Five Seconds of Fame

I keep listening out for the doorbell, I keep looking out of the window, but the street is empty. The postman, greengrocer, Amazon delivery and Co Op groceries have all been, but They never come. Another day when a long pole, with a microphone on one end and a television interviewer at the other end, has not appeared at my front door.

How do they choose all these citizens who keep showing up on the news and breakfast television? I am not talking about science experts, political commentators, journalists and doctors, but ordinary people who sit in their living rooms unashamed of their ghastly wallpaper and awful fashion sense. Out of millions and millions of us how do they get chosen to be interviewed for several minutes in a segment that will be repeated endlessly on the main news and on News 24.

If they happen to have recovered from Covid they obviously have a head start over the rest of us, but it’s not just people pondering on pandemics, I have always been ignored. Every general election, the long years of Brexit, no one knocks on my door or stops me while I’m out shopping for my opinion. Though I would flee in the opposite direction if I did see cameras; too windswept, wrong clothes for television…

But if a reporter did call on me at home they might not get away; all those years of stored up opinions.

 ‘Yes we need more lockdown not less, gatherings of more than two people forbidden, identity cards, everyone to stay inside their own postcodes, disposable BBQs should be banned, litter bugs should be tasered on the spot, private motor vehicles confiscated, air travel banned… it was so nice during the first few weeks of lockdown…. Perhaps you and the cameraman would like to buy one of my books, I just happen to have a box full… or buy all my books…

Maybe a little bribery would secure their release…

Everyone is filmed at home now so if you haven’t had the chance to appear on television you can always pretend. Facetime with your boring family could become one of Alan Bennet’s brilliant Talking Heads – which are perfect for isolated actors and have just been remade.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08ftkkx

Or dust off your bookshelves and pontificate late at night on tomorrow’s newspaper headlines.

In the kitchen you can have your own masterchef celebrity banquet bake off.

‘What are you making?’

‘Bangers and Mash, it could all go horribly wrong… I’m just going to test the potatoes, okay, this is the moment when it could really go wrong, I could end up with third degree burns, I need to strain the potatoes now… make sure the camera lens doesn’t steam up…  yes the sausages all free range, they were running  around in a Hampshire field yesterday… oh oh is that the smoke alarm, I forgot to check the sausages…

Perhaps it would be better to stay in the garden. Gardening programmes are so popular now for peaceful healthy escapism and you can even send in videos of yourself and your delightful children giving a guided tour of your fantastic / unusual / beautiful / bountiful garden. Gardener’s World receives thousands of them, so you might not get chosen unless you have turned your bathroom into a tropical paradise, installed a waterfall in your living room, or turned a six foot sunless concrete square by your back door into the Garden of Eden.

Perhaps it’s best if I don’t film my garden; putting carefully cropped selected flowers on Instagram is my limit. Though if the people with poles do turn up tomorrow I could give them my views on new major projects injecting money into the economy; have all the motorways turned into cycle routes and gardens…

Have you ever invited television cameras into your home?

What’s the Point?

Being in lockdown, isolation, shielding, what ever you like to call it, life has been different for all of us, some more than others; suddenly working from home, or not working at all. Even those who already worked from home, were stay at home parents or retired, still went out and about. How many of us are asking ourselves what’s the point of going out to work, what’s the point of ever leaving home at all? Will there be people who join the true agoraphobics and never leave home again?

If you live on a country estate or an outback station in Australia you probably rarely leave home; it’s a very long way to your front gate. If you live in a city centre with all life on your doorstep in normal times, you did not need to go far. But if you are among the millions and millions who live in suburbs, going out and coming home again is the natural order of things. For generations people have been getting on the train to go ‘up to town’ to the office. Cities are full of offices, new towers of offices are still being built, but why?  When I was very young I asked my father what he did at work and he said ‘write letters’. That sounded very boring so I vowed to avoid an office job and I have, apart from a temporary job when I did commute up to Waterloo station for a few months. I’m sure lots of important things go on in offices, but my little temping job involved chasing up orders that were never ready and seemed unlikely to ever get to where they were supposed to and apologising on the phone to the people that were not going to get them.

Whether you are a big or little cog in your company, we now know you can contribute from a lap top on the kitchen table. All those office blocks could be used to house key workers who at present cannot afford to live near their work and also waste hours commuting.

