Freddy Mercury or Col Porter?

When I told the daughter of my intention to see the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, this week she said , “ Mo, you’de be better off getting Thai Takeaway, opening a bottle of wine, and listening to a CD.”

Always good advice.

Enjoyed the Villanova Players production of High Society instead.

When said daughter graduated from University with a couple of degrees, as well as dark rings under the eyes, we celebrated with a fine meal in the city and some Bubbles. As you do. Did I hand her a set a car keys or a pair of diamond earrings as a gift for four years of study?

Of course not! What kind of mother do you think I am! My eldest daughter and I located a movie poster for High Society and had it professionally framed. Looked schmiko too. Cait is a huge fan of both Bing and Cranky Frankie, and this movie also ignited her interest in the music of Satchmo.    (Louis Armstrong).

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High Society was released in 1956 with a simple storyline :” Jazz artist C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) is still hung up on his ex-wife and neighbor, socialite Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly), however Tracy is engaged to another man (John Lund). Matters are complicated even further when a magazine reporter (Frank Sinatra), in town to cover Tracy’s wedding, also winds up falling for the beautiful bride-to-be. As Tracy tries to decide on the ideal husband, each suitor works hard to convince her he is the best choice.” – wikipeadia

Supported by great music and lyrics by Col Porter as well as some truly gorgeous gowns this movie was nominated for Academy Award for Best Story, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Musical, and Academy Award for Best Original Musical.

So you think Col Porter music is no longer relevant? Pop star, Robbie Williams, has been reintroducing these tunes to a new generation. And doing it so damn well too.

I took both my daughters to see Williams perform in 2006 at Suncorp Stadium. Suncorp is a sporting venue, affectionately known as The Cauldron, but its beauty is that regardless of where you sit you are right on top of the action. I took an out-of-towner there once and he was more interested in the sound from the roaring crowd than any on field action.

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So we’re way up high in the bleachers, almost touching the stars. Robbie’s on stage doing his thing, and my girls are moving with the music. The eldest loses herself completely. ( My fault. I did that hippie thing and placed head phones on my tummy whilst pregnant). Spent the night holding said child around the waist as I was so fearful she would take a tumble and we would lose her. Literally.

Here’s to another community theatre group bringing great entertainment to the locals, and a stage band putting life back into the music of Porter. The music is in the bones…

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Yep, Caitlin, good advice.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper and a Brisi Heatwave.

Queensland is in heatwave mode so the boss asked me to stay home this week. No air conditioning you see. She knows full well I would incite the troops with tales of 14 yr olds being sent down the coal mines for 12 hour shifts. No matter – breakfast in the garden each morning has been delightful, and I’ve caught up on some reading.

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Title : The Lost Man

Author : Jane Harper

Published : October 2018

Jane Harper is an Australian Author, whose two previous books, The Dry and Force Of Nature, went straight to the top of the bestsellers list. These books gained a following of Aaron Falk fans, the protagonist in these novels

This stand alone novel is set in rural and remote Queensland, and begins with two brothers meeting at the boundary of their neighbouring properties following the death of a third brother in strange circumstances.

Nathan Bright, a loner and outsider, tries to understand why his much respected and younger brother died from the heat of the Australian sun, having walked 9 kilometres away from his air conditioned car.

The biggest character in this book is the harsh, red dust landscape of outback Australia. The story may seem slow but that’s the pace you have to maintain under a huge Qld sun.

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There is just so much happening in this book with so many topical themes being covered including the high rate of suicide amongst farmers. It is a story about family secrets, and how those secrets can cross the generations.

Forget Falk – he’s a wet sock. Nathan Bright is my boyo. This is a great read – I had to finish it in one sitting and did not come close to solving the mystery of Cameron Bright’s death.

TIP.
Make sure you put a treat for yourself under the Christmas Tree as I have being doing so for twenty years. This book is the perfect, slow burning holiday read:)

Self Indulgence : The Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial is Australia’s national memorial to the members of its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in wars involving the Commonwealth of Australia, and some conflicts involving personnel from the Australian colonies prior to Federation. The memorial includes an extensive national military museum. The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is widely regarded as one of the most significant memorials of its type in the world.
-From Wikipedia.

Situated in Canberra, our Capital, the AWM draws thousands of international and domestic tourists each year. Aussie’s have an uneasy relationship with Canberra, being the location of Parliament and with a very high percentage of Public Servants. Personally I love Canberra. Our bush Capital is a Foodies Delight, with an abundance of wineries, magnificent gardens and reserves, and there are so many interesting places to visit. With Remembrance Day only days away here are a few of my favourite photos from my last visit to the AWM.

