When it’s in the stars…..

The Astrology forecast for Gemini’s this week is “to take the time to read an enlightening book or listen to some uplifting music”.

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I’ve just finished reading Jasper Jones by Aussie author Craig Silvey. Fantastic coming of age book based in rural Australia in the 90’s and since adapted into a movie and a theatrical production. It covers incest, murder, domestic violence, race issues, and infidelity. In spite of all that, it is a gently positive tale full of hope, love and friendships. Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringold is another beautifully crafted book which captures all the beauty of Australian wildflowers, the various belief systems of different cultures, and the brutality of domestic violence.

Confined indoors because of much needed rain all weekend I also indulged in a card reading. Why? A girl is allowed to be frivolous, isn’t she? The cards suggested that I should read an uplifting book. I get the hint…..

Interestingly, regardless of the bleak themes of both these books they were quietly uplifting. Naturally, there was non stop music playing in the background and Harry Connick Jr definitely filled the brief.

I’m not really into horoscopes – they are not something I refer to on a regular basis despite being surrounded by chakra, crystal, and aura fanatics – though I do have a favourite astrologist who I read on my birth date each year and who always includes a quote. This years quote totally resonates:

Follow your inner moonlight, don’t hide the madness”
( Allen Ginsberg)

NOTE : Enlightening Books?

Not sure what makes one of these, although I have just filled a handbag full of personal products for women fleeing from a violent situation as part of Share The Dignity’s “It’s In The Bag” Christmas Cause. Refer http://www.sharethedignity.com.au.

In Like Flynn- The Movie

I was always going to be conflicted about the movie In Like Flynn. Adapted from Errol Flynn’s 1937 ( first) novel, “Beam Ends”, the movie takes us from the goldfields of New Guinea in 1930, to the streets of Sydney and the Razor Gang in 1932, north to Townsville, and then further north to a return to New Guinea.

Here’s my Good, Bad and the Ugly, and not necessarily in that order

Firstly, the really, truly Ugly:

I had a signed copy of this book in my possession and inadvertently tossed it into the bin some thirty years ago. The things you do when you are young and stupid ( or more stupid ).I’ve been chasing this wretched book ever since.

Then there is the Bad:

What’s with David Wenham’s penchant for weird facial hair and creepy voices? Way back when, was there a female with a pulse anywhere across the nation who did not weep tears of blood when Diver Dan dumped Laura Gibson in Pearl Bay to dive the Galápagos Islands?

Wenham’s penchant for woeful mos and odd vocal noises started in Australia, though his presence in In Like Flynn as the Mayor/ Boxing Promoter/ Reverend screams dirty-old-man-in-raincoat. That’s the price you pay when you let a good woman down, David. Thank God Laura finally found happiness with that bloke that’s built like a brick outhouse.

If we were expected to believe Guy Pearce as Flynn (in Flynn) at five foot ten and a half then this chappie is way out in front. Thomas Cocquerel is a good looking lad – we know this as there are numerous scenes not requiring a shirt – and at a couple of inches over six foot with a chiselled chin, does a reasonable job. Don’t waste time with comparisons though : one is vanilla to Errol’s double malted, dark chocolate with a dash of Tia Maria.

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So to enjoy this film simply forget that this is supposed to be Errol Flynn before making it big in Hollywood. Instead, treat it as another of the Jewel of the Nile/ Indiana Jones Franchises. It will make the experience so much more palatable. Hang the brain at the door and just go with the adventure, or misadventure, and the crocodiles.

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Good :
Don’t you feel we’ve watched Isobel Lucas grow up in front of the cameras, from a pretty and pouty little thing, to an even prettier and poutier little thing, though she does a great job of being both flirty and feisty in this flick. Kills it as a redhead. Hasn’t put on an ounce of weight – just how does that work?

And another :

The scenery is beautiful and there is a definite 1930 vaudevillian feel.

Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor in parts, or is it that the soundtrack is simply too loud? The incorrect answer is that my hearing is poor. Well, it is, but everyone in the cinema was pressing forward to hear better too – all four of us.

First film reviews in within Australia state “ car crash compelling” and “so bad its nearly good”.

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And talking of that bloke built like a brick outhouse….. See you at lunch at The Grand View next week.

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Dying Shackled To A Desk Is Not An Option

I am staring down the barrel of my last twenty seven days of paid employment. Well, twenty six really because I’m throwing a sickie to be at the first day of viewing of the movie, In Like Flynn. Anyway, so relieved I simply cannot put it into words. So very over regimentation, clock watching, office politics, and lately, millennials telling me how to do things. Such as when you are chasing information. Serious information. I am so fed up with “Check out Pinterest” or “Go to Instagram”.( And I’m sooo close to spitting at the next millennial who whinges about their inability to afford housing. Get off your butts and walk to the local cafe for your lunch: don’t pay for your bespoke sandwich to be uber delivered. WT!)

Kiddies, Life is more than bullet points and pretty pictures. Life is not manufactured. It is so much more.

