Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PINING FOR HOME

Dear Susan,

Further to my holiday series, I just remembered a wonderful trip I had to Norfolk Island. Our dear friend Sally invited me to be her assistant tour guide to twenty... eighty-plus, hearing, sight, culturally challenged seniors.
Norfolk Island is commonly known as the paradise for the Newly Wed and the Nearly Dead. At the end of the eight-day trip, I belonged to the latter group.

I met some wonderful people in the tour group like beautiful Katrina who had escaped from a home for the terminally 'inane'. She liked to ask endless questions of the local guides.

" Who owns the chickens?"
"No one."
"Someone has to own them."
"No no one owns them; they're feral chickens."
"Where do they lay their eggs?"
"Anywhere they like."
"Who collects the eggs?"
"The feral farmers!!!!"

Tour guides have to have all the answers.
 Beautiful Katrina had had a hip replacement. I know because she showed me her scar.

Norm was the eighty-four-year-old adventurer. He would try anything once. As soon as we reached the hotel Norm stripped down to his budgie smugglers and dived straight into the pool. His hearing aids didn't like swimming so Norm spent the next seven days lip reading and shouting at everyone. His spirit of adventure flagged a little on Italian Night. Having never ever experienced anything more culinary than a lamb chop with carrots, potatoes and peas. He was confused by the choices of three entrees three mains and three desserts, all of which involved an Italian flavour. Finally, he settled on the soup and a small serve of the LA SAG KNEE. In deference to the waiter serving Norm, I suggested he have pears for dessert because I didn't want to hear what Norm would do to the word TIRAMASU. Norm's wife ordered the spaghetti and complained because they served her 'bloody pasta'. She'd expected a tin of  Heinz and a can opener.

Maria was the group's hypochondriac and spent more time in the hospital than she did at the hotel. She came down with Norfolk Island Nervosa which had her excreting liquid from every bodily orifice as she lay on the pristine bathroom floor of Fletcher Christian's great great great very repulsedgranddaughter.Maria put her regurgitation down to the scrambled eggs she'd had for breakfast. Sure the eggs were from feral hens and collected by feral farmers but I had another theory. I think Maria took ill because she'd eaten her eggs, spent three hours hatless in the midday sun, gone for a walk and missed lunch, arrived back at the hotel and thought she'd join Mary for a drink before dinner. Maria didn't like the taste of alcohol so she sampled Mary's  'Sex on the Beach' cocktail and decided that the mixed drinks were quite palatable. Three 'Orgasms' and two 'Bounty Bombs' later Maria staggered out to the bus. It was about thirty minutes later that she wasn't feeling well. Call me cynical but I don't think feral eggs were Maria's problem.

Joy was not, as her name would imply, a bundle of it. She had forgotten to pack her Prozac. She'd got lost in Sydney airport and had to be removed by two armed guards. And that was before Border Force. She was never on time for the shuttle bus and after three days we all chipped in and sent her to the infirmary for a new prescription of mood enhancers. Nothing much changed. She was just more relaxed about being late. After six days the rest of us went to the infirmary for a Prozac prescription so we could endure Joy.

Norfolk Islanders are quaint. Your Christian name can be Antonio or Guido as long as your surname is Christian. They delight in their past to the point where they dress up in period costume every week and re-enact floggings, dysentery, scurvy, keel hauling, and hangings. They love their Norfolk Pines, their cows, their feral chooks, their ancestry, their ruins their funny convict nights and Wednesdays. The town closes at midday on Wednesdays so everyone can go down to the pier and watch the supply ship unload. The merchandise is delivered to the local shops and on Thursday the population can go shopping for anything produced before 1958.

I'm not saying I  wouldn't go back there. It's just that I want to see so many other places like Kabul, North Korea and Rookwood cemetery.

I do have some more stories of my horrordays but I'll send them later. I have some ladies coming over for afternoon tea and I have to whip up a dip

Love Janet

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Trips 'n Tips

Dear Susan,
I have been going through my holiday albums and thought I might do a series for you.
You were with me for all of the best holidays so these will seem very mundane. Too bad.

I just came back from a seven-night cruise to New Caledonia, which was mundane (see I told you). But the six-week cruise I did before that, was totally unmundane. I travelled for forty-two days with our friend Sally and we never had a cross word. In fact, that cruise lasted longer than most of my relationships.

 I made a few notes to help me remember something. Don't know what it was now.

1.Embarkation took a while because of the obstacle course; Zimmer frames, crutches, and men in wheelchairs being pushed by very very young female carers.

     2. The first time I went on a cruise I was twenty-one. Stabilisers had not been invented, the Titanic   had just hit an iceberg and the beds were triple canvas bunks with seat belts. The view out of the porthole was of sea creatures poking their tongues out at us, the captives in the big metal tank. If you hadn't lost your virginity on the way out of Sydney Heads you were a loser. You guessed it.
  

