Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Up and down from the sky

I returned on Monday from my second weekend in Melbourne, where I had another really enjoyable stay. It has taken all week to recover enough energy to do a little blogging. But I lack the energy to add photos.

I will start with a little whinge in that I wasted money buying The Slap. What a crappy book! Why did it get so much publicity? I don't know what to do with it. I would not give it away to anyone I like. Anybody I spoke to about it agreed it was crappy, and no one wants it, and I hesitate even to put it into the choir's recycling books system. I see it is listed as a finalist for some award - and can't see why, unless it is because of the apparently obligatory and explicit sex scenes in each chapter. The book really adds nothing to any understanding of the human condition.

However, it was a lovely weekend. Dr P managed well in my absence, and now I am back home, changing the sheets and putting the doonas back on the beds, doing all the washing, putting the house back in order, doing the shopping and cooking a few meals for us. Dr P now says he does not like rissoles any more - what was wrong with the last batch, I wonder? 

Stomper picked me up from the airport, and after school we all went to the pool where the boys were having their swimming lessons. Climber is a very impressive swimmer. He swam twice as far underwater as anyone  else in his class did. He is following in the family footsteps (as it were) as I swam well and so did all my children. 

The glare of the pool triggered a migraine, but fortunately I was able to hit it with Panadol before the headache developed fully, and so naughtily drank some red wine in the evening.

The school reunion was a lot of fun. The restaurant was excellent,  spacious and quiet, with excellent food and service. Recognising people was fairly easy. We all have more wrinkles than ten years ago, and I was by no means the wrinkliest. Dr P points out that adipose tissue fills out the wrinkles so they are not as obvious. Thanks for that! One woman has had significant plastic surgery, and I would never have recognised her. There were quite a lot of school photos and assorted memorabilia - none from me, as ours all got handed down to the next sister, and I have very few school photos anyway, which I did not have time to dig out. One woman, Jenny, had a photo of the junior school, taken , I think, when I was in Grade 1. We all enjoyed working out the identities. My older sister was also in the photo. We were wearing hideous gingham dresses. Mine would have been red, I think, and would have been a hand-me down. My sister has dark colouring, while I am fair, and red suited her - but not me. The woes of being a second child! 

In the photo I am standing next to the girl who was my best friend all through our 12 years at school. We were very little - and both of us are still short. Mary's parents and mine were good friends. Sadly, her mother died of septicaemia when Mary was only six, and she boarded at primary school. Then her father died when she was about 12 or 13, and the three children then lived with her  aunts. Mary was a clever, goodhearted and happy person, who has always done a lot to help people. We reminisced about our various mischiefs and naughtinesses, especially in Year 7. Mary said she used to lift the lid of her desk so that the reflection of the sun would dazzle the unfortunate nun teaching us. The nun apparently suspected Mary, but could not work out how she was doing it!

My contact with school friends after leaving was limited. There were a couple in Canberra, one of whom died three years ago, and there are a couple living in Sydney, not all that far away, and we intend to see each other. This might revive some memories. Everyone I spoke to had lived interesting lives and achieved a lot. Some live overseas, six have died, and some others are ill, one with Alzheimer's. The rest of us are keeping on keeping on.

After so many years it is not easy to remember a great deal about school. I cannot remember all the teachers in primary school, although memories are clearer for secondary school. I remember the discipline, and the religious instruction, and the times when I got into serious trouble. Some of us, including my elder sister, wrote some disrespectful and satirical sketches about the school, and were reading them aloud in the cloakroom, totally charmed by our remarkable talents, when we noticed that a deathly hush had fallen upon the hitherto appreciative audience. We looked up and saw one of the most formidable nuns advancing to confiscate our scribblings. We went home terrified, convinced we would be expelled, but I think we were too scared to admit anything to our mother. The school did get in touch with my parents, and we were rebuked, but Mum told us that the nuns said that the sketches were actually very witty! I think this episode was my most serious piece of mischief, which just goes to show how innocent we all were in those days. However, at the reunion we remembered how one girl, a boarder, climbed out of the dormitory windows at night, using sheets, to meet boys. She was caught, and expelled. We were all very deeply shocked.

Probably those who did manage to keep in touch with each other would remember school experiences better. The reunion made me feel quite nostalgic and I would like to have been able to find out more of everyone's lives.

I took my crochet away with me, andItalic finished sewing it together. It was started it two years ago while I was on a jury. It is a baby sweater, and has gone to a great niece, who was born at 29 weeks gestation, and who has just had her first birthday. On Anzac Day I had to try and find a darning needle to sew in all the ends of the wool. It is not the best day of the year to try and find a wool shop which is open.

My youngest sister drove me around, and in the course of our searches we found ourselves in a rather nice fancy clothing and accessories shop, where two exceedingly enthusiastic and pushy saleswomen did their utmost to get us to buy a pashmina apiece. They were very lovely, but as I have scarves and shawls in almost every possible colour, I felt I could and should avoid temptation, and set a good example to my sister, who shops till she drops. Having thus escaped, we went into another clothes shop, where she succumbed to a pair of stretch jeans, which cost twice as much as the pashmina. I should have tried harder to stop her! We returned to the first shop to say we would not be buying the pashminas, and I spied this rather beautiful bracelet, which struck me as just the thing for Stomper's birthday in June. So I bought it, gave it to her immediately, so I could see her pleasure if she liked it - which she did,  and it does indeed look gorgeous on her. So although she had to wait for the teapot, she got the birthday present early, and it averages out as punctuality personnified. And virtue is my middle name.


Anonymous said...

I suppose you could always leave The Slap out in a public space for an unsuspecting soul to pick up? Although if you wouldn't give it to a friend then I suppose giving it to a stranger isn't much better. You could give it to a charity shop and at least they might make some money from it for a good cause.

I loved reading about your school reunion. When you left school in the first place, did you give much thought to a reunion down the track? My high school is a bit overenthusiastic about these things and holds five-year reunions, but I was out of the country for mine. I can't imagine myself rushing to my ten-year reunion, as I've kept in touch with the schoolfriends I care about and I already know what most people are doing anyway, thanks to our small-city life and the wonders of Facebook. But I suppose in time we may drift even further apart and welcome the chance to reunite further down the track.

Pam said...

I went to a 40-year reunion last year. It was lovely. I do keep in touch with some people but you can't keep in touch with everyone, and my generation isn't really into Facebook; at least I'm not.

It sounds as if you had a wonderful break. That Stomper is such a pet.

Pam said...

By the way, I never replied to your question about what my choir was singing: Vivaldi's "Gloria" and Lauridson's "Lux Aeterna". I'm more of a Vivaldi person but I did get quite to like the Lauridson.

meggie said...

I have recently reconnected with an old school friend. It has been fun reminiscing with her, about our days together.
I did not worry that I missed the reunion, it all seems so long ago, & I have kept in touch with the very best of my friends, except for one.
I had seen the Slap & thought I might like to read it. Won't bother with it now.

persiflage said...

Saffronlie, after leaving school I had little contact except with close friends, and was not really interested. There was an Old Girls Association, but I did not join it, but eventually was listed through my sister, whose daughters attended the school, and who were active in its support. The first reunion I attended was 10 years ago, and it was very pleasant. It is a way of meeting people without having to make an enormous effort. Nostalgia can be a lot of fun.
Isabelle, I have never heard of the Lauridson.I have sung the Vivaldi a number of times and always love it. Yes, Stomper is indeed a pet, and such a loving person.
And Meggie, if you are there, I think tonight The slap is being discussed on the ABC's Tuesday Night Book Club, so I must watch and hear what they all say.