Wednesday, May 22, 2024

REACHING OUT TO THE CITY LIGHTS

Tozer's Building was designed in 1895 by noted Brisbane architect Richard Gailey as solicitors' offices for Horace Tozer (later knighted) and his partner Anthony Conwell. Practising as a solicitor in Gympie from 1868 until 1898, Tozer was noted as an authority on mining law and as a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, minister and Agent-General. These two storey purpose-built offices with basement, designed in a classical style have been used as solicitors' offices from 1896 until the present day.

                                                 

Taken on the steps of the Gympie law office, along with my workmates. T

Picture taken shortly before I left Gympie...at a going-away party held for me

Photo taken for the Miss Australia Quest...so many years ago...1963

                                                      

 

From the moment I left high school to commence my working life in a local law firm, I planned, when possible, to leave Gympie, the town in which I was raised and educated. I desperately wanted to "spread my wings" and fly away.

Every weekend during the spring and summer months, and more…from September through to the long weekend in June, I spent at the Sunshine Coast, soaking up the sun, swimming and surfing. During the week, other pastimes filled my leisure hours. At one point, I was a member of the Gympie Drama Group, which turned out to be a lot of fun, and so very interesting. 

Amongst my group of friends there was always a party or a get-together happening somewhere. The parties were more “get-togethers” than actual “parties”. My friends and I enjoyed philosophical debates, to try and solve, and understand the world in which we lived. We were all keen readers. 

During those years my hungry mind eagerly devoured the writings of Kant, Kafka, Jung, Friedrich Nietzsche, among many, many others. I was introduced to the works of Kerouac, Dorothy Parker and C. P. Snow, the English novelist and physicist. I became enamoured of his series of novels, which began with “Strangers and Brothers”. His books still have pride of place among my personal library. I intend reading them again. Books were a major part of my life then. They still reign supreme.

Music always played a role in my life from as far back as I can recall. My mother played the piano brilliantly, and frequently. For five years I had piano lessons, and always did will in the exams. I learned ballet for a lot less time, but enjoyed the experience. 

Music was a constant in our household, whether it was the piano, radio or recordings. Of course, as a teenager, music featured heavily wherever I went. At the party/get-togethers, and in my private, alone moments, jazz, blues, folk, intermingled with good modern “pop” and rock ‘n roll of the day were the soundtracks of my life.

In 1963 I was asked to enter the "Miss Australia Quest" as a represenative of the Gympie area.  The Lions’ Club was the sponsor of the Gympie section of the quest. My boss. a solicitor, was the president of the local club. 

After due consideration, along with three other young women from the town, I joined in with the fundraising, which was fulfilling fun. I enjoyed the experience immensely. Being a participant in the Quest, which raised money for children with cerebral palsy, helped me gain an understanding of the lifelong physical disability they suffered, and awarded me confidence within myself.   

Along with the lessons learnt by being part of the Quest, I had a very good excuse to have a dressmaker make a new satin ball gown for me, as well as a fashionable Chanel-style suit made of golden yellow pure wool. I felt very smart, indeed! My teenage years in Gympie were eventful, and filled with fun, mostly.

Employed as a legal secretary in a local law firm during the day, this was to hold me in good stead throughout the ensuing years.

However, I was eager to leave my hometown behind, and move on to a “new world”. During lunchtime one day I raced home excitedly to breathlessly break my earth-shattering decision to my mother. My great “plan” had been concocted in my mind during my morning’s dictation session.

My mother, who was dressing and putting on her make-up in readiness to go shopping when I burst in all guns a-blazing, sat patiently listening as I carefully explained my decision to join the air force. Of course, by joining the air force, I would have to leave Gympie and head down to Victoria, which is a very long way from Gympie, hearth and home. After I’d finished gushing out my grandiose idea to my mother, she barely blinked an eye, nor did she turn towards me when she had her chance to offer her opinion.

Slowly directing her gaze away from her reflection in the mirror as she toyed at her lips with her tube of lipstick, she looked at me and said, “I think that is a wonderful idea, love.”

My mother’s blasé, calm and agreeable reaction certainly burst my bubble right there and then on the spot! I had been expecting a “Battle Royale”. However, I was bitterly disappointed and defeated in one foul stroke. To me it sounded like she was happy to get rid of me! I never did enlist in the air force. 

Nor did I become a nurse, which was another of my mind-explosions one morning, with a repeated effort of running up and down the hills of Gympie to my home during another lunch hour to announce I was going to Brisbane to train at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. 