If the world of work has changed what about leisure and shopping? Will shopping have altered so much there will be no point? I haven’t actually been near a shop except the tiny pharmacy attached to our doctors to collect prescriptions. In our new restricted life even that has taken on an allure of adventure. But will shopping be an adventure or an ordeal now?

When our well known chain BHS, British Home Stores, collapsed, one commentator suggested it did not offer a focussed shopping experience, which is probably why I used to go there, I am an unfocussed shopper. The best buys are when you stop for lunch at a garden centre to break a long journey and end up buying a coat, new trainers and colourful kitchen items you didn’t know you needed. We did have a lovely shop in town that sold an array of colourful and very expensive items that made you want to throw out everything in your kitchen and start all over again. I only looked and didn’t actually buy anything, but they had a nice coffee shop upstairs, strewn with unhygienic cushions, where you could relax and check your social media or write. Where do writers go now?

Whether you enjoyed trying on endless clothes and sampling makeup, or browsing in the book shop before going to your knit and knatter group in that trendy LITTLE yarn shop, the shopping future looks bleak. I imagine only focussed shoppers will be allowed in, two at a time, no browsing, one way system, no turning back, straight to what they need and out again, no idling, no coffee and cake. Jumping casually on the bus, laden with bags of shopping, squashed in by people standing in the aisle, listening in to people’s conversations, observing strange people for your next short story? All that real life is gone; six people on board, strictly spaced out, wait for the next bus. You will be glad to get home and maybe never leave again, glad you have mastered on line shopping.

And what of the great tradition of visiting garden centres?  As well as our travel adventures, we did visit our local centre regularly to actually buy plants, browsing through the reduced stands for ‘rescue plants’, wandering round the water features and overpriced gift section. Then there were the very popular two for one dinners on Thursday evening, masses of people, leaving Cyberspouse with his coffee while I made my final choice of plants. Yesterday’s email outlined the latest rules. Every adult must take a trolley so they keep track of numbers and the strange line ‘We prefer one child per adult and trolley’ … what if you haven’t got  a child, do they hand them out along with gloves and gel or might you have to fit your six foot 35year old son in the trolley? I have had plants delivered by the greengrocer and have ordered some on line, but it’s not quite the same…

Are you planning to leave home any time soon? Can you see any point in going shopping?

The Game Of Life- Covid 19 Edition

Essays submitted to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme detailing its listeners’ coronavirus experiences are to be archived by the British Library.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-52487414

The Covid Chronicles were launched in March when presenter Evan Davis asked his audience to write in with personal accounts of life during lockdown. Perhaps this is what I would write, though I have exceeded the suggested 400 words.

The last day life was normal for us was Burns’ Night, 25th January 2020. Friends came round for dinner, my husband cooked. The day before, his birthday outing of choice was a trip to Ikea, our last outing.

DSCN0717
Life hadn’t been completely normal since his cancer diagnosis in autumn 2018, but chemotherapy had gone well and 2019 was filled with what was normal for most of us last year, holiday breaks, long walks, family visits, going out with friends…

75642396_1873987429412429_8799937327175565312_n
By February this year things had gone off at an unexpected tangent and downhill. Family were flying over, driving down, coming in shifts and helping out with stays in three different hospitals. We were aware of the virus, but the main defence was hand gel; how ridiculous that seems now. The main entrance of Southampton Hospital, where his major operation took place on 2nd March, was like an airport; twenty four hour Costa Coffee, shops, cafes and people, lots of people. The intensive care unit was a quiet little bubble away from all this; you had to phone from the waiting room to be let in, but that was the only restriction.
On two occasions we were called into a little room to talk to a doctor, but after a few days my husband was on a ward. In the background to our little lives hospitals were planning for the virus to get worse, suddenly he was transferred to our local hospital and we were wondering how this Coronavirus was going to pan out. Our physiotherapist daughter had already been organising the NHS and her brothers and now she made sure our house was ready, persuading the ‘social care team’ I would cope fine in my new role as carer. I don’t drive, but I’m fit, we have great local shops, family would continue to come and stay at regular intervals and friends would be dropping in for coffee and jigsaws, what could possibly go wrong? The reluctance to let my husband go suddenly changed to a flurry of Covid 19 bed emptying activity on his ward.

