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.

Jillian 27 – Sea-Baths

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

In a quaint little custom quite a few seaside towns and cities build a structure amongst the rocks right on the edge of the ocean and call it “The Saltwater Sea-Baths”.

Sea-Baths

Why you might do this with miles of sandy beach, sea water, dunes, breakers and all the stuff beach communities love, right there is a bit beyond me. But I have lived in a few places where this is the norm.

So has Jillian.

And to add to this strange reality, many of these pools are quite large complexes also including hot mineral water baths, massage rooms, and many other health spa kinds of things.

But some are just an excavation out of the rocks and are filled by the waves either breaking over the sea-side wall or funnelling through tunnels in the rock just above the highest level of the pool.

Cold

What this means is that these pools are COLD. I mean in the breakers cold water is moving – a lot - and so are you, the swimmer; but, in a pool of this kind the water is mainly still except for the rhythmic tumble of fresh cold water entering at the sea wall end. And all motion by a person seems to make it colder rather than more bearable. What we have here is a deep pool of still, glassy, almost motionless freezing water just waiting for a swimmer to brave it, and I still have to work out why this is so enticing. I mean there is not even scotch whisky involved.

Locked

As well as this there is an even more ludicrous situation at such pools. They are fenced and locked when not officially open to the public – even the ones that are not much more than a hole in the ground and a rudimentary change room setup. Very primitive, But still secure behind high wire fences with barbed wire on top. Bit like a torture prison from one of those unenlightened countries of the past.

But it gets worse.

Midnight Swims

Add to this the mania of most seaside places like this for a winter solstice (the shortest day – longest night) swim at midnight. Yes you heard me. In the middle of the longest, coldest night of the year hardy (read stupid) souls venture into one of these sea baths for a lovely little swim.

And the baths are, of course, closed and locked, aren't they?

Madness

One night Jillian ventured out with a few others in their early twenties to one of these ceremonies. Unfortunately this particular sea baths was below a number of houses built on the cliff above. The shouting, screaming and laughing woke the community minded deeply slumbering neighbours, (it was a clod winter's night) and the constabulary were despatched.

Jillian and her friends heard the sirens and decided to make off into the night. Did I say there were high wire fences and barbed wire involved? Well since they had climbed in - they needed to climb out. It was slow and dangerous work. The blokes a wee bit more worried than the girls.

Oh-Oh

You see, as boys will be boys these chaps had decided skinny dipping was the bees knees. This made escape even more dangerous and speed was obviously of the essence. Hmmm the fence, the barbed wire. Not good for a young bloke.

At least one of our intrepid males decided to forgo the few seconds required to gather up his clothes and climbed the fence naked. Of course he fell off. Was he still on one piece? No time to check. Too cold to tell. Piling into the car and laying rubber they headed off in the direction away from the approaching patrol cars.

Escape?

Now Jillian found herself in the back seat with another young woman and our naked friend. Blue with the cold and by now embarrassed and frightened, he began to investigate whether or not he was still a bloke. No blood was a good sign. But the ladies were not impressed. (That's not what I meant, but it was extremely cold. OK?)

Here was this naked 20 something years old man busily and visibly checking his family jewels while they tried to look the other way.

I have said it before – but as Jillian reiterated – some images just can't be unseen. #ourjillian.

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Jillian 26 – The Food Goes Up And Down

The Food Goes Up And Down

Our Jillian went by herself on a cruise once quite a while ago.

This is one of her stories.

Yes. I know. Another torrid travel tale, but this is funny.

Cruising Alone.

She began, “When you are on your own, you tend to gravitate towards other people so you can share the experience. This is aided by the ship's crew as they allocate you to a table for the evening meal in one of their huge restaurants. I was placed with four best mates. So we five, (a bit like Enid Blyton's Famous Five – the four friends and their dog Timmy), spent a lot of time together.

Friends

“I guess they thought of me as the dog – always trailing along behind them no matter what they were doing. I figured I was more like Julian the older one who was the leader. Almost my name, right? Jillian. So I deserved to be him.

