Category Archives: Our Jillian

A little about my friend Jillian. I have known her much of my life and these are her stories, or stories about her friends or acquaintances or even just stuff she has heard. It is just for fun. Enjoy.

Oh Dear. Such a Long, Long time.

I'll be back soon.

Been in hospital for a long time from late September until Dec 1st.  3 different hospitals. Recuperating in Melbourne with occasional visit to my 'tree change' country abode. Not ready to live there full time as yet, but soon. Still some issues to manage.  but we are on the mend. Picking up on writing as well. So more articles to be appearing here soon as well. Have lots of ideas and just waiting to get back up to speed. Can't wait. 500 words a day will be on the cards VERY SOON.

Colin

Jillian 35 – Paradigm Shift

Jillian 35 - Paradigm Shift

For the start of this series go to: http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

The other day Jillian and I were shooting the breeze and she began talking about this thing she called a Paradigm Shift.

Paradigm Shift

“Do you know what a Paradigm Shift is?” she asked.

“Nope.” I admitted. Big mistake.

“Gees, I've been around you long enough to figure out that that is a question I ought to avoid unless I want to know a lot about it.” I said.

She laughed. “Yep. Reminds me of a kid once who came to his father and asked him about the birds and the bees. As expected good old dad said, 'Ask your mother.' Quick as a flash the kid replied, 'Well, I didn't really want to know that much about it.'

“Anyway you don't know what it is so I am going to tell you.”

Need to know

And tell me she did. Although, stupidly, I first asked, “What is the reason I am about to be told this momentous stuff? Surely this is a 'need-to-know' situation and I don't?”

I narrowly avoided a playful punch, Teasing, but it would still have hurt.

“We were talking about it in a meeting at work the other day and I figured it might be something we could apply to our lives, well your life anyway. And I thought of discussing it with you.” she said.

Who knew? She thought I was discussion material for some esoteric concept?

“Bloody Hell,” I said intelligently.

Definition:

“So,” she said. “A Paradigm Shift is used to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events. A radical change in underlying beliefs or theory. A changed attitude, or way of doing things.”

“Swallowed the dictionary or Wikipedia again have you?” I suggested.

“Are you going to take this seriously, or not?” she blustered. “Of course I have given you the dictionary and Wikipedia definitions. Why wouldn't I?”

What it actually Means

“Anyway what this means is that if the way we are doing things is not working, we must stop just piddling about at the edges making small, usually ineffectual changes, and dig in and turn the whole thinking process upside down looking at a problem or issue from a completely different angle.”

“An example, please.” I quietly asked.

Example:

“OK,” she said, “What about books and reading? People are not reading traditional books as much now as 10 years ago. Witness all the bookshops closing down. They tried cheaper publishing techniques, cheaper purchase prices, cafes and other community/social areas in bookshops and libraries, more book tours and launches, reading and writing festivals. Still the reading public stopped reading paper based books in their droves. Oh yes there are the 'real books are better brigade,' but something needed to be done. Writers were fighting a losing battle, and you can forget about bookshops and libraries.

Enter eBooks. Electronic books. A paradigm shift. Along came Kindle and other electronic reading devices; and programs for reading eBooks on your smart phone and tablet.”

That's what I mean.” That's turning the issue upside down. Using a different way of doing things. And I agree, there is still a way to go to to change the attitudes of many people to electronic books, but there is movement at the station.”

“What about the smell? I asked. “There is nothing quite like the smell of the pages of a book and the ink. It is what the whole experience is all about.”

“Yep.” she said. “Can't do much about that. But there will be other things we can do to enhance the experience.”

Cool Stuff:

“Part of the reason for telling you this,” she said, “is it might help you write some cool stuff about me instead of the drivel that slides off your keyboard onto the screen.”

“Oh.” I said. A tad chastened. But ever the one to bounce back, I said. “OK. What might this paradigm shift business be able to offer me as a person living in the here and now? I am not in the industrial revolution, or the advent of printing, or the creating of The Internet. Nor am I involved in the ebook revolution, apart from my own current preference for the Kindle.” So what can it do for me?”

“Ah yes.” she said. The personal perspective. Very good.”

Next time. #ourjillian

Writing and 2016

Writing

For those thirsting for more of the life and times of Jillian, be assured there is still more to tell. Much more.