Somehow the edges of my plans were removed when everyone agreed they were good ideas. I had to learn to beat “them” at “their” own game, I decided. I wasn’t going to be defeated.  I just had to go about the matter of my “escape” differently.

As it turned out, I didn’t really need any grand plans or schemes. The day came when it was the “right” thing to do. Very few obstacles or objections were placed in my way. On reflection, I don’t remember exactly how all the pieces fell into place, but into place they did fall, one by one. I announced I was going to move to live and work in the city of Brisbane.

Immediately I started turning the wheels towards that direction. My boss, upon my handing him one month’s notice, said he wasn’t surprised at my decision. He’d been expecting it. Immediately, upon my handing him my notice,  as I remained seated in front of him at his desk, he picked up the phone to call a solicitor/lawyer friend of his who was a partner in a Brisbane firm.

“I’ve a lass here who wants to live in the city. Do you have a place for her there? You do! That’s great!”

Looking to me, my boss, with a smile, said, “When can you start?”

“Umm…six weeks, I…I guess…I’ll need a little time to settle in etc.,” I stammered in return.

“Okay….she’ll be there at “such–and-such-a-time at such-and-such-a-day”,” he replied.

That was it! As simple as making a telephone call, I had a job. No interview was required. In those days, country girls were snapped up by city law firms like we were rare pieces of gold. My next step was to find somewhere to live, again by remote control.

I wanted to find a flat/apartment for myself only. Even back then I  desperately wanted my own “space” and didn’t take kindly to the idea of sharing my living area with anyone else. My mother and grandmother wouldn’t hear of it, though. That was one thing they put their collective “feet” down upon. 

Begrudgingly, I telephoned a girl I knew who had moved to Brisbane a couple of years previously. Explaining my plight to her, she agreed to help me out if she could. My timing was perfect, again. Fortunately, a workmate of hers had a younger sister who was looking for a “flat-mate” to share her expenses etc. Everything was falling into place for me, and as yet, I’d not even left Gympie to put the square pieces into the square holes or the round pieces into the round holes. All I needed to do was work through the four weeks to the day, of my departure, pack my meager possessions and buy a train ticket.

Once again, the winds were blowing favourably for me. Our neighbours’ house was being painted during this period. One of the painters drove back to Brisbane every weekend to spend time with his family. Willingly, he offered me a lift whenever I was ready to leave Gympie...

To be continued......


Saturday, April 27, 2024

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! PLEASE YE HEAR ME PLEAS!

                                                                            





It’s a wonderful world we live in today, isn’t it?  Please note the intended sarcasm!  I need to purchase a wig. My patience was pushed way beyond its limits a few weeks back.  I was tearing my hair out because of the actions…correction…inactions of some others.  I wanted to scream my lungs out while tearing wildly at my hair.  Having now calmed down I need to get a couple of things off my chest.  It’s neither hair nor vest.

Faceless “powers that be and useless” are displaying their ignorance by trying to turn us into a cashless society.  Bank branches are disappearing faster than tree branches in fire ravaged bush land. The end to the ATM is nigh, as well.  

Those making these idiotic decisions are living in a Disney-like fantasy world of their own creation.  The harsh reality is it’s more like a Stephen King horror story.  The sooner “they” wake up to themselves the better, in my humble opinion!

The reason for my recent frantic hair-thinning was; I’ve been a loyal customer of a particular bank since Federation…a slight exaggeration, I know…but for many, many years.  When trying to access my bank account, to my annoyance and deep concern I was unable to do so no matter how often I tried.  Days upon days of endless calls to the bank aka impersonal “Call Centre” followed in hopeful efforts to have the problem solved.  Over and over, my efforts were hopeless.

In each call, in clear, precise detail I explained the problem I was experiencing, but no one listened.  No one heard a word I spoke. I could hear myself, but for strange reasons those receiving my calls couldn’t.  The situation was exacerbated even further when some with whom I spoke were impossible to understand because they couldn’t speak English.  Why anyone unable to speak English is employed by Call Centres beats me! 

Day after day, hour upon hour, I made desperate phone calls. No resolution was in sight; no intelligent help offered.  More worried and agitated I became with each fruitless attempt as each moment, each cry for help, and each day passed without answers; without action; without a remedy. 

