Posts Tagged ‘Zorba’

Mikis Theodorakis and Greece

September 4, 2021

The composer

The Composer of world renown, Mikis Theodorakis has passed away and I morn his departure. Most of us know him as the composer of the music in the films Zorba the Greek and the thriller Z. 

He was also a staunch defender of freedom and strongly opposed the military Junta for which he was jailed several times. I put here an interpretation of his music by our own indigenous dancers which I keep on posting because I think it is such a marvelous video to watch and admire.

They performed in many places including The Art Gallery of NSW, but this is the original version of it and in my opinion the best one.

My memories of Greece are of the same time as the birth of the Theodorakis song and dance Zorba, and it was during our trip by boat to Australia in 1966 that we landed in Athens (Piraus) during summer. It was hot and we had booked the obligatory tour of Athens including of course the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus.

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Here we are looking rather blasé or ‘cool’ walking through the Parthenon’s stone rubble. I doubt that today one could get that close to it. Some years before I visited the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and I and other tourists could actually crawl deep inside the pyramid and stand in the Queen’s chamber, Amazing.

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Here we are about 1973, in Holland where I worked as an artist and teacher. The little girl om the left is Natasha who has from yesterday resumed living in Balmain again near the water, after having moved from a place which she did not feel home in. It is a strange thing this feeling of ‘home’, not easily defined but you know instantly when you do. Many people define a home by the standard of the kitchen including the shape of taps, double sinks or the number of build-ins in the bedrooms. 

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The above is our first home around 1970 with our late daughter Susanna on the phone. All the walls had been stripped out to make a spacious living area. Note the small b/w TV with real buttons, on and off, channels, and soft or loud.! Modern TVs now come with a remote control with everything possible except simplicity of how to work it out!

It’s funny how the dullness of indefinite lockdowns start to wake up memories of the good times.  There is a palpable kind of fatigue setting in. You can tell walking the streets. People avert eye contact. It is all so laden with virus fear. The numbers of dead and infections at 11 am sharp om the TV doesn’t make for excitement ahead. Does It?

Extract from ‘Frank’s story’ Babysitting in the seventies

January 20, 2014

The curry of G.

The curry of G.

These were happy times, and soon Helvi and I had another daughter, delivered at the same hospital and by the same doctor. Our children were growing up with many other young children in the same area. We befriended many other couples. None of the child-care centres that are now so proliferate existed then and one enterprising mother thought up the idea of playgroups whereby both children and mothers could get together. These were supreme examples of communities getting together.

The playgroups and babysitting club came to being through a community organisation that was set up to preserve an old police lock up and ‘watch house’. It was an historic double story sandstone structure and in need of restoration. The National Trust which was set up to preserve old and historic buildings of national significance also included the ‘Watch House’ and decided in its wisdom to fund some of the cost of restoration. Money was also raised through the community having ‘fund raising’ dinners or events and through membership fees. Those members belonging to the association were mainly young and professional couples with children and it was a logical extension to get together with the kids and parents, mainly mothers. This was happening in parks, playgrounds or people’s homes.

As many of the couples became friends and started to socialize it was inevitable that someone thought up the idea of setting up a baby-sitting club. This would then allow parents to sometimes go out and know that their baby or young child was well looked after and at no cost. For every hour a baby was looked after, mainly during evenings, the parents of the baby would be charged a minus point and the baby sitter would get a plus point. To get rid of the minus points it was expected for parents to baby sit in return. There was a limit in racking up minus points and anyone exploiting the system would receive a notice that baby-sitting was expected, or else the baby- sitting for the offending couple would cease.

The system worked perfectly, and by and large the point system remained fairly balanced. After all, who wanted to be known for being a perpetual ‘minus point couple’? There was one hiatus, males doing baby-sitting. The last bastion in the late sixties for males to break down was the right to baby-sit. Women were in the throng of burning bras and going girdle less, stockings with seams were passé and Germaine Greer had announced ‘Bras are a ludicrous invention’. So, while women burned bras because they were seen as accoutrements of torture, men burned their draft cards avoiding real torture and felt liberated until they tried to baby-sit in Inner West of Sydney.

As it was I turned up one evening and with the household all dressed to go and dine somewhere or see Zorba the Greek, I noticed a distinct cooling towards me. They made a discreet phone call and decided it would be safe for a man to be allowed to baby sit, just this time. ? Of course, many of the parents that knew each other through social events knew each other as couples or, in the case of play groups, were mainly always women. For a man to be on its own, solo, and at baby-sitting in the evening was not that far advanced in acceptance yet. There was a meeting and the majority approved ‘male baby-sitting’.