46192197_2225422284403059_4618476378902233088_n
At home things went as planned, some friends were already voluntarily isolating, but others came round for coffee. Our last family visitors left the evening after Mothering Sunday, by the time they were on their way home, on Monday 23rd March, the Prime Minister was telling everyone to stay home and close everything. We were already confined to home, now everybody would be at home; though I certainly wouldn’t have wished for a world wide pandemic just to feel we were all in the same boat.
My husband soon got The Letter – the most vulnerable people to stay at home for twelve weeks; I was now a shielder as well as a carer. By now we all understood the theory, it was a duty for everyone not to get Covid 19. My humble Covid Challenge, my contribution to the NHS was to keep my husband out of hospital and not get the virus myself as I am his sole carer.

96276355_558921511482769_592639146783145984_n
So here we are in our cosy little bubble, thanks to our kind next door neighbours and the local greengrocers, butcher and Co Op doing home deliveries, I don’t go near any shops. I only venture out for a walk and to our doctors’ little pharmacy; one customer at a time, the staff wear masks and shields. The amazingly fine weather and the garden have given lockdown a holiday feel. As a retired couple with lots of interests we’re used to having relaxing days at home; now every day is a relaxing day at home. Real carers are people who look after severely disabled children or partners or parents with dementia, for year after year. Apart from having to think what to have for dinner and cook every single day, life is easy and there is time for gardening, writing and blogging.

92586213_1470849996410993_2577584722448220160_n
In the Game of Life, Covid 19 Edition, over 35,000 people have died in the UK.

We have been given another extra turn and got some bonus points; loved ones and friends have been safe so far. Lucky to have a garden, not have to worry about losing a job or trying to home school children. Lucky that what happened to us came just before lockdown.

Have you written a Covid Chronicle or kept a journal?

Just ( NOT ) Popping To The Shops

One of my earliest memories is of being seen across the busy road we lived on and walking by myself to the corner shop. I was well known by the two ladies who worked there. One of them was called Dolly, which seemed a very strange name for an old lady. Among the sweets they sold were Dolly Mixtures which I assumed were named after her. Mum could watch my progress and return ready to signal when it was safe to cross back. What I actually bought on these solo expeditions I have no recollection and I assume it was because my baby brother was asleep indoors, but it was the beginning of a lifetime of popping to the shops – until now…

P1050622
Unless you are subsistence farmers or have a team of servants, someone in the household has to go shopping. Whether you live in a beautiful Mediterranean town and gaze down from your geranium filled balcony to the daily market selling freshly caught fish and newly picked vegetables or do a huge weekly supermarket shop with no idea where the food has come from, shopping is an activity or chore that never ends – until now…

assorted vegetable lot
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

When my parents bought their first house, on a new housing estate, there were no shops nearby, but we were not likely to starve. The milkman brought a boxful of groceries, there was a greengrocer’s van and the butcher’s boy came on his bike. It was a long walk to the new shopping centre for my mother with a baby and toddler as well as me. Her friend from round the corner had six children, so it was quite an expedition with the added excitement of a route through a large cemetery. Mum used to be amused by another neighbour who would dart back and forth between Fine Fare and Tesco checking the prices. Even in these small shops our mothers would be complaining that they were ‘always moving things around’. Needless to say there was often some vital item forgotten and I would be sent on my bike to another housing estate where they boasted a parade of shops.

3
When we emigrated to Western Australia in 1964 all three of us were sent up a sandy track, the unmade section of our road, to the corner shop and later Tom The Cheap Grocer. The shops closed for the weekend at noon on Saturday, so on Saturday morning Mum and Dad would make a frantic dash in the car to stock up at the bigger shops in an older suburb. A far cry from today’s 24 hour shopping.

DSCN4072
Things have come full circle; having your shopping delivered is popular again, especially with busy working families. When someone says they are off to do their Tesco shop they probably mean they are going upstairs to the computer. With the advent of The Virus and isolation, Grandparents are being smugly told by their offspring that they should have learnt how to do on line shopping.

