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).


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.


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…


Yep, Caitlin, good advice.

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.

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.

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.


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)

The Phantom of the Opera and my kitchen floor.

After gallivanting interstate last week it has been wonderful to lose this weekend confined indoors because of wet weather. Not enough rain to fill water tanks, but enough to wash the dust off the leaves and have blades of grass upstanding with little smiles on their faces.

So plenty of binge movie viewing with the Hunger Games series featuring one of those Hemsworth lads. I tell ya’ – those boys are just everywhere……..

To even out all this blood and viciousness there has also been a lot of music emanating from the She-Shack which I’m sure the neighbours have also been enjoying. It’s been a while since I got lost in one of my Phantom Of The Opera frenzies which culminated in lots of twirls, sliding and faux pirouettes across the tiled floor this morning. (If this imagery isn’t enough to frighten you, think of the elephants in tutus in Disney’s Fantasia.)

I’ve seen POTO live four times. The first time I flew to Sydney to see the show with my sister in law who had just separated from her husband, and only he showed up at the theatre with a new partner. Talk about more drama off stage than on.

Next time was a family outing when the daughters were little girls. New frocks and shoes all round. Big mistake; my kids took to the theatre like ducks to water and it became an expensive interest over the years. They also figured they needed a new outfit each and every time.

When I travelled to London to visit the daughter studying Law she shouted tickets to the West End production. POTO had been playing in this very same theatre for thirty odd years and can I tell you, the sets were magnificent. I think I lost focus because the underground canals were so very fascinating. Ice cream hawkers wandering through the theatre at Intermission also threw me and I didn’t get the value out of this performance that I should have. The set and Streets Drumsticks were just too mesmerising.

Back in Brisbane Australia’s own Anthony Warlow played the Phantom some years later. Now Warlow could really sing – a true entertainer. After seeing his performance as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls I vowed to call any son Obadiah. (No boys, probably just as well.Can you imagine the school yard bullying!)

This production was brilliant, and will forever remain a wonderful memory. Warlow brought new energy to the Phantom. The lawyer daughter said,” Mo, I think he’s on speed” and the eldest one, the one who is all heart, left the theatre sobbing with “ Mo, he’s just misunderstood”.

Naturally, when the movie was released in 2004, starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, it just had to be another outing with the girls. I didn’t have to buy new outfits this time, though I was still up for lunch. The reviews were pretty harsh, especially about Butler and his singing prowess, though we all really enjoyed and I absolutely adored Butler as the Phantom.
1 ) His voice was raw, showing both emotion and vulnerability.
2 ) The unmasked side of the Phantom’s face was smokin’.
3 ) As above.

Now, that comment is not sexist. You need to know this to understand Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel, Love Never Dies. Set ten years after the Phantom escaped the fire in the French Opera House he now lives in Manhattan amongst the joy rides on Coney Island. Still writing music he continues to miss Christine and manoeuvres a concert for her to perform in Manhattan. She is accompanied by her husband, Raoul, and her young son, Gustave.

And guess what? Gustave is not really Raoul’s son. I wonder who is the real father? (Think smokin’ which makes Butler’s portrayal every bit conceivable.)

Off course we saw this live on stage back in 2012. It debuted in the UK but required a massive rewrite which was completed here in Oz. It was darker, more dramatic than POTO, and two out of three of us preferred it to the original. *putting hand up.


A great DVD and sound track, filmed and produced in Oz, has been providing much pleasure and entertainment this weekend. I’m just extremely grateful that the neighbours can’t see in.

Wouldn’t you too glide across the floor with this?

Vietnam Veterans Day 2018 in Nelson Bay

It was Vietnam Veterans Day last week. Commemorated on the 18th of August every year, my eldest and I were witness to a gathering at the Memorial Park in beautiful Nelson Bay, New South Wales.


Originally known as Long Tan Day, the date was chosen to commemorate the men of D Company, 6RAR who fought in the battle of Long Tan in 1966. On that day, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought a pitched battle against over 2,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation not far from the small village of Long Tan.

On the third anniversary of Long Tan, 18 August 1969, a cross was raised on the site of the battle by the men of 6RAR, honouring the 18 Australians who lost their lives.

Late last year the Vietnamese Government made the decision to hand the cross back to Australia, as a gesture of “goodwill” (following a political incident which barred Veterans from visiting the cross in Vietnam for the 50th anniversary of the event. Just one of those little “incidents” that we must gloss over). It is now on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.