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From the AWM looking towards Parliament House. The avenue is full of touching memorials and makes for an interesting walk.

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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The Pool of Remembrance. Every evening at 5 pm there is a Closing Ceremony on these steps, including bagpipes, which includes a memorial to a nominated exservice person.

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Afghanistan Memorial. Each of these marble sculptures represents a young life lost. You have to walk past them to exit the building.Talk about emotional!

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Time for a coffee at Poppy’s Cafe.

There is also a well stocked military bookshop which gleans money from me each and every visit.

The grounds are full of bronze sculptures and the odd tank, as well as local wildlife. It is suggested that a minimum of two days is required to see it all. Exhibits change on a regular basis. I’ve never had time to work my way through the naval displays and try to avoid the RAAF area because it is just too easy to get distracted.

The AWM is a Must Do for any visitor to the ‘Berra, and Entry is at No Cost. Pick me up along the way……….

It’s In The Bag and Constance Hall’s Queens.

I recently shared how I had read two Australian novels that included amongst their common themes, domestic violence. These books motivated me to participate in Share The Dignity’s “ It’s In The Bag” Christmas Promotion.

The concept behind this promotion is that women fleeing from violence often leave the scene with absolutely nothing. By filling a handbag with some basic daily necessities, such as a hair brush, tooth paste and brush, shampoo and personal hygiene products you give these women something that is theirs, something to help get them back on an even keel, something to remind them that we care. Refer http://www.sharethedignity.com.au.

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Amongst the essentials I’ve also included a diary, calendar for appointments, and pens. I really struggled to find an appropriate book to include for those down times over the holiday season, and finally settled on Like A Queen by Constance Hall.

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Controversial, I know. Not sure if women over fifty will appreciate as the language is pretty confrontational and colourful. Hall not only calls a spade a spade, she calls it a f******* shovel. Younger women seem to think this is “authentic” and “real”.

Not heard of Constance Hall? She is a blogger with half a million followers on her page, Queens of Constance, and has shared her thoughts on parenting, body image, post natal depression and sex, all totally without filters. No topic is off limits which has been polarising especially with a recent marriage breakdown, new relationship and new baby.

At one stage Hall and her followers, known as Queens, were involved in a slinging match with another Mummy Blogger who tagged Constance, “Slummy Mummy”. No comment from this end.

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Like A Queen is not an easy read in that it seems to need a good edit. Hall tends to get her message across better in short blog pieces, though I do believe that Hall’s genuine intent is to “keep inspiring women to treat themselves better and treat other women better too!” It’s the self esteem message that won me over…..

It’s not an easy task finding an appropriate Self Help book for the victims of Domestic Violence, a book with a message yet is still light and fun. I should know – my work environment has me surrounded by books about the benefits of drinking your own urine, eating the placenta after childbirth, and finding your inner child.

Is there a book that you would recommend?

NOTE:
Since the beginning of 2018, 67 women and 18 children have been killed in this manner in Australia.

Lenny and La La

Another week over and it’s been an absolute rollercoaster. Gemini’s don’t do mediocrity.

Had a huge win at a local preloved book sale for charity, scoring interesting reads for both myself and the Little Library.

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The local community theatre put on a fun little production with the title Drinking Habits, about a couple of nuns making and selling wine without Mother Superior’s knowledge. Twenty dollars a ticket, with tea and coffee, or the option to purchase vino with a cheese platter. Why these events don’t attract more bums on seats I just don’t know. Great value and good fun. ( and honestly folks, isn’t Theatre so very much better than watching cricket on TV? Shane Warne? Kill me now).

I lost two more very good friends this week : Lenny and La La. The neighbours complained about their squabbling so they had to move out. Still prone to random outbursts of tears, so I’m obviously still grieving.

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Lenny and La La were the last of my pets since downsizing and have gone to acreage where they can screech to their hearts delight. Wondering if I should have made the move with them…..

Thank goodness for the funniest movie I have ever watched in my life : Snakes On A Plane – simply hilarious. Highly recommended when you are in the need for absolute rubbish. Rolling-on-the-floor funny/stupid. Cheaper than a visit to the Therapist.

As is the usual practice, fighting sadness by keeping busy. Will see Bohemian Rhapsody this weekend, attend the local fundraiser where I’ll donate some time, and will listen to The Travelling Wilbury’s, eat dark chocolate, and drink some Bubbles. I am taking heed of my GP who encourages the addition of more fruit to my diet. Mangoes and Lychees are delicious in champagne, don’t you agree?

