Monday, 24 August 2015

Love Makes The World Go Round (Part 2)

Before I joined the mad world of the airline business, I worked as a nurse in an aged care home.  A lovely man, George, who had been placed in the home by his family, was a really sad story.  Nobody ever came to see him.  One day he stopped talking and refused to leave his room. He was co-operative enough with the staff and functional enough to take care for himself. He continued to eat and shower, but he became a mute recluse sitting alone in his room all day, staring out the window. The staff decided he had the right to live as he wished and left him alone.

A woman resident, Maggie, had taken an interest in George, and when he disappeared, she went to his room for a visit. He didn't seem to mind but he didn't respond either.  She had started working on a quilt and bit by bit she moved her handiwork into his room.  She spent her days sewing and telling him her life story, while he sat staring out the window.  She had a million stories and was happy to have someone listen to her. No-one knew what he thought as the months went by.

When Maggie finished the quilt, it was put on display and everyone commented on how beautiful it was.

The same week the  quilt was finished, George passed away.

In a drawer in his room, staff found an envelope marked "To Be Opened When I Die" The note inside had one line "Tell Maggie I love her". When they told her, she cried for days. She had loved him too and had finished the quilt just as an excuse to sit with him every day.

I believe he was buried wrapped in Maggie's quilt.

Kate, you wanted really short love stories.  This one's long but small. I go to Bridge Road in Richmond almost every Saturday morning to shop at the market and carry on a love affair.

For four years now I've bought flowers from a young woman who is a refugee from somewhere in Asia. For one thing she has the freshest and most beautiful flowers. For another, she is a fresh and beautiful flower herself. I don't know her name, nor she mine. We don't speak the same language. To her, I'm sure I'm just another customer.

In Spring she's there with daffodils and irises. She's Summer with roses and sunflowers, She's Autumn with dahlias and chrysanthemums. And then it's over. In Winter, God I miss her.

When we exchange flowers and money, I always try to briefly and slyly, touch her hand. I always insist she keep the change and she always insists on giving me an extra flower.

Once I tried to buy all her flowers at once, but she vigorously shook her head. "No". I don't know why. Maybe she too is in love with someone and wants to be there to sell him flowers when he comes.

ABOUT SAM AND MARGARET (my paternal grandparents)
My grandpop painted my gran's toenails.  I was there when he started doing it.

The entire family was up in the Dandenongs to celebrate my parent's wedding anniversary. 

Gran was always a beauty queen to us.  She was really pretty. She liked facials and makeup and perfume. She always painted her fingernails and toenails. But one day when we were sitting out near the pool, I noticed that for the first time, her toenails weren't painted. I asked her why and she said she was getting too old and stiff to get down that far and she thought it was foolish to go to a beauty shop to get them done.

My grandpop was a big, gruffy, man's man who played rugby when he was younger. I was really surprised when he spoke up and told gran that he would be happy to paint her toenails for her. When gran asked him why he would want to do that, he said -

"It's because I love you, always have, always will, and I want you to feel beautiful as long as you live."

I don't know if this qualifies as a love story or not.

When I was going through puberty, I did what most young boys do. I got a pile of very sleazy and much used girlie magazines from an older kid at school and kept them hidden under my mattress where I was sure no-one would ever find them.

One day I noticed that several of the magazines were gone and someone had replaced them with much newer and higher quality magazines.  The girls were much prettier. I was really excited and also very embarrassed.  Either my mum or my dad or my younger sister had done it. No-body ever said anything and I was too scared to ask.  This happened every once in a while for a couple of years.

To this day I don't know who tended to my magazine collection. I guess I don't want to know.  I like to think that anyone in my family loved me enough to understand my adolescence and not make a fuss about my normal sexuality or embarrass me.

One of the pilots at work came to me one day and gave me an envelope. Perfumed. The kind used for personal correspondence. Remember that? He said "Kate, before you read it, you should know that I've had it for at least 20 years, that it was from my wife to whom I'm still married."  Inside the envelope was a matching sheet of stationery with these words written on it ;

          Dearest Malcolm
          I hate you, I hate you, I hate you
          Respectfully, with all my love Anne

I looked at him expecting more. "Umm. That's it" He said and walked away.

I was in my twenties and had just gotten divorced from an abusive husband. I wasn't feeling very lovable or attractive at the time. I was driving to work.

