Wednesday, August 23, 2017

SHALL WE DANCE?


Me on left with one of my co-workers - centre - and the then girlfriend (now wife) of our boss' son - taken shortly before I left Gympie in 1965
The building at the right...Tozer & Jeffery, Solicitors - the window at street level was the window of the basement, christened "The Dungeon"...it is where we had our morning tea breaks



If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ve learned to the point of boredom, no doubt, Gympie was the town of my childhood and teenage years. 

In late July, 1965 I left Gympie and my job as a legal secretary - a position I’d held for the previous five years - to hit the bright city lights. 

Years, and many interesting, fun adventures later, in early 1998, I returned to the town of my youth.   (My youth had left town, too)!

Four enjoyable years flew by, after which I packed my swag, and landed on this plateau.

Reflecting upon my time spent working as a stenographer in the law office often I wonder if my partners-in-crime and I ever got any work done. Monday to Friday, three other girls and I pounded away on our Remington and Underwood typewriters.  

I’m not sure how much work we managed to get done, but we did manage to create much creative mischief.  Nevertheless, we must have performed our respective duties to the letter and symbols – answering the phone; deciphering shorthand; interpreting dictaphones; presenting the error-free typed results to our boss and his two law clerks – because none of us got the sack. 

Along with our stenographic skills, we were expert “Mistresses of Mischief”.   Humbly (and proudly), I admit I was the leader of the pack. Our imagination was limitless; our timing near-perfect.  Nothing was left to chance - almost nothing. There were a couple of close shaves, none of which involved Gillette razor blades.  

A co-worker, with whom I’d been friendly throughout our school years - from primary to secondary-  and I shared one particular misstep.

A clever, quiet girl, pale and whippet thin, she’d experienced a sickly childhood, one frequently interrupted by asthma attacks.  Asthma wasn’t as widespread or as prevalent in those days of yore as it appears to be nowadays.   Similar applies to allergies, in my most humble opinion.

I loved to dance. I was always a mobile fixture at the local dances and record hops. The nearby country dances were marked on my social calendar, too.

After much cajoling I finally convinced my friend she, too, should hit the dance floor; trip the light fantastic; do the fandango. 

Having succeeded in twisting her arm, I then had to step up, and become her dance instructor. 

Our boss was out of the office.  His wife, the firm’s book-keeper, wasn’t working that day - an opportunity not to be ignored.   Our boss’ vacant office begged to be occupied. 

After physically guiding my workmate in the art of frame, stance and foot position, I kicked off my high-heels and climbed up on our boss’s desk.

Flamboyantly, while humming (loudly) a tune or two, I issued instructions to my dedicated pupil – one, two, three...one, two three... twirl....

So involved in the moment we were oblivious to all else. 

The other girls out front didn’t have time to alert us of the looming threat headed in our direction.

I wasn’t only fleet of foot that morning, but quick of mind, too.

Upon our boss’ unexpected early return I explained my reason for being aloft on his desk i.e. doing so enabled me to reach the thick, hard-cover law books up high in the floor to ceiling bookcase behind his desk - a feasible defense, I figured.

While the attention was on me, my dance student had gotten with the programme. She was busily dusting on the other side of the room - a quick learner, both in the art of dancing and dusting. 

We’d expected to cop a bit of curry, but, instead, our boss appeared to believe my story.  On closer inspection, I noticed the hint of a knowing half smile, and a glint in his eyes - both revealed otherwise. 
  
Another performance, on another day - I more than nearly got “sprung” by my boss...I got sprung “good and proper”! 

The night before my notoriously infamous exhibition I’d been to the movies to see the then much-hyped romantic-comedy “Irma La Douce”, starring Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon. 

Irma was a Parisian “Lady of the Night”.  Lemmon played Nestor, a hapless, disgraced cop who became not only Irma’s pimp, but he also became enamoured of her - his ship was sunk. Thereafter, poor Nestor did his utmost to thwart Irma's activities. 

It was a most enjoyable comedy. 

 “While the cats away the mice will play.....”

The following morning after seeing the movie another chance for some high-jinks arrived.   

Again, our boss was out of the office, at court, visiting a client or local law firm.  It 
was a further window of opportunity not to be dismissed.  

Having just finished describing the film in animated detail to my enthralled workmates, I ascended the winding polished wooden staircase.   The mood of the film was still rife in the air.  

Dressed in a rather tight, straight skirt (a fashion of the time), with my shorthand notebook in hand, in readiness to take dictation, I climbed the interior staircase that led to the second storey where the offices that housed the law clerks were.  

High heels and stocking intact, I hitched my skirt above my knees. While swinging my hips exaggeratedly, I loudly I burst into my rendition of ...”Swing on the Bell, Nell!”   

My highly entertaining stage/stair performance caused my workmates much laughter.  
With a captivated audience, there was no stopping me!

Suddenly, I noticed everything had gone quiet, except for me, that is.  I was still carrying on like a loony.