If you don't know what I am talking about, what is that matter with you?

For the start of these episodes go to:

http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

Lately I have allowed myself to be sidetracked by lotsa things.

Christmas, New Year, Family, a Fantastic Website I am working on, AirBnB, and more. #YSBH. All good, but focus is getting tighter for 2016.

I am also working on a series of articles on Paradigm shifts. Keep watching. Or as they used to say on the radio in my time, “Don't touch that dial.”

Jillian 34 – Some More Writing Notes ‘Show Don’t Tell’

Jillian 34 – Some More Writing Notes 'Show Don't Tell'

For the start of these episodes go to

http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

This next bit,” Jillian started out enthusiastically, “is the bees knees. It is, in my humble opinion,” she said (by the way Jillian is the least humble person I know), “the essence that moves a novel from readable and enjoyable to pulling of teeth kind of excruciatingly horrible not on my watch nonsense.”

Now as I read what you wrote from our last little chat I realised I had broken this rule all the time. But I guess since this is a blog about me that is excusable.”

Show Don't Tell

The real deal,” she went on, “is Show Don't Tell. 'Telling' states facts or observations. 'Showing' invites much deeper understanding.”

Show the reader through the way your words work on their minds what you want them to see, hear or feel; don't just tell them about it.

The idea is if you tell someone something, they might remember it and they might believe it -- or they might not. If you show them it so that they can see it in their own mind's eye, they are more likely to remember it and, more importantly, believe it.”

VAK

Now she was on a wild run, “In public speaking we talk a lot about VAK. That is Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. We must tailor our speeches to appeal to all these areas or we may miss the very audience members we really need to engage. Our writing must follow the same principles.”

I am breaking the rules hear again,” she said, “this is all telling. but since it can be considered a learning exercise 'cause you so need this information looking at some of your latest writing efforts, and when our goal is simply to inform, not to persuade or engage, then TELLING does the job rather well — particularly if it’s part of an overall strategy. In this case teaching you to write a tad better than before.”

That being the case,” I said, let's jump to the chase. What does this all mean? Give me some examples.”

What does it Mean?

OK.” she agreed, “but rather than re-invent the wheel I'll quote a few examples from my readings on the topic.”

Detail:

And off she went. Telling not showing. But I got the point.

Basically we need more detail, especially dialogue and action. We need to know thoughts, feelings; we need to smell the perfume, taste the wine, feel the cashmere. Anything less cheats the reader from experiencing our imaginary world.

For example, Instead of saying Molly is a wonderful person, say Molly is always there when anyone needs her. She's the first to arrive with a casserole when someone is sick, the first to send a note of encouragement to those who are troubled, the first to offer a hug to anyone -- man, woman or child -- at any-time.

And again, Instead of saying Sam is a talented musician, let us hear the crowds cheer, let us feel his passion. Take us into his head as he strokes the piano keys

But,” she continued, “Avoid using creative dialogue tags (crooned, sputtered etc). It is cheap. It is telling, not showing. Let the power of your dialogue and the accompanying action show your reader the tone of voice and the emotion. Don't tell them.”

Examples:

Still nothing stopped her. A teacher in control of her audience and so much involved in her subject it was very informative, and a joy to watch an expert at work.

Here are some examples from a writing tipster Dawn Copeman. Some of her articles can be found on Writing World (An excellent website for writers of all persuasions and from beginners to those who have been 'at it' for a while and need a boost.)

Tell: The ground floor, rented room was tiny, damp and obviously uncared for.

Show: "As he entered the room from the hallway the first thing he noticed was the fusty smell: a combination of mould, damp and stale cigarette smoke. There were snail trails across the worn, brown, cord carpet that covered what little floor space there was. Opposite the doorway, pushed up against the wall, was a single bed, covered with a duvet but no duvet cover and a flat, tobacco-stained pillow.”

Can you feel the difference?“She asked.

Before I had a chance to process the information and answer the question she was off again.

Let's continue. More details

Squeezed into the corner of the room at the foot of the bed was a chest of drawers. On top of the drawers was a single electric hotplate. Opposite this was a sink piled high with dirty pots with a toothbrush just visible, peeking out through the handle of a mug. Facing the bed was a small table with a fold up-chair. On top of the table was an overflowing ashtray and yesterday's newspaper. Behind the door stood a mouldy wicker waste bin full of ash and cigarette ends."

