Another short episode ..


And speaking of Monash, as I did in my last post, I am in no doubt at all which job I was holding down at the time when an incident sort of peculiar to me arose ..

I’d been employed by a man who was, I think, the Union Manager; and if I have his title incorrect, I can only clarify it by telling you that everything within the Monash Student Union was under his ægis.

Ming Wing on right; Union Building on left. The extent of my world at Monash.

He had been a little dubious about giving me the job of maintaining the student newspaper office, owing to my being only a couple of years older than most of the students (and in one or two cases, the same age as the happily perennials). He apostrophised me rather sternly about this, adding in emotionally blackmailing terms that he had high expectations of me with regard to not getting ‘involved’ with them.

But I was thinking of a plan
To feed oneself on batter;
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter.

Lewis Carroll aside, I was thinking how much I looked forward to having lunch in the staff dining-room; and assured him grandiosely that no such intertwining was ever going to occur ![1]

For I had recently followed some diet or other – a matter of swallowing copious numbers of capsules that would never be sold over the counter after that year, I believe (1967 we’re talking) .. amphetamines of some kind, they were – very successfully; and I was, for me, almost slim ! I had a dressmaker who made me terrific clothes, and I intended to wear them all to lunch with the staff.[2]

In my fashion, I made quite an impression; for I was not the normal kind of administrative young woman to be found within the pale halls of academe, I suppose. I have always had the ability to make people laugh and was, in my youth, mostly a centre of attention kind of person. Lunch in the staff room became a bit of an event.

My boss the Union Manager was told of this – by an infernal busybody who should’ve had much better things to do ! – as he sat in his office in the Union Building, little thinking that I was across the way in the Ming Wing, up there on the somethingth floor, having a whale of a time. His expression became grave when it became known, and he Sent For Me.

I swanned in to his office in my burgundy velvet corduroy suit with a black silk blouse and black shoes (good grief ! – I actually remember this !) and lounged in a chair opposite his desk. His expression became graver.

“Margaret Rose ..” he started. Then he stopped, realising he hadn’t thought it all through, and would have to lecture me on the fly. “Margaret Rose ..” he said again: “I’m not sure that the Lot’s Wife office manager is considered to be .. ahh .. on the same .. um .. level as the rest of the University staff.” He shut his eyes.

He should’ve put his fingers in his ears.

I was offended. Rightly so, I think; for my staff standing had never been discussed with me – that I, a full-time staff member, was seen only as a hybrid .. and even as some kind of pariah ![3]

I let my feelings on this injustice be known, perhaps a little loudly as has always been my wont. He opened his eyes to wince. It seemed I had hit a nerve.

When I’d wound down, having exhausted my self-pity, he put both hands on his desk and stood up, looking down at me.

“Very well,” he said; “you may continue to lunch in the staff-room .. but only if you promise me to behave and not make a spectacle of yourself. I have been informed” he added quickly, before I could say anything, “that you have been up there flirting with the male staff-members .. This is to cease, do you understand ? I do not want to hear another word concerning you from the staff dining-room; and if I hear even a whisper about your extravagant behaviour I shall be extremely displeased !”

I was dismissed, and went off down the wide Union corridor, past the large student canteen[4] and back to the newspaper office, where I pushed someone out of a game of 500 and didn’t soothe my temper at all by losing an 8 no trumps bid (my reluctant partner hadn’t wanted it anyway, and wasn’t able to help at all, the loser).

[Aside: I say ‘reluctant’ because all the students would tread on their own feet in their eagerness NOT to partner me in the endless 500 games that the newspaper office was home to. I played the game like I drove a car – intolerantly and with much bad language when anyone made an error[5]. Fortunately for me, there was a small group of pretty good players – PK and Tank and Phil come to mind – and I could let my tongue rest when they were around.]

I didn’t go back to lunch in the Ming Wing for a few days.

And when almost a week later I turned up again, the first person I saw was the infernal busybody, who had the unmitigated gall to shake his head at me.

And the second person was a not-so-young man, a hail-fellow-well-met kind of bloke who fancied himself with the ladies. He was standing half-way down the room when he turned and saw me. A huge smile followed and he threw his arms out in an I-am-going-to-hug-you kind of way and bellowed, inviting everyone there to share in his welcome of me ..








[1] Such a lie this turned out to be ..

[2] No, do not attempt to find any sense or logic here – you’d be wasting your time

[3] What, me exaggerate ??

[4] Alright alright ! – the large canteen for students ..


A short episode in the life ..


