The cat is out of the bag! The truth has been revealed! I can hide it no longer! I am an ocker. However, seeing I’m female, if you must insist in my being pedantic - if I must split hairs - I am an “ockeress”. I’m a bogan; a Gimp from Gympie; I even have the limp to prove it. Satisfied?
I don’t sit with the ladies, straight of back, legs neatly posed and positioned correctly, while daintily sipping on Twinings tea-filled finest bone china gold-leaf antique tea cups from Royal Albert or his first cousin Royal Doulton, or their second cousin, Wedgwood – with my pinky appropriately poised, making delicate small talk.
I’d be most welcome at, and more suited to the Mad Hatter’s tea party... hat or no hat; probably even the guest of honour.
Perhaps I should purchase a handbook of rules and hints, such as “How to Become a Lady for Dummies”... germane to the subject herein, I do declare.
All of the above freely-gifted information is not to say I’m not capable of mixing it with the best if the situation arose, or when it’s necessary for me to do so. I learned at an early age the “rights” and “wrongs” of sipping and supping.
Also, another invaluable lesson I was taught when young, invaluable advice, was to be able to converse with anyone of any standing, from the Queen to a street-sweeper, and all in between. I've not met Liz, but I'm sure we'd get on like a palace on fire! (I've no desire to meet Camilla, so I shan't be inviting her to tea).
Often, my brother and I accompanied our Nana when she visited her cousin and her husband, who just happened to be Gympie’s top and sole tailor. My brother and I called them “Aunty Annie” and “Uncle Joe”, but, as the experts explain in their most discerning ways, your relationship with your grandmother/grandfather’s cousin is similar to the relationship you have with your grandmother/grandfather.
In simpler terms if you find yourself in this confusing position on the family tree – if you’re out on a limb - you are their first cousin twice removed.
It was simpler to call Nana’s cousin and her husband, “Aunty” and “Uncle”, rather than complicate the situation further. Young brains can only handle so much.
Aunty Annie and Uncle Joe lived in a lovely Federation-style home in Mellor Street, Gympie. Adjoining the stately home, to its left side was Uncle Joe’s tailoring business.
Quality, antique furniture and objets d’ art filled the home. Beautifully-maintained gardens surrounded the house. A paved pathway in the back garden meandered leisurely between trimmed hedges, flower and vegetable beds. Large aviaries were dotted throughout, each standing well over seven feet high and double that or more in width. A peacock or two often strutted free, much to my brother’s and my delight. Pigeons, finches, budgerigars, and other colourful bird varieties graced their large cages. Quails kept the bottom of the aviaries clean.
Personally, I don’t like seeing caged birds, and would never consider keeping them so confined. My enjoyment is to see our feathered friends fly freely at their own will. I have many that are my regular daily visitors. We're on first name basis.
When I was a little girl, we did have “Sweetie”, a very melodious, yellow canary who kept us entertained with his wonderful whistling. Also, for a few years, my brother, Graham put into practice what Uncle Joe had taught him, and he, Graham, built a large aviary in which he kept a variety of small birds, along with a pair of quails to do the housekeeping.
While I mostly spent our visits to Uncle Joe and Aunty Annie’s home sitting quietly, politely, genteelly sipping tea with milk and one sugar from one of Aunty Annie’s best bone china tea cups (secretly praying I’d not drop, chip or spill), my brother was in his element, out in the back garden with Uncle Joe learning everything there was to learn about plants and bird-keeping!
All was not lost, I did learn how to behave myself when in company, how to sip and sit in a ladylike fashion.
On the flip-side, I also learned to enjoy certain unladylike sports, as my loud yell testified when I learned Australian professional boxer, Jeff Horn, from Acacia Ridge, a suburb of Brisbane had won his WBO Welterweight world title in his boxing match against Manny Pacquiao on the afternoon of the second Sunday in July, 2017.
Pacquiao, from The Philippines, is considered by many aficionados of the sport to be one of the greatest boxers of all tim. He has won 11 major world titles. Manny Pacquiao has also won titles over five different weight classes.
Jeff Horn, (with not a tattoo on his body....I hate, hate, hate tattoos) when he was still an amateur, as a light-welterweight, reached the quarter-finals at the 2012 London Olympics.
Fortunately, my primal scream on Sunday 2nd didn’t shatter any bone china, or glass within hearing distance when Brisbane’s humble ex-school teacher Horn won against his most worthy opponent,
When we were kids, before the advent of television, as a family, we sat with our ears were glued to the radio listening to the big fight broadcasts. Aussie Jimmy Carruthers, bantamweight champion of the world, was a household name, as was the great Rocky Marciano, the unbeaten world heavyweight champion from the US.