In case I hadn't received the message loud and clear she went on, “In tell you get a fleeting glance of the room; in show you begin to see it.”

And even more.

Sometimes you can do a half show-half tell. This is where you get a character to describe another person -- that way they are showing and you're telling. "I'd be careful around him Cheryl, if I were you. He's a sly one that one, he can't be trusted."

Because a character has said it, it somehow makes it appear more real to the reader than if we'd just written "Tom was sly and couldn't be trusted.”

Still more from Dawn.” She continued.

When to tell, not show!

If you show don't tell all the time, your word count will be way too high, and in a novel the reader may get bored of all the 'padding'. No-one wants to be able to see every part of every building or every scene that clearly.

So you tell the things that are of no real importance to the story but are necessary to move the story along.

'The doorbell rang.' Unless you're telling 'A Christmas Carol' the type of doorbell is totally irrelevant and can be told not shown.

'Mary picked up the remote control and turned the television back on'. Again, we don't need to know anything more about these things so telling will suffice.”

Now we get to the dot points. Wondered when that would happen.

Some other points to keep in mind as you boldly go.

  • Choose specific, informative details that show your point
  • Encourage the reader’s involvement
  • Show with emotional language
  • Give the reader a reason to feel your emotion
  • Showing prefers the specific to the general”

Senses

We have 5 senses,” she continued, “and we must invoke some or all these in our readers wherever possible. And remember feelings for the kinesthetic among us.”

Grinding Axes

Many first timers,” she explained, “have an axe to grind and want us to feel like they do about a particular personal, environmental or political issue and they write a novel about it. Usually full of long passages which give us the information we MUST know and the story is lost in the explanation. A reader will put the book down and probably never return to it in these cases.

But it can be done. Reference the 'The Girl …' series by Stieg Larsson. #ourjillian

Jillian 33 – Some Writing Notes

Writing tips from Our Jillian

For the start of these episodes go to
http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

Writing has been on my mind. Lately I have been reading a lot of free books on my kindle. They are promotions mostly by newer authors and some of them are fantastic.

Some of them fail the very first test of writing – not even good writing – just writing in general. They are just not interesting and do not hold a reader enthralled for any-time at all. Some are also diatribes by people with an axe to grind and these ??writers?? use their stories like the basis for a lecture. Not fun at all.

I mentioned this to Jillian as I know she writes and wants to be a full time author some day.

She said that there were two things a writer, of fiction anyway, needs to be aware of. Obviously there are more than two things or anyone could be a writer, but two elements that are more important than any others.

“OK.” I said. “I'll bite. But don't they say there is a book in everyone, you just need to find the gumption to let it out?”

“True.” she replied, “but you still have to have some idea about the process or the technique. Why do you think there are some very famous writers whose books are read by huge numbers of people, and prolific authors with very large lists and very few readers. And I am not just talking esoteric and less accessable subjects here. I am talking your basic novel that no-one wants to read.”

“Oh, I know what you are going to say,” Jillian butted in “It is just practice, and if you write 500 words per day everyday you will get into a habit and your book will suddenly appear out of apparently nowhere.”

Now that is a good idea (there is a web site that has a 31 day writing challenge based around this very idea) and you should do this if you want to develop your muscle, but, as you know, the wrong exercise will not help a muscle, it may even be a bad thing. So you do need SOME technique.” Jillian was rising to the challenge. I could visualise her in her school marm garb with chalk in her hand and white dust floating about her head like a miasma of cigarette smoke. It was pretty awesome to see her in action this way.

I had a thought. “Well, it's true I have seen some pretty poor examples where people have just taken their lives and some stuff that they'd like to do put it together and let their imagination, as they say, run wild.”

“If that's what they mean when they say there is a novel in everyone' – I reckon in many cases it should stay where it is.”

“True again,” Jillian said, “but the addition of a tad of actual knowledge, (there are after all University courses on writing and journalism and stuff like that,) might be just a little beneficial don't you think? So, perhaps, it is something you can and need to learn.

“OK.” I said. “The first thing is a good plot. The action must be awesome? Right?”

