HAPPY DAYS


A a merry morning on Youtube with all the old pop music – putting faces to the songs,some for the first time. Electric solid guitars were a new invention. New sounds, new rhythms, new dances. My first disco was in Leeds in 1966, while I was doing my Tax Officer training. Several of us on the course went. Dark cave-like place, blue and white flashing lights. Came out couldn’t hear each other speaking for ages due to the damage from very loud music! Good times.

PS While in Leeds I bought the three-tiered veil for my wedding in 1967. The embroidered second tier doesn’t show up here, nor the fabric flower headress. The silver sling-back shoes with silver leather flower held on by a diamonte’ centre were bought in Sheffield. The treebark satin A-line (ultra-trendy) dresses were all beautifully made by Mum, very reluctantly since she wanted me to have a proper, bought, bridal dress! But I have never seen a wedding collection I have liked more. Thank you Mum.

All In The Attitude

Meeting up with oldest most inspirational friend in Hamilton as she is catching the train down to shop for a swimsuit in the trendy swimwear shop to wear for her swimming exercise at the local gym. My swimsuit hangs in the wardrobe having never seen daylight, let alone water. Gwen meets her health issues head on and keeps going. After two hours total sleep I am struggling to get ready and go worship at the feet of this geriatric goddess! Just battling my way into one swimsuit in Spandex would require a lie down for me but the walk along the shopping street and good coffee will loosen me up and Gwen is a tonic at any time. So much to talk about and will come back determined to step up my exercise – after a lie down! 

Sewing Machines Needed

My friend, Reeba Fredrick, runs a Sewing Project to assist destitute women in India. They are now looking to start a third centre in remote Tamil Nadu. The women are fed, educated to be seamstresses and when they graduate they are given their own sewing machine with which to continue to make a new life. So many lives are being changed, one group at a time, which means the children as well. By one means and another the money for machines has turned up. Reeba says it can be miraculous! A little goes a long way in India, and the machines are sturdy and hardwearing.Now they need 65 tailoring machines so each new graduate can earn a living and not have to beg, or worse, on the streets. At this time of giving you may like to think of holding back on one present and sending the money instead to change a life. And you know the money is being well used. Reeba Fredrick is on Facebook so pop over and ask her any questions. She and her husband, Fredrick Anjuraj are so dedicated to helping others that I am humbled to know them.My previous story and photos here

My Issue With “Stopping the Boat People”

Like all  non-Indigenous (Aboriginal) Australians I am an  immigrant . I have lived here  much longer than I lived in my home country.  

I identify on a basic level with refugees and boat people who are desperately seeking entry into Australia.

We came for a better life, and found it. But it wasn’t easy and plain sailing, pardon the pun. We, however had the option to return to our former home, not to a pile of rubble, or torture and possible death.

The plane trip in 1972 with tiny baby and toddler was bad enough. We were ‘Ten Pound Poms’, one of the first families to fly for Ten British Pounds instead of taking the six-week cruise to Australia. Otherwise we would have been legal boat people.

My former husband was a skilled Fitter i the mining industry. He had a job interview inland, up in the Hunter Valley. The scheme to import skilled workers ceased soon after. We didn’t know they had already closed the Greta Migrant Camp that we were booked into until we got off the plane from Sydney. Our arrivaI was so awful we wanted to turn back.

We were bussed with others to Coogee Migrant Hospital, as our only option. Hardly anyone there spoke English. The staff in the shop were Hungarian and  the goods were foreign to me. We were in the totally wrong city we had applied for and the office staff didn’t know what to do with us. 

I had been  forbidden to bring my baby formula through customs so we had a frantic search for different formula for a two and a half month baby., who by now was screaming from hunger . The formula we bought, or the change of water upset him even more, till the people in the room next door who were from South America and spoke no English, complained. I had been travel sick on the plane, had not slept properly for days, and it was all a complete nightmare. Totally surreal.

My husband and two-year old went out discovering, and loved what they found. Coogee Beach in particular. I have yet to see it! While he looked after both children I had to go to a packed canteen for a meal. Mental exhauston had taken over. I was on another planet. It felt horrible.