Tour

“One stop, all 5 of us decided to go on a guided tour in a medium sized party type of boat., This included a trip around the island with commentary, lunch and a swim stop.

Swim Stop

“The swim stop came first. It began to rain quite heavily just as we reached the beach. It was the strangest thing. The sea-water was very warm (almost bath temperature), but the rain was freezing cold. We were caught in the middle - our bottoms hot and our tops cold. The weirdest feeling.

“That rain storm should have warned us. But no. What was to come was the best yet.

“It became quite rough when we were on the seaward side of the island (with the tide coming in). Of course as our boat began to pitch and roll – it was lunch time.

Lunch

“The lunch buffet tables were bolted to the deck on the port (right) side of the boat running from the front to the back. You were supposed to start at the back with cutlery and plastic plates and move forward filling your plates with the delicious seafood and other island delights as you went. Then you would find a bench or table to sit at to eat, or go outside onto the deck.

And the food goes up and down

“Of course the rolling motion meant the food was sometimes up and sometimes down. I learnt that day NEVER to stand between a band of hungry tourists and the food.

“You see as the food went up they all short-stepped quickly backwards away from the table down the sloping deck laughing and shouting and gesticulating all the while.

“Then when the food went down they short stepped quickly forwards - towards the tables, grabbed a few things onto their plates before heading backwards away from table again as the boat rolled the other way.

Rinse and repeat

“Each time they managed to get a few more morsels of food. But no one thought to stand and hold on for a bit so many managed to fall over and spill plates covered in slippery prawns, mayonnaise, lettuce leaves and olive oil dressing and other delicacies all over the floor.

“This meant sliding slippery people and accidentally discarded food rolling all over the place with the motion of the boat, further adding to the tribulations of our tourists as they strove to collect the lunch they had paid for. They were getting more and more raucous as it went on.

“It was hilarious. And the vision will never leave me. Some things just can't be unseen.

“I have no idea if anyone actually got anything to eat. I know I didn't. I could not stop laughing.” #ourjillian

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Jillian 25 – The Big Game (Patterns)

A story from Jillian’s memories. A rogues gallery of friends and enemies.

Arthur had been retrenched and had no idea what to do or where to go. Money was not an immediate problem due to a reasonably generous package, and his partner who was still working at a really well paid job. She said she would support him as he figured out his next step.

His life coach worked with him to find out what he enjoyed and what he was good at, basing this on his life history up to now; and with a few generalisations and some chunking up - a model emerged.

Arthur’s patterns of life were related to sport – he didn't play just liked watching. All sports and all events like Aussie Rules, Rugby - Union & League, Cricket of all varieties, Superbowl, Grand Slam Tennis, Olympics – Summer & Winter, World Cup, Grand Prix Motor racing etc. You name it he was onto it.

He even had a pretty good grip on local sport in many of the major cities in Australia

Knowing almost everything there was to know about players, teams and competitions, his knowledge was legendary. Encyclopaedic.

If a player in any team was having relationship troubles he knew about it before the blonde bombshell stories hit social media and TV.

His numbers told him everything.

You see he was also into maths (another pattern that showed up when he and his coach looked for it) not the pure theoretical kind, of codes and theorems, but statistics, probability even finance.

His university studies led him into accountancy, finance and economics. He loved his job as an accountant in a well known city firm, but often seemed to have a plastic smile on his face. Perhaps he was not really a people person, even though as a financial advisor he was meeting with and talking to people all the time. It may have been the backroom stuff that excited him. Not the human element.

But now he had to re-assess - as 'there is no job'.

If sports and numbers were his thing, he needed to figure out how to make that pay. “You see, the clever way to do things is to evaluate what you know and then find a market”, Jillian said. “Someone or some organisation willing to pay money for this knowledge”.