DSCN7250
Our local shops are so good that we had no need for on line shopping and a typical Saturday morning would be a walk along the cliff top, coffee at the Ludo Lounge, then stroll over to the greengrocers – until now…
Anyone with a 12 week sentence ( the medically very vulnerable told by the Prime Minister and the NHS to stay indoors ) or those shielding them, is dependent on supermarket deliveries or family, neighbours and volunteers. But with the sudden popularity of on line shopping you have to log on at one minute past midnight to try and get a slot.
The fun of bargain hunting has been replaced by the excitement of not knowing for sure what you will get in your delivery. Six weeks into our lock down and I think I have cracked it. The poplar local greengrocers which only takes cash, has engineered a major delivery operation using only the phone and Facebook. The free range, outdoor reared and expensive butcher up the road takes orders and payment on the phone. My latest discovery is a website for deliveries from local Co op shops. They seem to have plenty of slots, but this might be because you have to spend a minimum of £15 with a limit of 20 items and an eclectic limited choice of what is available. Type in cheese and you will find cheese. Type in baked beans and up come green beans, jelly beans and coffee beans. Put in peanut butter and up comes butter. With some outside the box thinking I did find Whole Earth Organic peanut butter and it appeared on the shopping list, but the next day showed up as unavailable in the polite e-mail update. The deliveries come by motorbike.
How have your shopping habits changed recently?

And Now for Something Completely Different

A Covid free blog – almost.

When we are watching Mastermind or University Challenge, one question I can always answer is What is the name, meaning treeless, of the large / vast plain in Au… NULLABOR I yell.
As part of my pandemic escapist reading I have been dipping into Bill Bryson’s book ‘Down Under’ published in 2000. Coincidentally up popped Australian blogger Rowena’s ‘Beyond The Flow’ A-Z challenge ‘N’…

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/n-australias-nullarbor-plain-a-z-challenge/

I loved reading about the Nullarbor Plain as I have crossed it! Once. Time and distance have left a romantic feel to the experience which probably did not exist at the time.
When I was browsing on the internet for Nullabor nuggets I came across this
Latin nullus ‘no, none’ + arbor ‘tree’
I never studied Latin, but I like picking up Latin origins and reading that line the Null arbor origins are obvious, but I had always assumed it was an Aboriginal word. It sounds like a name they would have been using for thousands of years before Latin was even invented.
‘The Nullarbor Plain is the world’s largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres, stretching about 1,100 kilometres from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.’
Our trip in the early seventies was from Perth to South Australia and my Aussie friend’s uncle’s orchard; then Melbourne, Sydney and eventually Tasmania. As I ended up back in England the following year ( that’s another story ) it remains my most adventurous trip; at the time there was a three hundred mile section of the highway that was still only gravel.

DSCN4072

 

Back in 1964 when we were new migrants we met another new family (of the whingeing Pom variety) who said if they didn’t like Perth they would drive over to Sydney. When an Aussie mentioned it was rather a long way they said they would take some sandwiches! I often wonder if they made it.
It is a long way. 2,444 miles – 46 hours 34 minutes in moderate traffic if you are planning to drive today.

https://www.bing.com/maps?q=perth+to+sydney+drive&form

One of my impressions was that we drove through a vast wheat belt, then the vegetation got smaller and sparser until it barely existed. On the other side the scrub gradually grew again and we drove through an identical wheatbelt. We slept on the beach at Eucla, we certainly never stayed at any accommodation. My friend was of tough farming stock, but the family friend we hitched a lift and shared driving with was another Pommie and I’m sure he and I had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for, though we knew the basics; take plenty of water and NEVER wander away from your vehicle. I had never been away from home for more than a week, my parents also had no idea of the journey. Were they worried, I’m not sure. In those pre internet days they would have had no idea if we had arrived safely until they got a picture post card. Absolutely nothing went wrong, though it was a boring drive and so easy to drift off to sleep at the wheel on that endless straight road. But a trip well worth taking to understand the vastness and aridity of a continent where most people cluster round the coast. Here I have to confess that it was so boring that nearing the end of our trip, after meeting up with friends who had flown over, loving Tasmania because it was so green and lush, just like England, I went into a bank and was pleasantly surprised to see a pay cheque had gone in to my meagre account. I booked a flight from Sydney back to Perth. A three hour flight that landed in Perth at the same time we had left Sydney. Sitting next to me was an unescorted child who kept saying ‘Are we nearly there yet’ so the flight felt longer than three hours, but not as long as the drive across the Nullabor.

