Posts Tagged ‘revesby’

My first Christmas at Revesby

September 11, 2012

Christmas in cold climates involves snow that covers rooftops and streets. It deadens noise and yet has a sound that defies reasonable description. Perhaps the closest is when in olden times and at funerals of kings or queens, the drums and sticks would be cloth covered and the rolls became muffled. This gave somberness to the occasion fitting the importance of the procession of the uncontrollable grief sobbing of thousands following the coffin. Not that I can actually remember ever having followed a queen or king to a grave, nor having witnessed grief sobbing of thousands, but it reads rather nicely, don’t you think?

For me the Christmas was the time for our dad installing a real Christmas tree which was always a prickly spruce bought a few days before. The tree would be decorated with candle holders that had to remain reasonable upright having to carry the weight of the candle. This was always tricky, especially when the tree aged and dried out and branches started to hang.  The tree was supposed to last till the three kings met the fallen star. Now, my religious memory might be a little hazy or unsteady, but was this a period of 30 days? Anyway, in our family the tree would be exploited till the very end of festivities. This was usually when snow had melted, the toys either lost, eaten or broken, and we had to go back to school.

Going back to the candle holders and hanging branches. It was inevitable that we would experience a dying dead and tinder dry spruce on fire. My dad in his pyjama and early in the morning got up out of bed and without a word, grabbed the burning tree, opened the window and hurled it outside from three stories high. The burning tree ended up in the chicken coop belonging to the tailor living at the bottom floor, much to the consternation of the chickens. Those living at the bottom floors were always the envy of the neighborhood because they had a garden and could keep chickens. We had been playing with matches and had lit the candles, one of which had sagged and started licking the dry branch and needles near it. I think that the burning Christmas tree might well have been the catalyst for my parents’ idea of migrating elsewhere.

After the ensuing migration and settling in Australia’s Revesby our first Christmas was different. The spruce morphed into a pine with long needles and for us less gracious looking. My dad went about decorating the tree, but now very wisely, changed to electric lights. Instead of snow (and muffled drums) there was heat and flies. The congregation in the church smelled of beer and there were huge moths flying about the size of small birds. There was a hellish noise coming from the bark of some giant gum trees in the next garden which, at that time still had an old farm house on it. At night we were bitten by mosquitoes. We missed the snow!

Later on, and after some years, we learned to associate the noise of cicadas, the giant bogong moths and the smell and cheer of beer and prawns, the glass of a chilled Barossa Pearl with mum and dad, the friendly neighbors with the pouring of foaming beers from brown longnecks and the sticking of Christmas cards through venetians to be part of a Christmas just as joyous as the ones left behind. As kids we soon got tents and started to discover beaches and Blue Mountains, 22 rifles and rabbits and some years later, motor bikes and sheilas with concrete ‘lovable’ bras. Dancing lessons from Phyllis Bates and The Trocadero in George Street. My first ‘dipping of the wick’. The Christmases’ became associated with all that and more.

It is just different, that’s all.

My old ‘Stamping’ around Revesby (Selamat Makan)

May 11, 2012

The old ‘Stamping’ will never stop. (This NOT from le salon des ABC refuses)

Isn’t it sweet and proof of the conviviality of the readers including those ‘Pigs Arms’ patrons that my writings are never purely judged by its spelling? There I was happily ‘stamping’ away at my old ‘stamping’ grounds of Revesby being haughtily dismissive of lawns and petunias. And yet, with the dawning of another day and with more words urging me on, I remain humbled, (doing a Rupert Murdoch)  by the kindness and tolerance of the readers, not only allowing me to dwell on these pages, but also being presumptuous enough in thinking those words worth reading, including the ‘stamping’ around.

Perhaps this stamping around in suburban Revesby has some basis in happenings at earlier times.

I was given a stamp album for Christmas in 1948. I have kept it ever since but no stamps have been added since 1956, the year of our arrival in Australia. I started saving postage stamps as soon as I could walk (my mother told me). They used to include stamps from all over the world. It became far too complicated and I decided with my new album to concentrate on The Netherlands and its colonies instead. The colony of Indonesia (former Dutch East Indies) was then tottering on the edge of becoming independent under Sukarno and I remember tens of thousands arriving in Holland taking with them the world’s finest cuisine and different cultural habits. Many could not hack the colourless Dutch climate and its relentless damp weather and moved onto Australia. This eventually resulted in many Indonesian restaurants popping up in Sydney and elsewhere. One of those was called Selamat Makan in Victoria Street, King’s Cross.  Much later another one opened up in King Street, Newtown ‘The Safari’. I can sometimes still taste the spicy ‘Rendang’.

The date of this Christmas gift stamp album from my parents of 1948 is written on the front page in lovely long- hand writing. Do kids still learn long-hand or has that gone overboard as well? The world of the abbreviated language is now much in vogue, with C U LTR or LOL with ROLFING being bit more expansive. I remember in the late fifties the start of texting with the 4 SALE signs arrivals in front of second hand car sale yards stretching mile after ugly mile on Parramatta Rd, Sydney.

Going back to my album,   I used to get a yearly stamp catalogue specifying and updating the latest stamp issues and, more importantly, the value of stamps. The value of some stamps, depending on the numbers issued, would drastically increase as the years went by. I kept a little book with their updated values. Sadly, while I still have the album somewhere, the book of updated stamp values has gone, disappeared. Perhaps my parents chucked it out or left it behind in our house at The Hague together with the lovely tropical fish aquarium and all those Neon-Tetras.

Now, with the likelihood of more years past then coming still, the inclination to dwell on what has been, have to be resisted somewhat. The temptation to finish up being called ‘a boring old fart’ by many will surely become the incentive to look afresh at the ever changing world and its many colours. There is no other way and so many words might still be queuing.