Things got worse before they got better ; no family support, no easy phoning overseas, the sense of isolation, total foreignness of absolutely everything (even the Aussie English language was different). The Poor baby finally settled in his carrycot on top of the table in the train carriage on the journey from Sydney to Newcastle. The scenery on the two hour journey was fantastic, and I remember a glimmer of hope.

We were going to the unknown. With nowhere to live, and no family apart from some unknown stepbrothers and stepsister. They turned out to be lovely and got us on our feet, then on to the train to our new life in Singleton, New South Wales.

It had taken nine nerve-wracking months to get approved for immigration, during which our second child was born. We had sold our house and a stayed with  parents, who were devastated when we took their two adorable grandchildren to the other side of the world. Now it seemed I had made a big mistake but I began to love the country town,its quaint buildings and fantastic scenery with big blue skies. The children and I made new friends we have kept to this day.

The next few months awere filled with overcoming difficulties of settling into a country town with a husband on night shift. My husband was either asleep or uncommunicative. He had his own issues and it was not the dream we had been offered. The townspeople were wonderful, and when Santa came to Burdekin Park we first felt part of the community.

We were ‘Poms’ to them, and it was up to us to prove we belonged. We built the dream house after some tense times with interest rates. The marriage lasted sixteen years in all, but the boys grew up healthy Aussies and now have their own families.

Yes we had great times. I have done amazing things. We were part of a growing, successful country. We were thelucky ones. We thought we were escaping an oppressive government but nothing remotely like today’s refugees are running from. No doubt bad people got through in our day. Who knew?

 I hope these poor people find peace and acceptance here. They have nothing left to lose but much to offer.

What I went through was devastating for me, but a drop in the bucket compared to our new settlers experiences. The kinder and more helpful we are, the happier and more settled our new people in the comunity will be. Simples!

LeftWithLouie

boat 5

For the benefit of those reading this from a foreign shore, our island home, Australia, is currently mid way through a federal election campaign.

Like most election campaigns throughout the world, this campaign has a number of slogans that are constantly being drilled into our ears in the hope of provoking some kind of emotional response that will prompt us to vote for one of the two major parties. The slogan that has really caught my attention in this campaign is “Stop the Boats”.

Before I go any further, a bit of background is needed. As you will all know, Australia is an island nation and therefore, the only way to get here is to fly, which is rather expensive, or to arrive by boat. After World War II we encouraged immigrants to arrive here by boat, in fact we sent ships over to Europe and other parts of the…

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Coping With Xmas

 Xmas is not a good time for me, for many reasons, and I am one of many. Apart from the joy of the Christmas story I can’t wait for all the hype to be over. These days giving presents can be more of a competition than giving unconditional love, and to many, many children it is a time of poverty. The modern Xmas is cruel. Rant over.

So why so maudlin? This is the first time I have found that I cant do something as easy as decorating a tree, because both my wrists shake too much both to hold the delicate ornaments and my vision is distorted so things aren’t always where they think they are. It came as a shock, because I was only trying to glue these stars on the marble tree. BUT..I persisted, and did it. It isn’t as fancy as I planned but hey, I still have two hands, two eyes (one blind but with enough peripheral vision that I don’t walk into walls though I do catch corners). I am not in a wheelchair, and I am in total awe of those achievers who are. 

I am a bit sad that this year I didn’t do any craft work for gifts this but I am working on an alternative. Surprise! I am grateful for the many years I had as an artist, and for the many things I was able to make with my gift. I have hundreds of photos I took of them for the record. 

I am merely growing old, and grumpy. But also grateful, and I want you to do today what you were going to do tomorrow, because you never know, and it is called making memories.

In the meantime I am off to make a cop of tea, which is becoming a challenge, and not only am I assembling this (below), but using my long-handled grabber to place the Xmas ornaments in it as the alternative to a proper tree. Watch this space. We WILL have a Happy Christmas just not a consumerism-driven one! Love. Xx