https://www.australia.com/en/trips-and-itineraries/perth-and-surrounds/crossing-the-nullarbor.html

My children claim I was always talking about ‘when I crossed the Nullarbor Plain’ and it wasn’t till we were all chatting with an Aussie visitor about the trip that my then teenagers revealed they had always assumed I had driven across the Nullabor Plain by myself! No way…
Bill Bryson’s book describes the train journey across the Nullabor, a trip I would love to take, in a comfy sleeper, not the economy sitting all the way. He got to ride for a while in the driver’s cab and describes seeing a railway line that stretched dead straight for hundreds of miles.
Perhaps most intriguing about this journey is to realise how isolated Western Australia is. Holidays in Bali are nearer and cheaper for Perth people than going to the Eastern States. It could be another country especially when there is a pandemic on!

Last updated: 22 April 2020 at 6.07am
Arrivals to Western Australia after 11:59pm on Sunday 5 April 2020
Strict border controls are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 in WA.

Arrivals to Western Australia
You will no longer be able to enter Western Australia after 11.59pm, on Sunday, 5 April 2020 unless an exemption has been granted.

Have you crossed the Nullabor Plain?

My novel Quarter Acre Block was inspired by our family’s emigration to Western Australia.

 

The Game of Life Goes Global

The Game of Life is being played on the biggest scale ever with the worldwide virus scare. A game of chance with good odds for most of us, but with the rules being made up as we go along and every team making up their own rules, or so we might think… But it is viruses that make the rules, mutating at will; do they have an agenda? It is not hard to believe that Gaia has her hand in this, as travelling and normal life grind to a halt it must be good for the environment and non human creatures.

1
Meanwhile, if we zoom in like Google Maps to my family, even without the virus there has been drama. Our daughter has clocked up five different hospitals visited, with her younger son and father in hospital at the same time. Luckily the little one is fine. After a year and more of being well, Cyberspouse’s condition went off at an unexpected tangent and he has been in three different hospitals. Now I am officially a carer, having persuaded the discharge nurse and social care team I would manage – not mentioning that once I was back on my computer writing I would probably forget all about him! Luckily our daughter is a physiotherapist and has been organising us, her brothers and the NHS. Our aim was to get him out of hospital before it went into virus lockdown!

45351621_255061431825055_2171512980703805440_n
Blogging and writing was put on hold and once my scheduled blogs ran out it was quite liberating to know there was no chance of writing anything or catching up with fellow bloggers. But what a fund of material I have acquired in my head; a blog about the NHS and patients and visitors…

15

Latest virus update… Cyberson 1 now back in the USA has to stay home as he has been to the UK within the last 14 days. Team H are now self quarantining as our son-in-law came home from work with a sore throat and cough. Cyberson 2 can’t come down as his boss’s wife has symptoms. We are lucky all the family got together before the virus kicked in. How have you and yours been affected by the virus?

TV or not TV

When I have mentioned or reviewed television programmes on my blog at least two bloggers have commented that they never watch television. I’m sure they are not alone, but probably in the minority. If you are reading this you obviously don’t spend your life glued to the TV screen; you would not have time for blogging and life on line. But most people watch regularly or occasionally. Is television a terrible time waster or a valid part of our culture and family memories?

34584556_2115416028488176_6752829577438953472_n

Radio Times was first issued on 28 September 1923 for the price of 2d, carrying details of BBC wireless programmes. I have not been reading it for that long, but I do buy it every week so I can read proper listings and details of radio and television programmes for  my discerning selection!

Those of us in other countries may think the USA was first with television, but the BBC is the world’s oldest and largest broadcaster, its first analogue terrestrial channel, the BBC Television Service, launched in 1936. Not many people had a set or were actually watching it then and World War Two put a damper on things, with wireless being far more important for hearing news, momentous speeches and morale boosting music. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second in 1953 is credited with being the spur for people to rent or buy a television set. In our family a telly did not arrive until I was four, when Mum was expecting my brother and had to rest because of pre-eclampsia; she would have had to wait till 1.45pm to turn it on for Watch With Mother.

Here is a great time waster; you can look at any past copies of Radio Times and even click to see programme details. See what my parents were watching not long before my brother was born. I am glad to say I have not misremembered Saturday evenings in our Twickenham flat.

https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/39a23af27ebf412690375fe97134556e

So Bill and Ben, Rin Tin Tin , The Lone Ranger and Billy Bunter came into our lives. I thought the people on screen lived in the cabinet underneath the television and was terrified of opening the doors. There were plenty of cowboys, but good English programmes as well, from Emergency Ward Ten, an early hospital drama to Panorama…

With the first episode being broadcast on November 11, 1953, Panorama is the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme and the longest-running public affairs TV programme in the world. 

Cosy evenings in with the telly, but up until the early 1980s all good things had to come to an end; after the last programme had finished a BBC announcer would wish us all a very good night, remind us to turn our television sets off and then leave the national anthem playing. The live screen was sucked into a tiny white dot which itself disappeared.
Now that you can watch any programme anytime on anything we can look back with nostalgia on the snug days of families gathered in their living rooms to watch the one television set. And it was a shared experience in the moment, that you couldn’t experience with books, apart from the golden days of father reading the latest instalment of Charles Dickens. Before the advent of video recorders everyone at school or work had probably seen the same programme the night before and be eager to discuss it. The Forsyte Saga’s 26 episodes were broadcast on Sunday evenings in1967/68 and churches had to hold evening service earlier to keep their congregation. Eighteen million people watched the final episode, a truly shared experience.
That shared experience does still exist. Plenty of households watch the latest drama serial in real time, or at least catch up in the same week before the next episode. I don’t follow dancing or cooking programmes and certainly not celebrities in jungles, but if we have visitors staying or we are at someone else’s place it is good fun to all watch together; I can annoy everyone by interrupting with ‘Who on earth is that?’ or ‘What IS she wearing’.
But even in the good old days there was a downside to television. In one of my many previous incarnations I did silver service waitressing for the money, but an older lady did it to get out of the house and away from the television her husband was glued to. While wives complained about husbands watching sport there would be husbands complaining about wives viewing endless soaps.

34670839_2115416058488173_7531615677732356096_n
Then homes began to get more than one television set, TVs appeared in young children’s bedrooms, satellite dishes and cables appeared. Theoretically you could watch rubbish on television 24 hours a day, civilisation was under threat…


The advent of home computers brought more change. Husbands retreated to other corners of the house to play with the new toy, leaving their wives in peace to choose what to watch. Later on, wives discovered the internet, social media and blogging and did not even notice if their husbands were glued to the telly. The previous two sentences are of course sweeping generalisations – feel free to correct them…

49301962_2279278039016172_484935089419976704_n

Tune in to some more of my thoughts on TV…

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/silly-saturday-slowly/
Do you watch television?
What are your earliest memories of TV?
When did your family first get a TV set?

Landing Airside

When our family took off for Australia from London Airport ( soon to be called Heathrow ) in 1964 I never imagined I would be returning nine years later, let alone that I would spend years living very near the airport and end up working there.
With perhaps the exception of China, Heathrow must be one of the most continually changing spots of land in the world.

London got its new airport in 1946. The site included the Vicar of Harmondsworth’s back garden, bought for £15,000 by Richard Fairey in 1930 as a site for testing his planes.
The village of Heath Row was bulldozed in 1944, plans were steamrollered through by the plane-mad air minister Harold Balfour. He persuaded Churchill’s War Cabinet in the 1940s that an RAF base was needed on Hounslow Heath, when actually he wanted to push through plans for a post-war civilian airport. An old lady told me years ago that when they saw a few tents going up near their home on the Bath Road they did not think it would make much difference to their lives.

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/the-history-of-heathrow-2228431.html

DSC_8564

In 1964 we walked across the tarmac to the steps and turned to wave to our relatives standing out on a balcony. In the seventies and early eighties you could still stroll on the roof gardens of the Queens building, children could play and plane spotters listened in to their radios.
In one of my many incarnations I was a lounge hostess for eight years either side of the turn of the century. Even since then everywhere I worked has either been demolished or changed completely. But passengers and the 80,000 ( guestimate, but it’s a lot! ) staff who work there are no doubt much the same.

