Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 1, 2011

Monday, 31st January 2011 – Recalling of times past

We’re in the midst of a run of top 30 degrees at the moment – up to 40 yesterday, 39 today, and 38 forecast for Tuesday –  and even though one managers to spend some time in a relatively cool building, somehow the heat of the day still seems to permeate into one’s psyche – or maybe it’s just age, high temperature days get at me more than they ever did in the past!  Anyway, one can’t complain too much this Summer – we’re had two months of mainly mild weather, but of course, with  school going back in most cases this week, it is to be expected that the summer most of the kids have probably been waiting for will now arrive!!!

On Sunday, I was looking through some old papers and folders that my mother had kept, and amongst her collection of letters, post cards, etc, I found a number of such items sent to her & the family by one of my old girlfriends from the late 1960s – we were no longer an ‘item’ by that stage, but had kept in touch [as I tend to do with old friends], and in fact, still keep in touch today, 40+ years later!  Most of this correspondence was written while my friend was overseas on an extended trip with her parents, although judging by her stories of some of the guys she met up with in Europe, she certainly spent a lot of time away from the parents. While most of her letters were dated, they didn’t spell out a year, and although I could work it out approximately,  I decided to let her know that I’d found her correspondence, and was just trying to confirm what year she had been travelling. Part of her response, received today, was as follows, and like the original letters, almost read as a fascinating personal travelogue  [I wished I could have got something similar from Adam arising from his recent brief trip ti the UK and France!].  The following paragraphs form a part of that response.

“Nice to hear from you again……………..I am so glad I wrote to your Mum. I have no recollection of doing that,  but so glad I did. I left Australia, as you say, on the 4th of June  1972. I was going with Alan then. I remember him out at the airport. My  cousin was married on the 15th October, 1972. Mum & Dad travelled over  to Italy on a Norwegian cargo ship, which had first class accommodation  for 12 passengers.( I didn’t go by ship as it was way too expensive &  just as well I didn’t go on the ship as the first officer was really  yummy & we would have spent every spare minute enjoying ourselves,  which we did when we met again later in Norway!) They trained it up to  Stuttgart, picked up the mercedes, that Dad had ordered through Lanes  here in Melbourne. Then they drove to Frankfurt where they waited for  me to arrive.

We then drove up to & around Scandanavia for 3 months,  arriving back in Manchester in time for my cousin’s wedding. I was supposed to be going overseas for only 3 months, as the Repat. said  they would keep my job for me. On route, I decided to stay longer & see  if I could get employment In Britain. Mum & Dad were to continue their  travels without me. When we arrived in Britain I found that unless I  was prepared to live in a dive in shared quarters ( I was only a lab.  ass. then, I did all my tertiary study when I returned) I could not  possibly afford to stay there. So Mum & Dad said that seeing I was  already there why not stay on, they would lend me the money for  accommodation, & the travel would be free as they were going anyway, &  I could pay for whatever I might like out of whatever money I had. A record was kept of this & I repayed it all in the first year when I returned to work in early 1974. We returned to Melbourne, you were the  only one of my friends to greet me, on the 16th December 1973. So I  spent 19.5 months away & Mum & Dad spent about 22 months away. The  reason why they spent such a long time, was mainly to do with the tax  on the car. If you & the car, stayed out of the Australia for 15  months, you could return with the car tax free. The tax was quite  substantial, but I can’t remember the details. Our time inBenidorm,  Spain was from the 5th of November to the 10th of March. In other words we wintered there. I can remember wearing my very  brief bikini on the balcony of our first floor apartment that had a bird’s eye view of the little peninsular, beach & the sea with its magnificent sunsets.

I seem to recall that I received your wedding  invitation when we were in Benidorm & that you & Shirley married sometime in Jan. 1973—correct? I’m afraid there was no chance of my  returning to Melbourne for anything by that time, as I was heavily involved with a …..Spanish guy ( with a distant Arab background]! …………….There were thoughts of a more permanent situation, but  his mother was rabidly R.C. & made it very clear her ‘boy’ was only to marry a Spanish girl, & not a foreigner. So, with that opposition I  decided I would not be able to carry all that opposition &  unpleasantness on my own in a foreign place. Needless to say I did not  marry Domingo–it means Sunday in Spanish, & I moved on. I think that’s  about my life history William!”

She went on to comment on the current situation in Egypt, as I had asked her whether her husband had any family over there mixed up in the political turmoil and violence. She noted that “ Yes, things are certainly on the move in Egypt. About time too. Not at all sure that it will turn out as they would like it, so we’ll have to wait and see. K….. comes from Ismailia, which, if you look at a map  you’ll see it is situated on the Suez Canal, about 1.5 hours drive from Cairo. There are a lot more people being killed & injured than is being reported in the press, according to Mum. In fact we haven’t heard  anything about Ismailia on our news & it is not an insubstantial sized  city– over 1 million. All of K…s family are in Ismailia, except  one brother who is working in Chad as a geologist. He…works all over the place—Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Morocco, the Siani desert near the border with Israel. They are unlikely to be  activists, more likely to be just passive. They have often said, why  vote, as nothing changes. That is so, because Hosni Mubarak had  everything fixed. Who has ever heard of a leader legally receiving 95%  of the votes. Stuff & nonsense!!!!!!”…………………………………………………….

So, there I gained an interesting insight into the current situation in Egypt which seems to be worsening by the day. I get a little annoyed at the Australian tourists over there complaining that our government is doing little to help them get back here [not actually true, though there are logistical difficulties because of the general turmoil in Cairo and surrounding areas] – my understanding is that this trouble has been building up for a while, and people travelling should have had plenty of warning that problems were brewing. That is a bit of a generalisation, but in this case, I feel that our ‘Labor’ government is being unfairly blamed!

I ended my day with a short visit to the radio station tonight – one of my fellow presenters wanted to do a short interview with someone from the Committee on various aspects of life at the radio station- for a thesis he was preparing, and also as part of an article he was planning for the station’s next ‘Newsletter’. I told him to make sure that I was given the opportunity to ‘edit’ the newsletter piece before he submitted it  – some people at my station don’t like others ‘saying what they think’ which I have always done since I have been involved with the station, and can always be assured of grabbing hold of any perceived opportunity to ‘attack’ this writer via complaints, etc!! Not that such a response worries me personally, as any of my criticisms and/or suggestions of improvement ‘always’ have been directed towards the improvement of the station’s presentation to the community – which should always be our prime aim, above the petty inadequacies of one or two individuals! Having said all that, at the present time, our station is in a better situation than I can recall since joining up back in 2005, so my only ongoing concern these days relates to the aspect of ‘commitment’, a discussion for another time!!




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