|My late brother Graham and me...at ages 3-1/2 years (me) and Graham, five.|
|Poster for Sorlie's Revue|
|Jenny Howard...a regular Sorlies' performer|
My late brother, Graham, who was two and a half years older than me kept an eagle eye on any likely lads who cast their wandering eager eyes my way; those of whom he was aware, at least! He did warn off a couple of hopeful suitors much to my embarrassment and annoyance.
When we were kids Graham believed he held the lead role and I, the secondary, supporting role. We would’ve been worthy understudies for Laurel & Hardy. We played our parts well.
Boys will be boys; older brothers will be older brothers; they love to tease. Older brothers also gain pleasure from spinning yarns, mostly untrue or exaggerated, just to suck their little sisters in; at least mine did. After all, what are little sisters for if not to tease and spin made-up yarns to?
Graham was the captain of his rapscallion gang. The heartless bunch of rascals led by him regularly lynched my dolls on tree limbs or on our clothes’ line. They’d then proceed to shoot arrows at my innocent, well-dressed family of dolls. I wasn’t impressed as I stood by hopelessly helpless.
How badly I wanted pay-back – ever so badly! Hanging the boys’ trucks from the trees didn’t seem to have the requisite retribution ring to it. That’s not to say the wheels of retaliation; the cogs of revenge weren’t turbulently churning. They were; so much so the sprockets wore down and were in dire need of a dentist.
Graham overflowed with sage advice, too; probably passed on by Rosemary and Basil; but I was no dill. If, at times, I was uncertain whether what he told me was truthful or not, I pretended I didn’t have the thyme to listen to his wild tales. I’d give him a bit of ginger before scooting off to play with Angelica, my friend who lived down the road in Sorrel Avenue.
Often Graham warned me the cut edge of a pumpkin, after it was chopped in half or quartered for future use, was poisonous; not edible.
As I live alone I only buy a hunk of pumpkin at a time, not a whole pumpkin. (My two furry rascals, Remy and Shama don't eat pumpkin)! With his words from so long ago ringing in my ears, automatically I slice off the outer cut part of the pumpkin before preparation. I never peel pumpkin; actually the only vegetable I peel is onion.
There is sense in the pumpkin yarn Graham spun because bacteria can enter the cut section if left long enough.
Actually, avocado, beans, peas, corn, cucumbers, grains, nuts, olives, capsicums, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds and tomatoes are fruit; vegetables include celery, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, onions, carrots and potatoes; but let’s not waste time being pedantic.
As I said, even these days so many years hence, when preparing pumpkin Graham’s childhood warning always comes to mind while I slice off the cut edge and toss it.
My brother also told me never to drink water when eating grapes because doing so would make me drunk! Drinking water when drinking wine is good advice, but to not drink water while eating grapes in the fear of getting drunk is stretching credibility limits – just a little bit!
Every time a dragonfly hovered about - even at times when we didn’t see one fly by - Graham enjoyed reminding me dragonflies grew up to be dragons.
The maturity period of dragonflies must be extremely lengthy because I’ve seen many dragonflies, but I’ve never seen a dragon. Well, that’s not exactly true - I often see a dragon when I look in my mirror, and it scares me to death…but that’s another story!
When we were children we loved going to the "pictures' - to every Saturday afternoon matinee; and often Mum or Nana, or both if Mum wasn't working, took us to the movies mid-week if they believed there was a picture worth seeing; one suitable for Graham and me to see. They took us to every circus that came to town (Wirth's, Ashton's and Bullen's circuses); as well as every travelling pantomime and Sorlies' Revue/Vaudeville troupe that came to Gympie.
Sorlies had vaudeville stars who were big names in Australia in those days - Jenny Howard; Roy Rene aka Mo McCackie (I loved "Mo McCackie"...these days he'd be outlawed by the politically-correct mob); George Wallace, Snr. and George Wallace Jnr. (http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wallace-george-leonard-11942) along with many other talented performers who took our breath away:
Sorlie’s Revue was a joint enterprise for entrepreneur Grace Sorlie (d. 1962) and comedian Bobby Le Brun (b.1910). Together with a troupe of dancers, singers, comedians and sight acts they toured regional towns in eastern Australia from 1949 to 1961. The show was a revival and perpetuation of the travelling tent show that Grace’s late husband, George Sorlie (1885-1948), had toured on a similar circuit from 1917 to 1945, including appearances for Harry Wren at Brisbane’s Cremorne Theatre in 1940.
As children we loved the entertainment at our disposal. We wanted for nothing in that department.
For a time when I was a little girl I attended ballet classes. I undertook piano lessons for five years. Graham concentrated on more masculine activities such as sport and Boy Scouts. I also was a Brownie, and then later a Girl Guide for a short while.
Our mother who was a good dancer and had attended lessons for many years throughout her childhood taught us the basics of tap-dancing. Of course, I was more interested in learning how to tap than big brother Graham was! He was more interested in learning how to tap in a nail; or teasing me!
Each Christmas night, however, I managed to get some of my own back on Graham with the concerts I choreographed for the family’s Christmas evening entertainment.
Naturally, it should go without saying, I held the Oscar-worthy starring roles in every performance; and there were many performances during the night’s concert all of which I directed, produced and appeared in. Sometimes I was a soloist; other times Graham was my co-star (in a supporting role, of course)!
(Please note I write about my concerts with much humour. I still laugh at the memory of them; the innocence and serious of a child. And I was so serious about putting on a good show. I often wonder how our mother and grandmother contained their mirth throughout the concerts. Somehow they held in their laughter…but years later when I an adult we used to laugh about the Christmas night concerts I orchestrated when I was a little girl).
An audience of two sat enraptured (imprisoned). Sometimes when our uncle, Mum’s brother was visiting for Christmas the number grew to three. He, too, managed to restrain his hysterics!
Seeing Graham squirm playing a multiple of roles appropriately dressed as Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters, stepmother, and, when needed, Prince Charming was payback enough to last me a lifetime!
He had to learn how to change costumes quickly – that is when he wasn’t trying to climb out Mum’s bedroom window in attempted escapes; with me holding onto his legs screaming out for someone to come and help me drag him back inside!!
Eventually, the concert would crumble, fall into a million pieces; my unwilling co-star always ended up with a look of self-satisfaction on his face. After my revue folded Mum would sit at the piano and soon a sing-a-long would ensue. Peace was restored.
But before the curtain finally collapsed, I always determinedly somehow managed to fit in the “Dance of the Bluebells”; “The Dance of the Daffodils “The Dance of the Buttercups”, "The Dance of the Fireflies",and a couple of others if I was on a roll; along with my version of “Swan Lake”, or at least one scene from “Swan Lake” (talk about the Dying Swan…I was probably more like the Strangled Duck)!
I even coerced Graham into joining me in tap-dancing to “Walking My Baby Back Home”.
All dances were accompanied by our mother at the piano. Graham used to tease me (and even continued doing so years later) that all my dances had the same steps/movements – it was just the music accompanying them that changed!
They were good times, even if I took my productions very seriously…when no one else did!
Balsamic-Glazed Pumpkin: Slice pumpkin into ¼-inch thick small slices to make 3 cups. Heat 1tbs olive oil in pan; add 1/2tsp cumin seeds, 1 whole red dry chilli pepper; when cumin sizzles and chilli turn a shade darker, add pumpkin; season. Cook at high, tossing, until half cooked and browned; add 1-1/2tbs balsamic, crushed red pepper to taste and 1/2c lightly-toasted, broken walnuts. Reduce heat to medium; cook, tossing and scraping off pan bottom until slices are cooked and glazed. Garnish with fresh coriander or herb of choice.
Pumpkin-Cranberry Bars: Preheat oven 176C; place rack in centre of oven. Roast 1c pecans on baking tray 8-10mins, until browned and fragrant; cool; then chop coarsely. Increase oven to 190C; butter and flour 23x23cm pan. Whisk together 2c plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp baking soda, 1tsp cinnamon, 1/4tsp each ground allspice, ground ginger and salt. Beat 1c butter and 1c white sugar until light and fluffy; add 1 large egg, 1tsp vanilla; beat until incorporated; beat in 1c pureed cooked pumpkin until incorporated; gradually add the flour; mix until just combined; stir in pecans and 1c dried cranberries. Spread into pan; bake 30-35mins; when cooled cut into 16x5cm bars (top with a cream cheese frosting, if desired).
Lentil-Feta-Grape-Walnut Salad: Add 3/4c brown or puy lentils to 2-1/2c boiling unsalted water; reduce to simmer; cook 20mins; drain; rinse with cold water; set aside. Toast 1/2c walnuts over med-heat; chop. Halve 1-1/2 seedless red grapes; cut 1 celery stalk into thin slices; place all in a bowl. Dressing: whisk together 2tbs red wine vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, 2tsp honey; slowly whisk in 3tbs olive oil; pour over salad; season; top with 1/2c crumbled feta cheese.