Bagger Vance and the Hunter Valley.

My youngest daughter, the one that collects Bing Crosby dolls, has always enjoyed golf, both as a participant and spectator. Indeed, the downside to living in Australia is that watching any of the truely great sporting events of the world, such as golf at St Andrews or Augusta, means having to set an alarm to set yourself up in front of the box in the wee hours of the morning. In winter. I’ve generally crawled out from under the covers to keep the daughter company and fed.

The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life is a 1995 American novel by Steven Pressfield that was adapted into the 2000 film The Legend of Bagger Vance. It is one of our favourite movies, and one where the movie is an improved version of the novel.


I watched this again last night after a relaxed day in the Hunter Valley enjoying the sunshine and local Seafood Festival. The Hunter, despite suffering from both drought and bushfires, is a prime wine producing area and so a local chardy joined us on the mystical journey with Bagger Vance.


Mystical? Think Field Of Dreams without the ghostly baseball players. Without corn fields. Sadly, without the delish Ray Liotta.

According to Dr Google , “ Steven Pressfield (author) has acknowledged, Bagger Vance, and the story of his legend, are based on the Hindu epic and scriptural poem, the Bhagavad-Gita. In the epic, Bhagavan is the “Supreme Personality” who helps his follower, Arjuna, understand much about war and about life.

Don’t let that put you off!

The story of Bagger Vance, under played for the first time in his life by a personable Will Smith, is told through Harley, whilst dying of a heart attack as an elderly gent whilst playing golf.

He recounts his childhood memories of a golf exhibition between golfing legends, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones during the Great Depression, devised to stop the local Golf Club from bankruptcy. To heighten interest, a local golf hero, Rannulph Junuh, is enticed by his ex girlfriend and beneficiary of the Golf Club, to compete in the tournament.

A couple of issues here :

• What’s with this Rannulph? Is there no D in the American alphabet?
• Rannulph is a shell of his former self, following his experiences in World War 1, having been awarded the Medal of Honour. The horrors he has endured made Rannulph give up his girl, give up on life, lose his swing, and develop an inclination to over indulge in whiskey

Bagger Vance, philosopher extraordinaire, arrives on the scene to caddy for Rannulph, played by a young Matt Damon.

I always felt a mans grip on his club is just like a mans grip on his world

I like Damon. Unlike some of his contemporaries he hasn’t hardened with age. It’s not just the regular moisturising routine; he seems a genuinely nice fella. Recently in my neck of the woods with one of those Hemsworth lads Damon was spotted on several occassions with the fam on the beach. Anyone who throws chips to the seagulls has to be a good bloke, hey…

Back to the game of golf…..

it’s a game that can’t be won, only played, so i play on, i play for the moments yet to come, looking for my place in the field.

With Bagger’s encouragement Rannulph finds his “authentic swing” and an odd game where you hit a ball with a stick becomes surprisingly exciting. And Rannulph even gets the girl in Charlize Theron.

The movie ends years later when Harley, after sharing his memories, walks over to the corn fields to be met by Bagger Vance.


Good little movie, great company, a lovely weekend, and wonderful memories. Always only too happy to support our local (Grape) farmers.


Bomber – As Mad As A Cut Snake

I always wanted a Mercedes Sports car. My father, a child of the Depression, always said that “nothing is handed to you on a plate, Girlie”. The only car he ever gave me was a Matchbox Toy. It was a Mercedes, however. My daughters had to buy their own cars too and both held down part time jobs throughout High School and Uni in order to do so.

My eldest, a slip of a thing, was a tea trolley girl at the Repatriation Hospital where she met some very interesting characters, including Tony Bower-Miles, a Vietnam Veteran. In the Australian vernacular, Bomber, as he is affectionately known, would be best described as rough as guts and as mad as a cut snake. He would also give you the shirt off his back. My daughter grew up surrounded by some hardened old men which meant big, burly Bomber with his beard and six earrings didn’t phase her one bit. In fact this scary looking bloke would assist my daughter to negotiate the wards full of men, mostly vets, many who were in not such good shape.

I’ve recently read Bomber : From Vietnam To Hell And Back. Co-written with Mark Whittaker, who provides the history, time fames and context, Bomber’s running commentary is full of colour, profanities and brothels.