Once upon a time there was a feisty young woman in her 20s who lived in Melbourne and worked as the Office Manager – sort of – in the Monash University newspaper office (the newspaper was called Lot’s Wife; but she was never able to find out why). Or, to be honest, she could have been working in the Accounts Department at GTV Channel 9 .. or it’s even possible that it was at Go-Set ! – whose nose ?   :\

She/I was living at this time in a 3rd-storey flat in St Kilda: the flat’s address was something-or-other in Barkly Street; and its bedroom window looked north, directly down to St Kilda Junction. Back then the Junction was a much, MUCH simpler version of what it is now: it was a star of roads comprising St Kilda Road, Fitzroy Street, Punt Road, Barkly Street and .. and— oh yes !, Queens Road. The St Kilda tram, which was then the No. 8[1], came straight up St Kilda Road before turning directly right into Fitzroy Street. Believe me, the Junction was really easy to travel, even if you’d never been there before – nothing like it is today !! And it was a hive of activity, with people coming and going, on foot as well as in cars, and getting in and out of several different trams; and there were some deli-type shops there.

Having travelled to work (whichever place it was) and home by tram many times, I’d reflected on how clearly anyone doing the same could cast his/her eyes a bit upward and observe anything that was happening in this room – but of course, nothing ever was ! Well, not when I was there on the tram ..

A tram in these times. No doors: just canvas blinds when it rained  ..

The flat was not new, not by any stretch of the imagination. It had doors with globe-shaped and always dented metal handles that never worked, sash windows that had to be practically jemmied up or down, carpets that had seen better – oh, so much better ! – days and— but I’m sure you get the picture. It was also two-bedroomed, with the second one used to store anything I hadn’t got around to unpacking; for I did move about fairly often.[2]

So. One hideous day my boyfriend of the time said I needed to take on the girlfriend of his best mate as a flatmate. ACK !!! I have never been a sharing kind of person, and the prospect did not thrill me one bit. My merciless grilling of him as to why resulted only in his saying that I should be kind – be nicer than my temperament appeared to be making me, for she was in trouble with her landlord. Oh btw: you should note that in the late ’60s young people didn’t usually live together; which fact meant that Sue and Ralph were not in the one establishment (nor Mick and I). This wasn’t for reasons of the morality of the youngsters – gimme a break ! – but the pseudo-morality of the fucking real estate agents: and it wasn’t worth the hassle of maintaining that you were married.

It wouldn’t be for long, Ralph said – just until she could find another place. I allowed him to quell my suspicions on this point, and started clearing out the second bedroom. A few days passed, and then it was time for me to try to behave like a nice person and make Sue welcome. I faked it so well that the two blokes were happy, and Sue was apparently convinced of my readiness to have her there.

She settled in. It transpired that she was making zero effort to find herself a new place, and I came to realise that this was on account of my brilliant acting ! – why would she bother going somewhere else when she had this cushy pad with so willing a sharer ?

I ground my teeth, and started plotting her end.[3]

Back then in my palmy days, I used to sleep without anything on – simply because being a little rounder and therefore heavier than some, pyjamas or a nightie would become rumpled and ride up; and I would become so irritated[4] as to have to arise reluctantly from my interrupted slumbers and remove whatever it was.

Well .. a couple of nights later, after we had shut down the telly and retired to our respective bedrooms, I fell asleep very promptly. Some time later – I never did ascertain the exact hour – I realised I was awake again, and cold, for through my window a heavy-ish breeze had sprung up. Bugger ! – I’d have to get out of bed and shut the window.

I threw off the sheet and stepped across the space between the bed and the window, meaning to push the bottom – the outer pane – up to the top of the frame: the inner pane was sitting sedately on the base of the sill and the bottom one six inches or so up from the base, overlapping it. It was dark: no-one would see me ..

I pushed the inner pane up enough to be able to get at the bottom of the outer one, thus reversing the two panes’ positions, and heaved.

Nothing happened.

I heaved harder, kind of rattling it right and left while doing so ..

Still nothing. The bloody thing didn’t move an inch.

I stood back, shivering and covered in goose-flesh, and considered the situation. There was no way I was going to get a carpenter at that hour without having to pay for him myself – and that was out of the question. Nope: I was just going to have to persevere myself.

So, suddenly inspired, I climbed up onto the sill (they were wide, those old sills) and bent over through the top gap, putting my fingers under the bottom of the outer pane, and SHOVED. How I shoved ..

And it moved !!

In fact, it came up like lightning and seized my left breast, pinching it inescapably between both panes’ tops !!!

I gasped. I shouted involuntarily ..

