Posts Tagged ‘Mum’

The Frugals have gone.

April 18, 2018

Image result for Early wooden barrel Westinghouse washing machines

Our washing machine in Australia.

 

Do people still know anyone who is frugal? History tells us that in the past it was normal to be frugal. The Frugals wore clothes till they worn out and kept the best for church or funerals. They darned socks. Does anyone still darn today? A needle with woollen thread was used till the hole went. You don’t throw stuff away because it has a hole, or because it becomes unfashionable. The frugal gene in Australia really became embedded after WW 1 followed by the great depression of the late twenties/ thirties. Generations of frugals would switch off lights not because of saving the environment or global heating but because it saved money. The best way to survive was to become a frugal.

The period during and after WW1 meant the decimation of many Australian males which left an almost doubling of young females keen to find husbands. However, to add to the misery of male shortages it was also rare for females to work, and earn an income. Females just did not work on payable jobs but slogged away at home on the scrubbing board and darning socks.  I know this because that’s what was done in my family, although we, even while still in Holland, managed to have an electric washing machine; an early Westinghouse. That was in the early fifties, when economies started to grow and blossom, making people better off. This electric monster of a washing machine with its oak steel-hooped drum was shipped over to Australia after Mum and Dad decided to migrate there. It was admired in the whole street and worked ceaselessly for many years. It was another proof of sensibility and ardent frugality.

It was perhaps the Korean war and after the Vietnam war that the frugals were starting to loose their grip on domestic frugality. The expenditure on useless consumer gadgets started to raise its ugly head. This was followed by ‘easy terms’. Everything was obtainable through easy terms. It thoroughly corrupted my Mum who foolishly bought a Sunbeam electric frying pan on ‘easy terms.’ Dad followed with buying a B/W TV for an enormous amount of money to be paid over three years. Can you believe it?

Even so, frugality somehow survived. It was the hippy movement with Hair that desperately tried to hang on sensible frugal living with the urge to resist mindless consumerism, but that was overcome by Governments and the invention of huge public hoardings, urging us to buy Instant Coffee with 43 beans or Lovable Bras that could ‘lift and separate’,  nurturing spending, and corrupting us in the belief that the endless buying of things just for the sake of buying was good enough and gave lots of Happy to the chagrined.

All this of course is what happens today. During the previous epoch of frugality, houses, kitchen and bathrooms were not seen as items to be updated. Appliances would last forever. Now, the last of the Frugals, look on in amazement, and disbelief  how the baby boomers hurl themselves into four wheel drives and build monster MacMansions. Do they really come from the same gene pool. How did this happen?

The surplus of women after WW1 meant that those that missed out snaring a hubby, started the frugal movement with many sharing meagre incomes and bitter loneliness by living together, mostly in a non-sexual way.

However, as always the pendulum swung the other way with the arrival of tens of thousands of single men enticed by gloriously coloured Australian Governmental advertisements to work the mines in Australia in the forties till the sixties. Many of those from Europe still enjoyed rock solid and well entrenched frugal genes instilled too by same wars and economic depressions. My parents,  even though Dad did not have blond or blue features nor single, did have a knack for the butter to be spread thinly and for his children to always switch off the lights leaving the room.  We worked ‘over-time’. Over-time paid ‘time and a half’, Sundays paid double. I liked working on Sundays. Mum would be most generous in her Papal dispensational discourse for us not having to go to the obligatory Sunday church and earn double instead. We saved to white knuckled bones and pooled our moneys. It was enough to get into our own home within two years. Proof of frugality that paid off.

There you have it. Since WW1 and within, at best three generations, frugality now has swung to rampant consumerism throwing all caution to the wind. To the present generation, darning socks and the Singer sewing machine, they are relics many would not know about, nor the delights of unknitting an old jumper and re-knitting the wool into a pair of slippers. All gone.

