it on the second anniversary of my first post! Now that’s not confusing, is it?
I am celebrating because unless something tragic has happened in the last few days, I have posted consistently every week for two years. Sometimes more than one post a week but at least every week! I am proud of myself for doing that.
In the time leading up to this post, I will have been chronicling my trip around Scotland. This particular piece I wrote in the comfort of my home on May 16th, 2019. A little “here’s one I prepared earlier” post.
I still have a way to go till I hit my goal of 1000 followers, but my “followship” (is that a word?) has been steadily increasing. Sadly extrapolating from my current growth rate, it will be about 2027 before I hit that mark. I need some exponential growth!
My most viewed post to date is No day shall erase you from the memory of time which was featured by WordPress as an Editors’ Pick. This post looked back at my visit to the 9/11 Memorial in New York and still gets a few views every week.
A few of my own favourite posts are
RAOK – (Random Acts of Kindness) about a magical few minutes on a train when everyone was kind to each other.
Pandora’s Box about the briefcase full of letters between my ex and I.
It’s not been hard work but sometimes a bit stressful when I have has no posts up my sleeve, and it’s Thursday night. Every photo and video has been my own (unless I say otherwise and it’s only a few). I have not reblogged anyone else’s work. Not once. Not ever.
My original goal for starting the blog was to find a place for a side hustle in writing and creativity. That hasn’t panned out yet. It still costs me more to run than I have made. My obvious talents (sic) are still underappreciated.
But nonetheless, I’ll keep going. I still enjoy writing. My friends IRL seem to enjoy my candid posts. This Old Chook still feels like she has things to say.
When I get home from Scotland, I will be updating my theme to give my blog a fresh new look. I hope you’ll stick around!
I don’t remember what I was dreaming about, but I was in one of those stages of sleep where my mind was buzzing, and even though I was sure I was awake, in reality, I was still unconscious. One of my dream-characters reminded me that this month marked the 10th anniversary of me leaving the marital home. Me walking out and into my own little bedsit, so we could “have some space to think things through”.
I took an independent step. I was proactive.
Another dream-character piped up with the idea that it must be getting close to 10 years since I raised my voice in anger. Ten years since I have screamed with murderous rage and ill intent… At anyone.
I am not saying I haven’t been angry or upset since that time – of course, I have, but since then I have never been in a frame of mind that was so filled with venom and hate.
So much has happened in those ten years. So many good things! I still lament the 10 years I wasted before that, in trying to stitch together something that was shredded and beyond repair. Why did we do that to ourselves? It’s not only me who wasted time. It wasn’t just me who lost good years in the technical “prime” of our lives.
That is all inconsequential now. Now is what counts, and where my head is NOW. If you have been reading this blog, you will know I have been rejoicing in the discovery of a new found creativity that has been hidden below the surface. It took a while for it to bubble to the top and make its way through the cracks, but it’s here – NOW.
I am happier although I am still restless. Something else is out there waiting to be discovered. And before all my friends get excited, it’s not another partner!
One thing I have learned is that I don’t need to be in a partnership. I have good friends, a loving family and an intentionally busy life filled with interesting pursuits and being coupled won’t add to this. Not NOW.
If you are in a broken relationship, it probably won’t get better. Leave! Don’t stay for the children’s sake. The kids will do better in a settled home. They don’t need to feel or hear the hate that seethes out of your skin. If there is violence, they don’t need that either.
Don’t waste 10 years. Don’t waste five!
Take the plunge.
It might be cold when you first get in, but you’ll warm up!
I don’t miss much about my marriage, but the one thing I really do miss is singing! My ex was a musician. He played guitar and drums. While never achieving any fame and spending way more than he ever earned, it was a very satisfying hobby for him and by default, for me as well. Sitting around the kitchen or on the lounge after work and on weekends he would play his Maton acoustic and sing. Most times I would join in with him. I am no virtuoso, but I could hold a tune and used to really enjoy these times.
I guess if we were singing, we weren’t fighting!
The repertoire was fairly broad but consisted of mostly “middle of the road” rock and folk music. There was plenty of Paul Kelly, Cold Chisel, Dire Straits as well as Bob Dylan (which incidentally I didn’t join in on).
I especially enjoyed the family singalongs with his brothers and sisters. These were always happy nights that went into the wee hours.