There I was, completely naked, standing on the window-sill bent over like a hair-clip. I had time to wonder what the back view must be like while I struggled painfully to extract my left tit from the window’s grasp.

And then Sue, awoken by the strange sounds of my struggles, came into my room and TURNED ON THE LIGHT.

My language – you would not have wanted to be there ..

Having screamed at her (even though I couldn’t see her) “Turn that fucking light off NOW !” and found it hadn’t happened, I let fly with a few well-chosen epithets and a sprinkling of less witty insults, and eventually the room was once more in darkness. The people down at the Junction who must have greatly enjoyed the show were deprived of the entertainment and dispersed, committing it to memory in order to be able to spread it around the suburb ..

Having instructed my flatmate to get the lanolin from the bathroom, I was before long able to get myself out of the window’s clutches and stepped down from the sill, greasy and enraged. Sue had left the room as soon as handing over the lanolin.

This .. erhmm .. event was all that was needed to effect the separation for which I had yearned from the moment of our starting to flat together: she was so mortified by the insults I had hurled at her via my arse that she packed up and left the next day. No idea where she went; and as Mick and I broke up very soon thereafter her departure didn’t cause any recriminations.

Thank all the gods ! – I’ve never been forced to share with anyone again.

Except, of course, for the best 31 years of my life, spent with my beloved, original, witty, CLEVER, able, kind man – and the best chef ever – my husband.

[1] Or maybe the 12 ? 16 ? You don’t actually care, do you ?!!

[2] Nono, it’s true, no matter unwilling you are to believe it .. [grin]

[3] In my flat, I mean.

[4] Yes, another almost incredible thing ..  :D

So that didn’t go over well   :\

Not a lot of point bashing out more of my latest magnum opus – it weren’t received with anything I could pretend was great enthusiasm. Entirely your right to consider what I post as fatuous garbage, of course; and I shan’t even make snide references to your lack of taste.   [grin]

I could run a short story or two by you instead – one at a time, I mean .. My next move, following that – should it prove as unenthralling as the other – would be to fold my tent and sneak away ..

They’ll be true short stories; I’ve long since admitted that fiction is beyond my meagre writing abilities.

Now to select from the list of weird or amusing events the ancient brain can recall .. Yous can stand down, pro tem.


Another load, but a small one !

How to be Old and Silly


“Hm. Not sure I’m all that keen.”

“Well fuck you then ! I could scarcely guarantee to write stuff that tickled your fancy, could I ?!”

Lofty ignoring of my heated response and a thoughtful countenance ..

“There’s something missing.”

“There’s ninety-nine point nine per cent missing, dickhead !”

Pained expression.

“No need to sink to that level of vulgarity. This has to be sorted out.”

A silence fell during which one of us looked intelligent but puzzled and the other looked offended but guilty. It lasted so long that I was thinking of just wandering away, when ..

“AH !! – THAT’S IT !!”

“Is it ? What ?”

“Your title isn’t being supported – isn’t being .. umm .. followed up.”

I cocked my head at a slight angle (ignoring the hideous cracking noises that always follow any neck movement, these days) and did my best to appear quizzical without saying anything: I raised what remains of my eyebrows.

“You’ve called it HOW TO, remember ?”

“I do, difficult and all as that is ..”

“Well, there should be some aspect of the development that teaches a kind of lesson. Hang on, let me think of an example .. Yes ! – pretend it’s that alphabet book !”

O joy ! – an opportunity to show off ..

“I suppose you’re referring to A Moral Alphabet by Hilaire Belloc ..?

T for the Genial Tourist, who resides
In Peckham, where he writes Italian Guides.
Learn from this information not to cavil
At slight mistakes in books on foreign travel.

I recited, smugly, adding “But I can hardly copy that !”

The expression became pained, as did the response:

“What I have in mind is not copying, my dear ! – rather, learning from. Let us say, studying then utilising in your own way.”

Scales fell from my once short-sighted eyes, soundlessly.

Second load of stuff ..

How to be Old and Silly


Well .. Seems there’s no fool like an old fool, don’t it ?; but I stepped onto the path to ancient silliness at an almost tender age.

It was around the time of leaving what had been my home of 18 years – Pyrmont, in Sydney. I’d lost Chic ten years before; and in fact my staying in Emerald City for ten more years might be said to comprise the first paving stones: Sydney and I without him were never going to get along. Alas ! – that departure did not see me make my way back to my spiritual home: I went, instead, to live in Geelong, down on the south-west coast of Port Phillip Bay.

