Posts Tagged ‘George Street’

The Arrival in Sydney; Dreams, Chevy Utility and Nightmares.

April 29, 2015
Me, Adrian and John after landing in Sydney 1956

Me, Adrian and John after landing in Sydney 1956

The photo above might be one of the first taken after arrival in Sydney. It looks as if we were still on the boat. Notice our Sunday best attire including ties and coats! It would have been hot in February, even so, a good impression on arrival was to be persevered with.  Mum told us to wet our hair and run a comb through it. I always did try to get a slight wave at the front of my too straight hair with the help of a generous blob of brilliantine. I had my own jar.

The on-shore stevedoring workers were dressed in blue singlets and shorts. They could well have thought, while looking up and rolling their ready rub ciggie; ‘here comes another bloody boatload of bloody reffos.’ Definition of ‘Reffo’  ‘a refugee.’  Strictly speaking we were not refugees, but we were all painted with the same brush. European history was complicated and Australians at that time kept things fairly simple. At least we were white.

After the ship’s berth in Sydney we were greeted by our Dutch friends. They had already gone through all those emotions and experiences that we were now bravely facing head-on. My father looked tense while greeting our friends.  Our war-time friends and previous neighbours from Rotterdam were seasoned and well adjusted migrants, who, according to the letters they sent us, were totally happy and content with having made that choice so may years earlier. There were also many others greeting the new arrivals holding up signs with ‘carpenters, painters, bricklayers’ wanted. It was as if one could already start earning money within minutes of landing. Was this a sign of  ‘In Australia, streets are paved with gold?’

Dad must have arranged for our trunks of belongings to be forwarded to Scheyville migrant camp that we were supposed to travel to. The original plan to stay and live with our friends were put on hold. The reason I heard was so that we could first knuckle down to camp life in order to appreciate the better living with our Dutch friends afterwards. I think that might have well been the reason for my dad’s previous mentioned furrowed tense look. Did he smell a rat?

Holland was now almost six weeks in the past, yet had not forgotten the item of a special car. The car was a major drawcard for at least having some interest in coming to Australia. Remember, I was fifteen! Fifteen year old boys are interested, apart from roseate breast, also in cars.  Our friends had written they bought a car that was both a sedan AND a truck. How could that be? I knew that America was a country were all was possible. Australia might well be a miniature version of that magical US. I could not let go of this vision of such a magic car that could be both. A kind of wonderful conjuring trick so unbelievable, so magical. It was all I could think off. Was a button pushed that would change the sedan morph into a truck? In my feverously overexcited mind, everything was possible. After all, did not American trucks drive into every school in Holland giving each child a bottle of Coca Cola? That was magic as well as part of the Marshall Plan to help Europe back on its feet…

Mum On left. Dutch friend on right. Girl Dutch friend's daughter, the rest brothers Frank, Adrian and Herman.

Mum On left. Dutch friend on right. Girl Dutch friend’s daughter, the rest brothers Frank, Adrian and Herman. On right also (late) brother John with Lies daughter of friend.

I remember taking this photo ( and developing). It would have been after our stay at the migrant camp. The woman with the perm was called aunty but wasn’t a real aunt at all, more like a dragon. She used to lock Frank and John up in the coal shed when they had done a number 2 in their pants during their Montesori kindergarten days. I had to walk both home to this ‘aunty’. Mum was in hospital giving birth or something. Doing number 2’s during war time wasn’t unusual. In fact, it was one of those things that at least gave some relief during times of  trauma and bombs.

Our friends had come to greet us not by traveling to the port by this special car but by train. A bit of a blow but it was just the first day. We walked around Sydney with them and that’s when I enjoyed my first milkshake. In Holland I drank milk and had never imagined one could better the taste of cow’s milk by shaking it and mixing it with an unguent such as strawberry or vanilla. But, there you have it. A country of milk and honey, the milkshake was just the beginning. The milk-bar had a strange name, probably ‘Stavros or even Mavros- Milkbar. It was in George Street but not anymore now.

At midday we had to say goodbye to our friends as the buses were now ready to take us well outside Sydney to Migrant Camp, Scheyville.

The Ladies boudoir is just the Bloke’s cabinet

October 22, 2013


Since our return with the Peugeot footrest to Brisbane our bedroom has been a hive of activity. Who would have thought that at our age? No, nothing of the sort. It's been a hive of a non-conjugal activity. It was all kept above the table, decent and no inappropriate behaviour. The bedroom is getting ready for summer while winter is being banished to spare upstairs lodgings. There has been a flurry of clothes being packed away with the new lighter, flimsier and whiter replacing the heavy woollen dark, sombre, winter wear.

An essential ritual seems to be that clothes can't just be taken out and packed away without trying them on again. I was at the same time struggling coping with a new computer that had a system called Windows 8. If you think a GPS is a magnet for trauma; you ain't seen nothing yet. The Windows 8 has a Metro and Apps and no more 'start button.' It take a real genius to make something simple complicated. Suffice to say, I nearly lost the will to keep going. Thank you Mr.Windows 8. You have created a real nightmare.

The theatre of dressing up is nowhere stronger than in the female sex. Trying on clothes by most males is a dread diabolically in contrast to the eagerness of females to 'dress up'. I would rather buy an ill fitting shirt untried than go through the motions of going into a cubicle to try it on. I often wonder what it is that I am so reluctant to shop for clothes. I like wearing nice clothes but the shopping for it sends me in a mood of yawns that, for the sake of my loving partner, I repress by pretending having a jaw dislocation.

I remember years ago an experience of a Unisex nature. Najee, Fashion-House for the discerning male, had a sale on in Sydney's George Street. I wanted to surprise Helvi with a complete new and different man. Well, not a different man, more a man different in clothes. Something just popped up about a 'tiger changing his spots together with someone hiding in wolves clothing.'

I went inside the store. There was utter chaos. Suits made of pure linen at 60% discount, shirts for less than a button. In one corner there was a whole contingent of men taking a break from office work , all in different kinds of undress. The fitting rooms had long been demolished and of course became out of the question. I soon joined the fray, grabbed a beige linen suit, imagined myself a la Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca for Helvi, and was hopping around on one leg just like the rest of them, trying to insert one leg at the time inside the linen pants.

Geez, I was agile then. Now, I am lucky to be able to hop around on both legs! The amazing thing was that the sales girls were just mingling in between the frenzied mob of male customers, all in underpants or even more exciting, sans underpants. No one blinked an eye lid despite the eyefuls that some of the girls must have inadvertently received. Anyway, that was the Unisex event, still fondly remembered.

In any case, and back to the story, our bedroom has had a rejuvenation at the same time as our winter garderobe has been banished upstairs. While at the Brisbane-River market a few days ago, Helvi picked up a beautiful snazzy bed cover. It has a very inviting warm Indian motif and colour about it. The photo above will give you some idea. I asked Helvi to pose (languidly) on the bed for the shot, but she refused. I offered to pose, but as with trying on clothes, males don't easily pose languidly, do they?

Here then is the Lady Boudoir which is not at all like the Man's Cabinet.