I don’t know what the objections or criteria were for being suspicious of males doing baby-sitting. Curiously enough, the mother that was surprised and taken aback somewhat when I presented myself to baby-sit, thought nothing of taking her clothes off for a life drawing session. Were males going to do evil things or was the reluctance because of lack of skills? It was not that much of a challenge though and much depended on what sort of facilities the parents had provided. Real coffee instead of the instant variety was preferred. Sometimes, there was a good book or a television program. Sometimes, especially if it was after midnight (double points) you would just go to sleep on a couch if available.

Dancing lessons

November 27, 2013

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While the streets are being dug up with a variety of cables being introduced or taken out, I remember taken dancing lessons. I don’t know why. Perhaps all those entangled entwined cables are the reason. Who knows? The subconscious does more than we are willing to give credit for.

It was many years ago. I was still normal, in my teens, and wanted to get in touch with women, even touch women. It was also a period when, historically, the country was being flooded by single men. They also wanted to meet and touch women. The reason for this flood of so many single men was migration from Europe and giant public works in Australia that needed brute male strength.

Cane cutting up north in Queensland and giant mines everywhere seemed to attract mainly men from Italy and Greece. Perhaps it was the heat. The Snowy Mountains with the damming of the Snowy Mountain river called for men able to stand cold, so, men from Finland and the Baltic countries flocked there. In any case, there was a copious number of single men and a dearth of women.

Things were grim for men, but, and rightly so, there were many glorious opportunities for girls. Women had the pick of good shiny dark haired Dean Martin Southern European looking men, albeit often a bit dishevelled from cane cutting or the blond giant Thors from Northern sword flashing Viking countries.

In Sydney, a desperately lonely male had white washed on an overhead railway bridge at Glebe in 1962, “Australia is a country of men with no women”. How sad an indictment of an immigration policy. However, dancing academies were flourishing. Many knew how to make a quid from misery already then.

Of course I was subject to this female drought as well. Worse, I wasn’t anywhere in the league of swarthy, dark haired Dean Martin Italians or a Zorba, nor had the sword flashing mien of the blond Viking. I wore glasses and a big nose. But, what I did have… was a Ford V8 (with a single chrome spinner) and leather seats with inbuilt ash trays. It was a light blue in colour and the rust in the mudguards was well hidden with metal putty and hand painted over.

I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain. I bought a complete booklet of tickets to Phyllis Bate’s dancing academy in Pitt Street. It cost a months wages but if that helped me to ensure a touch with a lovely soft yielding female, the heck with frugality.

We know that in the English speaking world, sometimes words such as ‘academy’ or ‘accredited’ are a bit, well…freely used. Phyllis Bate’s academy was a bit stretched for claiming ‘academy’ when on arrival the hall above a milk-bar was full, not of girls but of European males. I had already bought a years supply of weekly dancing lessons. So, what to do. I was crestfallen. It was too late for a re-fund.

Fortunately the dancing steps for beginners were already painted in black on the wooden floor. “Try to get in the rhythm of the music and follow the black steps on the floor”, I was told. “You’ll learn the Foxtrot pretty quickly”. I was totally floored by that. Dance by myself? That’s what I had been doing since arrival.

Even so, I tried feebly to follow the steps but the teacher (a woman) thought I was showing less than enthusiasm. “Try put more feeling in the steps’, she offered. “Don’t look at those painted steps”, “imagine a partner”. “Next time we will try a Cha,Cha,cha”. I wanted more than an ‘imagine a partner.’ It was so lacking in substance especially soft-ness.

Next week, there were a few girls as well. The Dean Martins soon were swirling around with a lot more gusto than I was doing a solitary Cha Cha cha. The teacher came up to me and offered to be my partner, just when I had resigned to have another dancing session following black painted steps. She said that she would hold a book between her chest and mine. I had to be careful not to let it fall on the floor. It was going to be the fox trot.

When the music started, it was a quick snappy version of ‘tulips of Amsterdam.’ I was most diligent not to let the book fall and managed to stay fairly upright pressing against a real woman. The book had the title ‘Of Human Bondage’ which I had read.

It was all a long time ago. I also had a Ford V8.