Thursday, December 06, 2018

Did you Dux? Or, the Tale of the Red Chair...

Based on my own personal anecdata, (early 80s Year 7) Dux was definitely based on teacher preference.

I went to a TINY school that received most teachers based on demerit .

On the rare occasion that we lured a good one, they were looking for us, and we them.  When you live in a small community, the worth of a good schoolteacher is valued.

However, we had form.  Apparently the town was mentioned in State Parliament in the 1950s for the local walkout by families in reaction to such indifferent teachers.

Thommo came to the school when I was in Year 6.  In my year, there were 5 students.  There was (using our Charlie's Angels names) Sabrina, Kelly, Bosley, Kris and Jill .  In the year above us, there was one girl, in the year below, one girl.  There were 20 students in the whole school - counting the pre-schooler.
The first year Thommo was there (and every year prior to that for at least 30 years) there was no dux.

The second year - mine and Thommo's final year - Thommo decided he would create a Dux award.

Now, all 5 of us had been together for 7 years of schooling.  We KNEW our order of academic progress -  Sabrina, Kelly, Bosley, Kris and Jill - every single time. 

Thommo had brought with him from the city a few quaint beliefs.

An abhorrence of Queensland, the bush and its people - which did make things a tad uncomfortable.

A desire to teach such savages Australian Rules Football (or aerial ping-pong as we locally referred to it) - he was deep in Polocrosse, Campdrafting and Rugby League territory.

Motorcycling for fun.  Yeah.  In a community that valued topsoil because where it wasn't that, it was granite and angular, and by the way it HURT a lot if your horse dropped you - but at least that bugger would walk home.  You had to PUSH a motorcycle.

And Thommo held a rigid belief in intellectual superiority of males.  How ridiculous!!!  We all knew THAT was BS.  We had all grown up with our mothers being the brains and our fathers being the instruments of each farming enterprise.  Some of our fathers didn't even know how to talk to kids, let alone crack a book or think about numbers.  That was what mothers were great at.  That and organising stuff.  Thommo didn't think so.

So Thommo's parting shot to a community that had not been warm to his presence for that and so many more transgressions was the installation of the Dux award.  I think perhaps to cement his posterity in the region.

Thommo awarded the Dux to Bosley.

We all cheered for Bosley, of course - he was a good bloke and we had all grown up together.

But we were (in order) Sabrina, Kelly, Bosley, Kris and Jill.

The eyeroll of parents and students alike caused seismic sensation at the school.

Our parting shot to Thommo was a gift-wrapped Red Chair.

The Red Chair had been the Little Room's birthday chair prior to Thommo's arrival.  On the day when you got to celebrate YOUR day, you got to be a special person for the day in The Red Chair.  You got to choose activities, Mrs Hockey baked you a cake and let you help wash up.  It was pretty special.

Thommo made it a pretty special chair too.  Thommo installed this chair on the upstairs verandah outside of his office.

"The Red Chair"

Anyone who was the first to rise Thommo's ire on any morning (and every morning) would get detention upon The Red Chair.

I must admit, whether consciously or subconsciously, it seems that I volunteered myself most days for this pleasure.

I did not take Thommo's views silently, not with a mother like mine.

So  our parting shot to Thommo was a gift-wrapped Red Chair.  We solemnly presented his special piece of furniture for him to take to the next poor school he had been demoted to.

We figured the kids of Coen may need it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Boiled Lollies

Firstly, a trigger warning.  I know that just because I did not have a horrible experience does not in any way lesson the reality and impact that this could have.

When I was young, one of the best things in the world to do was to go for a drive with Dad.  Generally he would take one or two of us at least when he went to check the waters and turn on a motor and do those little weekend jobs that could take you to many wonderful places and do many wonderful things.

Fish dead parrots out of tanks at the middle yards.

Pull up a wire or two across a creek crossing.

Try and get a bull back through to his paddock on foot - or drafted by land rover.

And sometimes (if we were lucky) go over to the neighbours.

We had a few neighbours, but the best fun of all was when we would go to Oakey, and see Keiran and Lilian - and Wayne and Judy and Jeni and Willem and Fammo and the many and varied nefarious animals and people that lived there from time to time - they had a caravan and a relatively fluid work-force.  Looking back, they seemed to be a half-way house for all sorts of interesting background stories - and knowing more of their stories the older I get (or guess at), this is possibly true.

