Legends On Stage

Today I saw Darth Vader and Jessica Fletcher – on stage together.








Well, not really, but I did see the matinee of Driving Miss Daisy starring two of the world’s most famous octogenarians. James Earl Jones, 82, and Angela Lansbury, 88, together for 90 splendid minutes.

They were joined by a 3-time Tony winning actor, Boyd Gaines, who held his own against this formidable pair – and a few times, stole the scene from them. Miss Lansbury was – at times – magical, even though she missed a few lines here and there. I was stunned to read afterwards that she is nearly 90! She’s so elegant and it was a lovely performance. I choked bad a quiet sob when she said, “Hoke, you’re my best friend,” and there were tears in my eyes in the final scene when he feeds her her pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and she gives him the most loving smile.

And, Mr Jones – how incredible his performance was. Such a study in dichotomies – the man who is both humble and proud – the humour and the pathos of this wonderfully portrayed character.

At times the play itself leapt about – almost clunkily – it spans 25 years in 90 minutes, a one-acter, which means there are large chunks of their lives that are missed. I liked the simple staging, which mostly worked to tell the story, but at times the actors seemed rushed into the next scene with nary a moment to transition emotionally. Still, I laughed throughout – Jones’ and Gaines’ comic timing both incredibly sharp, and of course there were the few highly poignant moments.

It was someone else’s bad fortune that this ticket fell into my lap – and I am grateful to the friend who thought to pass it on to me. I hope your mum is better soon, Simonne. And please thank her again for me. I am completely amazed that I got to see two legendary actors on the stage.


What’s On My…

This blog post is inspired by Renée who was inspired by another, who was inspired by…it goes back a ways…

BATHROOM COUNTER: Pretty things in seafoam blue. And tissues. My dad taught me that you should never have to be more than 10 feet away from tissues in your home. Of course, the box is seafoam blue.

PERENNIAL TO DO LIST: Don’t drink on weeknights; get a job; go outside at least once a day.

REFRIGERATOR SHELVES: yoghurt, cheese, white wine, olives, eggs.

ITINERARY: New Zealand. I won a cool trip.

FANTASY ITINERARY: Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos for a month – with Ben.

PLAYLIST: My ‘work’ playlist is the Enigma Pandora station. My ‘play’ playlist at the moment is vintage Bowie.

NIGHTSTAND: The Passage (on my Kindle) and Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame. I barely got through the first part which described my greatest nightmare about being kept apart from your love because of immigration laws – but I do want to finish it). My silk eye-mask (get one – they are amazing!)

WORKOUT PLAN: Move every day – even if it is just to the grocery store (which is a km away and I walk and then bring everything home in a trolley – not one of the store’s trolleys – one we bought – and not a nana trolley – a cool one). Otherwise I spin, ride a bike, run or jump on the elliptical in our building’s gym.

Ipad: Draw Something, Reddit Pics, Facebook, FaceTime (with my fam in the UK) and gmail.

TOP 5 LIST: Hanging with my BF (Ben – best friend and boy friend); Lucy (weirdest cat in the world); riding all over Melbourne thanks to bike share; learning new stuff; possibilities!

BUCKET LIST: Retire from all other work because I am a published author – yeah, that’s it – I am doing everything else.

MIND: Making some $$ from the current cool projects I am working on AND our house-warming party next weekend.

WALLS OF YOUR FAVOURITE ROOM IN YOUR APARTMENT: I love our whole new place, but the ‘wall’ I love most is the glass one that overlooks the marina from our balcony – we call that our TV. People watching is super fun!

LIQUOR SHELF: Nothing. We need to stock up – hopefully our house-warming and an international trip will do the trick.


TV MOST NIGHTS: Ep after ep of our faves: Mad Men, Dexter, Buffy, Vicar of Dibley, Community. We have eclectic tastes. I just watched 8 eps back-to-back of Up All Night. LOVE it.

Gallipoli 1997

In 1997 (February) I was on Contiki’s European Training Trip. This is what I wrote about going to Gallipoli.

Attaturk’s Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. With thanks to Patrice Andersen.

Leaving Greece we were on a pilgrimage – to Gallipoli.  Most of us were antipodean and we were keen to see where our ANZACs had landed, fought and died, and to pay our respects with a brief service at one of the cemeteries.

Our coach was met by guide, an older Australian gentleman who led us through the displays at the visitor’s centre.  I was antsy and wanted to get out in the fresh air to see the trenches and touch the grave markers.  We loaded up and drove some way up a dirt track, stopping at the section of coast the soldiers should have set down on.  I was struck by the silence.  It was cool in the pale sunlight, the sky a milky blue, so different from the sky that had delivered storms the day before.

The water lapped the beach gently, no waves, no ocean sounds, no wind, just stillness, as though the ocean had been silenced along with those who lost their lives.  I stared down into the clear water, only inches deep, and saw a smooth, snow white rock.  I reached into the cold water and collected it; it fit perfectly in my closed fist.  I remember wondering if it was illegal to take from the beach at Gallipoli.  Probably.  Selfishly I pocketed the rock.

