All my family ties to Gympie had been severed a few years earlier. With my brother married and raising his family in Mackay, my mother and grandmother left Gympie to live at Slade Point, a seaside suburb of Mackay, to be closer to my brother and his offspring. I made fleeting visits to welcome a new nephew or niece. Separately, my mother and grandmother came for lengthier stays with me in
In fact, I had so much time and money owing to me from leave not taken, that I innocently became the pawn in a game orchestrated by the union in the
Sitting quietly, alone in my office, I wrote a concise, precise, succinct note to the company in
In the letter I wrote: “My not taking holidays has been of my own choosing and freewill. I write to inform you that I hereby forfeit and relinquish all time and monies owing to me from accrued holiday leave and from accumulated sick leave.”
I felt like telling them to “put that in their pipes and smoke it” or more descriptively harshly, to put it where the sun didn’t shine, but I kept my dignity intact.
The strike action didn’t go ahead. I heard nothing further from the union, not even an acknowledgement to my letter.
Promotional evenings continued. Some were organized “out-of-premises”, being held in chosen restaurants. John and I appeared together on a local
One special fun event I organized was held at “The Courtyard Restaurant” in Bowen Hills.We had held one or two functions at the restaurant previously.John and I had also entertained business associates there often over lunch. This particular evening was to have a “Hawaiian” theme, for no particular reason other than I thought it would be fun. The evening wasn’t to present a new product, but a goodwill-public relations gesture for the buyers and departmental managers from the Myer stores. More than likely, to be honest, it was just a good excuse to have a party! During the few weeks leading up to the evening, I spent time with the owner/chef of the restaurant, planning the format and choosing the menu for the evening’s pleasures. I’d decided we would hold a luau. Not an authentic Hawaiian Luau, of course, as the party was to be held in-doors in the restaurant’s function room.A long, low table made from trestles on blocks was laid out. It ran down the centre of the room to be surrounded by large plump cushions for our guests to sit and lounge upon. The room was transformed from a boring nondescript one of shades of grey and burgundy to a tropical paradise filled with potted ferns, palm fronds, banana leaves, frangipani blooms, hibiscus flowers and vibrant, multi-coloured sprays of bougainvillea blossoms. I begged, borrowed and didn’t steal fish-nets, shells and Japanese floating buoys.Generously, a neighbour of one staff member lent me a small, no-longer-sea-going craft that was decoratively placed at one end of the room, with much effort and sweat!I went on a search of suitable Hawaiian music and hired grass skirts and leis for my junior female staff members. Much to their shock-horror, I told them of my plans and their roles in those plans for the evening!Under instruction, after they finally realized I was serious, I guided them in the art of hula-dancing! Under my strict choreography, they spent their lunch hours leading up to the event, learning how to sway to the music. It was so funny!They did everything possible to try to talk me out of their on-stage performance, but I wouldn’t listen to the excuses they invented!
Melbourne Cup Day was the day before the event. Melbourne Cup Day in Baxter Street was always “party day”. “Sweeps” were organized.Fresh prawns brought in from Burleigh Marr at Breakfast Creek, an area well-known to "Brisbanites", together with other savoury delights, were part of the afternoon celebrations.Each year, John generously supplied a television set from his home or hired one for us, and equally generously went to the Tattersall’s Club for lunch, leaving the rest of us to the fun and games. At mid-day, someone was nominated to drive to Burleigh Marr to pick up the ordered seafood. Usually the day before Melbourne Cup Day, I did a “grog-run” to pick up the necessary supplies, together with the appropriate mixes. From onwards, no work was conducted by the
The day before the Hawaiian party, he walked into the showroom to be confronted by the sight of two of his salesmen, Ken and Charles, leis around their necks, dressed in hula skirts, swaying non-seductively to the beat of Hawaiian music blasting forth! John just shook his head, burst out laughing and joined in the fun. He knew he couldn’t “beat us”, so he joined us in the fun.
The following day was busily spent finishing off the final arrangements for the evening ahead.My “girls” were still protesting about their coming performance, but I remained adamant. I told them “this could be your defining moments”!
Dressed in their grass skirts, bikini-tops and colourful leis the time arrived for their opening act. Nervously, they clustered together in a room off to the side of the stage that had been set up in the function room. Being the consummate “agent/manager/choreographer” my main fear was not that they wouldn’t go on, but that they would get the giggles. With a straight face, trying to hold down my own laughter, I glared at them, threatening them with “death” if they dared giggle.I told them not to look at each other but to “get up there and give it your all!” And that they did…expertly.Not a beat was missed as they did their “dance”. They were brilliant and received loud applause and accolades from our guests at the end of their performance. I sighed with relief!
They each told me later that they weren’t game to get the giggles; that I had put the fear of God into them with my before-performance lecture and threat!We laughed many time afterwards when we talked about that night.A couple of years ago, Debbie, who was one of the “dancers’ came up to visit me one weekend. She is now has a Phd. in Marketing and lectures at
Our guests, plus us, sipped on heady, colourfully-decorated tropical cocktails served in scooped -out pineapples upon arrival, some choosing to stay with the cocktails throughout the evening, others drinking their beverages of choice. Sounds of "ooi-ng and ahh-ing" echoed through the room when dinner was served. The food was laid out down the centre of the table. The menu included as the centre-piece, a whole suckling pig, its crackling crisp and golden, served on a large platter surrounded by char-grilled pineapple rings and stuffed tomatoes. It was accompanied by chicken dishes, baked fish, coconut prawns, platters of fresh fruits, confetti rice, vegetables and a variety of salads, followed by coconut desserts, macadamia nut tarts and much more.
Those who managed to drag themselves away from the lowset table danced the night and the extra calories away, others chose to watch on from their large cushions, chatting amongst each other as their dinner digested slowly.
To be continued...
(I don't know why this post has slipped over to the "right"...I hope it doesn't disturb the flow of your reading...I've just installed Microsoft Office, so perhaps the tabs on Word are out of alignment...I'll check into that...sorry)