Anyway, one of the characters was Tom, an old (probably in hindsight around my age now) bachelor who was uncomfortable with polite society - but loved to see kids smile.

He had a way of making kids smile - he had this big bag of tropical fruit lollies that had the picture of the fruit on - in garish colours against the wrapper's waxen white - that were magical.  They were hard and sickly sweet but after you sucked on them long enough, sharp cracks in the shell would appear and an explosion of chemical flavour purported to be reflective of the fruit depicted. 

He would whisper you to one side of the gathering and say what a beautiful smile you had and he would give you a handful of these sweets and enjoy that moment.

And that was it.

He was not the only purveyor of sweets - old Mrs Higgins gave apron warmed minties, the Murrays always came through with super-sweet home-made cordial - given our only chocolate and sugar consumption came in the form of Christmas and Easter, these all featured on the highlights reel.

I remember feeling uncomfortable when the "men offering children boiled sweets" became public knowledge when I was a bit older - and I was saddened that forevermore, that experience would be tarnished by the fact that, in other people's worlds, that wasn't it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Parisian Boulevardes of my childhood... (part whatever)

I remember that I was about 8 years old.  Old enough to know what I wanted to do and what I wanted to wear.

Young enough that my mother still thought that she could tell me what to do.

She could.

I was eight.

It was the Seventies.

Whatever Women's Rights may be, Mothers Rights ruled supreme, with their wooden spoon sceptres and their castles their homes.

So when she told me what to do - which was to take this tablet, this bright red, shiny and very round tablet, and to ingest it after my breakfast, but before going to school - I took the tablet.

"It says that it is chewable," she offered, as she proffered the orb.

It lied.

It was neither chewable nor swallowable.  Forces external to my body rejected it, all moisture was sucked from my mouth and the red shell cracked and mixed with whatever chemistry was left.


That being said, she had allowed me to choose my clothing.  She was a fair and smart mother for making such a compromise.

I had just ONE item in my wardrobe that I really felt said it was authentically ME when I was that age.

It was so cool.

It was a white t-shirt with silhoettes of buildings with a few bright trees in the foreground, and a lamp-post and the words "Paris" across to one side.

So me.

Not so cool that I looked wannabe - it was a little bit too twee for the part of the Seventies I inhabited, with Countdown just getting going with more live music and stuff that Molly Meldrum told us was the "next big things" - but I digress.

She allowed me to choose my clothing, which was my Paris t-shirt and a pair of shorts.  I can't even remember which shorts.

But yes, in return, I took the tablet.

I put it into my mouth - and the subsequent projection was in the form of foam.

I could not stop blubbering the foam out as I looked in panic at my mother. The foam was red.
Really, really red.

And it was like there was a fountain within my mouth flowing down the front of my shirt.

My beautiful shirt.

My mother's eyes and mine met.

Me begging her to make this not happen - and her pity for me and regret at being the purveyor of such a curse.

It was not the last time she would ever make me throw up in the name of medicine.

It was the last time that I ever saw my Paris t-shirt.

Do you want to know the worst bit?

The worst bit was - the tablet was for worms.  The worms that she thought maybe I had, because I was always on the toilet.

The reason that I was always on the toilet was that I was addicted to reading.  It is possible that I had just discovered several years worth of National Geographic - or a good Betty and Veronica - and was slacking off from whatever tasks and chores my parents would allot me if they caught sight of me.

And so I would sit on the pot and read.
And now, I am the mother of a similarly afflicted child CALLED Paris.

And for two nights in a row earlier this week, she has "had to go to the toilet" for extended periods after bedtime, because she has got a book.

Not necessarily a good one.  Just any one.

Then yesterday, she got some new technology.  A cereal company was running a promotion over the school holidays, where if you pestered your grand/parent/s enough to get THREE of their SPECIALLY MARKED packs, you could apply online and get a FITNESS TRACKER.

And to put the cherry on top, her stodgy parents ACCEDED TO HER WISHES.

And, as promised, within three weeks she received a BRIGHT RED FITNESS TRACKER.

It is awesome - although I have a feeling it may have its limitations.

She thinks it is AWESOME and will accessorize her school uniform and be AUTHENTICALLY her.

