Thursday, June 10, 2010

Birthdays and Beatles

It's my birthday today! It's a big one too. 

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. Hers wasn't as big as mine thoughHere we are back in the sixties:
My sister

A long time ago I had my 14th birthday in the week that the Beatles came to (Adelaide) town. I'd venture to say that that particular week was the most exciting and memorable birthday week I've ever had.

The lead up to this momentous event had been a roller-coaster of emotions for Adelaide fans.

First of all ...  shock! horror! ... it was announced that Adelaide had not been included in the Beatles' Australian itinerary! How could this be? It was absolutely devastating! These days if an act as big as the Beatles (are there any?) decided not to visit a particular city, the fans would just hop on a plane and take themselves to the nearest place they were playing. But things were not so easy back in the day. For starters, the cost of a plane ticket was way out of the reach of all, except politicians and business tycoons.

Thank heavens for Bob Francis a local DJ, who organised a petition with the aim of convincing the promoters to add Adelaide to the Australian tour. Eighty-thousand signatures were obtained, which had the desired effect of persuading the organisers that maybe Adelaide was worth including in the itinerary after all.

Well ... the tickets to the 2 concerts sold out in, what seemed like, the blink of an eye ... so many disappointed fans. Then ... hooray! The Department store, John Martin's of Christmas Pageant fame, stepped into the breach and sponsored a further two concerts.

The picture below is from the book "The Beatles in Australia" by Mark Hayward and shows people camped in a long queue outside the department store for days before the tickets went on sale ... but ... our Mum (who will be 92 next month) got up very early on the day, caught a bus into the city, parked herself in the queue ... and ... managed to get tickets! She got them for me, 2 of my sisters and 2 of our friends. We were ecstatic, needless to say!

                                                      My Mum is in this queue somewhere.

Then there were rumours that Ringo was ill and the tour would be cancelled! There was endless speculation about this ... he was sick, he was dying, he wasn't sick, it was just a rumour, he's sick, he's collapsed, he's not sick, he hasn't collapsed, they're not coming, they are are coming ... it was terribly stressful being 14 at that point in time ...

As it happened Ringo had been taken ill, but the tour was going ahead anyway. A drummer by the name of Jimmy Nicol was coming with the other three and would perform in Ringo's place at the 4 Adelaide concerts. History shows that Ringo's absence didn't diminish the enthusiasm of the welcome the Beatles received in Adelaide.

This grainy video captures some of that excitement.

I'd sprained my ankle playing netball the previous Saturday, so I was home from school the day they arrived. I was able to listen to the live radio broadcast of events as they unfolded. I'm not sure why I didn't watch it on TV. Maybe the technology of the time wasn't yet up to beaming live footage into our lounge-rooms? The downside to that, of course, was that I had to hobble to the concert (my very first rock concert!) on a bandaged (and very painful) foot. 

We were seated in Row DD at Centennial Hall. We couldn't see much and could hear very little except screaming, but it was the most fantastic experience. And what a birthday present! 
I still marvel at the thought of my little Mum lining up to buy us tickets to a rock concert. It says a lot about the appeal the Beatles had across all ages, but I think it says a tremendous amount more about my Mum and her love for all of her (6) girls. 

So ... thank you my gorgeous Mum. You are absolutely the best.

If you were listening carefully to the above video, you would have heard John Lennon being asked if he'd noticed that there were a lot of adults, especially grandmas in the crowds lining the route from the airport into the city. His reply was: "Well I've never seen so many grandmas at once."

Well guess what Beatles, your adoring school-girl fans from way back when are the grandmas now and ...  today ... I've entered a new kind of sixties decade.

Where did all those years go?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ANZAC Day - A Tribute.

Today is ANZAC Day. It's the day we commemorate the disastrous landing of Australian and New Zealand troops on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915.

My father was a born in 1914 at the beginning of The Great War and my mother would enter the world 4 years later, as the 'war to end all wars' was drawing to a close. My father's younger brother, whom the family called Fred, would be born 5 years after my father, on 21 May, 1919.