“Nup.” She dismissed me with a flourish. “A very famous author once asked us at a seminar given as part of the Writers Festival in whatever city I was in at the time, 'What was the plot of the latest Harry Bosch or Alex Cross novel that you read?' No one remembered. But they all knew Harry Bosch or Alex Cross, a lot about his life, wife and or kids if he had any, what car he drove and many other things he had got up to, but the latest adventure (The Plot) no one could immediately call to mind.

“So.” she said majestically, “plot is secondary to fabulous characters. Your novel needs to be full of personas that will grab the readers by the nose and lead them places they would love to go but are scared, or show them things they have dreamed about, or make them part of a reality that is impossible but

wonderful at the same time. Readers will identify with the folk in the story. They will live their lives with them. A vicarious existence they had only imagined. The characters need to be real and LIVE in the minds of the readers. All else is secondary.”

Hating to interrupt this flow of erudition I took my life in my hands and said, “Plot – which I naively thought of as the story – is not that important, then?”

“Of course it's important you moron,” she blustered. “but if the characters are not engaging then no one cares. If you don't mind whether the detective, for example, lives or dies. becomes corrupted or sleeps with the suspected killer, or any other plot twist or turn, then none of it matters to you as the reader.”

“OK.” I think I’ve got it.” I say a tad chastened, “but exactly where does the plot fit in?”

“Good question,” Jillian winks. “It is the glue that holds all the characters together. Why is there a detective, why a jilted lover, who is hiding in the shrubbery, what is the point of this discussion and where is the money? All of these plot or story elements are connections between the characters and are the twists and turns that make their lives (and by extension – yours) fascinating. The plot is like a roadmap to your character's final destination.”

“I remember,” I thought out loud, “when someone in a story I was reading acted in a way that seemed to be completely opposite to how I expected them to respond (out of character if you will), that I lost interest in this person and figured I really don't care what you do. Yes. I reckon that this character had been set up with beliefs and values that wouldn't have generally allowed her to do whatever it was she did and so was unbelievable. Therefore I lost empathy and all my other feelings for this person and what they did or didn't do or what happened to them was not something I wanted to know about. I put the book down and never returned to it.”

“Something like that,” said Jillian. “you have to be aware of being overly judgemental, though, they are characters in a story remember, so not everything can be explained. And sometimes timeline and other literary devices may mask possible major changes in a person's character attributes. But yes. You might find things like that.”

“Okaaaay. Let me think on that for a while”, I said thoughtfully.

By the way, There are a huge number of websites that are focussed on this topic. Here is ONE I found. It is not necessarily the best; it is one of many, but it has some good stuff including a downloadable cheat sheet to help with character development.

Character Development

“What is the second element of which you spoke?”

“I reckon we've had enough for one time. Don't you? What say we talk about the next bit later? Besides it is hard to explain and even harder to do consistently.”#ourjillian

Jillian 32 – Time & Motion

A busy Life

For the start of these episodes go to  http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

I asked Jillian, once, how she managed time so she could fit so much into her busy life. She always seemed to be occupied with one task or another and they all appeared to just work; and I wondered how it all was managed in the background.

The Exposition

“Cheaper By The Dozen”, she replied somewhat enigmatically.

“Ya what?” I quizzed.

“It's a book,” she said,“ written in 1948, I think. By Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth.”

“It was a biographical novel based on their life.”

“Of course.” I said. Thus earning the first evil eye of the day. I mean a novel based on a person's life would indeed be a biographical novel, wouldn't it?

She continued, “They were two of twelve children and their parents were industrial engineers who specialised in motion study. Father, Frank was particularly obsessed with finding the most efficient ways to complete tasks in life and often used his children as case studies. Mother, Lillian was a psychologist who factored human emotions into the science of the mechanics of motion study.

“I still remember the book – I read it as a child and even today I find myself checking that I am doing stuff in the most time efficient manner. I guess that's how it all fits together

Process Improvement

Today, they'd probably call it Process Improvement and use various models for example: 6 Sigma, SPC, TQM and LEAN to name a few, to explain it.

“While I employ”, she continued, “the normal time management theories of Steven Covey, Steve Pavlina and even your favourite man Tony Robbins's Rapid Planning Method (RPM); I find that doing stuff more efficiently saves huge amounts of time as well. The essence of time management is twofold:

  • Decide what to do
  • Do it.”

(My God she is so sounding like my university lecturers. Of course I just thought this and did not actually SAY anything. I am much more clever than that.)

“I add to this,” she continued the dissertation.