Enjoy your weekend, Peeps.

Miss you heaps, Lennie and La La. xxx

A Minutes Silence and Poppies

This is going to sound really odd, but I am really looking forward to Remembrance Day this November. Does that come across as a bit ghoulish? Compared to the skeletons and headless bodies fighting for space in the supermarket aisles for Halloween, I guess not.

Sunday, the 11th of November, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18). On this day, as per usual, Australians will observe a one minute silence at 11 am, in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.

This year a special commemorative service will be held at my local Anzac Centenary Park. Prior to the Service a specially decorated Troop Train will arrive at the local Train Station carrying soldiers from Enoggera Barracks (on the other side of Brisbane) who will then march up to the Park to participate in the Commemorative Service, along with veterans. The march to the service will also include a contingent of horses as a nod to the Australian Light Horse.

Designed by the local Returned Services League (colloquially known as the Rissole), the train will feature the distinctive lone soldier and red poppy, symbolising the lives lost on the Western Front during World War 1. Unfortunately, all the Poppies I planted for a display in my garden have since been replaced by lettuces – not quite the look I was going for…

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It’s probably the timing that has created more interest in this date this year. With the Invictus Games in Sydney closing last night, thoughts of our service members, past and present, are fresh. And why not ? What a wonderful display of sportsmanship, goodwill, compassion, good fun and OPTIMISM – something we all seem a bit short of lately. Was that a better spectacle than the Commonwealth Games or what! ( Except for one thing. David Beckham. Please explain…….And forgive me for being churlish, but who the hell stops at a Cafe for a grated carrot?)

Young Harry Windsor and his ongoing interest in 98 year old war widow Daphne was another beautiful thing. Daphne’s husband was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously in WW2 and his medals displayed proudly on her chest is what brought the two together.

On a more personal front it’s good to have the son in law back on home soil, and my warmest thoughts are directed to the three hundred who headed off to Baghdad last week.

And Trick and Treaters : heads up, the only thing I will be handing out is Kalamata Olives and Camembert Cheese on Crackers.

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Scrabble and Grass Hoppers

Not a good week with another co-worker collapsing during a friendly game of Scrabble and succumbing to a fatal stroke.

I’ve never encountered a friendly game of Scrabble, have you? In my family this word game is fiercely competitive. And both daughters like to play mind games, setting their mother up with melodic background music, dark chocolate and Grass Hoppers. That’s their queue to go in for the kill and come up with a triple word score with a Q. My eldest even keeps a notebook with all her past scores – just to gloat, presumably.

Trivia: Did you know Scrabble features in the best selling books: Lolita, The Handmaid’s Tale and Rosemary’s Baby?

One of my last tasks before my official retirement (I have requested time off for “good behaviour”), is to arrange a little something in the office as a celebration of our colleagues life. She had worked here twenty years after all. As always, something so simple became bigger than Ben Hur when there was a suggestion that a morning tea in our colleagues honour in the boardroom might be “too upsetting for the young ones”.

Holy Guacamole. I’m too old for this gig…… I think I prefer playing Scrabble to the weaving and ducking required to placate these millennials.

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Monopoly has become another No Go Zone. Too many wannabe Real Estate Tycoons in the family. Initially mass marketed in America in 1934, Monopoly actually played a role in World War 2 assisting those who involuntarily became guests of the Third Reich.

As a way of providing information to the allied prisoners who were constantly looking for a means of escape, maps that included safe locations were manipulated onto the Monopoly board game. This is because one of the conditions of the Geneva Convention stated that games were acceptable in “Care” packages distributed by the Red Cross for POWs.

Small red dots were placed on the corner of the “Free Parking” square on numerous game boards relaying important information to aid UK and American prisoners before they set off.

Don’t even get me started on RISK.

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So morning tea next week will include 60’s music for my Beatles and Bee Gees mad friend, cheese and fruit platters, and a truly wicked chocolate cake. I’m wondering if the boss will mind if I make Grass Hoppers all round as a send off?

William McInnes and local Trivia.

Attended a literary luncheon at my local, The Grand View Hotel, this week. The Grandy is the oldest licensed hotel in Qld, and has Brisbane’s best beer garden with sweeping views across Moreton Bay to Straddie ( North Stradbroke Island). She is a fine host and I have enjoyed many celebrations under the palm trees over the years : Graduations, Birthdays, and Engagement Parties.