Bower-Miles is one interesting fella. He likes a cold beer on a hot day, is not fond of authority figures, and is as courageous as they come. In Vietnam, where Land mines, in particular US made M16 anti-personnel mines, were one of the major threats faced by Australian troops, much of Bomber’s work involved cleaning up their aftermath. They were often positioned by the enemy and later used to great effect against Australian troops.

“A quarter of all the 504 Australians killed in Vietnam were killed by mines and booby traps. And of those, 55 were killed by M16 mines which were almost all lifted from the Australian minefield.” 

( True story. There is a line in Redgum’s Song “Only Nineteen”, which goes : Frankie kicks a mine the day that mankind kicks the moon. Private Frank Hunt was seriously wounded on 21st of June, 1969, along with 18 others, with another killed, by an Australian land mine.)

Bomber’s commentary is raw, and in no way prettied up, and is both a fascinating and terrifying read. After Vietnam he was transferred to Singapore for a time, and nearing conflicts end, returned to Australia via Darwin, to assist with the cleanup after Cyclone Tracy, which absolutely decimated the northern city. This too gives a different perspective to what we know about this catastrophe – hearing it from someone on the ground assisting with the rebuilding.

His return to civilian life was not a happy one including a marriage breakdown, and Bomber spiralled downwards into a world fuelled by alcohol and violence, exascerbated by pain from injuries that occurred from having been thrown off tanks on several occasions by bomb blasts in Vietnam. Throughout this period he maintained his friendships with fellow veterans in a self styled support system.

And this is where the true measure of the man comes to light.

In 2001, Bomber returned to South East Asia, putting his minefield breaching and clearance skills to work in the task of locating and destroying some of the 4 to 6 million land mines that still contaminated Cambodia. This trip was self funded as were the others that he later took. 

On a shoestring budget, Bomber established the Vietnam Veterans’ Mine Clearing Team. The men were removing mines planted by Pol Pot about 30 years ago as part of his battle for power. The Vietnamese planted mines during their invasion of Cambodia, and some farmers even used the mines to stake their claims.

The problem is none of these are recorded on maps, and walking around Cambodia can be life threatening. It’s anticipated there are about 40-thousand amputees in  Cambodia as a result of land mines. In early 2008 the Vietnam Veterans Mine Clearing Team – Cambodia Inc was registered as an incorporated entity in Queensland. (IA:36313) and registered with the Australian Government Business Register . 

Now that Cambodian Self Help Demining has official status, they work within the rules and that means Bomber and his mates must confine themselves to fund-raising. Interestingly, each of the mine detectors purchased through fundraising for the de-mining operation has a plaque attached in honour of one of the Engineers killed during the war in Vietnam.

Yes, Josie, you are quite right. Bomber is a larrikin and unsung hero, and most certainly, as mad as a cut snake.



20th June, 1909

This time nine years ago I flew into Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. Now some of you may be shaking your heads in wonder that anyone would travel to Tassie in the heart of winter. Located 240 km to the south of the Australian mainland, and separated by Bass Strait, Tassie is simply beautiful with an abundance of magnificent scenery. It can also be wretchedly cold.


But my trip nine years ago had nothing to do with tourism or recreation. You see, I was a girl on a mission.

This day, nine years ago, Hobart celebrated what would have been Errol Flynn’s 100th Birthday, being the township of his birth.(An aside : some would argue commiserate rather than celebrate as young Errol was a bit of a lad and upset many of the boring, old farts of Hobart. Tassie, being the Island that holds the six degrees of separation true is still home to many with a grudge).

Although Hobart couldn’t be any further away from Hollywood Errol’s daughter from his marriage to Nora Eddington, Rory Flynn, was in town to share the celebrations.

I won’t bore you with the details. I am sure that none of you would have been mesmerised by a pair of Flynn’s woollen swimming trunks being exhibited in the Hobart Museum, nor interested in the star laid in the footpath outside the local theatre. Okay, so I admit to being a tad eccentric……..

However, one of my favourite memories was an evening shared with my 23 year old daughter (proving that eccentricity must be genetic), watching a 1938 black and white movie on the big screen. Drinking champagne.