There was a reason: a very dear friend, next-door to whose family I had grown up, over in Perth, was now living down there with his own extended family; and I knew all of them, so thought it to be a sensible idea. But then, every decision I’ve ever made I’ve thought of in that light, initially ..

I started out renting a unit in a suburb with the odd name of Manifold Heights. (Being already very adept at using Google Maps with all their street views and satellite views, I was aware it wasn’t a suburb full of car repair premises or the like; but I never did ascertain the background of its name.) I lived in it for around seven months before breaking my lease to move on.

Note that fact: it marks the beginning of my somewhat astoundingly peripatetic renting history ! I recall very clearly having three dear friends to dinner, one evening many years later, who were amusing themselves and me very greatly by deciding that I should become a contestant on the ABC’s quiz show, “The Hard Quiz”. The programme’s angle was that contestants had to come prepared to answer questions on a topic chosen by themselves; and M, L and J made us all fall over laughing by nominating my topic as “Places I have rented — and why they were no good” ..

So on to the edge of Geelong proper – referred to as the CBD by some – I went, moving into a newly-constructed ‘residential’ block that wasn’t, actually. In fact it ended up being a kind of off-campus ward of the Geelong Hospital; and only we on the top (fourth) floor were residents. This was a very silly situation indeed: we found ourselves being told to remember where we were: that there were sick people around us: that we were not to let doors slam or drop anything. I lasted here for almost the same length of time, then begged my way out and at least didn’t have to pay horrendous lease-break fees.

My very old friend had fallen victim to Alzheimer’s. It was horrible: he was so gentle and sweet a man, and so little deserved such a fate. I proved utterly useless at helping to look after him: the fact is that people with dementia need help that involves things like going to the loo, so that only his family were able to be useful in looking after him. I just kind of floated about on the periphery being an anxious waste of time. They all managed very well without me; and my reason for going down to Geelong was done away with in about a week.

But there I was; and I could at least afford to live in that burg, on my own. So I set about unintentionally finding out almost everything about that: in my first three years there I moved no less than six times ! Manifold Heights, Geelong CBD, St Albans Park, Herne Hill, St Albans Park (yes, again – I liked it !) and finally North Geelong. And there was one prime reason for it all: DOGS.

Not all dogs: just big dogs left at home to be bored SHITLESS by their selfish and careless owners all day. Yep, you’re right: the fuckers barked and barked and barked and barked and .. get the picture ?

And there was I, who wanted nothing more than to be left alone in peace and quiet, preferably with my feet in the sun, to crochet. After all, I had discovered that there were people in the crochet world who could crochet garments, and I wished to join that blessed league. But could I ? – I could not. All I could do was fulminate ragingly about the dog currently rendering my life hell: there was at least one in every single place I lived in. Every. Single. Place. They didn’t need to be next-door to make my life a misery: they could be as far away as in, say, the next street; or the block behind. Because wherever they were, with their great hairy balls and their huge mouths wide open (they were always male dogs), they were heard for a very, very long way. And as for why it seemed that only I suffered, it was because it was only one old broad who was home all day: all the rest were much younger and still working: I couldn’t afford to rent in the classier suburb, so was always living where this was the situation.

Had I done my research better – including rental costs – I might not have thought that I could probably do OK down in Geelong. But, being already silly, I had not. Sighh ..

Enough whingeing, d’you think ? Or want more (I can always accommodate that) ? Be of good cheer: I shall attempt less than you’ve had so far in the next episode.

Well, here goes nuthin’ ..

How to be Old and Silly


“Ridiculous !” I said firmly: “yer off yer face !!” – there you go: nipped in the bud.

I added a little gilding to the lily: “I mean – another one ?! No way !! – I only ever had that single story in my head.”

Silence. A vague gazing out the window.

“And it wasn’t exactly a best-seller ..” I pursued, defensively (and accurately); “in fact, this year I’m not even getting a brass razoo for library usage !”

My interlocutor came back to life: “All the more reason for you to write another one.”

I sighed dramatically, and cast about for something sensible.

“It’s all very well saying that people would want to read about how to manage getting old,” I said, “but honestly – how many books about that have been written alrea—”

“Find a way to write about it differently then ! How about with humour ? Are there any out there written from experience but with humour ?”

And, with glee: “Actually, how many oldies could even write a publishable book, for starters ?”

“Probably thousands” I muttered darkly.


“Well, lots ..”

More silence. The cumulous clouds of pressure coming together under the ceiling began to multiply, showing ominous signs of turning into the eye of a hurricane.

I sighed again. This time my shoulders were bowed.