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William McInnes is an Australian television and stage actor, although my personal experience of his thespian talents is limited to an ABC miniseries twenty years ago when he poured himself into a wetsuit. And poured himself so very well, may I add.

McInnes is also an author and writes a weekly column in the weekend paper. He gently touches on social commentary with a dash of whimsy and nostalgia.This weekends article was about undertaking trombone lessons at high school and only ever achieving sounds reminiscent of flatulence. Stupid but we’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Born in Brisbane when she really was a country town McInnes speaks with a distinctive deep voice. When you read McInnes you can hear that voice. He tends to write about nothing in particular and includes memories of growing up by the bay, when times were totally different; when fishing off the Redcliffe Jetty with mates was a top afternoon, as was eating hot chips wrapped in newspaper. These were the days when you were thrilled to receive a watch or a pen with your name inscribed for your 18th birthday, and not a brand new car from Mum and Dad like today’s Muppets.

I read his first book over ten years ago, “A Mans Got To Have A Hobby”, which was literally, advice handed down by his father. Like how to master the handshake.Important stuff.

His latest book is based on a subject that is very close to his heart. Fatherhood is about family, about memories of his father and the memories he’s creating as a Dad himself, with his own son and daughter.

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The blurb says that this book “contains memories of hot summer days and cooling off under the sprinkler while Dad works in the garden with the radio tuned to the sports results; that time Dad tried to teach you to drive – and then got out of the car and kissed the ground; or taking your own kids on a family road trip.”

McInnes is a storyteller. He is genuine, modest, and I don’t think he is aware that his stories are so funny. Coming from salt of the earth, hardworking stock his family life has provided the basis for many of his stories. It’s the commonality that makes him so endearing.

This is a tale he shares of his dying mother, which I think sums McInnes’ upbringing in a nutshell.

I walked into the hospital one day to visit Mum and found a Sister of Mercy beside her. She leaned in to tell Mum her son was here. Mum asked, without opening her eyes, “Which one? The fat one or the stupid one?” The sister half-smiled and said, “I don’t know.” Then Mum opened one eye and looked at me and said, “The stupid one has gotten fat.”

I grew up in a household of similar ilk.

McInnes’ wife died when the kiddies were School age.

I was brought up by a Storyteller, a storyteller who flew Lancaster’s over Germany during WW2 yet suffered horrific nose bleeds every time he took me out for a driving lesson. A storyteller who listened to the races on the radio whilst gardening and who taught his daughters about equine bloodlines, how to fix a lawnmower, and who encouraged us to run under a sprinkler on those stinking hot summer days because people who had backyard pools were poseurs. I also lost a mother far too young and was shaped by my family.

I’m probably also the stupid one who has gotten fat.

Great afternoon, thanks Bill.

PS. Some trivia :

This waterway is where Angelina Jolie had the actor playing Louis Zamparini in Unbroken cast adrift in a raft until the Japs picked him up, where Johnny Depp filmed parts of Pirates of The Carribean number 2, and the second Narnia movie was filmed. But that’s another story…..

Bing and Freddy

I FaceTimed my youngest daughter over the weekend. See, I’m not a complete technophobe. She was in the bedroom of the unit she purchased five months ago. Noticing a lack of decoration on the walls I asked when was she going to get around to hanging some of the colourful art works she had collected on her overseas travels -Flamenco Dancers, Greek Islands, the usual stuff. Daughter responded with “Mo, I’m waiting for you to cark it so I can hang your Errol lobby cards.” Thus proving that eccentricity and a warped sense of humour are hereditary…..

This is my daughter who collects singing Bing Crosby Dolls. We holidayed together in beautiful Norfolk Island – Fletcher Christian Country – a few years ago and what item did we return to Australia with to remind ourselves of our days playing tourist? Bracelets of pressed shell or pearls? Of course not ! We found a mini Bing dressed in a pinstripe suit singing “Accentuate The Positive”. As you do.

This daughter is also keen on Freddy Mercury. And yes, before you ask, she does have a singing Freddy Doll. I have no issues with either of these collections given that as a youngster she was into sport, politics, and share trading ( Yeah, I know….), with not a Barbie nor Ken doll in sight.

November looks like an exciting month for this child of mine with the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddy Mercury story, at the Cinemas. I’ve also just informed her that a theatrical production of High Society is coming to Brisi next month. This is her favourite movie and posters and framed record covers adorn her lounge room walls to great effect.

That’s one way of getting her to visit her poor , old mother for a Sunday roast, isn’t it?

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