     3. I've been on several cruises since then, to exotic islands in the Pacific, to Malaysia, Greece, Singapore, Manly. But it has been a long time between cabin boys.

       4. Forty-two days. Maybe too many to spend in a small room with a person who snores, breaks wind, leaves the light on all night while she crochets small squares from bread wrappers? Well, Sally bought her ticket, she knew what she was getting into, she will just have to put up with me.

        5. Cabin fever is easily cured by running to the pointy end of the ship stretching out your arms and singing "My Heart Will Go On" at the top of your voice. So far the Master at Arms has had to restrain Sally three times.

         6. The Captain's address included, what to do in case of emergency... just follow him.  He also asked that we put all our  'tamsins' ( that's what he said) in the sanitary bins and not in the toilets, as they clog the system. Maybe the Captain has to moonlight as a plumber to ensure his seniority.

          7. First night's dinner: Lobster Terrine, Seafood Parcels, and Raspberry Souffle with accompanying wines. Supper is served two hours later. Because the average age of the passengers is eighty-seven, the entire menu is pureed as that's the only way they can ingest their nourishment. Fortunately, Sally and I brought our own teeth.

          8. Didn't go to the first Karaoke night because I couldn't find the 'stern'. I think it's down the back somewhere.

          9. We haven't been to Extreme Bingo yet. We're waiting for the kitty to build up to more than five dollars. Many people are professional Bingoers who just travel the seas waiting for their numbers to be up, so it can become very competitive. Ethel and Celia almost came to blows the other day when E accused C of changing a 3 into an 8 with her eyebrow pencil.

          10. If anyone knows what the Friends of Bill W meetings are about,  can you please explain?

           11. Sailing away from Airlie  Beach yesterday we were standing next to a man who sneezed quite violently and as he did his teeth flew out of his mouth and fell thirteen storeys/decks into the water. We haven't seen him since.

            12. Docked in Darwin. Boarded a bus. Driver said: " Now sit down, hold on, shut up or get off". We were going to the Crocodile Farm. It was a very quiet trip.

             13. Being rocked to sleep is a very good way to end the day, and the cabin boy doesn't mind obliging.

             14. The longer we are on board, the more it resembles a floating nursing home but at least the toothless man has perfected the art of sucking his food through a straw.

              15. There was a competition today for the guy with the best comb over. They all stood on the port side and the hair blowing in the wind was measured. Cyril won. He now has no teeth and no hairpiece.

               16. There was a get together for pilots and aviators this afternoon.I went along thinking I might pick up someone with his own Lear jet. Unfortunately, all they wanted to talk about was WW11 and what fun it had been.

                17. Every cruise has to have dancers, magicians, singers and last and certainly least an accordion player.  This cruise had the only electronic accordion player in existence, and he could make it sound like any instrument he wanted. Fine by me, as long as it didn't sound like an accordion. He was very good, his hands never left his arms and his fingering technique was the best I'd seen since that didgeridoo player at Uluru. I found a quote later that defined a gentleman as 'someone who can play the accordion but doesn't' 

                18. It's easy to be educated on a cruise. Classes included Acupuncture for the Aged, Pain Solutions for Pensioners, Stretching for Seniors. and Beating Backache. After reading the list I was too tired to go to the lectures.

Speaking of tired, I am. So I will leave you with this useless and extraneous information and go to sleep, perchance to dream of a cruise to Bundeena.

Stay tuned for the next episode Sex in the Seventies

Love 
Janet

                  



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dear Susan,
Remember when we were teenagers and a period drama wasn't a TV series starring Colin Firth? No a period drama was being away on a holiday camp, totally unprepared for the first 'monthly' we'd experience for the rest of our long, long, long, child bearing lives.
I was so naive about the whole thing, I thought an ovary was a place where you housed birds, and a womb was something you booked in a hotel when you couldn't pronounce your 'r's; you know like "Can I please order a womb with a view".

After a short but effective education, I increased my vocabulary to include such useful words as 'discharge', 'haemorrhage', 'severe cramp', 'cyst', 'endometriosis',and 'get off the fucking road you stupid fucking bastard'. I was able to participate in periodic conversation with the best of them.

I'm remembering this because although Rosie Josie Eloise and Andrea sailed through their menses with the help of drugs, hot water bottles, small hip flasks of brandy, garnished with straws, I don't think it's fair that our grand daughters should have to go through this monthly mess.