The Dawn Patrol is one of my favourite Flynn movies, which also starred Basil Rathbone and David Niven. Major Brand (Basil Rathbone), the commander of the 59th division of the British Royal Flying Corps in 1915 France, is frantic over the many casualties his squadron has suffered. When Captain Courtney (Errol Flynn) and his buddy Scott (David Niven) lose another of their best friends in a dangerous mission, Courtney lashes out at Brand, who hands Courtney the reins. Now in control, Captain Courtney soon sees things from Brand’s perspective as more good men are killed in the line of duty.


Of course there is all the usual melodrama, and all the baffoonery expected between Errol and Niven, though for a movie with a message, a movie with a tragic ending, it was the simple joy of watching such an old flick together that gave us both much pleasure. And the champagne, of course.

So on 20th June, 2018, “here’s looking of you, kid”. Oops. Wrong movie.

The Inaugural Peter Allen Festival In Tenterfield, NSW.

When I was 21 I experienced my very first overseas adventure. To New Zealand. Yeah, I know, just across “the ditch”. But all those years ago, air travel was still expensive, and ENZED seemed so very far away. It was a great trip, and I loved experiencing the best that she had to offer, though you know my fondest memory of that beautiful country with it’s glorious palettes of blues and greens?

Flying home over the iconic Opera House and the Coat Hanger (Harbour Bridge) in all their glory, surrounded by the beautiful Sydney Harbour, with Peter Allen’s anthem, “ I Still Call Australia Home” playing over the PA system. It was a true Kleenex moment as I sobbed into my tissues……

“I’ve been to cities that never close down
From New York to Rio and Old London Town
But no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home
I’m always travelling
I love being free
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea
But my heart lies waiting over the foam
I still call Australia home”

Lyrics by Peter Allen


Peter Allen was an Australian born singer, song writer and all round entertainer, best known for his wild Hawaiian shirts and flamboyance. Many of his songs were made international hits by other popular recording artists of the day.  To be honest, he was a bit before my time (1949 -1984) though interest in his music continues to grow thanks to the award winning musical based on his life, The Boy From Oz.             ( Personal aside : I’m a Todd McKenney girl, not Hugh Jackman).


Born Peter Richard Woolnough, he is being honoured in the town of his birth, Tenterfield, NSW, in the Inaugural Peter Allen Festival this September.

Of course, I’m going. Accomodation booked. Tick. Tickets to concert booked. Tick.

Tenterfield is a small country town in northern New South Wales where Allen’s grandfather, George Woolnough, worked as a saddler. For 50 years the quaint blue-granite Saddlery on High Street was the meeting place for those who enjoyed a chat. It was the compassion of George Woolnough that attracted so many to the High St Saddlery from 1908 until his retirement in 1960.

On 26 November 2005 an extension of the Tenterfield Library was opened and named the “George Woolnough Wing”.


Allen’s father, Dick, became a violent alcoholic after returning from World War Il and committed suicide by gunshot when Peter was still young, an event from which George nor Peter never recovered.

Young Peter travelled the world and married Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland’s daughter, with the “interesting face”, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tenterfield is home to galleries, wineries, a lavender farm and some hospitable country pubs. This weekend will include market stalls, fresh farm produce, and no doubt, an array of colourful Hawaiian shirts. I’ll let you know how it goes…..

Intention to have good fun?  Tick.

Hawaiian Shirt? NOOOOOO!




My Next Book Collection – “Bony”.

After my fascination with the Tarzan series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, I gained an interest in books by Arthur Upfield.

Arthur William Upfield (1 September 1890 – 12 February 1964) was an English born Australian writer of detective fiction.

Following his war service in World War 1 Upfield travelled extensively throughout outback Australia, obtaining a knowledge of Australian Aboriginal culture that he would later use in his written works. He is best known for the series of twenty nine books featuring Detective Inspector Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte of the Queensland Police Force. Bony is of mixed parentage, with an English father and an Aboriginal mother.

My interest was piqued by an Australian television series from the early 1970’s based on the Bony series of books and starring James Laurenson. Laurenson, a New Zealander in fact, was indeed my reason to finish all homework in record time on a Tuesday evening. Tall and dark, my tastes were nothing but consistent.

Interestingly,  the money guys had to change the spelling to make the title easier to pronounce for the mums and dads at home.  Which just goes to show that having money does not equate to having brains…..