  • “Do it efficiently and effectively.

“Hence the reference to the book 'Cheaper By The Dozen'”

“OK.” I interrupted. “Good. Thanks for this, but my original question was about fitting all the stuff you do into your life. I still don't see how you do it?”

Diary

“Well, that's simple,” she said, “I just put all the stuff I need to do in my diary and figure out what is most important at the time they pop up and do it or postpone it or dump it altogether. A simple process of elimination really. All based on values and my life plan, of course.”

Before getting even more confused, I decided to draw a line in the sand and leave it at that. Except for the book. That time and motion study stuff intrigued me.

Back to the Book

“Tell me more about that book,” I said.

“OK.” she looked up at me, “It might sound a bit silly but here goes. In the book Frank did things like applying shaving cream with two brushes – one on each side of his face - to speed up the process. Now while I, obviously, (and she glared up just daring me to say something. Silence. Discretion being the better part of valour on this occasion) don't do that, I did follow some of his other suggestions re timing of a number of sub-tasks needed to accomplish a larger undertaking. For example - this morning at breakfast I stopped myself to have a little think about whether I should put the toast in before I started the coffee machine. What operation would take the longest and could be done parallel with another, rather than them all being done in series with waiting time in between. Stringing tasks all together in one long critical path seemed more efficient. When it was all over I had about 2 or 3 mins more to relax with coffee before beginning on the next main event. If I do that all the time, for everything I do, I get a lot of free time to myself during and at the end of each day. It's what keeps me sane. And I feel really great when I achieve an efficiency in a task and make my life and time more effective. It is really fantastic.

As I felt a smile gathering itself around my eyes and lips I turned away faking a cough.

“See,” she laughed, “I knew you'd think it was weird.”

Oh Jillian. This time I wished I'd never asked.  #ourjillian

Jillian 31 – Cottage in The Snow

For the start of these episodes go to
http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

Jillian had a friend, we'll call her Mandy. Sadly she has passed away now, but at the time Jillian knew her she owned a delightful little cottage in a country town a few hours away from a major city in Australia. It was in an area noted for snow - being a few hours from a popular ski resort.

Cottage

The cottage was a two bedroom single story 'in-line' dwelling. By 'in-line' I mean bedroom 1 was at one end and bedroom 2 at the other with the lounge, kitchen, laundry and bathroom in the centre. There was a carport at one end. The whole place was capped with a green painted iron roof and a bull-nose verandah with a timber floored decking which was only about 15 cm above the ground.

Situated up from the road about 500 metres, with the longish driveway meandering through a lovely garden of native plants, shrubs, flowers and large trees; it was idyllic.

Backyard

The back yard – such as it was – where the wood-lean-too lived and the small, low shed for a few garden tools and other implements required for an almost country retreat - pretty much backed directly onto the hill behind. There was a tiny strip of lawn extending from behind the carport to the bedroom at the other end of the home, and a flower bed or two as Mandy loved her little plot of ground in the bush.

This is where Mandy lived and Jillian had been a guest a number of times.

Style

It was an English style retreat with hundreds of knick-knacks which lived on many and various pieces of vintage (elegant) but mismatched furniture pieces. There were crocheted rugs, crocheted anti-macassars and crocheted blankets everywhere. It was not subdued, but all the colours (and it was a multi-coloured place) were more pastel then vibrant.

Relax

It was a stylistic mess, but an absolutely wonderful place to drop out of the world and sit by a huge fireplace with crackling, and sparking logs giving heat and almost all the light in the room. Wine was a requirement and Mandy always had some lovely varieties to share..

She was a great cook and baker and the smell of the latest dish or batch almost always required an immediate taste test whenever anyone visited. Visitors were many and varied. And often. Mandy loved entertaining. And these tastings were successful every time and in every way.

Serenity

Mandy loved it. She adored the serenity and the fact that it was small and cosy, warm when necessary and cool on hot summer days.

Rain on the tin roof was a wondrous thing she had wished for ever since she was a little girl living in a small house in the suburbs. It had taken years, but here it was. Everything she had ever wanted. Mandy was happy, content and completely satisfied. She had her haven, her oasis, her safe harbour.

SNOW

One day it snowed.

And it continued to snow for nearly a week. By the time those in the town realised that this was going to be one mother of all snow storms it was a bit late.

