About two years before I left
The new boy in town began turning up at the drama club rehearsals and readings of which I was a regular participant. At one such gathering, he even arrived with a copy of the book I was reading at the time. I thought it was a remarkable coincidence as the book was a book on Chinese philosophy, not a one that was on the list of bestsellers! Around the same time, he somehow got himself onto the invited list of guests at one of my girlfriend’s birthday party. Everywhere I went, he appeared with a nonchalant air about him. I learned later this was one of his ploys. He had made a few enquiries about me amongst some of the local young men. They told him not to bother asking me out as “she doesn’t go out with Gympie boys”. Of course this was like waving a red flag in front of a bull! It was true, I didn’t go out with Gympie boys, but then I never went out with any boys anywhere much at all. This was for no other reasons than with everything else I had on my plate, I had little or no time for dating. I hated dating, anyway and never dated just for the sake of it. I was never particularly interested in “dating”. I’m still the same way today. I’d not met that “special” someone whom I wanted as a “boyfriend”. I guess it’s difficult to explain. I knew a lot of young men but I never singled any one particular fellow out as a dating partner. They were a part of the people I knew, people who were friends, male and female. One of the guys I knew, who worked in
For a short while, I had been “seeing” the older brother of a girlfriend of mine. However, he, too, lived in
I tripped. He caught me!
“R” left Gympie to become a disc jockey. He became one of the original “Colour Radio” guys at Radio 4IP, which was then the most “hip” radio station in the Brisbane area, even though the radio station was situated in and broadcasted from Ipswich. “Colour Radio 4IP” kept beating all the inner-city radio stations by a mile by winning all the frequent ratings. It was Number One on top of the ladder of popularity. It was the powerhouse of Top Forty music in the south-east
After about five months or so of sporadic visits by “R” back to Gympie on his day off, which was a rare event, the distance between us grew longer with each passing day. Our living in separate areas was the catalyst that brought about my leaving home and my move to
“R” lived at the Palais Royal Hotel in
Upon arriving in
Our accommodation at one time had been the home of our landlady, who now lived in the lower level of the house. She had converted the upstairs level of the house into two “flats”. The one Dawn and I shared had two bedrooms, quite a large living area, kitchen and small balcony. My bedroom wall was about ten yards, if that, from the main western rail line, which didn’t bother me at all after a while. I soon became used to sound of the trains and never heard them go by. Soon, too, I didn’t notice the pictures on the walls trembling and the crockery in the cupboards rattling every time a train passed, and they went by often! At the corner of our street,
Toowong is classed as an “inner-city” suburb, with easy, fast access to the CBD. Everything was falling into place and working out well for me. I had a new job, which I was about to start in a few days, a new “home”, a new “friend” in Dawn and I was closer to Ipswich and Ipswich was closer to me, which meant, of course, “R” and I would now see each other more frequently. Life was looking up!
It’s funny how some things remain in one’s mind. I’ve always clearly remembered saying to Dawn the first time we met when we were both moving ourselves and our belongings into the flat, words to this effect, “I want to say this up front…I expect each of us to respect each other’s privacy and space. I won’t be in your “pocket” and don’t expect you to be in mine.”
I never needed to say those words and have always felt if I could have taken them back, I would have. I couldn’t have found a better person to share with than Dawn as it turned out. Even though she and I were as different as “chalk and cheese” in so, so many ways…in another way we were very much alike. Both of us respected each other’s space and privacy. The rare times we were together and shared a meal, we enjoyed each other’s company immensely, talking our heads off, catching up with what the other had been doing since last we’d sat down to talk. I always cooked (how strange!) and Dawn did the washing up. We had a central fund that covered our rent, utilities and grocery expenses. We shared the household chores, but nothing was ever “set in concrete”. Dawn was very seldom there, so in actual fact, it was almost as if I was living alone, the way I had wanted to be. Soon, I discovered meek and mild Dawn was not quite as “meek and mild” as I thought she was. Please don’t think I’m judging her. I’m not. I didn’t judge her then and I’m not judging her now. I was just very surprised, because she did seem so “straight up and down”. She dressed very conservatively. She was very quiet by nature and personality, almost timid. Dawn was a Roman Catholic. She had a framed picture of Jesus above her bed and rosary beads under her bed pillow. Me, I was none of the above!
Dawn had a long-time boyfriend who was a top footballer, rugby league. He was a “Kangaroo”, having represented
Raw from the country and fresh to the "big city", I started working for one of the partners in the law firm of Morris, Fletcher and Cross, situated in the Penneys’ Building in
I’d walked into a huge, multi-storey building housing many offices, as well as rows upon rows of typists sitting in front of duplicate typewriters in a “typing pool”. I shared an office adjoining my boss’s office with one other girl. Thankfully, I wasn’t part of the “faceless, nameless typing pool”. I had no idea how many girls were employed by the firm. I couldn’t get over it. I’d only seen such a sight in the movies. I was expected to “clock-in” each morning and “clock-off” each afternoon, as well as for lunch breaks. A “tea lady” pushing her laden trolley weaved her way around the corridors, office and typing pool mid-mornings and mid-afternoons. It was all so foreign, strange, unfriendly and cold to me. I wasn’t very happy. Day after day, hour after hour I was taking dictation, typing and putting together brief after brief on horrendous insurance claims and equally horrendous divorce statements. This was just before the Divorce Law Reforms came into effect, when a person’s intimate details were still divulged in minute, precise detail. Having to read through and type such personal disclosures didn’t thrill me much at all. I thought if I spent a few years doing that type of work, I would end up being a very cynical person and I had no intention of becoming one.
It was five weeks following my introduction into my new job that I attended a party on a Saturday night. Gary, one of the “Colour-Radio” guys held it at his apartment in Annerley, another
Discussing my feelings towards my new job, Beth said, “Hey! My job was advertised in today’s “Courier Mail”. I’m leaving because I’m becoming an air hostess. Why don’t you apply for the job!”
Beth gave me the relevant details, telling me the boss was a good man to work for etc. There was only him and her in the small office in
To be continued.....
(The pictures above depict the Victoria Bridge, the Brisbane City Hall, Sherwood Street in Toowong and the Regatta Hotel in Toowong)