The next stop further along the trail was a monument, one of dozens.  However, this monument would stand alone in my mind from then on.  It testified of the great mutual respect felt between the two warring sides during the battles of Gallipoli, and the eventual alliance that formed between them.  This monument left me speechless.  It was erected by Attaturk, and it is engraved with his words:

Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives,

            You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

            Therefore, rest in peace.

            There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lay

            Side by side, here in this country of ours.

            To the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries,

            Wipe away your tears.

            Your sons are now lying in our bosom

            And are in peace.

            After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

We wound our way up the hill, passing trenches left open for nearly 9 decades, gaping holes the reminders of lost lives.  At the top of the hill we stopped at one of the cemeteries, populated by Aussie diggers – most of whom were barely post-pubescent.  We walked the rows of grave markers, the lawns were trimmed, small shrubs well attended.  The ANZAC monument gleamed in the morning sun.  Our heads were bowed to the markers as we stopped and read selected epitaphs.

It was numbing to imagine the young men, terrified, landing on the beach in darkness, met with bombardment.  I know that many of us were replaying that final scene from the film “Gallipoli” in our minds, realising the futility of the ANZAC and British assault as we stood upon the terrain.

I stopped in front of one grave marker, its message burning on my brain, “To see you just once again, to shake your hand and say ‘well done’”.  I turned, the tears that ran silently became a sob, and buried my face in a friend’s chest.  He put his arms around me and hugged me tightly.

We laid a wreath and listened to “The Last Post” played on a portable tape player. One of us spoke, eloquently, a kind of prayer.  “Lest we forget.”  I touched the rock in my pocket, washed clean of any blood that may have marred its pure surface 90 years before.  Such brave men and boys.  I had never been so proud to be an Australian.

And all women like pink…


Last week I listened to/watched a wonderful talk by Kirstie Clements, the woman who was the editor of (Australian) Vogue Magazine for 12+ years and was unceremoniously dismissed last year. The talk is an incredible exploration of women in the business world and if you have 25 minutes to give to it, you may just find it as fascinating as I did.

One of the points that Kirstie made was about holding tight to professional integrity when many around you are selling theirs to the highest bidder. In particular, she had some interesting things to say about ‘market research’ and how middle-predominantly male-management at the publishing house would tell her – a woman who had worked in the fashion publishing industry for more than two decades – about the Vogue reader. Market research indicated that women do not read pages of text without at least one image on them. Market research told middle management that all women like pink and all women like shoes. These were the specific examples that she listed, but you get the drift. She was constantly battling to provide cutting-edge, relevant content while still maintaining a luxury brand. Whether or not you are a Vogue reader, there’s definitely something to be said for professional integrity and knowing your audience.

By the way, I kinda don’t really like pink, except maybe on my lips – and then only sometimes. But I digress…

This week I went shopping for Mother’s Day cards – 5 in total, for various lovely ladies in the family that Ben and I share – and boy, talk about pink! To steal a line from a fave movie of mine, Steel Magnolias. “It looked like the place was hosed down in Pepto Bismol!” Pink, pink, pink, and not a drop to drink (I don’t mind a drop of pink champagne or a Cosmo from time to time). And not just pink cards – pink cards with flowers or dresses on the front. Flowers I can understand, but dresses? Drawings of dresses? Why on earth???

Maybe this love of drawings depicting pink dresses is a well-kept ‘mother’ secret and as I am not a mother, I am not privy to  it? Or, maybe, somewhere down the line, the market researchers had a brain fart and this is the result. Good grief, Charlie Brown! By the way, I chose the least flowery, least overly pink cards I could find. For those 5 women, one is coming soon to a mail box near you.

And speaking of farts…well, we were about two sentences ago, sort of…

Last week (it was a big week for revelations), Ben and I went to see my uni friend, Gavin, perform his comedy act as part of the Melbourne Festival. I would plug it, but it’s over. It was hilarious, by the way, but back to the farts.

Gavin, a comedian who expertly draws on real life for his act, had tried to find his dad a card for this birthday. Apparently – and I can attest to this being true, as I bought a card for my soon-to-be-60-father-in-law yesterday – all 60-year-old men like booze, cars and/or golf. I say ‘and/or’ because to their credit a lot of the cards combined these activities in pairs – and sometimes all three!

The exception to these three things that 60-year-old men like, is farts. Apparently they also love fart jokes, even the unfunny ones. All men do, didn’t you know?? So much so, that in his show Gavin produced what I can only describe as the WORST card I have ever seen, which said on the cover, “Your farts hospitalise small children,” and on the inside it said nothing. It was blank. I mean, really, once you’ve said that to someone, what else is there to say? The saddest part? Gavin had to go to three places to buy it, because it was sold out in Myer and Target.

So, well done market researchers. Women like pink and men like farts.


** No market researchers were harmed in the writing of this blog.