As a teenager, my brother was in the Gympie Police-Citizens Youth Club, part of the boxing group, and from what I was told by a member of Gympie’s police force at the time, a John Landy, that my brother showed great promise and was very good at the sport, but during competition Graham’s nerves came into play, forcing him to battle two opponents. (For five years after leaving high school at the age of 15, I was employed by a Gympie law firm as a legal secretary; the office, of course, had many dealings with the “Men in Blue”).
I’ve written previously that our father played no part in our lives, ever, other than planting his seed. He and our mother separated, and divorced, when Graham and I were very young. (In fact, our parents separated when our mother was pregnant with me).
Joe Nicholson, our biological father, I learned only about eight years ago, was, back in the 1930, the Central Queensland boxing champion. He was born and raised in Rockhampton, on the Capricornia Coast.
I don’t know what weight class he was in, but he was being considered to be a representative in the Australian Olympic boxing team. However, his mother, our grandmother, a feisty little Irish lady who’d immigrated, with our grandfather, from County Armagh, Northern Island in the early years of the 1900s, apparently put up her own fight; put her foot down, and firmly, declared she believed her son, Joseph, to be far too young to go off across the ocean to do battle in a boxing ring, Olympics or no Olympics! And, that was that...Mother had spoken!
So the story goes...and then the Second World War loomed, and all thoughts of further representation at future Olympics and boxing tournaments hit the canvas.
One of the sad things about this story - if one looks at it that way - is my brother Graham passed away in 1996, and he was never aware of it.
However, knowing my brother so well, I feel certain he would have turned his nose up about it, stating he couldn’t give a damn. He’d drawn a firm, thick, unbreakable line through the paternal side of our family. He wasn’t interested, or on the outer, he displayed disinterest, in anything to do with the clan Nicholson.
I was thrilled a few years ago when briefly, very briefly, I chatted with Joe Bugner, the Hungarian-born, British-Aussie former heavyweight boxer, and actor. Bugner moved to Australia in 1986. For a while in the late 90s and early 2000s he lived and ran a business here on Tamborine Mountain. He and his wife (singer, Tom Jones was their Best Man) left the hill, and now live on the Gold Coast.
One day, a couple of years after I came to live here, while purchasing a bottle of wine at a local bottle shop, I’d bumped into the towering Joe Bugner!
Oops! Being a lady, I apologised, and we had a brief, polite chat.
Tea-Smoked Duck: Heat 2c water, 1/4c salt, 2 pears, quartered, 4 crushed cardamom pods, 6 crushed juniper berries and 4 crushed cloves until salt has dissolved. Remove from heat; add 2c ice; stir until cool. Make cross-hatch pattern on skin side of 2 duck breasts. Place in cold brine; chill overnight; remove breasts from brine; pat dry. Place Dutch oven over med-high heat. When hot, add breasts skin side down. Fat will render quickly; gradually pour off fat; When crust begins to develop on breasts, and they’re slightly charred, remove; pour off fat, leaving a little, if desired; drop 3tbs loose-leaf green tea into the Dutch oven, over the heat. Cover 30secs; open quickly not to let out too much smoke; replace breasts, flesh side down. Cover; sear 2mins; quickly open; turn breast to skin side down; re-cover; sear 2mins for med-rare. When cooked, slice on bias into strips; serve with cranberry compote, pea shoots and sweet potatoes roasted in duck fat.
Matcha-Zucchini Noodles: Cook 240g matcha green tea soba noodes in boiling salted water, according to directions; drain. Julienne 1 or 2 medium zucchinis into long noodles; then place in colander; salt well. Drain over bowl, 20mins. Heat 3tbs olive oil in pan over med-heat; add 1tbs grated fresh ginger and 3 grated garlic cloves; fry 2-3mins; stir constantly; remove from heat; stir in 2tsp sesame oil, 2tbs honey, 2tbs soy sauce and juice from 1 lemon; stir until smooth sauce is formed; add to noodles; toss to coat.
Matcha Vanilla Pound Cake: Combine about 3c plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp baking soda, 2tbs matcha powder and 1/2tsp salt. Place 2c sugar, 3/4c softened butter and 1tsp vanilla extract in bowl: beat on med-speed until light and fluffy; add 3 large eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition. Add flour and 1-1/3c buttermilk to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into a couple of greased loaf pans; bake in preheated 175C oven, 40 mins or so. Cool in pans 10mins; then cool completely on racks.