I pulled up at a traffic light and a newish grey car pulled up to the right of me.  In the car was the most handsome man I had ever seen ... no-one ever looked that good to me.

I hoped he wasn't going to turn right at the lights. He didn't. He looked over at me and smiled. I was instantly in love with this man, but a few streets later he turned right and I turned left.

I then knew that there was life after divorce even if it was only a minute at a traffic light.

It's been a few years ago now and sometimes I will pass that intersection. Whenever I do, I think of the man who smiled at me. He'll never know he's so highly thought of by someone he only smiled at.

Thanks again for reading these. They all mean so much to me. I hope you enjoyed them.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Love Make The World Go Round

Sorry readers. I've walked away from 'funny' just this once.

For some years I've been asking friends and my family to tell me a love story. Not one that they've read or heard, but one that they've lived.  In all honesty, I expected gooey-sweet Hallmark greeting card stuff, but I got nasty love and crazy love as well  I expected sunshine and warm love, but I got stormy love with lightening and hail. And I received quite a few.

It all came about some years ago. I was invited to a wedding and my partner was going to be best man. We called around at the groom's parents home for dinner and his father showed me a letter that his son received:

          "Dear Stevie.  If you don't say you love me and walk to the bus stop with
           me I will kill myself and beet you up. I love  you and want to marry you
           soon.  Lizzy"

They were 8 at the time.

I was shown the letter 2 days before Lizzy married Stevie when they were both 26.

My date at the time shared the letter with guests during his wedding speech and everyone had a good laugh and a sob when he asked Liz to repeat after him ....

          "I, Liz, promise you, Steve, never to kill myself or beat you up."

If the marriage lasts as long as her love for this man .... the odds are looking good for a 'happy ever after'.


When I was midway through high school I was studying English literature and in particular, the writings of DH Lawrence.  I know that sounds stupid, but I thought this was about Lawrence of Arabia. I'd seen the movie and I wanted to be him. I don't think I was fully awake at high school.

I went to the library and got just about everything they had. I was a little surprised by the titles. Women In Love, Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterley's Lover.  There was a side of Lawrence of Arabia I didn't know about. The librarian explained. WHOA!!!!  Bad news!!!

Like a lot of students, I borrowed these books in the hope that someone had borrowed them before me and made notes on the pages. Save me from reading them. And they were. I flipped through and read some of the paragraphs about making love. I was blown away. This stuff was hot. To hell with the other Lawrence and the desert. This Lawrence was my kind of guy. And I decided that all the girls who read his books are my kind of girl.

One one of  my trips to the library, I met a woman who was also a fan. She was not a girl, but a retired University professor. She invited me to her house. Whoa, again!! She said she would explain about Lawrence and tell me how to pass the course.

We liked each other right away. She lived alone and her eyes were failing.  She said if I did her grocery shopping once a week, she would tutor me in Lawrence. During that year, she woke me up about love, sexuality and women. No, she never made advances or laid a hand on me. I spent a lot of time with her and I think I'm a better man because of her. I told here back then, if she was 20 instead of 80, I would have asked her to marry me. She said she would have accepted.  She's dead now.  I still have her incredible wisdom. And I got an A for English Literature also.


This is my mum's story, but she would have been too shy to tell you herself. However, it explains why my brother and I owe our existence to peanuts.

When mum left high school, she had everything going for her. She was pretty, smart and came from a well-to-do family.  But she was terminally shy especially around men. Boys didn't like to take her out much because although she was very beautiful, she was so quiet.

She came to Australia from Greece. A cousin dragged her to a party and she sat out the night at one end of the room, in a corner by a table that had snacks on it. She ate a lot of peanuts out of nervousness.

She began to notice a guy who seemed to be as nervous as she. He never said anything, but he was taking extra care of her. He kept her glass filled with non-alcoholic drink and he kept bringing her bowls of peanuts. From time to time their eyes met and they smiled at each other.

When the dancing started and the party got loud, she walked out of the back door to escape, and as she was walking down the street she heard "Wait, wait, please wait". It was the young man running after her with a paper bag in his hand. They stood in awkward silence, just smiling. Finally he reached into the bag, pulled out a can of peanuts, gave them to her and said "I only wish these were pearls".

He ran back to the party.