Arthur started out volunteering with a local community radio station doing the sports round-up on Saturday evenings and a much longer summary on Sunday afternoons of all that had gone on sport-wise nationally and internationally in the last week. His numbers ability and knowledge in all sports was now front and centre. Interest in the programs and his audiences grew.

He was happy. And it was good.

So good that before too long he was being poached away from the free stuff to a paid gig at a commercial radio station and then was offered a show of his own on a TV station in Australia. Guests and all. His call. He was the boss.

It was syndicated nationally. A star was born.

A pattern followed, uncovered a life plan. Patterns and Big Game Hunting.

“You see.” said Jillian, “It's not who you know. It's what you know.”#ourjillian

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Jillian 24 – I’ve Done It Again

This time I had no chance to say anything. Our Jillian went off with a tsunami of invective. Seems I had made her feel stupid. Amongst other things. Here's the gist of it.

“You are making me out like some hard drinking idiot. A stupid waste of space. Who has friends who are drunken dickheads and have no respect for themselves, or their friends and families. Most of it not even true or most certainly not of me. Or any one I even know.

“I'd have thought you would understand how much I hate this kind of rubbish. It is not even a dad joke, Certainly not funny and not even worthy of a dad or granddad or any kind of father figure. [editor's note: Not sure where that dad joke reference came from but it is just reported here as spoken by our Jillian,]

“And it's always my fault isn't it? You just can't help yourself?

“Of course if it was a bloke that was supposed to have done all this, no one would care, but because it's a woman then we all have to suffer the bullshit stuff you put out there. Once again, I cannot think for one moment why I thought this might be a good idea. You are ridiculous.”

At this moment I had a go at pointing out that some of the anecdotes might have related to blokes and that not all of them referred to Jillian herself. But

did I get a go? Not on your nelly. She just went on and on. It was quite funny really when you think about it. But, I just let her carry on and get it out of her system. I knew it would be alright in the end.

And it was. But not yet.

“I am not this boozy dipstick you are portraying me to be, and neither are my friends.”

I didn't remind her of her own never-to-be-forgotten quote one night when we had been out with a group of friends and had, perhaps, taken on-board a little more single malt scotch than might have been prudent.

She said,”I am not as think as some people drunk I am.”

Oh dear.

As she is now repeating herself, I figure we'll leave it there. You can be sure there was more of the same. Much more. But I reckon you get the picture. #ourjillian

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#ourjillian

Wow

I'm kinda getting with it. Lots of stuff happening here at Career Change  Strategies.

New Logo. new plan and new direction. Stuff will be changing here on an almost daily basis. More focus on writing and selling my IP.

Stay tuned for more about this. Very exciting.

1st up that affects my good readers is the

Hashtag (#)

All Jillian posts will now have this included, and you can add stories of your very own Jillian. Or at least someone who is very like our Jillian and has some interesting stories to tell. Or some weird stuff. We're into that.

Would love to see this grow.

Writers

Come on all you wannabe writers out there get your fingers going.

Colin

#ourjillian

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Jillian 23 – Some Drinking Anecdotes

Drinking

Jillian has told me so much over the years and as I began this task; I compiled a list of potential topics. Many have already made it into print and many don't really lend themselves to one of our stories. There are others that will be revealed 'in the fullness of time' as they say.

That leaves quite a few that are not likely to make it due to not enough information, or just not being enough.

But I began thinking that they might make a paragraph or so, as part of a group of similar incidents or memories.

I figured I'd give this a try for the 21st episode. In America this is the drinking age, so I looked for a few drinking incidents. Let's hope it is a bit of fun.

Didn't make it for that number – a couple of others had the pleasure, but now is the time.

These are not all Jillian’s antics, but they are based around friends, family, colleagues, or even just (in some cases) mere proximity. ie Our Jillian was nearby or picked up the story details by osmosis. I don't know. They were just a list of things on my notepad.

There was some connection, however tenuous, with Jillian. If you are bored, just remember – we can't all be wonderfully funny all the time. No matter how hard we try.