As we all know of course, The Great War did not turn out to be 'the war to end all wars' and, sadly, the folk of my parents' generation were to find this out all too soon. The Great War became known as World War I and my parents' war, as World War II

None of my father's children (6 daughters) got to meet Uncle Fred.

The 2/10th Battalion was the first South Australian battalion formed for the Second AIF. It formally came into being on 13 October 1939. Uncle Fred enlisted on 6 November, 1939 aged 20.
This picture is from the Australian War Memorial website and shows the 2/10th training at Ingleburn in NSW in 1940 before departure for England.

The Australian War Memorial website gives an account of the 2/10th's history stating that the battles it fought in Papua "were its most bitter and costly."

The  website states that "the 2/10th arrived at Milne Bay on 12 August 1942 and on the night of 27 August was overwhelmed by Japanese marines in a confused battle. The battalion fared even worse in its next engagement – Buna. Between 23 December and 2 January 1943 the 2/10th lost 113 men killed and 205 were wounded in often ill-conceived attacks against Japanese bunkers around the old airstrip. The 2/10th’s final engagement in Papua was at Sanananda between 9 and 24 January 1943." 

Uncle Fred was killed on 21 January 1943. 

My mother has often told the story of Uncle Fred and his mate Jimmy enlisting and serving together. Apparently Jimmy died just before Fred, perhaps in the Buna battle. Family lore has it that after Jimmy died Fred was distraught. He felt that he didn't want to go on and began to engage in the risky behaviour, which resulted in his own death a few weeks later.
These pictures are also from the Australian War Memorial website. The one above was taken at Milne Bay, Gili Gili, Papua New Guinea in October, 1942. The one below shows Australian troops as they plough through mud and slush in the heart of New Guinea on their way out of a forward area for a well-earned spell.
I wish Uncle Fred could have hung on for a little longer.  But ... imagine ... having fought the war for almost 4 years, you lose your best mate while fighting a ruthless enemy,  in conditions unimaginable to most of us, and not knowing where or when it would all end ... well I think I'd want to give up too.

The 2/10th returned home on 12 March 1943, just 7 weeks after Uncle Fred died.

So Uncle Fred, we didn't get to know you, but judging by your brothers and sisters, I'm sure you were a lovely young man. You were certainly a very brave young man. There can be no denying that.

So little is known of your early life. What were your interests? What did you love to do as a boy, as a teenager, before the War took you away forever? We'll probably never know now. 

I hope you and Jimmy have been resting in peace all these years, knowing that you fought ... and saved the greatest country on earth. 

One thing is for sure ... age shall not weary you, nor the years condemn. 

Thank you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Couscous and Messages

Yesterday (Saturday) I went grocery shopping. This would have to be one of my most unfavourite things to do.  I really resent spending good money on trivialities ... like food.

Anyway, as I was struggling up the aisle with the stupid shopping trolley (let me just say here that I firmly believe that shopping trolleys were invented by men for the sole purpose of crippling the whole of womankind), I overheard a young teenager talking on his mobile phone:

"I've found the couscous," he roared. "Yeah I've found it! ...  Yeah, yeah ... d'ya want anything to go with the couscous?" .... Well ... it might be a bit bland on it's own..."

This one-sided conversation replayed itself in my mind over and over during the course of the day and gave me much pause for thought.

I mean ... who had any inkling that young teenage boys (whose voices are still rising and falling at the whim of their hormones) were au fait with words like "bland" ... and ... "couscous", for heavens sake. Hell's bells, I only discovered couscous myself, five minutes ago.

This got me thinking again about how things were when I was a child.

Children in 1950s suburban Australia did something called "the messages". This activity took place after school. It entailed hopping on your bike ... if you were lucky enough to have one ... otherwise you took something called "Shank's pony" ... and heading off to the corner shop, clutching a coin purse, a string-bag and a list written on the back of an envelope  in your hot, sweaty paw.