After days of getting nowhere, in sheer frustration I tossed in an offhand, off-the-cuff, flippant comment to one of the deaf recipients of my endless plaintive pleas for a positive solution to the problem.  I made an innocuous comment many of us, I am sure, in moments of absolute frustration have pulled out of the hat once or twice.  The odd thing was my curt ad lib remark was the first time any of my words were heard by the dozens of people to whom I’d spoken.  Everything else I’d voiced had blown away in the wind except for that one spur-of-the-moment comment tossed in, in exasperation.  I’d made call after call until I was blue in the face, hot under the collar…until I turned from blue to red in the face, finally verging on purple.

The brief comment uttered by me in hair-pulling despair sure put the cat among the pigeons. I was the cat. Emotionally exhausted, and at my wits end, was I expected to cop being ignored?  I’d been copping it for days. Sick to death having to cop it, I blew my top!

Within far less than an hour of my comment made out of sheer frustration there was pounding on my door.  Upon throwing on some clothes, tidying up my hair, I opened the door.  To my surprise, two of our local policemen were standing there with smiles on their face. I proceeded to tell them of my grievance, annoyance with my bank, and the disinterest shown by its Call Centre folk.  

When I finished my tale, the older cop who had a smile on his face said to me, “You made a certain comment in one of your calls this morning….”  Both of the cops looked at me with a smile on their face as they waited for my reply.

The penny dropped.  I laughed and explained my position…why I had said what I’d said after more than a trillionth time of not being heard; after six days of not being listened to. I’d carefully explained in minute, concise detail to the uninterested person on the other end of the phone the problem I was facing. And like all the others before him, he wasn’t listening; he didn’t hear a word I said, until I uttered, “The best thing for me to do would be to put a bullet in my bloody head!  

Finally I was heard. Finally someone listened to me!  Upon hearing my frustrated utterance, the fellow contacted the police!  And, they in turn, promptly arrived at my door!  The two police understood my grievance, and the problem I’d been dealing with over the previous days.  

In final parting, again with broad smiles on their faces, the younger of the two asked me, “Do you have any guns?”  

 I laughed, and answered, “No!” 

 Wishing me well. off they went.

I understood the police were only doing their job…as was the fellow at the Call Centre who finally heard what I’d said!  However, it should not have taken that one, innocuous comment to have stirred up action!  And, it should not have taken days of fruitless phone calls before someone listened to me.

And yet, even after those few moments of excitement, another day passed. More useless phone calls followed before my dilemma was eventually taken seriously.  Until then no one, other than me, appeared to understand, or care.  Had I been speaking in a foreign tongue? My pleas had been shamefully neglected.  Corny it might sound, but I’ve always believed ears are part of one’s hearing system. Ears are what we hear and listen with. They are not just for dangling ear rings off!  Obviously the ears of those “working” at the bank’s Call Centre are blocked. 

Finally I was passed onto an empathetic, intelligent young woman named Jacquie. At long last I was heard by someone!

To my exhausted relief, my voice had magically returned. I was audible! I wanted to cry, and cry I did, in private, once the problem was solved. 

In what felt like an eternity, almost a week after the first phone call I’d made, I was heard; listened to by an understanding young woman. Within 20 minutes or so, with Jacquie’s calm, empathetic assistance, the issue that should’ve been rectified long before the days and hours spent making numerous fruitless phone calls, was set right.

Those employed at Call Centres obviously read from scripts handed to them. And like sheep, meekly they follow the script. They have no intention of straying from them, or are too lazy and uncaring to do so.  They’ve no mind of their own; they’ve no mind to help others in distress.  We, the ones in distress, just have to cop it!

By the way, thankfully, my hair has grown back.

Grilled Chilli Corn on Cob: Fill a large bowl with enough cold water to completely submerge 4 ears of fresh sweet corn, husks on. Pull away outermost layer of husks. Using scissors trim off topmost part of husks up to the cob including the silk tassel. Place ears in the water. Let sit for at least 10mins, or up to 8 hours (this will keep husks from burning). Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium. Remove corn from water; shake off excess. Place corn on grill, cover; grill 15-20mins, turning it every 5mins or so to ensure corn cooks evenly. When corn is done, the kernels should be tender when pierced with a thin, sharp knife. Meanwhile, in bowl, melt 2tbs butter. Stir in 1tbs grated Parmesan, 1/2tsp chilli powder, 1/2tsp chipotle chilli powder, 1/4tsp ground cumin, and 1/4tsp salt. Zest 1 lime directly into the bowl; then cut the lime into wedges. Let corn cool for 5mins. When cool enough to handle, peel back husks, removing any stuck-on bits.  Brush the corn all over with the chilli butter; serve hot with a wedge of lime to squeeze over top.   

Saturday, April 13, 2024

TO DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM…