Of course with the powder-blue Ford V8 sedan and the family being treated to a few tours around Sydney, thoughts went to try and get to know more about the opposite sex. These were lean times spent with females. Harking back to the Scheyville migrant camp with the very limited and lonely Polish-pubic- bush peek through the shower partition, the experience had exhausted itself. I decided to take the bull by the horn and take some dancing lessons. I had noticed that in some magazines of the ‘boy wants to meet girl’ kind (or the reverse), photos of the boys were often taken while nonchalantly leaning with one foot elevated into the door- way of a car. A photo leaning one footed in the side-car of my motor bike wasn’t all that exciting a prospect for a girl to be taken out in. I mean, on A Roman Holiday the girls rode around on a Vespa but that was a bit different from driving around mute Sydney suburbia and its nodding petunias in an ex-police motor bike, even with a side-car.
The nous for someone with a guttural accent to get to know a girl in a strange country might now have to include a photo of myself leaning casually in my FordV8. Even then, I feared it might just not melt the tigers enough to make the butter. I needed some flair, more oomph, chutzpah even. Before placing an ad in a lonely heart’s magazine I decided to take dancing lessons from Phyllis Bates dancing academy. I had already learnt that the word ‘academy’ was used in Australia with careless abandon. I mean, that word in Holland meant professors and Leiden University or an eight year ballet course in Moscow with the Bolshoi. Here an ‘academy’ could be doing Jiu jitsu , car repairs, or jigging about above a Greek milk bar. In any case, this dancing academy offered a booklet of twenty tickets on ‘special’. In the late fifties and sixties, everything was ‘special’. Even a local built car was Holden ‘special’. You did not have much that was sold being ‘not-special.’ The one thing that remained static and fixed, even till now is, that some cheese survived today, is still sold as ‘tasty.’
The flooding of the love-market was heavily tilted towards single bull necked males with strong gnarled horned hands. They were the ones to build the Snowy Mountain’s Electricity supply scheme, now redundant; the digging of mines at Mnt Isa, now redundant; the cutting of sugar cane in hot Queensland, now by giant machines. I thought that by learning to do a nifty fox-trot or even a quick-step I would have an edge over the Queensland cane-cutters and bulky Bulgarians when it came to getting to know a girl with a lovely smile. I duly took the train to Sydney after donning a clean Pelaco shirt, finely ironed by my mother and a smart Reuben- Scarf suit (two for the price of one). I walked to Pitt Street and clambered the stairs up to Phyllis Bates Academy. (above the milk bar) and presented my booklet of twenty tickets After a ticket was ripped out of my booklet I entered a room from which before I could hear a lively tune being emitted. A very nice cone bra encased woman came to me and after introduction told me she would start teach me a fox trot.
‘ Just follow the painted footsteps on the floor’ and ‘I’ll guide you’. Just start one two…one two….I hopped along but could hardly believe a woman was holding me, I mean a real woman! To think I still had nineteen tickets left. I could hardly contain my pleasure but did notice that most of the dance students were all bulky cane cutter males. The teacher in the meantime said; ‘ you have to hold me in such a way that a book must be firmly held between us and not fall on the floor’. The last thing I wanted for future memories was the misery of unable to even hold the book between me and a female body and suffer the ignominy of a failed book holder while learning the fox trot.
But, where were the girls? So much to come yet.