Since I have been on my own, my opportunity to sing ad hoc has completely vanished, and now when I try and sing along in the car or in my kitchen, my voice is weak and becomes hoarse very quickly. I begin to splutter and cough. I guess it’s like anything, it takes practise and training. My “singing” muscles are no longer in good condition. Sadly, I can’t remember the last time I actually sang with other people!
I found this newspaper advertisement in a recipe book my mum kept full of clippings of things she wanted to cook. It’s from 1975. It caught my eye for two reasons. It shows how our attitudes have changed, and it struck me as oddly relevant to my life at the time.
While the #MeToo movement has highlighted the need for women (in particular) to be treated with more respect and dignity, things were different in 1976. What we would consider sexual abuse or exploitation was a “normal” part of the landscape.
When I was 15, I used to walk home from school through the local shopping centre. I could take one of two routes. Either through the arcade (quicker) or up to the end of the shopping strip (more to see). This longer walk went past a butcher’s shop. The butcher, Bill, was a man somewhere between 35 and 40. He used to park is brown Porsche Carrera out the front of his store. I would sometimes slow down to look at it. He must have noticed me, and he would wave and smile. After a few weeks, the wave and smile turned into him coming out to say a few words, and then eventually me going in to chat with him. It all started pretty innocently. Then the talk started getting a bit risque. Flirting, I thought, and I was flattered that an older man with a Porsche would pay any attention to me, a silly school girl in a short skirt. It eventually became outright sex talk, and I felt excited! He was a sophisticated guy, and I felt so grown up! I knew it was “naughty,” but that was the risky part of it, the part that made it fun.
So I kept going by and talking to him. It’s hard to remember the time frame now, but he asked me out. I was over the moon. Can you imagine how sophisticated I felt! I didn’t tell my mother, but my best friend’s mum was in on it, and she didn’t seem to think it was inappropriate. She gave me no warnings. There was no talk of the age gap beyond “Wow…he’s an older man paying attention to you; be flattered.” Mrs. J helped me get ready in a tight black dress and lace-up boots. I looked fabulous in a 70’s kind of way!
He picked me up from their house, and off we sped in the Porche. First, to a Chinese restaurant in Beverly Hills, where Bill winked at the creepy-looking maître d’. The maître d’ ran his eyes over me in a way that stopped my breath. This was my first inkling that things were a little more sinister than my naivety had allowed. The nervous, excited butterflies in my gut began to be replaced by more anxious thoughts. I didn’t have a Plan B. Plan B’s were not a thing in 1976; I had no money. I was a long way from home.
He bought a bottle of wine and poured me a glass. The drinking age is 18. The restaurant was breaking the law. “No problem,” said Bill “the owner is my friend.” After dinner, he suggested a movie. Sounded good to me, perhaps a little tipsy.
We went to Oxford Street in Sydney. These days a hip place with lots of bars that cater mostly to the LGBTIQ crowd, back then, about the only place you could see X-rated movies in Sydney. As we walked in, he handed the guy at the door some cash, presumably, a bribe since it was a restricted premise. We sat in the dark seats, I looked around, and I realised there were not many other women there. The “action” started on screen. I felt sick! Uncomfortable. Scared. I said I didn’t want to watch anymore and would he take me home.
I’ll give this to Bill; he never tried anything I hadn’t said yes to. He never tried to kiss or touch me. We drove home from Sydney to my place. The one hour trip took less than 30 minutes. He drove hard and fast in that Porsche, certainly exceeding the speed limit. He didn’t speak. I could sense he was angry.
From then I always went home via the arcade. I never saw Bill again. I had emerged unscathed.
More than forty years on I reflect on this and it stands out so clearly he was a paedophile. That he had been grooming me from the beginning. Starting with slightly rude jokes and working up to porn. Thankfully, he had some principles. It could have ended very differently. I don’t recall hearing words like paedophile then. Sure, there were creepy guys you avoided, but as a 15-year-old, I didn’t feel like a target. I hadn’t heard of books like Lolita. It just wasn’t a “thing”. Not in my world anyway.
I don’t characterise myself as a victim. I willingly, although naively, put myself in a place I should have avoided. In retrospect, I am concerned my friend’s mother did nothing but encourage me. I am glad to think this is less likely to happen now.
(Apologies to you mum! Here’s another story you didn’t know about!)
I wrote this post in response to the trial and later sentencing of Cardinal Pell; Australia’s highest ranking priest and a man who has caused misery to many. If this post has caused you any distress, I urge you to seek help through some of the agencies that have been set up for this express purpose. Just because it happened a long time ago, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.