Electricity and phones were failing at an alarming rate. Roads were blocked. Snow was pushed up into huge drifts 1 - 2 metres high on the windward side of any structure and was sloughing off hills and banks to pile up equally high on the sheltered sides of buildings.

To put it mildly it was – well you can't put it mildly. It was turning into a catastrophe. One the townsfolk had not experienced before.

Trapped

After Mandy found she couldn't open her front door, nor see out of the windows on the front of her home she became a little frightened.

Her battery operated transistor radio tuned to the local station was only playing static. So frantically she used her trusty emergency torch to tune to a station some towns away. The announcers were very excitedly explaining that this was going to be a case of staying home and waiting it out. But already Mandy was unable to open the front door or the windows.

In a huge panic she rushed to the back door and thankfully it opened.

But this was not a good sight. The snow had slid off the hill behind and down to the lawn. It was 2 metres high. She could get out of the door but could not get to the wood, the shed or the carport - or anywhere for that matter.

She was trapped.

No power, no phone, no more wood for the fire, a few baked goods and one casserole. The water pipes, she found when thirst drove her to the kitchen, must have burst or frozen as no water could be coaxed out of the tap for love nor money. This was not looking good for Mandy.

Disaster

It was starting to get much darker outside. She began to feel that she couldn't breathe. Mandy's haven, oasis, safe harbour was now nothing but. It was a prison, It was a horror house. It was a shelter no more.

She could not sit, she could not sleep, get warm, nor eat, nor drink. Reading and relaxing was obviously completely out of the question. Panicked pacing was the order of the day.

For some hours she just wore out a trail from one end of the house to the other.

The excitement she had felt at having her own beautiful place disappeared in a trice and was replaced by fear and loathing. She began to worry if she would get out alive. The walls seemed to be closing in. The roof was getting lower. Everything was dark and dire. Sounds were muffled by the huge buffer of snow between her and the rest of the world. Not that the rest of the world was doing much of anything that would make noise anyway. All was quiet. All was still. It was unreal.

Eventually Mandy fell asleep on the rug in front of the very dead and very cold fire.

Discovery

She was discovered, some day and a half after this, curled up in the foetal position, still in-front of the fireplace; very tired, very cold, hungry, dehydrated and more scared than anyone should ever be at home alone.

Luckily the local emergency volunteers had managed to get themselves mobile and had begun a house to house to find anyone who might have been trapped. Fortunate for Mandy

Mandy sold the cottage that summer and moved back into the city. Never to be a country girl thereafter. Of course Jillian didn't get to stay there again. #ourjillian

Jillian 30 – Pilot Licence Mega FAIL!

Pilot Licence

For the start of these episodes go to
http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

Every now and then Jillian tells me a snippet of something or other and then we move on and the information becomes lost in the mists of - well not time, necessarily - but forgetfulness and insignificance shall we say?

Some time ago, while trawling through my notes, I came across an item about one of her friends failing his private pilot's licence in interesting circumstances.

I asked about this again.

Seems this chap had been doing quite well – handling your basic up and down stuff; emergency landings (where you have your experienced pilot teacher reach around you and shut down the engines when you least expect it - and then say to you, “You have about 45 seconds to find a place to land.”

Oh and you ought to find some smoke to tell you the way the wind is blowing because you MUST land with the plane facing into the wind; and you need at least x number of metres to land and it must be clear of obstacles like phone or power poles and wires, holes, small hills, hedges, trees, fences, houses, bicycles and I suppose roads and people but he apparently didn't mention some of these things. They were to be expected, Jillian seemed to imply. Then there were stalls (you know where the training pilot makes the aeroplane almost fall out of the sky – the “Oh dear What are we going to do now?” moments; scary almost vertical spiralling dives and all things in between.

Some of these included heaps of memorizing particular aircraft bits and pieces, radio jargon (you know the Alpha, Beta, Delta … Romeo, Juliet things) and having at your fingertips reams of important weather information, weight calculations and navigational ephemera.

I mean, “There is so much to know,” I said to Jillian after listening to this for some time, “Why would you ever WANT to have a pilot's licence?” “A pilot needs to be a walking encyclopedia.”

But he, apparently, knew it all so it was time to take the figurative bit between the teeth and make a bid for the licence. At least the first of, I think she said 2 or 3 parts of the full licence.