The young and good consumers complain how difficult it is to get into the housing market. Yet, they feel it a normal right not to go without what they regard as essential; the café breakfast with avocados, the overseas holiday, the latest Apple iPhone. I have yet to see a young girl on the train with threadbare jeans sewing them up or knitting.  Where are the young knitters to save for a house?

The last of the Frugals are now shuffling into retirement homes. Some brave souls you see driving around, all bald, knock kneed or grey, having hitched a caravan to the SUV, travelling around Australia, whooping it up, perhaps for their very first time.

I remain amazed.

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The story of Bookshelves and Yassmin Abdel Magied’s demise.

July 12, 2017

Image result for yassmin abdel-magied

 

Apart from Dad’s struggling with the Victa lawnmower and keeping the kerosene-heater’s wick trimmed, he also bravely accepted the lack of books. He once asked in his usual contemplative tone; ‘Gerard, have you seen any books about in our neighbourhood?’ I must admit that at the age of enjoying my first hormonal drives at sixteen, I hadn’t thought much about books. I was a keen admirer of Jules Verne in Holland, but he slipped away after arrival in Sunny Australia. I had to make and work over-time, save money for the future. My Father followed his previous remark up by his observation that, at Mrs Murphy next door, he hadn’t seen any books at all. ‘Mind you, we have only seen the kitchen so far,’ he added optimistically.

It was mainly through my Mother’s persistent and holtz-hammer method that we had even achieved this penetration into neighbour’s next door’s kitchen. It were those minor achievements that made life bearable after our arrival. My parents keenly trying to make a home in what turned out for me to be a most dismal suburban few years. If ever a far flung Sydney suburb shone in neatness and pride with its occupants soaked up in total fenced-off privacy it was Revesby’s McGirr Street in 1957.

We had involuntary chosen to live in the epicentre of  lives , that can only be described, as being agonisingly slow, lived in extreme political ‘niceness.’ It was out of ignorance more than choice. One had to settle down and own home was a fever that still sweeps through Australia as I write.

It was painfully normal and desirable but I could not understand its bleakness. The struggle after arrival was to quickly buy a home, and if possible this home had to be close to a railway-station.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-11/yassmin-abdel-magied-says-she-feels-betrayed-by-australia/8699138

The lack of book issues that Dad grappled with did not really get resolved. I suppose it must have faded in his memory after their return to Holland in 1974. Like salmons flopping upstream to return to their spawning grounds, Mum found again the familiarity of her Dutch neighbourly cosiness and Dad his bespectacled friends peopled by books while questioning Dostoevsky or the bitter Holland weather. In his old age, he once reflected that it just wasn’t the lack of books but that the available book-shelving that he finally spotted in the New Country were used to store garden herbicides or rat poison, with tools for keeping the grass short , all ready for the next assault on unruly weeds which were kept for the ready on the back-veranda.

And now in 2017, decades later, has Australia  grown wiser more inclusive and accepting of differences? Have the kitchens of ‘give and take’ opened up? No one certainly needs to feel deprived of garlic, and the kebab has taken a strong hold at country fairs, even as far away as Coonabarabran. The meat pie however is under threat and in our town of Bowral it was felt by the Municipal Council to hold a week in which to praise and celebrate the meat pie in order to re-invigorate its proper culinary position at the head of the dinky-dye Australian dining table. Time will tell, but some fear the worst and are nervous.

Our PM certainly tells us we are the most tolerant and most culturally diverse nation in the world. Most of us have foreign blood surging through our veins, but, he does also direct us to not go all funny and foreign after arrival. We do need to genuflect and hold to the True and long held Australian values. We must not allow too much foreignness. Foreign blood ought to be directed and channelled to follow well proven roads and he urges us maintain certain ‘values.’ One of those values that must not be tangled with is the Anzac Value. The value of war and battle fought during the world wars. The battle that defines us most as a people and a country must never be forgotten. This is the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.