Air Conditioning

“Did you know,” she said once, “that night clubs turn off the air-conditioning during the evening to make it hot and cause patrons to drink more? And then turn it to Arctic levels when they want them all to leave?”

“I figured as much.” I said. Was a no brainer really.

Wheel Spin

At the finishing stages of a party that a friend of Jillian's attended, many of the revellers popped outside and put one of the guest's cars (a mini as will become obvious in a moment,) up on some wooden blocks until the wheels were just off the ground, but covered by the longish grass in the parking field. When this fellow came out of the hall everyone was hanging around to watch. He got in started it up, put it into gear and went ----nowhere. Wheels just spun and spun. This was really funny because it was an official end of year shindig, she told me later, and the prankee was their teacher.

Dunny

Gee she knew some dodgy characters, our Jillian.

Another chap was left behind at a night club. They thought he had gone home earlier. But the next day they found out what happened. He had fallen off the toilet in a drunken stupor (those early days when toilet cubicle doors went almost to the floor) and had become wedged between the bowl and the door. Jillian and her friends looked for him and not finding him, headed off home a bit miffed. He was found on the final security check when they couldn’t open a dunny door to check inside. Someone had to climb over and move his prostrate body so they could open the door and get him up and out of the place.

Takes all sorts I guess.

Pink Elephants

Old joke but a couple of her friends actually did try it – she swears - very early one morning on the way home from a student social function shall we call it?

Cops: “What are you lot doing?”

Students: “Scaring away pink elephants.”

Cops: “There are no pink elephants here.”

Students: “We're doing a f@#$%^& good job, then aren't we?”

Concoction

I really think this one was Jillian herself. But she denies it. I suppose you would.

A young girl (I'll pretend I believe her) was going to a Blue Light Youth Disco back in the days when they still existed. She was 15 or so I guess and, thinking that this whole boring thing the olds wanted her to go to with her stupid school friends was going to be a complete bust, decided to spice things up a bit.

Not knowing at that time, (it has changed now – well it might have depending on who we are talking about here) much about booze she proceeded to 'borrow' a little bit from each of the bottles in the parents' booze cupboard.

If she had thought about it for a few seconds she might have figured if it was left in a bottle in the cupboard it was probably not much good, but that thought never crossed her mind.

She semi-filled a coke bottle with the concoction and topped it up with enough Coke to disguise the colour and the smell.

The attempt to share it with her friends failed because it tasted absolutely revolting. As it would, having a little bit of Pimms, Green Ginger wine, cheap scotch, cheap vodka, tequila and a couple of lesser know liqueurs. It was always going to be 'the pits'.

But as a girl of conviction, if nothing much else at this time, she figured. “I'd better drink it all as it was my idea.” And drink it she did.

Not long after she felt very unwell and had to be brought home by one of her friend's mothers. She was violently and continuously ill for some 20 mins when she arrived home, went off to bed chastened as it was obvious what had happened, and slept like a baby I'm told.

Didn't even have a hangover in the morning apparently.

Bugger.

#ourjillian

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Jillian 22b – Potty Mouth

How Jillian and her Mum Hit The Town and Learned a Few Choice New Expressions and so Much More!

Show-time in Melbourne continued!

There was still another planned event to go. "How am I going to handle this?" Jillian said to herself.

Venue Number 2

What she really said to me was. "I had a couple of free tickets to the Les Girls show at St Kilda beach.

"They were given to me by a friend (Tom) who worked there as a photographer. You know the kind that muscles up to you and takes those "candid" (and she made the quote marks with fingers) photographs. Later on they bring the prints back and you have the choice to buy them or not.

"Most cases you buy them even though they're pretty awful.

"It was the big thing that used to go on in night-spots before roses.

"Now with the roses, of course, you feel like a bastard if you don't buy one for your girl, and if you do they usually die in a very short time.

"You're stuffed both ways,” she said, and I figured - she'd know.

She went on. “Tom told me all sorts of weird stories about how they operated. Female impersonator shows were relatively new to Melbourne although they had been in Sydney for some time."