Turning my head, I discovered below me at the entrance to the premises, in the foyer, stood my boss, looking up at the sight before him. 

He’d re-entered the premises to be greeted by my showgirl display.

A huge smile spread across his face, and then he laughed out loud. 

The other girls had their heads down, diligently typing away on their typewriters, or pretending to do so. 

The rest of my ascent was completed at a rapid pace, with my skirt smoothed back to a more ladylike position.

Through the years we had lots of fun in that office.   Everyone got on...we respected and liked each other.

It was a bittersweet parting the day I left the offices of Tozer & Jeffery, Solicitors, Mary Street, Gympie.  

I’d spent five happy years there from when I left high school...but, the time had come for me to move on

Brussels Sprout Soup: Cover 1kg trimmed Brussels sprouts with chicken stock; cook until tender. Add 600ml cream, 1tbs sugar, 1tspn curry powder and a few pinches of nutmeg; blend/process until smooth; season to taste.  Reheat without boiling. 

Chickpea and Spinach Curry: Heat mustard oil in large pan over med-heat. Add 1 chopped onion, 2cm ginger, finely grated, 1 crushed garlic cloves and 12 curry leaves; cook, stirring, 5-6mins. Add 1tbs brown mustard seeds;; cook 3mins. Add 4 finely chopped garlic cloves, 2tbs finely chopped ginger, 1tbs finely chopped turmeric or 1tspn ground turmeric, 1tsp cumin seeds, 1/2tsp cayenne, 8 dried, small red chillies and 1/2tsp asafoetida; stir over med-heat 3-4mins. Add 850g passata and 2x400g cans rinsed, drained chickpeas; season to taste; cover; simmer over low heat, 10mins. Stir in 500g spinach leaves, 2tbs lemon juice and 20 curry leaves; cover and simmer 5mins.  Serve with rice, mango chutney and naan. 

Prawn-Moreton Bay Bug Curry:  Soak 12 small dried red chillies 2 hours; drain, then process with 4 chopped garlic cloves, 8 chopped shallots, white part of 2 lemongrass stalks, 1tbs chopped galangal, 2tbs chopped ginger, 1tbs chopped turmeric or 1tsp ground turmeric and 2-1/2tbs coconut cream to a paste. Heat 2-1/2tbs peanut oil in saucepan; add paste; stir over med-heat 3-4mins. Add 1kg peeled, deveined, tails intact green king prawns, 2tbs tamarind paste, 1tbs palm sugar, 2tbs fish sauce and 420ml coconut cream; season; cook over low heat 8-10mins; gently stir in 5mm slices of cooked bugs meat (about 500g) - (or lobsters) - and 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly shredded; cook 2-3mins only.

Curry Cocktail: Fill shaker with ice; add 2tbs vodka, 1tbs banana liqueur, equal parts pineapple and mango juice, pinch of curry powder, pinch of cayenne; shake; fill a Collins glass with ice; strain drink into glass; top with pinch of curry powder and cayenne.                                                                                                          

37 comments:

  1. I would have loved to see you up on those stairs belting out that tune. I'm glad you had such a good boss that you were able to have fun at work.

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    1. Hahahahaha! I've always remembered that incident clearly, River - with a laugh. We got away with blue murder!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. Echoing River. I had a few bosses like that one, and one or two shockers. Within reason I think the quality (and quantity) of the work done is improved when people are enjoying themselves.

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    1. Hey there, EC....I agree....a happy work-place is a productive work-place. That's my story, anyway...and I'm sticking to it! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  3. Back then many workplaces were fun places to be, mine included. Alas, not much now. Pity mobile phones weren't around then to catch you in action.

    I am not sure about the Curry Cocktail. Let someone else taste it first.

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    1. Hi Andrew! I'm glad mobiles weren't around back!!! It's fun to have fun! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. "Fun and frivolity in Gympie law firm". Quite a local paper heading. No one would believe it!

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    1. Hey Graham...they would have. One of the law clerks, the fellow for whom I did most of the dictation was also the local photographer. He also submitted photos regularly to the "Gympie Times"...and guess who was a regular featured in those photos! (I wasn't the Page Three girl, though!) :)

      Brownie aka Mr. Keith Brown,law clerk/professional photographer was a terrific fellow and he was fun to work with, too.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. Yes offices certainly were fun places in those days. Our only worries were typewriter ribbons and carbon paper lol

    Oh to be able to wear the straight skirts and high heels we wore in those days. I remember a yard of material was all we needed - enough to go round the hips with a strip cut off the bottom to make the waist band (with darts strategically placed to fit)


    Cathy @ Still Waters


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    1. G'day, Cathy...the certainly were fun days. Oh! God! The joys of carbon paper! lol

      Back in those days I made my own clothes on our old treadle Singer sewing machine.

      Thanks for coming by. (I loved your Wednesday Words story...well done!) :)

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  6. You had yourself a winner of a boss.