Towards the end of the hour of the actual licence exam which had gone quickly and seemingly satisfactorily, the tester asked the pilot to return to the airfield.

Now this requires a square pattern to be executed, Jillian explained to me. You need initially to head for a point, a known and previously agreed upon landmark on the ground, and then turn towards the runway which will be to your front and right (probably) some 5 or so kilometers away. Hopefully you can see this aforementioned runway, but if not just head in the general direction.

Landing requires you to pass the runway at right angles, turn downwind and run alongside this landing strip, turn across wind with the runway at right angles to you and then turn facing forwards down the length of this narrow strip of grass with the wind now blowing toward you, and execute the landing. Did I mention you needed to know which way the wind is blowing (if there is any wind) before starting any of this manoeuvring?

Well, our friend reached this landmark, executed the turn towards the airport and runway which he could see in the distance and was heading in to do the square pattern landing, secure in the knowledge that his licence was in the bag.

Imagine his surprise when the examiner asked him what he was doing. Of course he explained he was doing as he was told. Heading in to land the aeroplane after reaching the previously defined ground landmark.

“OK.” said the examiner, “Why are you STILL doing this?”

At this point Jillian's friend smelled a rat and said,”Am I missing something, Jim?”

“You might say.” said Jim. “There is an emergency. All traffic in the area has been asked by radio to avoid the airport for the next 10 minutes or so. You, specifically, have been asked to turn away to port (left for those not used to this language) and to not attempt to land, in order to make way for this temporary emergency state. You have ignored these instructions - given 3 or 4 times with increasing urgency; and air-traffic controllers have had to re-route several other aircraft out of your way, even the helicopter with the emergency situation.”

“I am afraid, if you cannot follow simple radio instructions, I am not going to be able to approve you for your licence. You are a menace to other aircraft and the flying public.”

I think that constitutes a mega-fail. Don't you? #ourjillian

Jillian 29 – A Little Night Music

For the start of these episodes go to
http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

Jillian loves live music. We mentioned this a while ago when speaking of some time one night in New York.

She reminded me, the other day, of another musical interlude in her life.

This time it was an evening with a female jazz stylist.

Jazz

“What does 'Jazz Stylist' mean,” I asked, “before we go any further?”

She replied with a HUGE eye-roll. (Sometimes you just should stay ignorant with Jillian. It is a lot easier.) “Have you heard of Billie Holiday? Well she was a Jazz Stylist. It is someone who has their own typical way of singing or playing music. Really. Your lack of knowledge of everyday things astounds me.”

My turn for the eye-roll.

“The lady of which I am speaking,” she grammaticised, “is a wonderful sultry, warm-voiced vocalist offering a repertoire of popular jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, including selections from swing and groove to bossa nova and blues.”

“Oh!” I say. Suitably chastened. Jillian sounded a bit like 'Dr Google' and perhaps some of these observations are actual quotes from websites she has visited. I don't know, but this singer woman sounded interesting.

I didn't find out who our musical paragon was, nor where Jillian lived when she listened to this magnificent music. I remained stuck in the details.

Music?

Then Jillian veered away from the audio to the visual. We went from the point of it all 'The Music' to what it looked like. Yeah. Beats me too.

I'll stay with Jillian in real time and not try to figure anything out. Sound fair?

Venue

The venue was upstairs in a loft-like structure. There was a bar at the back and a stage at the front. One of those pretend stages that is all of 6 inches higher than the actual floor.

The room was small. Probably only seated about 50 guests at small round tables. The walls were distressed exposed brick, and the vaulted ceilings (black timber beams and white plaster) were covered in framed black and white photos of musical and movie greats. Mostly from before her time she noted drily. Oh, she did say the sound quality was absolutely fabulous so that was something.

It was a cute, intimate, friendly space – her words. She sat at a table with a youngish couple who even after only 10 years of marriage were starting to look a bit alike. I mean their glasses were almost identical just to start. Catty, I thought.

A Lady Gone Bad

You've heard the line from the Billy Joel song ' … makin' love to his tonic and gin'? Think microphone and you have an idea. A lady gone bad if ever there was one. In the best possible way, of course.

Blond hair piled up, floor-length black gown, diamante studded belt, and matching sparkly 3 inch high heeled open toed Manolo Blahnik sandles finished the look. And it was a 'look' just like from the Roxette song of 1989.

