Posts Tagged ‘Pride of Erin’

For the week-end. ( A Willy Willy)

November 23, 2018
Image result for A Willy Willy

The journey of acquiring my first car, the trip to learn in a rhythmic tempo of moving thighs, the Fox trot and the tempestuous Austrian Waltz aided by with Phyllis Bates dance lessons, would now surely also include a first date? It was on the cards long before any of that. Growing genes and rocking hormones does all that for us, irrespective of will and choice. The world is full of people now as sure proof of this.

The Vic’s cabaret at Strathfield was a large hall that had a raised podium on top of which to house a small orchestra. The ceiling was high and made of weatherboards painted a stark white as were the walls. There was seating on both sides with ample wooden benches. On the opposite side of the entrance the benches were occupied by the girls but on both sides of the entrance and opposite the dance floor all the boys. It provided a clear view of both sexes to study each other. The boys were much more blatant, the girls much more coy but also darting quick looks across assessing possible dancing partners.

In the middle of the ceiling was a large rotating ball which held little mirrors that threw fascinating effects around the walls and floor adding excitement and an atmosphere of expectation. I mean those flickering images and the music added to a letting go of inhibitions which of course is a requirement of daring to dance with another body, let alone another body of the opposite sex.

All boys and girls on entering were looked over and sniffed for any hint of alcohol. They were strict on that and that was good. All were stone sober so all initiatives to a dance were of free will and cold choice, no chemical help of any kind. My brylcreme with artificial little Kookie hair-wave and the Pelaco shirt was about the only external aid I could use. It must be remembered that at the late fifties and sixties Australia was swamped with young man and this created a shortage of women.

However, if a man had car it would give him a bit of ‘a leg-up.’   I had a car; what’s more a Ford V8 single spinner. But, I could hardly go up to a girl and say,” Hello, my name is Gerard and I have a big V8, would you like to dance?” With the abundance of men and shortage of girls on the dance floor, many a refusal had to be lived with. The “no thank you”, had to be overcome time and time again. It was also true that at that time the girls were more attracted to the true blue Aussie male. The foreigners had strange accents and eating habits, often far too polite and formal, shaking hands and all that stuff, taking the girls back to their seat after the dance.

However, there was one sure way of getting to dance. It was the ‘Pride of Erin’. This was a dance were a kind of circle or Conga line of boys and girls was formed in equal numbers. It took some time to organise but the excitement was at fever pitch. Everyone loved the Pride of Erin. Many a boy was straining at the leash. This was the time to strike out and get a date. The music started and I remember well the tune. It was ‘ What’s the matter with kids today?’ I soon got in my stride and swirled like the best of them. I tried an air of utter nonchalance and even practised the Australian ‘could not care less’ bravado. You only had seconds to strike out for a date but with the second round and same girl one could get a rapport going that hopefully would result in a date and exchange of addresses afterwards. (Of course texting was decades off let alone sexting or incriminating selfies. Now people have amazing sex through vibrating IPhones or Tweets.)

To cut the story short and after many a visit to Vic’s and endless Prides of Erin, I did manage a date. I took her to Woy Woy which the week before had been struck by a Willy Willy or tornado. It was the best I could come up with. I could have gone to the Blue Mountains but to stare at a mountain-view sitting inside a car might be fraught with some aspects of awkwardness. I felt touring around the devastation of roofs having been blown off and boats blown out of the water could offer a distraction and something to talk about. There was also a very famous artist living in the area and I thought it might be worthwhile to drive past his house and possibly have something to talk about.

The day wasn’t a great success. The talk wasn’t flowing. I tried history and Dresden with WW2, the state of neglect of our cemeteries, ( we drove past one)nothing worked and she kept saying ” oh, that is lovely, and oh, thank you’ over and over. It was difficult. We stopped on the way back when she finally said something; “I would like a malted milkshake”, she said. I think we stopped at Hornsby after the Ford V8 blew a lot of smoke going up a very steep hill when crossing the Hawkesbury river. We sat in the milk-bar and slurped the milkshake. She was really sweet and very shy. Perhaps it was her first date as well. I did not want to ask because it might indicate a kind of unpopularity with boys. It is such a delicate time. I drove her back to Coogee where she lived. The door was opened by her dad. He was a huge tree of a man, and looked me over. She fled inside after another ‘thank you’.

It was my first date.

The ‘Body Corporate AGM meeting with imposing Table.

August 20, 2013

If your life ever gets to a point where you need to take a break from neck breaking activity, intellectual (pouring over nothingness) or otherwise (pouring concrete), consider going to meetings, especially official meetings. We went to one yesterday, and I have never felt more ready for action than afterwards, any action.

As we entered the meeting room some people were seated already. There was a nod and a formal murmur of ‘morn’ from people that we see almost daily. Do AGM meetings make people change into frozen officious beings, trapped into a pre-destined kind of ‘meeting type?’ The metamorphosis from ‘normal being’ to ‘meeting being’ happens as soon as one is within the range of a large oversized table with the ‘minutes of the last meeting’ distributed out for all the members to ruminate over. The table is so large and intimidating that all seated around it immediately appear much smaller than usual.