Most of my circle are pleased for me, aware that I have been working since I was 17 years of age, in one form or another. Good, as no further explanations are necessary. It is correct, as it has been pointed out to me, that I am some years off retirement age. I don’t give a Rats, and neither should you.

Not only did I attend a wedding last week, there was also a funeral on the other side of town. Fun wedding and I paid for the time on the dance floor for two days with a mild level of discomfort in the hips. Go you good thing!

Funeral was fun too, as only a good funeral can be. Lots of food, good company and memories. Chatted to the sons of the deceased for some time sharing stories. It’s funny how much you learn by sharing stories, isn’t it? A yarn with these lads, both of a similar vintage, has me now investigating the music of Pink Floyd, and in particular, the Final Cut album. Pink Floyd – surely the background music for every party held in the 1970’s? The soundtrack in my family home was more Mario Lanza than Roger Waters.

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Another funeral next week for a work colleague in a previous life who literally died at his desk at work.

So, I’m feeling fine and looking forward to spending more time. Just spending more time.

Have done the rounds of Financial Planners, Accountants, Banks and all the other experts in the retirement field.

Story in today’s media about a Financial Advisor and his corporate wife who are struggling to pay their bills on a combined gross income of $215k. Well, who would be going to him for advice??? And have you noticed that so many of these Financial Advisors seem to be about 12 ? Okay, so about 28 – 30ish. I’m opting to follow my gut instinct. It’s time to go. No way am I falling off the tree shackled to a desk. There are stories to tell, music to enjoy, books to read and adventures to be had.

These are the books I’ve been lent this week by friends who have concerns that I will get bored. Thankyou, girls. Didn’t your parents give you a clip around the ears if you ever used the B word?

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Major retirement goals include :
* Breaking the cycle of waking up at 4 am. A thirty year habit.
* Mop floors weekly and clean house</del
* Listen to more Pink Floyd
* Keep houseplants alive

That will do for now. And that’s okay.

Twenty seven days. I’m pulling up my big girls pants.This is in the bag.

Thanks, Willie. You put a smile on my dial this morning.

ANZAC GIRLS by Peter Rees

In Primary School days, way back in the 60’s, one of the things that made the annual Anzac Day Ceremony so special was that you could wear your Cubs or Brownies uniform to school. My sister and her friends wore their white aprons with red capes and little hats bearing a Red Cross. My Annie Oakley outfit and cap guns were unacceptable.

Tragically, throughout my entire schooling, there was never any other mention of the magnificent work of the nursing services during either World War 1 or 2. Florence Nightingale was it.

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I read Anzac Girls after watching the 2014 ABC Mini series of the same name, as well as attending a one act theatre production called The Girls in Grey, both of which were based on Peter Rees’ book.

Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards, and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battle fronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these compassionate women to shine through and to enrich our experience.

This is a brilliant read. Forgetting about the courage, strength and humanity of these magnificent women amid all the expected carnage, there were some other factors that made this such a fascinating book.

Firstly, Rees cleverly wove other stories into the fabric of the Anzac Nurses which fleshed out Australian history and highlighting the time line and providing perspective. This included references to Banjo Paterson, poet and war correspondent, as well as C J Dennis, another poet who immortalised a “situation” regarding the AIF and brothels in Cairo in his poem , The Battle Of The Wazzir. http://www.middlemiss.org/lit/authors/denniscj/gmick/wazzir.html.

There was little recognition for these women at the time. Despite working in a theatre of war for over four years there was no financial assistance for housing, although soldiers were entitled. Some nurses had to work their passage home attending to soldier’s wives and children on board, and others had to depend on their families paying the passage home even though the British Government was paying the costs for transporting war brides. Woeful, absolutely woeful.

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Lastly, and what I found particularly inspiring, is that many of these women went on to do magnificent things in civilian life regardless of the terrible things that they had endured. They were indeed trail blazers.

Best read for the year, and I will just add that I made a much better cowgirl than nurse.

There’s a Rose that grows in No Man’s Land,
And it’s wonderful to see.
Tho’ it’s sprayed with tears,
It will live for years
In my garden of memory.
It’s the one red rose
That the soldier knows,
It’s the work of the Master’s Hand;
In the War’s great curse stands the Red Cross Nurse,
She’s the rose of No Man’s Land.
(American song)

My Week With Errol Flynn

Tasmania has the population with the oldest median age across Australia, as well as the highest percentage of inhabitants over the age of 65 years. It would also seem that they have more than their fair share of octagenarians and nonagenarians which I’m putting down to fresh air, home grown vegetables, Scallops, and delightful, crisp chardonnays.

Tasmania, an Island off our Island, takes a little over three hours to traverse from north to south, and means that many families are inter-related. And I’m not quoting that old “two headed “chestnut – farming communities of the 1800’s and 1900’s were the product of both fertile lands and people. You need to know this to understand that familial ties remain strong across Tasmania to this day and grudges from one hundred years ago remain intact. This in part accounts for a large proportion of its population having a distinct distaste for actor, Errol Flynn. Many of the stuffy, old matrons had a friend who knew a friend who had a brother who went to school with Flynn in Hobart before World War 1. No one liked him much from all accounts.