Pianist

“The pianist who seemed to be an extension of the piano stool flowing over onto the keyboard, was wearing what looked to me,” she said, “like a Chairman Mao outfit. Head to toe In shades of basalt grey.

It turned out he had spent the last few years in Shanghai so not surprising really.

His playing was technically brilliant, emotionally ebullient, and mesmerising.

Guitarist

The guitarist played like a man demented. Never missing a note that Jillian reckons anyway,and not even a sign of a fuzz but it was not just finger-pickin good it was phenomenal. And fast. Oh boy.

His playing was only overshadowed by his blue, stone-washed stove-pipe jeans and snake skin boots. An apparition to be sure.

Double Bass

The double bass player had his bows in a quiver like scabbard on his bodaciously sized instrument and wore a camo shirt. Very interesting.

Drummer

The drummer, she figured, was not of this world. He had a smallish kit, but his sound was bigger than Texas. She looked at me for a reaction when she said this. I am GLAD to say I disappointed her. My mind was on a much higher plain

“How anyone can still breathe after what he did,” Jillian said, “I just don't know.”

“What was he wearing?” I asked.

“Oh, I couldn’t tell. He was in a bit of a dark patch”, she said.

I was going to comment, but, wisely I thought, kept my mouth shut.

Boggie Woogie

Towards the end of the evening, she remembered, they were joined by a saxophonist and a different pianist who played boogie woogie and swing.

“It was awesome.” she cooed.

Gads. I've NEVER heard Jillian coo before. It is a very different thing.

The evening finished with an extremely nice version of Dave Brubeck's 'Just take 5'.

Apparently some whiskey was consumed as well.

“A good night?” I asked unnecessarily. #ourjillian

Jillian 28 – Appro & Other Things.

For the start of these episodes go to
http://career-change-strategies.com.au/jillian-1-meet-my-friend/

It's coming up to Melbourne Cup time, and it got me thinking. I asked Jillian if she had heard of 'buying on appro'?

She said she remembered her parents talking about it. Wasn't sure if they ever did it - but yeah the concept was known to her.

Appro

Seems that what used to happen was, in the olden days, you could buy something for a small deposit – probably about 10% of the price and take it home. Things like washing machines were popular in my youth, since many people back then did their washing in a copper. Now that's a story for another time.

When you had the unit at your place you could use it for a bit (time usually depending on the item and the price paid) and if you didn't like it you could return it. You then received all your deposit back. The system could be used for almost any non-consumable product.

Item had to be in resalable condition when returned, of course.

Why do we remember appro at this time? Well it has been known that a number of the Melbourne ladies have purchased hats and fascinators, even complete outfits that they will never wear again so that they can make a huge splash at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Not cool or nice but I'm told it happens. Hence the link in my fevered brain.

Jillian at The Cup

Jillian remembered going to the Melbourne Cup - the main race day - once many years ago with a couple of friends.

They dressed up in all sorts of finery, top hats and frock coats for the gentlemen and many layered long chiffon dresses for the ladies. Hair in ringlets and things like that.

“It wasn't an attempt to follow a fashion style or time in history – just a way to dress up with what we had or could get hold of easily”, she said. “The clothes and shoes etc didn't have to match or anything. We were just out for a good time and this seemed like the way to do it. You couldn't really wear high heels either as we had to stay within the car park area or the public lawns near the tote boards and the ground was often soft there at that time of year.”

Champagne

We had Champagne (we were still allowed to call it that back then) which we poured from a china teapot into Royal Albert Tea Cups and drank with pinky fingers afloat.

“Don't ask, she hurried on, when it became obvious I was going to. “I have no idea why we did that. One of the guys made that decision.”

“We ate little patti-pan cakes that we had baked the day before. Now they are all the rage, of course and called cup cakes. Who'd have known? Quite appropriate don't you think? We were trail blazers back then.”

Oh and we hired a friend's horse and cart to take us there. We were really going over the top.”

Home

“I do remember”, she said, “waiting for about 4 hours in a queue of very drunk patrons to get a taxi home. It was horrendous. In many cases the women were the worst. Brings out the beast in people I reckon. Freezing cold, loads of stuff to carry and very tired. Never did it again. Haven't been to The Melbourne Cup since. Can't imagine ever feeling the urge.” #ourjillian