Stan Munro

For more than 50 years Stan Munro has travelled the world in drag.
When Mr Munro came to Australia from the UK in 1963 he said he landed his first job as a dancer and acrobat.
"I starred in and compeered Les Girls in Sydney and then did seven years with Les Girls in Melbourne," he said.
"It wasn't long until I was doing solo female impersonating and I have travelled the world with it ever since."
On Friday, July 27, 2012, the then 72-year-old "warmed up" the crowd before Australian pop icons 'Mental As Anything' took to the stage.
In 2013 he was still performing around Australia.

Loads of men brought their girlfriends there while their wives stayed at home thinking they were out at an 'I don't know what - gambling evening maybe'? That would probably have been better than out with a girl. And Tom said the men usually refused the photograph because they didn't want their wives to see it. He often took a quick surreptitious one anyway. The girl usually bought it.

He figured if a bloke could get a night off to take a girl to a show in St Kilda, he could probably hide a photograph.

The Dark Room

But anyway - the dark room,  he told me, where they did the developing and printing of the photographs was a long narrow bit of a room at the back of the auditorium, shut off to keep out the light.

He said he often found interesting things happening, on the dark room floor amongst the spilt chemicals and off-cuts of photographs, discarded film rolls and scads of damaged negatives. He thought it was pretty gross. Lucky mum didn't see any of that. Me too. It would have been an image hard to 'unsee'.

Enough. On with the show.

“OK.” I said. “Enough of the background. Tell me the story.”

“Ha-ha yes!” She reckoned that the background was indeed fun. I agreed, but, “Let's get on with it.” she said.

“OK. We went there in a taxi. I'm not sure what mum was expecting but even after the débâcle of the Flying Trapeze she probably wasn't thinking she was going to get a man dressed up as a woman singing off-colour songs and making off-colour jokes; some of which she may not even understand.

"And lots of fellows dressed up as girls in a chorus line.

"A magician and a few other cabaret style acts.

"Actually it was quite a good show. Dinner theatre kind of thing. We sat at tables, shared with others in our case, and the food was just the usual basic institution kind of roast beef and potatoes. OK but not special and not, to be honest, what I really wanted to show her food-wise in Melbourne. Afterwards I thought that what we ate was more like the stuff she was used to and would have gone over very well."

This time it was me that did the eye-roll thing. This was getting a tad boring.

She saw me and cut to the chase. I didn't get 'The Glare' Funny that!

The End

“The funny bit,” she said, “was what happened at the end of the evening.

"After it was all over, I went to the toilet and left mum in the foyer. Told her to wait for me. Strange really. She was usually the one to rush to the toilet as soon as a show was over. Not tonight!

"On my return – no mother.

"Now this was a bit of a shock. And not a pleasant one. How could I lose my ageing mother in a down-town venue after a show? I had no idea. Panic set in and I began running all over. Back into the auditorium, the dark-room (NO), the toilets again. Calling out 'Mum' in the dunnies is not a good thing in a drag venue in Melbourne. Still nothing. Back to the foyer.

"Then I spied a small sitting room kind of thing a bit off to the left of the foyer. I rushed in.

"Shock again.

"There was my dear old mother, her daggy ancient handbag on her lap, her hand on a man's knee and …. the chap was Stan Munro – the star of the show. OMG. I couldn't believe it.

"She was chatting away in a very lively and almost intimate manner with a female impersonator. They were both so engrossed in conversation they didn't seem to notice me creeping up to them.

"Don't ask me what they were talking about. I have no idea. I don't want to know. Believe me."

I gathered her up, apologised to Mr Munro and made a hasty exit.

The Cab Ride

In the cab on the way home she was quiet for a long time. Then she said, 'He was a very interesting young man that Stan chap. Very clever and quite sweet. His head was shaved. I thought that was funny. Why do you think he would have a silly job like that? And why dress up as a woman?'

This time I went home horrified.

#ourjillian

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Jillian 22a – Potty Mouth

How Jillian and her Mum Hit The Town and Learned a Few Choice New Expressions and so Much More!

Show-time in Melbourne

Some time ago, now (must have been mid to late 70's) Jillian was in Melbourne with her mother. It was the first time Nancy had been in the big smoke. Any big smoke. Much less Melbourne. I mean there was nowhere you could stand and see the whole town. It was too big to even imagine.

Nancy was a small town girl at heart. Her one vice was a very tiny sherry at Christmas. Although I heard there was one occasion she was coerced into taking a shandy. But that is most definitely a story for another time.

Jillian wanted to show her mum a good time while she was here. But our Jillian sometimes missed the mark with her plans. This is the story of two of those times. For some reason it was the night-life Jillian thought would be a good idea. Remember the sherry? Mum was going to go home with a cupla stories NO-ONE would believe.

Venue Number 1

Sometimes I really wonder about her mind. Jillian figured a live performance would be the thing. A kind of comedy cabaret venue, reasonably new, owned and operated by a Melbourne University chap Johnny Pinder. (After all, he was from NZ. How bad could it be?)

John Pinder

(6 January 1945 – 27 May 2015)  born in Timaru on the South Island of New Zealand and raised 80 kilometres (50 mi) further south in Oamaru, North Otago was a comedy producer and festival director who produced band performances, ran live venues and co-founded three Australian comedy festivals, including Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Circus Oz. In the early 1970s Pinder established The Flying Trapeze Café, Australia's first comedy cabaret venue, in Melbourne. (WikiPedia)

The night started well. It was a gorgeous warm evening and mum and daughter went to a very nice little Eyetalian place on Lygon St for dinner. (Nancy's pronunciation) She was a tad racist and a bit slow to change old habits. Of course she was not sure why they weren't eating Australian food, and why was it so late? I mean they were eating TEA as Nancy called it at 7.00. That's PM. In the evening. Nearly midnight really.

After this experience which may well be the topic of anther story they headed off to the dark and dingy venue colloquially known as the 'Fly Trap'.

The Story of the Flying Trapeze

"Things are very strange over here, darling," Nancy mused, on the way which was a short walk. Only one toilet stop. "We have tea or am I now supposed to call it dinner at night and long after the usual time. Your father used to come home after work and his tea had to be on the table at 5.00pm. No later? Except dinner is what we eat in the middle if the day. Lunchtime. You used to as well, dear. Don't you remember?"

"And why are the pictures or concert or whatever we are going to see on so late. Will I be able to get a cup of tea, and will there be a toilet? You know how I am when I'm not at home?"

"I bet you were doing the Jillian olympic eye roll by this time?" I said, chuckling,

Again the glare. I thought I was being funny. Bit I digress.

A largish, slightly unkempt guy in jeans and a T-shirt met them at the door. The place really was quite small. They had a booking. The chap looked at his list and back over his right shoulder into the dark room behind him (we can only imagine what Nancy was thinking at this time) and found the table. It seemed to have people sitting at it. John (for it was THE John Pinder who was looking after them) walked over to the table and sort of politely asked them if they wouldn't mind moving as this table was booked for a lady from N.Z. no less. Almost family.

The couple looked around at the crowded house (sorry - couldn't resist), at the piano suspended from the ceiling immediately above where they were being directed to sit, and pleasantly suggested that as they were there first they should NOT be the ones to move.

Without missing a beat Johnny shouted at this unfortunate couple. " Well, If you aren't going to move - you can FUCK-OFF then."

OH. MY. GOD.

Jillian was gob-smacked. But Nancy was almost apoplectic. Her mouth was open so wide you could pretty nearly hide in there which is what Jillian wanted to do right now. Hide. Not in her mum's mouth, silly. She wanted to be anywhere but there.

Realising that Johnny was not to be crossed they collapsed into the seats at the table and looked at each-other.