This is a bit like what a string bag looked like back then.

The corner shop ... usually called "the grocer" ... stocked all manner of food items and they were all stored on shelves behind the counter ... no impulse buying in those days. You handed your list to the Grocer or maybe the Grocer's wife, and stood and waited while your string-bag was packed with the things on the list. And ... you can bet your sweet bippy that couscous wouldn't have been in there. 

Your after school shopping list usually contained things like a packet of Nurses Cornflour or a half a pound of brown sugar, or maybe even a half a dozen eggs, because the chooks had gone off the lay. The sugar would be scooped out of a huge container and skillfully poured into a brown paper bag, the top of which would be neatly folded over a couple of times and snappily sealed with sticky-tape. The eggs would be individually wrapped in several layers of newspaper, so that they wouldn't break as they were carried home in the string-bag, swinging from the handlebars of your bike.

However, there were some things you were rarely sent to the corner shop for such as bread and milk, because these were delivered right to your doorstep every week-day. 

Our grocery shop was called ... if I'm remembering correctly ... Tyson's ... and was about a kilometre and a half from our house. If you lost your list or forgot what you had to get, you had to go back home and be reminded ... no mobile phones, of course. Heavens, we didn't even have a landline back then.

I was in Adelaide late last year and went to visit some of the spots I remembered from my childhood.

This is how Tyson's looks today. Alas, no longer a corner shop ... it of course, got swallowed up in the maw of the gigantic supermarket conglomerates which began making their presence felt in Australia in the early 1960s

Such a quaint building. To think that it was once a  thriving little business, run by people who knew their customers by name, and who probably prided themselves in personalised, efficient service. 

And ... all without a single bone-jarring, muscle-twisting shopping trolley in sight!

Sigh ... It does make me yearn for the good old days.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'm Back!

Yes that's right ... I am back.

A few things have driven me back this way at this particular time.

The first one is a biggy ... GUILT! Does one need to feel guilty about not posting to one's blog for  ... can it really be ... almost 10 months?  I don't know, but I DO feel guilty. Not surprising perhaps, given that I can feel guilty about THE most trivial things ... eg ... indulging myself by doing things I actually like doing instead of putting them off until I've done all the necessary things, which of course, happen to be things which I don't like doing.

The second thing is that, recently I was reading a post on a list that I subscribe to, about  someone who is conducting research into how many abandoned blogs there might be out there in cyberspace. Quick ... get back there ... I thought to myself ... who wants to be featured in someone's research as a "blog abandoner"?  Not me that's for sure.

The next thing to happen was a disaster with a bottle of soy sauce ... on April Fool's Day ... when else? That caused me to wonder why the hell they don't bottle soy sauce in plastic like they do every other damn thing!

That got me thinking about the kind of things I have in my pantry as compared to the kind of things my Mum had in her cupboard when I was a child.

This and a bottle of Worcestershire  sauce would almost certainly have been the only sauces she had. Whereas, I seem to have multitudes, which is probably why the soy fell out and smashed to smithereens when I opened the pantry door on April Fool's Day. 

Anyway, then I got to thinking about my blog and my rationale for creating it in the first place; which was to look back on how life was for me when I was a child, as compared to how life is for me, my children and grandchildren in this day and age. 

Coming fast on the heels of all the above lines of thought, was the realisation that I seem to have retired from full time paid employment ... quite unintentionally. This means I don't have any money ... BUT ... I do have ... wait for it ... SPARE TIME! This means I can indulge in things I like doing more often, because I've managed to get the things I don't like doing, done ... well sort of anyway.

One of the things I really like doing is Scrapbooking and I recently came across an ebook called "How to Make Money Scrapbooking" which I found very inspiring. So, I've decided to see if I can do this ... i.e. start a home-based business and make a success of it.

To help keep me motivated I've created another blog, "Nettie's Nook" which will be, I hope, a chronicle of my successful career as a business owner.

Wander over and have a look at Nettie's Nook and let me know what you think.