“Oh alRIGHT ! I’ll tell you what .. I’ll give it some thought and see if I can come up with any ideas – or maybe some kind of storyline, OK ?”

Slow nod and the conversation was over.

How in the names of all the gods did I manage to let myself be rolled like that ?!


How much do you know about the Voice ?

I’ve made it a link, as well, because as it is it’s kinda teeny.

Here I am being disagreeable, right ? – wrong.

My first reaction when the Voice issue started being topical was that I was very pro. But I’ve changed my mind after reading a shitload of information like this piece that comes from the Financial Review.

I suggest you click on the small version up there of the article, and go read the legible version.

It ought to open your eyes.

The Guardian‘s Perth reporting shows laziness

I was appalled to read an article in today’s The Guardian about a shark attack – and not just to note the awful tragedy ..

Growing up living on the Swan River, we did, from time to time, see sharks – one noted with dread that dorsal that stayed steady above the water, and not coming and going as it was with the fun-loving dolphins. But I have no memory at all of hearing that anyone had been killed, or even wounded, by a shark in the river.

So the photo in the article AND the text are shameful, indicating a total lack of knowledge regarding Perth’s layout and an unwillingness to simply check facts.

Check the locations of North Fremantle and The Guardian’s photo !

North Freo was known as dangerous for sharks, as it’s so close to the Indian Ocean’s exit point for the Swan River: why the young women were riding jetskis there is fairly questionable.

Be that as it may, I did a measurement of the distance between it and the Perth foreshore, finding it to be nineteen kilometres, allowing for the Point Walter spit in Freshwater Bay.

19km is an irresponsible distance for a respectable newspaper to raise terror about the likelihood of sharks, imnsho ..


The same newspaper edition includes this super short article by one of my heroine writers, the wonderful Helen Garner.

Same age (almost – she’s half a year or so older ‘n me) and same search: what is happiness ? I wrote a poem on the subject in 1970: she wrote this article. I’m a total failure at most everything, and she’s a roaring success. See ? – we’re soulmates. [grin]

Wonderful writing, WONDERFUL narration

It’s rarely that I come across both in audio books; often find impressive writing and good narration, and equally often find OK writing with terrific narration.

But of late I discovered the writings of a bloke called Peter Grainger; an English writer of my favourite genre, British police detective stories. I never tire of them, for some reason .. There are already many favourites in my audiobook library from Audible: Nick Louth, Angela Marsons, Anthony Horowitz, Robert Bryndza, Dylan Young and the totally excellent Tim Sullivan – which is not to mention Richard Osman’s superb series about The Thursday Murder Club !

(I wish I could understand why I am so keen on detective stories – really good ones ! – but I’ve thought and thought about it and not come up with a reason.)

Anyway, back to Peter Grainger and his narrator, an actor with the improbable name of Gildart Jackson. There are many actors doing audiobook narrations, and they are mostly very good at it; but Jackson is much better than that – he is simply superb at taking Grainger’s words and putting into them .. well, feeling. Not corny ham-fisted ‘acting’ feeling – just the feeling that the words want to express. I am in love with his reading.

And, of course, I am also in love with Grainger’s plots, character development, series development and – EVERYTHING !

Three series, and I’m on the fourth and currently final one of the Kingslake series. Before it came the DC Smith series (it’s his name, the “DC”; so you will comprehend my partiality for him) and now there is another which I’ve bought but have yet to read (hooray !), the Willows & Lane series.

I can only hope that this writer and this narrator will continue on, hand in hand so to speak, into my future – what remains of it – as do Jodi Taylor and Zara Ramm, or JD Kirk and Angus King.

Waxing philosophical

Whenever I visit one of my favourite songs – and boy, there are lots of ’em ! – I have cause to reflect upon .. well, Life, I guess.

Here’s one I never tire of (but then, I never tire of any of said favourites): it’s from 1978 as you will guess from the outfit. Alicia Bridges was a knockout !

I look at her while I’m listening and think how terrific she looks: what fantastic shape she’s in – those legs ! – those arms ! And, of course, she sounds equally good, imnsho. What a time she must have had when that song was doing the hit parades and the discos ! How fêted she must have been ! She would’ve been referenced world-wide for the movie “Love at First Bite”, too – which was rendered madly popular by this song (and possibly also by the rather yummy George Hamilton).

And then there is — now ..

What must it be like to have had a life like that and to find yourself suddenly – because age always comes suddenly – on the cusp of 70 ..?

I have to be grateful for never having been beautiful or talented; for the come-down that ageing brings must be almost infinitely worse for those thus blessed ..