The sensible thing to do would be to appear incognito. I wondered what the reactions would be appearing in my Batman Outfit, mask and all. A hushed silence followed with a move away from my chair? Would procedures cheer up a bit? I cannot fathom the rigidity of the ridiculous format that AGM’s or any meetings really seem to adopt.

No wonder they don’t work. There is never an excuse for doing things the most stifling, the most mind bogglingly boring way. Do they hold meetings like that in Cuba or Bali, Mexico?

Anyway, someone asked if there was a ‘quorum’ present. Yes, someone enthused. Ok, let’s start with the agenda. No, not yet. Why not? We haven’t passed the last minutes from the last meeting. Ok, they are now passed. No they are not. We haven’t asked if there are any objections to the last minutes. And so it goes on and on and zzzzzz…

Item 1 on the agenda is the report on Fire Hazards and archive fees. Ah great, really, really great stuff, can’t wait for Item 2.

May I ask you for a dance? Shall we visit the local morgue, a bit of tap-dancing, feed the ducks?

No; Item 3 now. Anyone thought of passing Miscellaneous Expenses?

Would you like to dance (with me)?

March 20, 2012

It is quite possible that the question directed to those of the opposite sex and on the opposite side of the dance floor did indeed include my words ‘with me’. I know that memories can get a bit blurred but not to the extent of the ‘with me’ not having occurred.

I can’t for the life of me understand what was going on between the sexes all those decades ago, but getting a girl to dance was fraught with all sorts of handicaps and barriers. I have always blamed my nose for it all. The family joke that Gerard’s nose came out first and he grew onto it later on, was always difficult to counter. It wasn’t till puberty that I changed the story of my nose to something more pertaining to a masculine protuberance further south.

While the size of noses might have been troublesome in order to get the girls to accede to the dancing requests all those years ago, there was an added nasal disability to overcome in my case.

Many years before and in Rotterdam during a particular severe winter I suffered a nasty fall on the frozen canal near our house. Somehow, the sleigh got stuck on the down-hill slide and I was catapulted onto the frozen ice. My face and therefore my nose hit the ice first. My mother told me I was to be kept in a darkened room for six weeks. I remember that a man kept telling me, your nose will be alright but just keep still and stay out of bright light. My mum reinforced the doctor’s advice with,”just keep eating your porridge”. I hated porridge with a vengeance (lumps) and it was only when ladled with copious Golden Syrup that I would try and get the revolting sludge down. Why eating porridge would help my recovery, especially in the nose area, wasn’t delved in with any great depth and no explanation was ever given. I spent the 6 weeks brushing up on all the books about Dick Trom.

Of course, the Dick Trom adventures were hilariously funny because, as the illustration clearly showed, Dick Trom was a fat little boy with short legs and dressed in wide shorts clearly exaggerating his obese and funny shape. It would be a Herculean task to write comedy involving a fat little boy now! At that time his fatness and my nasal plight seemed fair and, at least balanced things out a bit

I did recover finally but my nose had taken a left turn. This left turn resulted in the right nostril to show up much larger compared with the pinched nostril on the left which had to accommodate the left turned tip of the nose as well as retaining its breathing in and out capacity.

Now, before I get back to my dancing requests, please consider the following historical anecdotes of dancing protocols. Dancing in the fifties and sixties was strictly segregated. The boys with the brilliantine seated on one side, the girls with their concrete re-enforced bras and pleated skirts on the opposite side.

That’s right; both sexes would be seated in long benches opposite and parallel to the walls. With the starting up by the trumpeting band there would be a forward surge of the boys, who (being seated parallel and opposite) had already perused the girls on the other side and had narrowed their choice to the girls with the loveliest smiles and the most voluptuously concrete filled bras.  In the confusion, often more than one boy would be spearheading for the same girls. The girls had to be on their qui vive as well, avoiding as much as possible the nerds that they had just as much right for in avoiding….It was tit for tat alright and all a bit of a nervous scramble.

My forward surging was done with much more care and consideration. I was acutely aware that going across the floor with the first throng of all the others would likely result in failure. You can imagine a seated girl being asked to dance (with me) and when looking up would be confronted with a disproportionate set of nostrils.

I had long given up on being seen as a ‘knock about bloke’. The knock about blokey-ness of my obvious migrant background was just not there. Everything about me was Dutch, guttural and Euro.

I took my chances during a dance whereby the whole floor got up and rushed towards the middle. The Pride of Erin was the dance extraordinaire whereby everyone would swirl around a couple of times before changing to the next partner. You just could not miss and sooner or later you would get a turn with the girl of your choice!

Still, the question of “Would you like to dance”, (with me), has now disappeared. It’s all strobe lighting, staccato jerking about, passing crack-ice or meth with a nice Mogadon.  No more Fanta- no more Pride of Erin.