Loitering at Bankstown Square

Rhubarb & Apple crumble

Rhubarb & Apple crumble


It is re-assuring, even extraordinary to find our government advising the elderly and those in frail health to try and stay cool. Those that do not have air conditioning and are on the streets the advice is to seek shelter inside large shopping malls. The relentless heat-wave is taking its toll. Hundreds are taken into hospitals. Bush fires and alerts are keeping people on their toes. Ambulances are racing from collapse to collapse of bodies. Things are a bit nervous again, just when we felt it safe to get out again after the anxiety and bustle of Christmas. Images on TV show some nursing homes with the elderly sitting with their feet in cold water. Try and stay cool and well hydrated!

The loitering of pensioners or those who cannot afford running air-conditioning at large shopping complexes is a well known fact. It saves money not having to switch on cooling devices at home, even if it is just a fan. One is dry and comfortable. I often see the elderly in the comfortable surroundings of those huge shopping malls watching the world of the shoppers go by. There are large settees or arm chairs. Sometimes a surreptitious nice nap doesn’t go astray either. A splurging out of a fifty cent soft ice cream from the Big Mac. emporium. It is all taken into one’s stride. It passes the time. Time is what is in abundance here. I often do exactly the same while H. scans the latest in fashion boutiques you will find me keenly watching, observing and taking a terrific well earned shut-eye. Making a rhubarb crumble does take it out of you.

To stay ‘well hydrated’ is yet to be followed up with ‘drink water’ and avoid sugary drinks such as Coke or other sugar laden liquids. Of course alcohol is totally wrong. No, nothing of that kind. Just imagine the revenge of the Soft drink and Alcohol industry. Governments must tread carefully. A balance between health and survival and assuaging the holy Market is of the essence.

It reminds me about how my mum used to go to Bankstown Square back in the fifties and sixties or so. However, her aim for survival was the opposite. It was to get warm. Back in The Hague we were shown waving palms and Mosman suburbs with a very fit post man dressed in Omo white shorts leaping over fences delivering the post to sun-drenched gleaming white toothed wives standing next to a glorious white painted picket fence.

That first 1956 winter in Revesby in the grey asbestos fibro garage with the frost millimetres away from our noses underneath the blankets. The kerosene heater came next winter. Mum coping with a family of six all huddled together listening to ‘Smokey Dawson’ on the Bakelite radio. It was the Thursdays when our pay packets would be handed to her. We needed desperately to get enough money for a proper house. Even the proper house after a couple of years, was still clad in the same asbestos- fibro and still the undeclared frosty winter.

Mum did the only thing available to make the best of it. She made sandwiches and filled the thermos with hot coffee and escaped on the bus to Bankstown Square. It was the first large shopping centre to open in Sydney. It was headline news with marching girls, flags were out, jubilation of an entire nation. Bankstown Square was warm and had a buzz about it. There were crowds of people. My mum was a social creature and would strike up a conversation in her half Dutch half mangled English. Bread would be delivered by the ‘bugger’. She somehow never learned to say ‘baker’, instead just called him the Dutch ‘bakker’ pronounced ‘bugger’. ” Hello bugger, three loaves today, dank you well”.
Even today it still makes me LOL.

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17 Responses to “Loitering at Bankstown Square”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    We used to have a kerosene heater too. I remember it well. We could boil a pot of water on top of it!
    You describe it well, how good shopping malls are for the elderly during a heatwave. Well, we have no air-conditioning, only fans. But before you’ll find me in a shopping centre to cool down, the temperature in our house has to go close to 40 C. I rather take frequent cool showers at home and stick to drinking plain water than having to endure the type of music one is usually bombarded with in shopping centres.

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Well, today it is 40c and we are again going to escape into the air-con. cinema. This time ‘Railway Man’. We will have a choc top vanilla icecream as well. Lucky our place inside stays reasonably cool as we double insulated downstairs and upstairs ceilings.

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  2. berlioz1935 Says:

    During those early days in Australia we were freezing more here than in the worst of times in Germany. From half a foot away you could feel the asbestos suck the warmth out of the room. One day a week, perhaps Wednesdays, we listed to a radio station in Adelaide, a 1000 km away that transmitted music from Waikiki Beach on Hawaii. This illusion made us feel warmer. At no other time were we able to get the Adelaide station. That was really weird.

    We went shopping a lot at Bankstown Square during the eighties. There were a couple of German butchers, one inside and one outside in the Mall.

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  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    There was a fantastic butcher in Kings Cross called ‘Hans’ . At that time H and I were living there for a few years after our marriage in Finland. I think he was German, had all the smoked and cured meats that one could dream about. Queues used to line the food path. I still remember the lovely smoky smell.

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  4. Andrew Says:

    Well observed as always Gerard. We used to describe taking a nap as ‘examining the inside of our eyelids’. The bugger made me laugh.

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  5. Rosie Says:

    Enjoyed your memories again. Ah – kerosene heaters – remember them well. Australia builds terrible houses with no insulation in the walls – no wonder we need heating and cooling. Straw-bale homes are beautifully insulated – but unfortunately most of the population requires a McMansion with no insulation. I see Spain’s main source of power is wind-power! When will Australians stop listening to mainstream media and realise that with solar and wind power we will be way in front. And the wool from sheep, which we now never make into clothing, could be used for insulation. Guess I have gone off track here – but no-one in a country as wealthy as this should suffer from the heat or the cold in their own homes.

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  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    Someone also pointed out that Roselands opened before Bankstown Square. Anyway, Bankstown for my mum was closer than Beverley Hills to warm up.

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    • Rosie Says:

      I thought I remembered Roselands opening first as I am an old Beverly Hills girl. Roselands was built on what was a golf course – I remember walking over that golf course late on a Sunday evening with my two Uncles – long time ago.

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      • gerard oosterman Says:

        From memory Roseland had some kind of tropical rain forest theme. There was a curtain of a waterfall running down plastic wires suspended from the ceiling down to a pool at the bottom.
        Did it also have a Scandinavian restaurant. We went there with another couple and I had ‘chicken in a basket’ with garlic bread rolls wrapped in foil. It had a stage and a singer was crooning away for hours during the evening.
        It was also the time of couples having fondue evenings. Strips of rare beef would be dipped in hot oil heated by a little candle or tea light underneath (or was it by methylated spirits) Our fondue set was perched on top the kitchen cupboard for many years till we chucked it out.

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    • Rosie Says:

      yes – I remember the waterfall very well.

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  7. Lottie Nevin Says:

    I think calling the bread man, a bugger, is delightful but clearly only something that you can get away with if English isn’t your mother tongue! I’m sure I’ve made some hum-dingers with my Spanish, I dread to think what mistakes I’ve made and am still making. We could do with a bit of your heat here right now. It’s only just above freezing during the day and falls well below during the night and it’s very grey and wet. Bugger the weather!

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It was very hot again but we escaped to a movie and with a choc top ice cream, we made the best of it. Afterwards to the Royal for a couple of schooners (old).
      Sorry to hear it is cold up there. I thought it was kind of sub-tropical in Andalusia. Hope you got some heating going. Never mind, it will soon be spring.
      Look very much forward to your next adventure. Give our regards to Snout.

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