Being a born and bred city lass I was fascinated by the outback scenery on the tv. Vast open spaces, red dirt, the scrub, big blue skies, the strength of the people who managed to survive and thrive in such remote and brutal landscapes: it was all new to me and I was captivated. Not so impressed by the flies nor snakes, this was the birth of my next book collection. I must have kept Angus and Robertson in business in the late 60s with all those Gift Certificates!

Bony maintained my interest for several years, not because of any interest in crime or mystery, but because Upfield included much Aboriginal lore into his novels. As a primary school student my introduction to our indigenous peoples was limited to what we learned from social history books, which was minimal and totally unflattering. Sadly, I don’t think as a nation that view has changed much, though I was schooled never to discuss politics, religion, or sex at the table.


I’ve just reread the sixth book in the series, The Bone Is Pointed, some forty years after my first effort. Bony, university educated, comes across as arrogant, and a tad pompous, and his language stilted and far more English that Australian. All these years later I still enjoyed his Aboriginal tracking skills and the way he reads the lay of the land, as well as the spirituality of our first people.

For example :
The ceremony of bone pointing is a common ritual for bringing sickness among the [Australian] Arunta. The pointing bone or pointing stick is usually about nine inches in length, pointed at one end, and tipped with a lump of resin at the other. The stick is endowed with magical power by being ‘sung over,’ that is, curses are muttered over it, such as ‘may your heart be rent asunder’ and ‘may your head and throat be split open.’ On the evening of the day on which the bone has been ‘sung’ the wizard creeps stealthily in the shadows until he can see the victim’s face clearly by the firelight. He then points the bone in the victim’s direction and utters in a low tone the curses with which the stick was endowed earlier in the day. The victim is supposed to sicken and die within a month at the most. Two men may cooperate in the pointing operation. Spears may also be endowed with magic by ‘singing’ over them. A person who knows that he has been injured, even slightly, with a spear thus prepared will be likely to waste away through fear unless counter magic can be brought to his aid.
–from “Primitive Theories of Disease” by Spencer L. Rogers in Ciba Symposia (April 1942)

Unfortunately, I think Upfield’s books are very much dated with political correctness  madness having taken over our world, but I remember them fondly as a snapshot of an earlier Australia, when rabbits out numbered people, and our forefathers lived off the land.

I guess the really big questions have to be asked : why the heck did I marry (and divorce) a blond?


And who wears a white shirt in the Australian outback?

Answer: someone who has never washed or ironed in their life!


Cheeta and Tarzan.

So I was in dire need of a laugh. Dealing with taxation, superannuation and insurance companies is just no fun at all. Agreed?

Me Cheeta by James Lever is Cheeta the Chimps memoir. Yes, you read that right. Cheeta, the chimpanzee that featured alongside Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan movies back in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Of course you remember Cheeta, don’t you? He and Maureen Sullivan, Tarzan’s Jane, we’re forever jostling for Tarzan’s attention. I don’t believe he was very fond of Ms Sullivan at all.


Cheeta’s role in the Tarzan films and TV series was to provide comic relief, convey messages between Tarzan and his allies, and occasionally lead Tarzan’s other animal friends to his aid.

Cheeta was just a baby when snatched from the African jungle by an animal importer who at one time supplied NASA with monkeys for its space program. He was forced to earn his keep by making movies amongst the fake jungles of Hollywood. Just like many Hollywood stars both before and after him, Cheeta suffered addictions of both drinks and cigars.


Cheeta’s social commentary of the 30s and 40s is what makes this such a fun read. His dislike of Rex Harrison, Mickey Rooney, and Charlie Chaplin borders on plain bitchiness. He shares tales of the shenanigans at Hollywood parties and is quite the raconteur.

But it’s not all Samantha Markle : Cheetah shares his fondness for Mr Weissmuller over their many years together, despite the stars predilection for fiery partnerships, which included Lupe Velez, the Mexican Spitfire, who died with her head in the toilet bowl.


Cheeta outlived both Sullivan and Weissmuller. Retirement in Palm Springs brought him contentment and an interest in artwork.

Well worth the read. I have no idea what is fact or fiction, and it doesn’t matter. It made me forget all that adult stuff for a while…..

The Tarzan books, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, were actually my first book collection. Every birthday and Christmas I would spend any Gift Certificates at the local bookshop on the next instalment in the series. Paperbacks only, and they were $2.00 a book.


And, be honest: who didn’t watch the Saturday afternoon Tarzan movie on the telly?And Jungle Jim every afternoon after school?