"He said wha...???" exploded Nancy. "I mean what IS this place? How can anyone talk to people like that? What are we doing here this late at night anyway. (Editor's note it was about 9.00 pm) With THESE people? We are going to get killed! What will I tell them back home if that happens? What has happened to you Jillian, my baby?"

"I have not heard anything like that before even from your father and he was in the war." she continued in a kind of frenzied voice. Fright and shock mixed together.

"I am not even sure I know what it means, but I know it is a bad word. A very bad word." she erupted again. I thought she was going to have a fit and hit someone.

"I told you she was a strange species," Jillian said as I looked at her not even sure if this was possibly true.

"It was true. Unfortunately," puffed Jillian, reading my mind.

Jillian didn't remember much more of the night. She had a wine or two and a bit later a small snack of cheese balls.

She had a vague recollection that the acts included a man sitting, swaying on a piano stool suspended above our heads playing a Tom Lehrer number 'The Masochism Tango' on an equally dangling and oscillating piano.

Of course Nancy understood that the name of this song also included a bad word and was talking about terrible things.

These thoughts even transcended the unbelievable sight of the piano, stool and man above our heads. “I thought that bit was magnificent,” remembered Jillian.

Afterwards

Things were ominously quiet in the taxi on the way home. But that was infinitely better than Nancy worrying about their safety and the morels of young people today, and what is being called entertainment, and what about the old pictures like the December 1939 classic 'Gone with the Wind' with the lovely Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and things like that?

And so the night ended. But there was still tomorrow.

“Bloody hell,” thought Jillian. “How can I have stuffed this up so much? What will happen at the next place? Why the hell did I think any of this was a good idea? A cup of tea at home would have done. We could have talked. Mother daughter catch-up stuff. Yeah. Right. I don't need this.”

“FUCK. Who am I kidding? I am so stupid.”

#ourjillian

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Jillian 21 – A Tall Ship

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

Sea Fever by John Masefield -1902

The Enterprize

This was as true for Jillian much more recently than when it was written.

Tall Ship Enterprize
The Enterprize Tall Ships Festival in Hobson's Bay

She had ventured on a voyage from Melbourne to Hobart (Tasmania) on a tall ship, 'The Enterprize' a wonderful replica of the ship on which the first settlers to Melbourne travelled.

Wikipedia tells us a little about Mr Masefield - Born in 1878, died in 1967. He left boarding school in 1892 to train for a life at sea, and to break his addiction to reading, of which his aunt thought little. He found, though, that he could spend much of his time reading and writing Later as his love for story-telling grew, and as he listened to the yarns told about sea lore, he continued to read, and felt that he was to become a writer and story teller himself. Sorry Aunty.

 While the poem was not quite the Ancient Mariner it truly resonated with our Jillian on that voyage. You see all the passengers were expected to perform shipboard tasks as much as the crew.

Tiller

tall ship tiller
The Tiller on The Enterprize

 And one lovely night Jillian found herself at the tiller (this ship did not even have a wheel - a bit early in maritime history for that - but who's quibbling - the tiller still had a kick), steering on a compass heading as instructed by the 1st mate. She was joined at her lonely task - the only other person on watch was a lookout on the front of the ship (bow) - by the Captain.

"Of course" I muttered. "Once a Siren always a Siren."

Advice

"Anyway," she said, giving me the evil eye, "He told me to check that I had the correct compass heading and then look up and forward. For a star. Find one that lines up with a part of the ship and keep them lined up as best you can. For at least a few hours that will be as good as anything and much less to-ing and fro-ing will occur. A compass heading, he told her, will require constant vigilance and many, many corrective actions making you very tired and not in the end being all that effective, or comfortable for the rest of the crew and passengers. Hmmmm, perhaps that was what brought him out of his bed and up on deck in his PJ's", Jillian mused.

It was good advice, but made me recite that stanza of the poem over and over. I couldn't remember any more," she said.

Memories

There were many other memorable events and sights on that cruise if you can call it a cruise.” She said. And she went on to mention some of them. Not in any particular order. But she was not the most logical in her memory, our Jillian.