Hobart, the place of Flynn’s birth in 1909, appears a tad conflicted.

I stumbled across a plaque in front of the Grand Chancellor Hotel, one of the swankier establishments on Davey Street on the Hobart waterfront, recognising Flynn’s contribution to cinema – right up there with the opening of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory.

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Flynn’s Tassie childhood is acknowledged by the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau with a walking tour dedicated to houses, schools, and churches attended by a young Flynn. One of the buildings that forms part of the University bears the name of Flynn Senior, a renowned marine biologist in the day. The brochure isn’t always in print and I had to rely on a document from ten years ago. It does provide an interesting look into life in this very southern capital over a century ago with much of the housing unchanged. What I would give for a peek into some bathrooms and kitchens, as I have on good authority that chip heaters are still in use in some homes.

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A parkland in Sandy Bay has been renamed to honour Flynn, and includes a truly dreadful artwork which is supposed to be reminiscent of the actors days in Hollywood. Talk about devaluing property prices!

The State Theatre, at 375 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, opened as a venue for cultural events in 1913 and has an iconic Star on the footpath commemorating Errol, planted firmly by his daughter, Rory, on the occasion of his 100th birthday in 2009.

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My totally unexpected Flynn find was a result of ambling through the colonial grazing communities in the Tasmanian midlands. No publicity whatsoever. The Kentish Arms Hotel, in High Street, Oatlands, was first licensed in 1834 and is in dire need of a coat of paint, or two or three. As in many rural communities the pub has had to diversify to survive and so what was previously the lounge has become the TKO Bakery and Cafe with a repaint job. The meeting room is full of lobby cards for boxing movies – which is presumably the TKO reference, the public bar and bathroom facilities are covered in Monroe posters, and the Cafe is full of Errol Flynn posters. Hundreds of them. And did I mention the boom camera from Robin Hood?

Morning tea was a pleasant enough experience with fresh scones and the warmth of a wood heater. Unfortunately, my attempts to quizz staff about the collection fell on deaf ears. One out of ten for my Interrogation Skills. One out of ten for the Staffs graduation from Charm School.

There is an old Irish proverb about cats and kittens which I am unable to repeat here. Just note that I will pursue this further. A boom camera would not only enhance my tv room, there is the possibility of replacing the garden gnomes in the front yard.

Despite wading through numerous bookstores across the Island – it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it – not one Errol related book.

Tassie seems to have an odd love/hate relationship with this Tasmanian Devil.

More To History Than What Is In Books…..

Still driving around the island of Tasmania, waking up each day with absolutely no plans. Some travellers allow only a few days to discover the essence of Tassie. This is my 7th trip and I always stumble upon new places and things on each and every journey.

This holiday I seem to have focused on war memorials in country towns as well as the infamous Tasmanian Scallop Pie. These monuments to the memory of previous generations provide such a rich history of townships, in many cases documenting the deaths of multiple members within families in both World War 1 and 2. 

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Avoca, in the Midlands (meaning that it is between Launceston in the north and Hobart in the south, and in the very guts of the island) is rich grazing land. With a population of only 123 at the 2006 census this is the township’s memorial, with a tree planted for each of the fallen. More trees than residents nowadays……tells a story, doesn’t it?

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A little south is the town of Ross, another farming community with sandstone buildings dating back to convict times. On the crossroads of Church and Bridge Streets there is a field gun from the Boer War and the war memorial is a central part of the intersection, as was popular in many country towns. This crossroads area is humorously referred to as the “Four Corners of Ross” with each corner having a label:

▪Temptation: the Man O’ Ross Hotel

▪Recreation: Town Hall

▪Salvation: Roman Catholic Church

▪Damnation: Jail (now a private residence)

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Jericho, slightly off the main highway, where mud walls built by convicts in the early 1800’s still stand, is the resting place of John Hutton Bisdee, the first Australian born recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Travelling south to the East Coast it was fascinating to locate a memorial to all sailors in the services at Triabunna, including the name of one of Tasmania’s better known sons, Teddy Sheean.

More on Scallop Pies next time……

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Serendipity, Country Towns and Errol Flynn

I’m putting it down to another serendipitous moment in my life. There have been a few over the years.

Currently travelling around our beautiful Island State of Tasmania I deviated from the coast today, opting to travel through the midlands, past rural towns full of colonial history including convict settlements, bush rangers, and the decimation our Indigenous people. The midlands is also prime agricultural country and I have enjoyed mooing and baa-ing at the spring calves and lambs, and whatever noise baby alpacas make.

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This means that a Devonshire Tea in a country town was mandatory. Population less than 400 look what I found in a Cafe in a wee township with nothing but old buildings, history, and sheep in the pastures.

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Let’s just say I was a tad excited.

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Hobart, Tassie’s capital city, is the birth place of Flynn. When I return home I will share my finds….