Twenty years later on their wedding anniversary, he (my dad) gave my mum a sterling silver can marked "peanuts". She thought that was the gift and loved it so much. The memories came flooding back. But there was more. When she lifted the lid, inside was a string of pearls.

Ni gift ever made her as happy. She wore those pearls as her only jewellery for years.

When they were killed in a horrific accident, my brother and I put the silver peanut can in dad's coffin with him. And mum was buried wearing those pearls.




Monday, 10 August 2015

Blades, blades and more blades

I was having some unusual headaches recently, so made my way to my home away from home (doctors) only to have him examine me and say ... "Sorry Miss T, but I have some bad news for you. You're losing your hearing."

"WHAT?" I yelled

"YOU ARE LOSING YOU'RE ............"

"Yeah, yeah. I heard you the first time, but I've always wanted to use that joke."

Tinnitus was the diagnosis. Mist likely caused by standing too close to speakers at rock concerts and listening to music too loudly in my headphones.  Of all the things that have gone wrong, this one sucks the most, because if you think about it, he was basically telling me that I ruined my hearing by hearing things too well.  Yep, it sucks.

Oh, he was wrong actually. It was sinus problems which have since been addressed.

I'm glad this doesn't happen with other senses.  Imagine eating a really good meal and then completely losing your sense of taste, or walking past a bakery in the morning and losing your sense of smell !!

Actually, now that we are discussing it, the thing that's making me feel really old - aside from admitting that I'm never going to win Masterchef, is not really the above.  It was when some well-meaning (read 'stupid') friends decided to take me night-clubbing.

Note, the first thing I need to point out, is I've never really enjoyed going to night clubs. Even when I was younger. I'm more of a pub girl.

The second thing to note is that these days, going clubbing is not as simple as rocking up to a bar for a couple of drinks.  Oh no. It's more like an off-your-face amazing race where by the end of the night, I had so many stamps down my arm, it looked like I'd been sharing a cell with Chopper Read. (A baddie for all you overseas folk).

Although, on the up, it is really handy the next day when you have a hangover and you are trying to piece together just exactly what you did last night. (And believe me, you WILL have a hangover.  These days kids don't sip drinks, they scull them as if alcohol is being banned at midnight).

The next thing you need to know is that night clubs these days have better light and smoke shows than Bon Jovi did in their prime.

Anyway, I digress.

I stayed the night at a friends and I needed some asprin, so made my way to the bathroom cabinet.  Now, I really think my parents dropped me on the head when I was young and something broke in my brain, because this is the sort of thing that kept me awake all night.

Signs and labelling pander to the already dumb, but there are entire industries that depend on drawing out the dumbarse in all of us. Like product development and advertising.

For example, can we just skip to a razor that has a hundred blades and be done with it?  I say this because I noticed an unopened razor in the cabinet which had this printed on the packaging.  "Soon to be released - new razor with 5 blades"!

Once more for the cheap seats - 5 blades.  Apparently the first one picks up the hair, the second cuts it, the third goes out and picks up your dry-cleaning, the fourth goes to market and the fifth goes wee, wee, wee all the way home.

So the question has to be asked, just how many blades does the man need?  If they keep going like this, pretty soon you guys will have a different blade for each hair on your face.  Seriously guys, why could you possibly need 5 different blades on a razor?

Are razors like boy bands now - the blade that can sing, the blade that can dance, the ugly blade, the nerdy blade and the gay blade.

I'm all for progress, but it seems to me that any more than 1 blade is a little unnecessary.

I think it's sad when there are more blades on your razor than in my entire kitchen.  These days you're better preparing dinner in the bathroom than in your kitchen.

It's a vicious cycle.  One company adds a blade, so the other adds an extra blade, so the first adds another blade etc etc.

And while I'm having this razor rant, who is naming these things?  You have The Mach, The Fusion, The Champion, The Turbo and The Quatro. It sounds less like the names of razor blades and more like a casting call for the return of Gladiators.

And now I see you can get razors with batteries that vibrate and even have something called a 'lubra-strip'. (Jokes galore here, but I'm not going there.)

Further, the packaging said it was "The best a man can get". Really??? I would have thought that phrase would have been in the same sentence as Angelina Jolie, or Cameron Diaz or lap dance!!

The thing that shocked me most after reading this was that this particular razor has it's own website.  Somehow, I guess that's not the site most males expect when they type 'hot' and 'shaved' into Google.  But think about this for a moment. With all the infinite possibilities offered by the internet, how bored would you have to be to look up the website for a razor blade???

So anyway, I looked it up.

And check this out, not only does it have a website, but it also has a fan club.  I am not making this up.  Let's face it, if you are the sort of person who joins a fan club for a razor, I'm not really sure you should be handling a razor with blades.  I'm not sure you should be trusted with anything that close to your face that isn't made of ice-cream.

Crikeeeeee ..... why don't you guys just grow a beard???



Monday, 3 August 2015

The Letter

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day and was just about to put pen to paper, when the pimply teenage waiter arrived at my table and asked the question. Not the question I was expecting, mind you. I was expecting something along the lines of "Can I get you a coffee?"

But instead, he asked "What are you writing?"

It really was quite a simple question and confident I knew the answer without thinking music or phoning a friend, I responded simply – "A letter."

He stared at me blankly. Clearly I hadn’t provided all the necessary information.

"You know. A letter! Words on paper. When I was a kid, this is how we used to communicate. OH. MY. GOD. Did I just use the expression "When I was a kid"? What next? Was I going to start banging on about how things were better in my day, and then complain about this noise they call music? "Sorry, mate, you know letters, right? Envelopes? Stamps? Any of this ringing a bell?"

"Oh yeah," he replied. "I know stamps. Look at all the ones I got at the club last night, the DJ was awesome!"

"You might call that music," I said, trying desperately to catch the inevitable words before they tumbled out of my mouth, "I call it noise."


"But I don’t mean those stamps," I said, moving on before I started suggesting all the world’s problems could be solved by a good dose of national service. "I mean the ones with the Queen’s picture on them, and you lick her back!"

"Why would you want to lick her back?" He asked.

"Do you know, it’s a little-known fact," I said warming to the topic, "that every time you lick the back of a stamp with the Queen’s picture on it, the real Queen feels it."

He paused for a moment as if actually considering it, and then said "Nah … don’t be stupid. And anyway, I know what a letter is. I just wanted to know why you were writing one."

Why? The thought had never occurred to me. He seemed to sense I needed mor information and continued – "I mean, why would you write a letter when you could just send an email?"

"Well you can’t avoid paying your bills by telling someone the cheque is in the email, can you?" I joked.

He didn’t laugh and the thought suddenly struck me, why was I writing a letter? I mean, no one writes letters any more. Even the kid we sponsor in some hick country has an email address and a Facebook page. What was so special about a letter?

"Why?" I said half wondering what the next thing to come out of mouth would be, "let me count the reasons why. For starters, a love email will never be as romantic as a love letter, will it?"

He thought about this for a moment, nodded and said "What if you put some emoticons at the end? A smiley face or I could show you how to do a love heart with an arrow and a 3."

I felt like I was losing him.

"Well what about this then – if you get stuck on a desert island, it’s going to be hard to stick an email in a bottle."

"Unless you’re on Fiji" he countered "I went there with the boys at Christmas and they had a business centre with a printer and everything."

"OK then" I thought desperately, hoping I had another point, "what about spam? I have so many offers in my email for cheap Viagra, I could get the Tower of Pisa to stand up straight."

"There’s a tower somewhere made out of pizza?" he asked with amazement, and then just as suddenly seemed to pull himself back together. "Ok, I get why it’s better than email, but why then don’t you just use your phone?"

"OK mate" I said "letters are so much better than a phone. A letter won’t wake you up on a Sunday morning when you have a hangover, a letter won’t disturb you by going off in a movie, you can still understand a letter if you read it in bright sunlight, and it’s really hard to send a drunken smart arse letter to your mates in the middle of the night.

He laughed and I knew I had him I just knew we had found the same wavelength finally, so I motioned him closer and said "Do you want to know the real reason I am writing a letter?"

He nodded.

"The truth is I’m writing it to keep a tradition alive. You see, my most prized possession in the world is a letter written to me by my mum just before she died."

"Wow" he said "do you still have it?"

Of course and I read it often.

"Cool story, love," he said. "I’ll let you get back to it, but before I do, can I ask you something?"

"Sure" I said, suddenly sentimental.

"Can I get you a coffee?"