The lead (run) up to marriage. (Auto-biography).


Boiling the 'billy' at Ankeriasjarvi at -20c

Boiling the ‘billy’ at Ankeriasjarvi at -20c


The words have been lean  lately. The school holidays are the bane of and blame for, lack of words flowing. I am too much of a me, and more of a me person,  to try to put down words under difficult circumstances. Multitasking falls to those who are unselfish and can spread goodness and sweetness around no matter what.. They even do it better. I forego flowing words in order to make pancakes or fry speck for the kids. It could just be an excuse to take a break. Regroup! I am not a multi-tasker. Ask my wife!

Do words not deserve a holiday? I mean you can tell words are suffering when you hear people say ‘awesome’ and even ‘absolutely’. Just now I heard on the news, something needing ‘a paradigm shift in attitude’. The popularity of ‘stuff like that’ is on the wane. Thanks to our PM, T. Abbott though, there has been a resurgence of ‘absolutely’ and making things ‘crystal clear’!  Saying ‘obviously’ twice in each new sentence is now being patented by Tony Abbott our Rhodes scholarly Prime Minister of funny sayings, absolutely!

The school holidays usually involves both good and bad. The good is self-evident. To have domestic life with sound of children. Pillows on the floor. Tripping over shoes that somehow find themselves in front of your step no matter what direction you take to the kitchen or bathroom. Despite of shoes, it was  fine to have them around again for a few days. They are a font of delightful expressions which any writer would use and exploit. They are both still verbally agile and imaginative like most children are. I pray they keep this and not allow it to be knocked out by maturing into stiff and compliant adults. You know the kind who feel that the ability to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is enough to get you through. May be! But a good ‘fuck you’ and ‘piss off’ to bullying adults might stand them in just as good a stead. What is in a word? A lot!

As the painting contracting got more and more colourful, with  teams working all over Sydney, the post Italy period was put to good use.  I bought an apartment in King’s Cross. I did not actually live in it. I let it out and used the rent to pay the mortgage. It proved to be the most prudent move of my life. I also continued on with painting pictures. I had taken a painting course locally in Parramatta. This was the suburb some years before where I used to meet fortnightly as secretary of the  ‘Parramatta scooter club.’  Readers that held on to my blog would know this club disintegrated when Vespas and Lambrettas did not see eye to eye. There was even someone with a Norton 500 cc single cylinder motor bike allowed to join up.

The painting course was run by Ronald Peters, a man who abhorred what was going on at the NSW art gallery. Modern paintings were being hung and crowds would peer at them incomprehensibly. They did not make any sense to him either. He warned us to avoid modern paintings like the plague. He taught me to start with sky; ‘a dark blue at the top of the canvas and lighten the colour as you go down’ he said. ‘It will create distance.’ Gum trees always featured. ‘Put some dappled highlights on the bark’. We were urged to follow  his own painting at the front of the class. Step by step! It was the period when D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s lover was still banned and Portnoys complaint whispered about on corners by men wearing rain-coats, some years later. Today, publishers are wringing their hands. Readers are secretly and under the blankets, reading words on kindle, freeloading, copying and swapping!

Book shops now are closing down. Readers are becoming sparse and Borders have shut shop. Celebrity and sport books are still being sold and some bookshops are offering three books for the price of two. I see the smiling open mouthed Jamie Oliver still staring out at Super Markets, but for how much longer? After all those years do people still need to know how to cook a T-bone? Milan Kundera, who heard of him? A cricketer was killed by a ball some weeks back and his wife was offered a state funeral!  No such offer for Patrick White though some years ago.

I gave the landscape class a miss even though I was surprised how nice my pictures looked. The dappled effect on eucalypt bark very much liked. Some of those little paintings I took with me in a suitcase on my way to  Helvi’s Finland. For a few months I did an art course with John Olson and Robert Klippel. Both were at the revolutionary edge of breaking away from the traditional art scene in Australia. Their work created heated scenes at art galleries with people trying to take them to court. Clashes of traditional art lovers with the young and anti Vietnam war protesters. A portrait by Dobell was taken to court on the grounds it was a caricature. The artist won.


the rented cottage at Ankeriasjarvi.

the rented cottage at Ankeriasjarvi.

Our letter writing to and from Finland increased and not just in numbers. Exchanges of photos and sweet whisperings became intensely loving. The tyranny of distance could only be overcome by a boat journey. Helvi still needed to do a few more exams but I proposed anyway, and…she accepted. How glorious! I remember it well. Exultation followed by booking a boat to Genoa in 1965.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24 Responses to “The lead (run) up to marriage. (Auto-biography).”