History tells us coldly, this battle was a disaster and Churchill should never have given this order. Today it would most likely be seen as a war-crime. Australians were massacred by the thousands… and it was totally avoidable. Of course, it is argued that those thousands that died on those salty Turkish beaches should never be forgotten, hence, ‘Lest we forget.’ One of our true Australians, Yassmin Abdel Magied agreed, but  thought as a considerate and passionate believer in justice for all, that we should also include in remembering the plight of those in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and  Manus and Nauru. This was seen as a breach of being good and true ‘Australian’. It was heresy. You don’t muck about with Anzac day, it seems.

After weeks of bullying and pestering, with posters being plastered about for her to be ‘taken-out’  and that she should be deported or at least sacked, her address, phone and Facebook taken away, she finally had enough and plans to go and live in England. She claims that Australia is only tolerant if one ‘toes the line.’ It seems that the extreme semi- literate racists Pauline Hansons,  and Jacqui Lambie are the really nice Australians.

Yassmin is a trained engineer, female, a Muslim Australian, well educated and speaks better English than the previously mentioned racist politicians. She is an asset to Australia and a beacon for tolerance and inclusiveness.

What a great pity and loss for Australia.

The question is; Where does this hatred come from?

Is a sugar-tax cricket?

March 20, 2016
Still in The Hague. My parents

Still in The Hague. My parents

 

The last few weeks have been trying. Getting a book to fruition during a heat-wave is nothing more than self-flagellation. Readers might remember that it was suggested to change back the Father and Mother words to Dad and Mum. This was done via my newly advised and learned Word- processing trick, by instantly replacing all the words in the whole book instead of trawling through the whole manuscript, word by word. It even lets you know how many Mums and Dads were changed. There were new issues about ‘keeping Mum about a secret, ‘changed instantly into ‘keeping Mother….’

Of course, during changing from Father& Mother back to Mum and Dad (for the second time,) when writing about an episode of a budding artistic career involving hand painting Friesian Grand-Father clocks with windmills and sea-gulls in endless flight, it changed into Grand-Dad clocks. It still meant going again through it all. How does one remember having used words in a totally different context or co-joined? Just as well the Catechism wasn’t written. ‘It the name of the Dad, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

My good friend, Paul in Balmain offered to format the whole caboodle.  When it was mentioned more changes were likely to come, he stopped. The formatting formula whereby pages get numbered, photos with descriptions or titles underneath introduced, sub-headings appearing, the different fonts  and so much more, would all become hay wired when any changes are made. It does mean it finally has to come together as good as possible. And, all this, with not excluding serif or sans serif, is making an enormous demand on keeping sane.

It has now come about when opening a book the emphasis is on any mentioning and checking the fonts, both the size and look of the letters, spaces between paragraphs, the inclusion of ISBN number, catalogued with National libraries, the back page blurbs. Dedications and grateful murmurs to all sorts of helpful people. The issue of laying claim to copy-right. Issues of privacy and possible libel. Do people who get their manuscript published continue writing and reading?

Most publishers want the first few chapters and a bibliography. Others want the whole manuscripts ‘print-ready.’ Some want one to study the books they have published and write a synopsis of this or that book.

My goodness. One could have been a good surgeon, or prominent lawyer.

Rest assured that all is well. Just now I have made some cuts in potatoes, added chopped garlic and pepper and wrapped them in alfoil. Did the same with some carrots and shallots. For a few weeks all our cooking has been done outside. We sit in the shade with Milo chasing lizards. We chase some Shiraz instead and wait an hour or so when the spuds and carrots will be almost cooked. We put on the salmon cutlets with some red capsicums that have been sliced.

Voila, a perfect solution to book publishing fatigue. And…not a single spoonful of sugar is used. Poor old England, the sugar- tax bogey man is coming. People are starting to hoard sugar in their cellars. Soon, like smokers, sugar ingestion will be done on street corners behind newspapers or in dark alleys. People will try and stir in the sugar when no one is looking.  Husbands will be suspicious of wives coming from the larder. What is the world coming to…a sugar-tax!