6
With the children all at senior school it was time for me to leave behind my various pin money jobs and find properly paid part time work. A few hours in the middle of the day, Monday to Friday in the Terminal Three Qantas  Lounge seemed perfect for someone who had missed out on the computer revolution; all I had to do apparently was work the coffee machine and put out a few sandwiches and I spoke the same language as the passengers. Two of us just had the morning flight out to Australia to look after. It turned out my senior colleague was a right… not easy to work with, but luckily she spent most of her time talking to the Qantas girls on the desk or to her twin daughters on the phone in the kitchen. The main lounge was Business Class and a select corner was for First Class passengers. There were cheerful Australians often meeting up with friends and British holidaymakers in a good mood. Another great feature of this lounge was the wonderful view of the south runway and Concorde taking off at 11am.
This little oasis of peace and quiet was down a corridor just before The Gates and up a flight of stairs. I don’t like lifts and could see no reason why I would need to use the rackety metal box that was always being repaired. When it was time for passengers to go to their Gate they could choose stairs or lift. One day the Qantas lady asked me to escort a nervous passenger because she was afraid of lifts; so am I wanted to say! Worse was to come. I was asked to fetch the papers… the Australian newspapers just arrived on the in bound flight. It turned out this involved going down in the same lift, but with the magic key which took the lift down to hell, or at least the outside; real airside where planes park; dark concrete undercover places passengers never see. I was petrified I would be stranded there if the lift doors closed… which they did because I had to walk a few feet to reach the bundles of paper. When I returned trembling to the safety of the lounge my colleague said I should never have agreed to do it as it wasn’t our job!
Companies, jobs and uniforms were to change as frequently as the buildings, but I did not know that at the time.

liebster-award

Retroblog – Australia 1965

By Christmas 1964 we were in our new house on a quarter acre block; south of the Swan River in a new suburb laid out in the popular grid pattern. Our street would soon go on for miles, but at the time there was still a sandy track between us and the few shops. The location was ideal for Dad’s new job and we could see my future high school across the paddocks opposite our house. On one side of our house was bush with beautiful ‘Christmas Trees’ covered in yellow blossom. The other side was an empty quarter acre block that mirrored ours with gum trees and black boys – now days they are called grass trees – almost prehistoric, they had black trunks with long tough grass like spikes. They were said to grow just one inch a year, which is probably why they were only waist height.

48368557_265702204123652_6619187581215047680_n

On the other side of the empty block were our only neighbours, Mable and George, dinky di Aussies who had retired from the goldfields in Kalgoorlie. George got himself a job as a dustman and after work devoted himself to the novelty of a television set. Mum and Mable became good friends, they were both strangers in Perth; to Mum it was a tiny city, but to Mable huge, she had never been on an escalator. Mable and George’s only son lived in The Eastern States, two thousand miles away; he may as well have been in another country. Even today Perth is still the most isolated modern city in the world.

DSCN4070

Around the corner were more houses; Dad soon found me some new friends when he went to buy petrol and met a Pommie who worked at the service station. The two families with two girls each were more established and had television sets. Mum and Dad had vowed never to get one now we had got used to its absence, they weren’t missing much, television was quite new in Western Australia.

Christmas was strange, no relatives to come and visit, no parcels to arrive in the post and Mum and Dad on a very tight budget.  My parents had not found a church, nor were they likely to find one to match the ancient parish church with a thriving congregation that we had left behind. Candlelit services and the dark greens and reds of winter were now in the past. But when our packing cases finally arrived it was like Christmas as we were reunited with our favourite books and toys.

Only one of my new friends was also starting high school at the beginning of February 1965. I was glad to have someone to go with, but as we walked along the sandy track on the first morning Linda told me that if you didn’t pass your junior exams you had to repeat the whole three years. I believed her.

There were fourteen hundred children in the school, it was a senior high school so that included fourth and fifth years. We all lined up on the grass in front of a long veranda. There was no assembly hall. Names were called and we were allotted to the ten classes, Linda and I were separated. Although education was comprehensive the classes were ranked. 1-9 and 1-8 the only classes to do French, then all the way down to 1.1 and if you were in 1-Special that was bad… I had made it into 1-9, another girl in my class later told me she thought 1-9 was the bottom class and went home and cried.

I was on my own, but not for long, an Australian girl said ‘Do you know anybody?’ she was new to the area and in the same boat, we became friends.