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    1. G'day, Delores. Our boss was great. It really was a family business of sorts. His wife came in a few hours most days of the week to take care of the books and their son did his Articles and became a solicitor, too. Eventually, he took over the firm.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  7. I've never seen that movie, I'll have to see if i can find it. Ha. Never thought of using brussel sprouts in a soup, can't get dh to eat them, maybe I'll fool him with the soup. I also like curry of any kind, but dh isn't that found of it either, too bad, I can't deny myself everything good to eat. What a great boss to have with a sense of humor, perhaps he saw the movie too.

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    1. Hi Linda...it was a fun movie. It's years since I've seen it, so next time a re-run comes on TV, I must watch it for old times' sake.

      Our boss had to have a good sense of humour with us girls running the show! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. 'while the cats away the mice will play' - that's a classic quote valid to this very date.
    Lovely reminiscences narrated by you with such charm and humor!
    I'm sure the dishes on your plates taste as delicious as they look.

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    1. G'day DUTA....the food pics I borrowed from the Net...I didn't take them.

      Those first five years of my working life were filled with fun...and, oddly enough, much was learned! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. Pretty girls with short skirts get away with anything!

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    1. Hi Kay...we were a pretty tight-knit group in that office. We cared about each other. It was a great place to work. I will always remember those years with fondness.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  10. Brussel sprout sip sounds good - and I really liked the story today. You recapped some things for me I didn't know. I didn't know Gympie was a town. You must have been so much fun to be around and work with girl. I enjoyed this.

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    1. Hey there, Sandie.

      Gympie (originally named "Nashville") was the town that saved Queensland in 1867. A prospector named James Nash discovered gold and the rush began...and the rest is history. At the time of Nash's discovery there was about eleven pence in Queensland's treasury. The discovery of gold at what was to become Gympie saved the state of Queensland from bankruptcy.

      The name changed to "Gympie" in 1868.

      "Gympie" is derived from the term/words gimpi-gimpi...which, in the language of the local indigenous tribe who lived in the area at the time, means "stinging tree".

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. Happy memories. Fun to read and to know that Shirley MacLaine was in her element back then. I remember those days with such fondness and before mobile phones changed the mood. It was much better back then and you had it sounds like you had a great time as well.

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    1. Hey Treey...Shirley MacLaine was only 28 when she made the movie. The movie was released in June, 1963. We were all much younger in 1963. I was 18 when I first watched "Irma La Douce"...those were the days, my friend! :)

      Proof that I'm growing old (old and grumpy! I declare I'm the original "grumpy old woman!) - mobile phones don't feature in my life, and I just can't fathom why they are such a fixture in the lives of many. They're glued to their hands and ears 24/7!!

      I did have a great time...and have many tremendously happy memories from those years.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. Always enjoy reading your posts, fantastic!
    Brussels Sprout Soup - one of my favourite recipes.

    All the best Jan

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    1. G'day Jan...I thought you'd like the soup! :)

      I'm glad you enjoy my ramblings...thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  13. I guess moat law offices are dull and boring places to work but you brightened your work place up and it seems your boss secretly enjoyed your youthful mischief. In fact that was probably his private name for you - Miss Chief.

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    1. Hahahaha, good one, Yorkie!

      As a parting gift my boss' wife game me a pair of pearl earrings...and the day she did so...she'd taken me out to lunch...she told me she thought of me as a daughter. They had two sons and no daughters.

      I was lucky to have had that group of people to work with and for...for my first job...my first entrance into the "adult" world.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. You came from Gympie...?
    You never mentioned this before.

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    1. I knew you were unaware of that fact, Mr. Ad-Man. 'Tis the reason why I made a pointed point of mentioning it in this post. Stick around....I'll tell you more! You'll be amazed at what you discover! ;)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

      Delete
  15. I daresay you brightened his life, in secret. There's not much to laugh about in leases, small claims and tax affairs! That chickpea curry looks fine and as for the curry cocktail.... well, I can't imagine it, I don't even know what banana liqueur tastes like! But you've piqued my interest...

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  16. Hey Jenny...I guess banana liqueur tastes like banana. I've never tried it. It could be a tasty cocktail though...if not tried it either...and when I went in search for a curry cocktail I wasn't sure I'd even find one! lol

    Nice to have you back after your break, Jenny. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  17. Come to think of it, it's been a long time since I've danced too.

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    1. Same here, Lux....although, I must admit I did a bit of a jig the other day when I played a couple of CDs that were given to me...they are music of a band I used to dance to as a teenager...many moons ago. :) The music stands to this day...and they CDs are great time machines back to my past.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  18. What fun and what great memories. Sounds like your boss was a good man with a sense of humor. Thanks for sharing, Lee. You had me smiling.

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  19. Hey Sandra...Yep! He was a good boss. I was very fortunate my first job and those I worked with and for ware all good people. It was a great introduction to the "adult" world.

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  20. Good morning, Lee.
    I'm glad you had good fortune in your first job. And on the other side of the coin, they were lucky to get you.
    Hope your week is filled with sparkle.

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