  1. berlioz1935 Says:

    Your musings are a delight, Gerard. The photo of the “cottage at Ankeriasjarvi” is awakening my own memories of winter. The stillness is palpable. You are touching on many themes, but life is a big canvas and it is good to look at the whole picture instead of focusing on one thing to find fault.

    Australia is still a good country to live in and I hope the Australian electorate will come to its senses and will blast the Abbott government out of existence. Without hope, we could just give up.

    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It was a lovely cottage and it had a large wood burning stove which was used for cooking and heating. To reach the cottage we had to take a train from a larger town and walk around or across the lake. It also had a sauna and water was obtained from a well.
      It always amazed me that the water in the well never froze even in temperatures that would freeze surface water within seconds.
      I think Abbott is now going to face a challenge from Turnbull. I do despair if the liberals get another term.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. auntyuta Says:

    This post is delightful, Gerard, I want to make this absolutely ‘crystal clear’: That is, I like your writing very much!
    -20c, this is really something. It reminds me, when Peter and I were newly married in Berlin, in December of 1956, we had only one rented room. Briquettes for the stove we could buy only after having been on a list for a certain amount of time. The outside temperature was well below zero. Imagine how we survived the freezing conditions in our bedroom as a newly married couple! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Auntyuta,
      When Helvi accepted my marriage proposal I asked her to give her measurement of ring finger. She sent me a piece of cotton the length of the circumference of her finger. I kept that string for many years. Could hardly believe that she accepted. She is so beautiful.
      The engagement ring was of silver. (H doesn’t really like gold) with a small diamond.
      I am sure you would have kept Peter nice and warm during the cold Berlin winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bkpyett Says:

    Delightful, from the shoes of grandchildren to love letters! Enjoyed it all, including your ‘crystal clear’ Abbottisms. He has to go, but i do think the Labor Party will have to change leaders too….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    Very entertaining as always. Did you guys send telegrams as well?


  5. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    This post needed a certain mental agility to tackle both wide-ranging subject matter and geographical location – very entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Hilary. I create a mental image of the editor’s puzzled look if not of despair, especially after reading the bio of someone admitting to taking grammar and syntax holidays.


  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Love the varied subject matter Gerard. I tripped over grandsons shoes directly into Helvi’s backyard, with quite a lot of interesting art classes in between. Very nice seque.


  7. rod Says:

    Yes, words do deserve a holiday. We can pack them in our cases and take them with us, along with the medication. Excellent post. When it comes to modern art it seems to me the emperor often has no clothes.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Well, that might be true. But…Pollocks ‘blue poles’ is now supposed to be the worlds most expensive painting. It was bought for a bit more than a million.$s. The good citizens of Australia were outraged when it was bought.
      It is now insured for over $600 000 000.-


  8. elizabeth2560 Says:

    Wow! That was a great distance to conduct a romance. You must have surely loved (love) each other very much.
    It must be strange looking back to the times before you were together.


  9. Andrew Says:

    Such happiness in your finale, Gerard. Any interlude is amply compensated by the next chapter.


  10. Patti Kuche Says:

    -20 maybe but so much warmth!


  11. sedwith Says:

    I’m sorry to expose your mistaken belief in your incapacity to multi-task Gerard but… this post is indicative of your capacity to do just that! You have taken on just about everthing you could from the psychology of singular focus vs multi tasking personalities, to the value of writing breaks, through the lack of current language depth, to the paradoxical nature of political leaders with celubrious educational awards who cant string two words together without repeating a trite phrase or banal cliche.
    You then depart for a brief spin into the value of insult, slide into memory of zippy transport and clubs that find they need to diversify in order to survive and in so doing lose any original ‘meaning’, slip into a commentry on the recent history of fine art and art education, followed up with pointers to a contemporary analysis on the loss of literary pursuit and attacks on modern capialism via internet exchange and sidestepping payments to publishing companies. But no, not done yet… move into commentary on commercialism’s product placement meme’s and the loss of basic capacity to cook a simple meal without a so called expert flogging you a premade product or escalating ‘Basic Cooking 101’ to the exalted heights of celebrity.
    Still you procede, determined to include the win of ‘progress’ over blind anal retentive determinism in the art sphere, followed by the determination of love over the tyranny of distance and finally….the joy and excitement of travel. Glorious multi faceted piece.
    You always …leap empty handed into the void and I love it…more to come. You’re only up to 1965!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      This is a reply worthy of an applause or at least a bunch of sun- flowers with a fine spread of white baby’s breath.
      Thank you Lesley; a very fine summation but wasn’t aware of this while writing it.
      It is a precarious hobby to throw words around, not really knowing how or where they might fall.
      Thank you for that lovely letter.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: