What a mess! Oscar’s gone Wilde and George Bernard Shaw isn’t a Coward! Over there cringing in the wings is the worrier Daphne du Maurier. Hemming, naturally, is having his way!
Within my minute section of the universe remain friends from my childhood and teenage years. Over the many years in between much water has flowed under many bridges, but we were never carried away by the currents; we've clung on to our friendship.
I enjoyed being a teenager. No time for angst, we weren’t “troubled teens”; we were too busy having fun to be troubled! Unstoppable and unbeatable were we! Probably the only thing we "troubled" over was what colour our next bikini we wanted to buy would be!
September to early June, from morning until dusk, without exception, our weekends were spent at the beach chasing waves and a tan. At record hops we jived, twisted and stomped the nights away; and we wriggled under limbo sticks.
Mondays to Fridays, 8.30 am until 5 pm, my daylight hours were spent taking shorthand and pounding away on a typewriter deciphering my hieroglyphics. After five years of doing so, I began to walk like an Egyptian. I gave up after my bangles started falling off!
Three members of the select, exclusive posse and I worked/played together in a legal office; one, an articled law clerk, was the son of our boss. He, the son, eventually became a fully-fledged solicitor and took over his Dad’s firm.
The rest of the dedicated group held various office jobs within companies of one kind or the other. A member of the gang even married the articled law clerk/solicitor, and they remain wedded, living happily ever after, to this day. Another in our coterie was a hairdresser. She ended up operating her own salon while at the same time raising four wonderful children. I'm the only one of the troupe who didn't have children.
Nowadays we’ve all been put out to pasture because we’re of the age and beyond. However, in one way or the other we’re still kicking up our heels; not pushing up daisies!
“In the good old days” not only on weekends, but also during the week we didn’t believe in wasting our time. There were dances and record hops that needed our unfailing, reliable attendance in our leisure hours.
Sports, too, required our attention. Basketball (we didn’t call it “netball” when I was a teenager), tennis (I was a hopeless tennis player, but that didn’t stop me) and swimming were on our agendas.
Broadening of our inquisitive minds demanded our in-depth scrutiny and dissection. We questioned, prodded and argued (peacefully) poets diverse as Whitman, Ginsberg, Poe, Emerson, Frost, Plath, Cummings, Auden, Byron, Thomas, Keats, Yeats etc.
At length we discussed and analysed the philosophies of Kafka, Nietzsche, de Beauvoir, Sartre, Russell, Kant et al. We ploughed our way through Proust, Joyce and Homer, as well as D.H. Lawrence and Kerouac, both of whom sat high on our extensive list.
Music of all genres played a major role in our lives. And anyone who had a set of bongo drums had me at “G’day”!
Somehow, among those activities I found time to become a member of the local drama group. Not only was the acting fun, but so too were the play-reading evenings.
By becoming a member of Gympie’s Drama Group (a branch of which included the Musical Union) I was introduced to a whole new world brimming with playwrights beyond William Shakespeare.
Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, O’Neill, Ibsen and Pinter became new friends, along with the familiar Coward, Shaw, Wilde and du Maurier.
In readiness for a visit from "Rebecca" we studied our lines; borrowed furniture; went in search for costumes and we willingly offered to paint backdrops. For four nights we shared Rebecca's plight with those among Gympie's population who were interested in small theatre productions.
Naturally, during our play-reading evenings “the drinker who had a writing problem” - Brendan Behan - held a place of prominence. To make him feel welcome often a forward-thinking/forward-planning fellow member of the club brought along a Scotch-filled flask We'd add a dash or two to our coffee. Those holding the play-reading evenings, the producers/directors, didn't have a clue! It was kind of like a lesson in Method Acting.
And then, it was time to get down and dirty.
We exited Noel Coward’s rather dignified drawing rooms and jumped head first into the revolutionary “kitchen sink” dramas such as John Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger”. Osborne and Kingsley Amis were part of the emerging “Angry Young Men” brigade.
An even angrier young woman, Shelagh Delaney had joined the squad. Delaney, in 1958, at the tender age of 18 years, wrote the raw, meaty “A Taste of Honey”.
Suddenly we were awash with the true-to-life frustrations of the “working class”; the “silver spoon-upper-crust” set were pushed aside.
Now the cutlery was tarnished; the crockery cracked; glasses chipped and unpolished.
Our teenage years were filled with inquiring enlightenment, not cultivated, mimicked troubled angst. The only peer pressure we succumbed to was learning and having fun while doing so. I doubt we'd even heard the term "peer pressure", let alone understood what it meant.
The only ice we sought were the fresh fruit salad ice-blocks we bought from Webster’s Corner Shop. The drink we binged on was Golden Circle Pineapple juice.
Pineapple Chicken: Bring to boil; 1/2c pineapple juice, 1/4c honey, 4 minced garlic cloves, 3tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1tbs grated fresh ginger or 1tsp ground ginger and 1tsp salt; simmer uncovered until reduced to ½ cup; stir occasionally; cool. Marinate 12 chicken drumsticks/thighs; chill overnight. Drain; reserve marinade. Place chicken on rack over drip pan over bbq grill; shut hood; grill 40-45mins; for first 30mins brush occasionally with marinade.
Salmon with Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad: Heat 1c pineapple juice, 1/2c honey, 1/4c brown sugar, 1/2c soy, 2tbs sesame oil, 1c water, juice of ½ lemon and 1tsp white pepper; once sugar and honey melts, put into bowl; cool; then pour over 4 salmon fillets; marinate 15mins; drain marinade into pan; bring to boil; simmer. Pat salmon lightly with paper towel; heat pan to very high. Crust salmon in sesame seeds (including black sesame seeds, if you like), Pan-fry on both sides; once seeds are golden, turn heat to medium; cook to med-rare. Salad; slice Lebanese cucumbers; toss slices in 1/2c white vinegar, 1/2c white sugar, 1/4c sesame oil, 2tbs sesame seeds and 1/4c chopped shallots.
Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal Crust Pie: Combine 3c rolled oats, 1c plain flour, 1/2tsp salt, 1-1/2tsp cinnamon, 6tbs light brown sugar, 1tsp vanilla and 1c melted butter; mix well. Press firmly into bottom and sides of a 9 or 10-inch pie pan; reserve about 1c of crust mix for topping. Drizzle 3tbs lemon juice over 7c peeled, thinly sliced Granny Smiths and 1c frozen cranberries; toss through ground cinnamon, ground allspice and ground nutmeg; add 1/2tsp grated lemon zest; sprinkle in 3tbs plain flour; add 1/4c packed light brown sugar and 1/2c sour cream. Place into unbaked crust; sprinkle crumbs over top; pat into place. Bake 45-50mins in 190C oven until apples are soft, crust browned; serve hot, warm or room temp.
Apple Sultana Pineapple Cake: Preheat oven 180C/350F. Lightly grease a 23x13cm loaf tin. Put 125g self-raising flour and 125g unsalted butter, softened and cubed in a bowl; mix with fingertips…preferably your own…until you have a fine breadcrumb-like consistency. Stir in 140g chopped walnuts/pecans, 140g sultanas and 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and grated; add 3 eggs and 65ml pineapple juice; beat everything together until well combined. Spoon the mixture into loaf tin; smooth top. Bake in centre of oven, 1-1/4hrs; or until skewer comes out clean; cool in tin for a few minutes; then turn out onto wire rack and leave to cool before slicing and serving.
Pineapple-Ginger Juice: Push 2 cups cubed pineapple, ½ to 1-inch peeled piece of fresh ginger and half a pear. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.