Tuesday 31 March 2020

The Olden Days Were Only Yesterday

Photo of Teri Garr as Inga in "Young Frankenstein", 1974
Hullo! Would you like a roll in the hay?

Everything we did, even last week, has now been relegated to the murky Olden Days. Is it time yet, Dear Reader, to reminisce about them? ... Of course! That's what this Blog is for, and today's little anecdote comes to you from my First Date. Do avert your eyes if B-movie dialogue is not your thing.

I was sitting on the front porch of my house one weekend, aged about 14, when an unknown boy pedalled up on his bicycle and stopped at our front gate.

"Hullo! Is your name Pipistrello?"


"Do you wanna go to the movies with me this afternoon?"

"Umm ... maybe. What's the movie?"

"I dunno but my dad can drive us."

"Oh, okay. I'll just ask my parents."

While the boy sat at the front gate on his bicycle, I went inside to ask permission.

"There's a boy outside who wants to go to the movies with me later. Can I go?"

My parents glance at one another.

"What's his name?"

"Umm ... I didn't ask."

Another glance, with some evident merriment being concealed. So I added:

"He said his dad can drive us."

"... Well, okay then ..."

Memory doesn't serve me with what transpired next but some Arrangements must have been come to as I do remember being driven to the Kogarah Mecca Cinema and home again with the Boy and I in the back seat of his father's car. Nor can I recall his name or if I saw him again. But I do remember so vividly being absolutely enchanted by the film he took me to: Young Frankenstein! 

The film was hysterically funny to my young teenaged self, so much that after the first surprising whack with a hard, orange chocolate and I had cottoned on to what was going on, I wasn't the least bit distracted by the Boy's two friends who sat diagonally behind us sniggering and throwing Jaffas at us, evidently trying to egg him on to put a hand around my shoulder, or some such nonsense that I was not having a bar of. Watch the movie, silly boys! Yes, it would appear that My First Date was another person's Dare, but I was left with a life-long love of Young Frankenstein.

"Hullo! Would you like a roll in the hay? It's fun! Roll, roll, roll in the hay! Roll, roll, roll in the hay!"

In these Socially Isolated times, the Youth of today and maybe even tomorrow are certainly getting a taste of life as lived by us as teenagers of old: nothing to do, nowhere to go, hanging out* in empty shopping centres and the like, just watching the proverbial tumbleweeds roll by.

Every day is like Sunday, sang Morrissey, and now it is again for us all.

But would the youth believe the crazy stories we can tell about the courtship traditions of the olden days; stalking one another on the trains and buses going to and from school, and sitting in cinemas watching films together? It's the stuff of Science Fiction!

* In groups of 2 and at arm's length, if you're following the rules in Australia as at today!

Image credit: via Google

Saturday 28 March 2020

One Million Words

Ink and colour drawing of Philadelphia bookseller George JC Grasberger pushing a wheelbarrow of books, 1930s
Is your Pandemic Reading organised?

Have you wondered yet, Dear Reader, how much reading you will get done during the Great Pandemic? While one vast chunk of humanity fully intend to be gainfully employed in catching up on the telly in their pyjamas, (a noble pastime of which we, too, shall be dipping into), there is another vast chunk endeavouring to tackle those book piles we all seem to have about the place. If we were to play Guess-The-Word-Count of the barrow o' books our satisfied gent above is carting*, would you be surprised if I was to tell you, with Authority, that there is well over one million words therein?

It is not because I have an extraordinary talent for counting marbles in a jar, it is because I know how many words I have read that were penned from my husband's own hand. Mr P., you see, once wrote a book and I volunteered as his proof-reader. His scholarly work stands at around 130,000 words, including the bibliography and index. In order to smooth out all the wrinkles along its gestational evolution, I read each chapter around ten times. While a degree in Pure Mathematics was not actually required for such arithmetical guesstimating, I can confidently say I've read one million of my husband's words. And, may I say, did deserve the greatly appreciated dedication in its front matter!

* Or karotsi-ing, if you prefer the Greek.

Image credit: Library of Congress

Thursday 26 March 2020

My Time Has Come

Black and white photograph of two elegant women walking arm in arm with masks during the Spanish flu epidemic
Do not try this at home
Keep your distance, ladies!

I've never been one for Mingling with a crowd nor having a gang of girlfriends to hang about with. From even an early age, I was more of a one-on-one sort of friend. But everything has its day, and I find that my style of friendship has become rather more respectable in this new age of Social Distancing. My advice to you, Dear Reader, is to treat your friends like treasures; keep them in little boxes and do not let them mix!

Georg Hainz still life painting "A Collector's Cabinet", 1664
A treasury of friends
 Georg Hainz, 1664

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I found sitting in my email inbox an invitation to participate in a sort of morale-boosting, chain letter for women. It was asked that the participant send an inspiring quote or verse (presumably by a woman - Virginia Woolf, whose hairdo I'd been loosely sporting of late, was my obvious selection) to only one person named on the email but then link the chain with a further twenty women that I admire. Well, it really did have me stumped. For a start, do I even know that many women?

George Charles Beresford black and white portrait photograph of Virginia Woolf, 1902
"No need to hurry. No need to sparkle.
No need to be anybody but oneself."

From memory, the chain letters of old required you to post to seven people you knew, and necessitated the thrilling use of carbon paper to prevent writer's cramp. Alongside an address book and the purchase of stamps, it was a rather considerate undertaking and I'm quite sure it only ever occupied me once in my childhood. But in this age of bigger, better, faster, it seems that even one's circle of friends must be a rather grand affair, and all accessible at the click of a button. If the internet was to switch off, however, in these Interesting Times, that old-school, bound address book which has never really gone out of fashion for me, may come in rather handy.

NASA photographer Bill Taub black and white photograph of two men in coats in Langley Wind Tunnel
Correct use of Social Distancing for Spooks
During a dead letter drop

Image credits: 1: mindcircle.com 2, 3: Wikimedia Commons 4: Sotheby's

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Fresh Fields

Autumn Chrysanthemums
Shen Zhongqiang, 1949

It's feeling a little autumnal around these parts, so always a good time for some change and a redress of the routine. I've given up my calisthenics classes in favour of something different, Dear Reader, and I'm hoping this so-called Kale of Exercise is going to do me some good. 

So far, some long underused muscles have been re-engaged and some new neural pathways have been furiously laid. It's a challenge, for sure, but rather good fun already. You see, I've taken up dancing again and have been trundling off regularly to some adult classes at the rehearsal studios of the Sydney Dance Company. I'm trying something old and something new.

The something old is ballet. So far, so predictable of me. But the something new is tap dancing! Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller et al. are such excellent role models for my new pastime. I do hope the neighbours aren't going to mind. ...

Image credits: 1: ArtNet 2: Pinterest

Bats In The Belfry