Of Mother’s Day and Hammer and Sickle.

May 8, 2012

Share Mother’s Day with us at Bunnings. (Bring the kids)

It’s hard to believe, but that’s what the blinking sign said. We came home late from Sydney and drove past that sign at Mittagong. ‘Barbeque and jumping castle will be there’, was added for good measure. It just never stops, does it? The barbeque, of course, was meant to entice the forever hungry male partner, the jumping castle for the kids. Nothing was left to chance. It had all been worked out after weeks of doing surveys and conducting polls.

Grey’s advertising team had been working on this campaign (feverishly) and with a $600.000 budget was expected to come up with the goods. The ‘goods’ being a gross return of at least $20.million for that single day of the year spread around Sydney’s suburban stores. There was a palpable buzz of excitement around head office in the days leading up to the big event. Office boys were recklessly flirting with the typists and a team leader had even been so brash as to put his hand on the shoulder of the manager in charge of bolt-cutters and wrenches divisions. This time, she allowed his hand to remain…- Bolt cutters and wrenches are big ticket items for Bunnings, hugely profitable, and at least as big as bananas are for Woolworth. – She was hoping for a bonus and thus allowed his hand to linger longer than she would normally tolerate.

I can never think of wrenches and not come to a smile. Every time we catch the train to Sydney we go past my old stamping ground of Revesby. Not that there ever was a huge ‘stamping’ going on at Revesby in the late fifties, unless of course you consider crawling over a lawn and picking at the grass or staring at petunia beds from behind the venetians enormously  riveting.

However, Revesby is well known for its Workers Club. Many famous artists have performed there including The Bee Gees and Diana Ross. Even today some of the best gigs sooner or later appear at Revesby’s Workers club.  The reason for my mirth when the train passes Revesby is its large cement and white painted emblem at the front of this huge building, high up the façade, facing the railway. It has a hammer and a wrench crossed over. I can just imagine the numerous meetings held by Revesby’s Workers club management, trying to iron out how to put a recognizable face to the club. Clearly the word ‘Workers Club’ indicated an affiliation with ‘workers’, but, at the same time, there must have been some in management hesitant to use the ‘hammer and sickle’ emblem. The symbolism of that emblem could too clearly and too soon be perceived as a possible reversal to communism.  The club certainly did not want to miss out on the thousands of Eastern European migrants having arrived here as a result of the ‘hammer and sickle’. After many meetings and heated arguments a good compromise must have been reached, hence, the crossed over ‘Hammer and (plumbers) Wrench’. A good compromise, don’t you think? One foot in capitalism and yet, still a small lingering and hunkering of that other ‘social’ world.

Have a happy Mother’s Day. (Think of buying mum a rubber plunger to unblock the drain)

My first Christmas at Revesby

December 23, 2011


Christmas in cold climates involves snow that covers rooftops and streets. It deadens noise and yet has a sound that defies reasonable description. Perhaps the closest is when in olden times and at funerals of kings or queens, the drums and sticks would be cloth covered and the rolls became muffled. This gave somberness to the occasion fitting the importance of the procession of the uncontrollable grief sobbing of thousands following the coffin. Not that I can actually remember ever having followed a queen or king to a grave, nor having witnessed grief sobbing of thousands, but it reads rather nicely, don’t you think?

For me the Christmas was the time for our dad installing a real Christmas tree which was always a prickly spruce bought a few days before. The tree would be decorated with candle holders that had to remain reasonable upright having to carry the weight of the candle. This was always tricky, especially when the tree aged and dried out and branches started to hang. The tree was supposed to last till the three kings met the fallen star. Now, my religious memory might be a little hazy or unsteady, but was this a period of 30 days? Anyway, in our family the tree would be exploited till the very end of festivities. This was usually when snow had melted, the toys either lost, eaten or broken, and we had to go back to school.

Going back to the candle holders and hanging branches. It was inevitable that we would experience a dying dead and tinder dry spruce on fire. My dad in his pyjama and early in the morning got up out of bed and without a word, grabbed the burning tree, opened the window and hurled it outside from three stories high. The burning tree ended up in the chicken coop belonging to the tailor living at the bottom floor, much to the consternation of the chickens. Those living at the bottom floors were always the envy of the neighborhood because they had a garden and could keep chickens. We had been playing with matches and had lit the candles, one of which had sagged and started licking the dry branch and needles near it. I think that the burning Christmas tree might well have been the catalyst for my parents’ idea of migrating elsewhere.

After the ensuing migration and settling in Australia’s Revesby our first Christmas was different. The spruce morphed into a pine with long needles and for us less gracious looking. My dad went about decorating the tree, but now very wisely, changed to electric lights. Instead of snow (and muffled drums) there was heat and flies. The congregation in the church smelled of beer and there were huge moths flying about the size of small birds. There was a hellish noise coming from the bark of some giant gum trees in the next garden which, at that time still had an old farm house on it. At night we were bitten by mosquitoes. We missed the snow!

Later on, and after some years, we learned to associate the noise of cicadas, the giant bogong moths and the smell and cheer of beer and prawns, the glass of a chilled Barossa Pearl with mum and dad, the friendly neighbors with the pouring of foaming beers from brown longnecks and the sticking of Christmas cards through venetians to be part of a Christmas just as joyous as the ones left behind. As kids we soon got tents and started to discover beaches and Blue Mountains, 22 rifles and rabbits and some years later, motor bikes and sheilas with concrete ‘lovable’ bras. Dancing lessons from Phyllis Bates and The Trocadero in George Street. My first ‘dipping of the wick’. The Christmases’ became associated with all that and more.

It is just different, that’s all.