Yes, she is eight, why do you ask?
This morning, she was up at half past dark, because she had a book to read.

And she had her new fitness tracker.

And by a quarter-to she-is-usually-being-dragged-out-of-bed-at-this-time, she has "already done 547 steps, Mum".

We then did a scientific experiment.  I got her to walk five steps away and five steps back.  "Now how much" I asked her.

"573" she replied, downcast.

"It'll be good for your maths, then," I joked with her.

She was not amused.

She then spent the next five minutes, on the bog, shaking her arm, occasionally yelling out numbers.
Perhaps she has worms?

 We will never truly know what the Paris t-shirt looked like, but one thing is for sure - it didn't look much like this at all...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

If its not one thing...

Ah the wonders of modern technology...

Or rather - what the?  I wonder about modern technology.

We recently received new phones - because the old phones are ancient - like TWO YEARS OLD which means that they are past their use by dates.

V's phone actually decided that about 4 months ago and the screen went black never to resurrect.  He has been limping along with a phone from the ancient early teens counting down the days to late August.

My phone was working well - if you count having to connect a microphone for phone calls because the internal mic doesn't work - which sounds innocuous until the phone rings and you have to find the earphones with mic, untangle, connect and answer within the timeframe allowed - it often doesn't.

So anyway, finally I got around to ordering our new phones and they have arrived most promptly.

Thus prompting me to do what has been on my to do list since early May...  Find my way through my labrinth of passwords back to an old email address - and thus, to the portal that is this blog.

Hello blog, you old beggar.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bath R-ant

So I was having a bath.

(no, not for the last 4 1/2 months - although there be former flatmates who may attest that I have attempted such in the past - I was doing other things, like trying to remember to put all of my passwords in a safe place so I wouldn't have to do the whole find myself online again malarky I go through every quarter or so to update my blog)

As I was saing, I was having a bath.  I do like a bath.  I like a long bath, a warm bath - a bath you can relax and read in.

The book wasn't that crash hot, but Paris was in bed (hooray) asleep (miracles) and I didn't have any work needing my attention that evening (hallelujah).

I was teetering on that precipice of deciding whether the book was worthy of persevering with or not.  I am old enough and have wasted enough time on reading to be fairly ruthless regarding what is worthy or not - it doesn't just rely on literary merit (heck, I don't mind a bit of trash in my voracious diet) but also on whether I actually can be bothered with the main character - and she was getting on my nerves in the first 15 (crucial) pages. 

However, as I said, water warm, no humans in need of me - teetering.

When I was pushed - by an ant.

I know!  Me too!  What was an ant doing in my bathroom - let alone bathtub!!

Apparently, finding my neck rather tender...

I grabbed him (or her, really, isn't it?  We actually had an Attenborough thing on ants today, and they're all girls) - so, I grabbed her and she was HUGE!!!

Well, probably not that big, but big enough to shriek at and fling - into the water beside my knee.

Double eek - I didn't want to condemn her to death - just because my neck had got in her way doing whatever she was doing in my bathroom - and so I tried to sort of swish her to the side.

Funny thing about physics and waves and water - that which swishes, swishes back, and so the more swish I applied, the more back towards my knee she came.

I then tried to push a wave towards the end of the bath, and at first it seemed to work - she went past the knee and calf area, and was almost at ankle-entry point when the swish-back interfered again with my cunning plan.

Not only did she swish back, she swished back quicker and on the crest of a wave, it appeared!

When she was back to almost knee level, I dropped the whole "don't want to condemn her to death" stance for the more selfish "don't want her taking me down" viewpoint.

I threw down the book and grabbed the washer - and in the ensuing mayhem, LOST SIGHT OF THE ANT completely.

She wasn't in the water...

She didn't appear to be on the washer (although my eyesight is dodgy at the best of times)...

Dear god, I hoped that she wasn't on my body hiding out somewhere?

I frantically washed and emptied the bathtub, calling for V - who failed to respond (probably because it was yelled at a very low level, so as not to stir Paris - and probably because I yelled it at normal Jeanie-range, which is not always at normal V-hearing range).

I eventually dressed with dread, fearing that every fibre on the surface of my body would ping to the presence of the ant at any minute.

I think I may be showering for the next few months...

Anyway, that's my excuse - what's yours?