I've spent hours calculating that the average woman in an average lifetime spends 2,400 days, bleeding from 'down there', or to put it another way it's just one bloody month after another. A woman's reproductive organs spend 430 weeks rehearsing for conception which may occur 2 or 3 times in a lifetime (okay so Eloise went overboard with 5). But what a waste; it's like a vegan owning a meat tenderiser in case a carnivore comes over for dinner.

You know my Pollyanna philosophy makes me look on the bright side of everything, well I've been trying to find a positive spin on the subject to tell Bronwyn, Dolcie, Tallulah and Molly. For example even as a teenager I was very conservation conscious and thought that anything more energetic than lifting an eyebrow was a waste of the Earth's resources. I was delighted to discover that one could be excused from gym class if it was 'that time of the month'. I think my gym teacher became suspicious when I pleaded 'periods' every Wednesday for five years.

I'm maybe drawing a long bow when I say that periods stopped me from becoming an alcoholic. At age ten I would spend one day a month curled up in a foetal position, clutching a hot poker to my belly and sipping warm brandy and water. Thereafter I always associated alcohol with severe pain and led a life of total sobriety.

And periods are so sexist. Men don't understand why Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm becomes Atilla the Hun for one week in every four.Even male gynaecologists can't describe ovulation twinges, the ongoing agony of a prolapsed womb. Do they think we like being so irrational we blame the dog if it rains?

 And my gyno lied through his teeth. He told me all my problems would disappear once I bore children ( don't say a word about me and boring children). I had three children to avoid period pain I still had the pain and three Atillas as well. And now the poor little grand girls will soon begin their paths to puberty.

Oh and don't think it ends at puberty, oh no!! Life becomes a series of intervals between 'women's issues'. After one such procedure, from which I would recover in a couple of hours, I haemorrhaged for six weeks.Then one day I passed the bedroom mirror and even though I did see a reflection, it was ghost like and I searched for telltale signs of bite marks in my neck; checked to see if I had an aversion to garlic or crucifixes. Nothing. The hospital gave me five pints of someone's blood, a pint of which I lost three weeks later.

At least feminine hygiene products have evolved from the folded towelling square, tied elastic belt, and giant nappy pins we once had to use. I remember when I was nineteen I told mum I wanted to try a tampon. She told me it was impossible because you couldn't use tampons if you were a virgin. I didn't enlighten her.

Anyway my heart bleeds for all grandmothers out there who are watching their little grand girls become 'women'. I guess there's nothing for it but to wait until someone invents disposable female reproductive organs. You could obtain them for five dollars from a machine in women's rest rooms, you know like condoms or sanitary napkins (do they still have them?)

Do you think Mother Nature may have had a gender reassignment before she reached puberty?

Gotta go.  Having a hot flush; but that's another letter.

Love Janet





Tuesday, January 1, 2013




Dear Susan,
 Happy 2013. Trying to think of some resolutions that I might have a chance of keeping.

  • I'm not taking up smoking
  • I'm not going bungy jumping
  • I'm not going to sail single handedly around the world.
Now stuff I AM going to do in 2013. I am going to India with you to fufill two lifelong dreams

  1. To wash my clothes by beating them against rocks in the Ganges and
  2. To lose 30 kilos in three weeks.


Dementia has been on my mind lately and dementia has been on my mind lately, so I'm thinking of doing something to stimulate my......what's its name?
Thought  of several things, joining a gym or a Jim, learning to tap dance, writing only with my left hand or taking up Tai Chi.( I'm moving very slowly lately so I thought that might do the trick.)

The sudden interest in ageing has been prompted by the fact that everyone I know is doing it and by the plethora (2) of mature movies that have zimmered their way onto our movie screens lately.
First "the Best Little Marigold Hotel" and now "Quartet".  Both wonderful films but I don't want to be reminded of a future of hip replacements and pureed food. And who wants to imagine that Shirley Valentine's  stretch marks, once so tenderly kissed by Tom Conte in Greece are now sagging around her knees in a retirement home for musicians. And Miss Jean Brodie is well and truly past her Prime.

So far 2013 has been a hoot although it is only 20 hours old. On NYE I ate and watched Dinner For One, drooled over Hugh Jackman on a talk show and finally watched the Last Night of The Proms. Poms bobbing up and down to the tune of the Sailors Hornpipe waving flags, wearing funny hats, tooting horns and throwing streamers: a Chekoslovakian conducting the united nations BBC orchestra, accompanying a Maltese tenor singing a Spanish song in Italian. Just a thought.

Then today I had such a great day with you and Adrian. Thanks for the swim, lunch, dinner, wine, the game of Dumb Ass and for returning my brandy butter container

This year I think I'm going to say 'yes' to everything instead of saying 'no' just in case I get a better offer.
I've never had one so I might as well just go with the flow. Hope it isn't upstream.
Happy New Year x

Love
Janet.
.

Friday, December 7, 2012