  • Fishing from the back of the boat and eating the catch for dinner that night. Awesome.
  • A bay where we anchored which was so still that I couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky began.
  • Container ships passing in the night looking like cities speeding over the horizon.
  • Crew members (and a few intrepid passengers - not me) swimming with dolphins as we sedately sailed along in the sunshine.
  • The stars. Oh the stars. How can there be so many?
  • Being rocked to sleep every night. Well every 6 hours as we all had to be on watch - 6 hours on 6 hours off.
  • Being woken up after 2 hours sleep when it is raining so hard you couldn’t see; and blowing so hard the bow of the ship was dipping under the water; and being expected to go out on deck to help pull sails down, and tie them up. NOT.
  • Being so seasick the first 10 – 15 hours of the voyage you wanted to die.
  • Gliding majestically under full sail down the Derwent River in the sunshine towards Hobart in company with a large number of other tall ships and boats of all kinds. (Going to the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart.)
  • Using very sharp meat cleavers in the galley while the ship was rolling sideways such that the rails on the deck were almost touching the sea. AGAIN NOT.
  • Being on deck working the sails when the wind, rolling and pitching were such that we had to be shackled to lines (ropes) running along the side of the ship from front to back. VERY FRIGHTENING.
  • Working the tiller (steering without a wheel) when it was so rough the tiller had to be secured with many ropes and a block and tackle was required to move it in any direction – and even then it required more than two of the real crew members to move it.
  • The sun. Inside or outside, arms covered or not. But always the hat, which had to be tethered to your head like those old lady librarians glasses.
  • The tranquillity. Oh the tranquillity. When the sea, the weather and the captain all agreed we needed a break and it was calm and beautiful. Wondrous.

Yep. It was hard work. And I paid more than $1,000 for the privilege,” Jillian mumbled.

But, did you enjoy it?” I asked.

#ourjillian

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Jillian 20 – Fire in the House!

Jillian 20 – Fire in the House!

Sometimes Jillian tells me funny stuff, sometimes life stuff and sometimes general stuff that is not very much of anything.

This time I reckon we got some dramatic substance.

Can't remember when this was nor where in the world, but it was obviously exciting and emotional for Jillian.

The Beginning.

During her religious period Jillian was persuaded to go on a 3 day retreat. Having never done anything like this, before, she figured why not? Could be interesting (probably not that much fun as it was a non-speaking – unless in structured discussions - and non fraternising between sexes kind thing.) But interesting is definitely a word that comes to mind. She was not to know how interesting.

It started on a Friday night and went until after the evening meal on the Monday following. Approx 3 days. At least that was the plan.

The format was a dinner and evening fellowship with all participants on the Friday, (no alcohol came as a bit of a blow to our Jillian, but 'in for a penny, in for a pound' she thought), followed by days of prayer – of course; study of The Bible, biblical and saints stories, meditation, rest and relaxation, discussions of social and community activity, and some personal development material relating to goal setting and life planning. All sounded fine and a bit of a change from the daily routine, which was pretty much the idea of the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the 1520s.

This retreat was run by these Jesuits in a complex of 4 buildings on the outskirts of the city. One building was a common area with meeting, cooking, eating and other such admin rooms, there was a dormitory for girls and one for boys and the priests lived in the 4th building. They were all separated by lovely and secluded walkways and gardens. It was very quiet and even serene particularly for outer suburbia.

“Actually,” said Jillian, “It was really very lovely. I was looking forward to it and would probably have enjoyed it immensely.”

“Probably?” I questioned.

Probably

“Yep.” she nodded. “That is the story here. It never happened. Well the opening dinner did and we headed off to our separate dormitory rooms for a read of some saintly literature and an early night. But it was not to be.”

“Oh.” I mumbled. “What happened?”

“We found out later what started it, but at about midnight the boys dormitory went on fire. The building was a bit like a T where the top bar part was a long corridor with individual bedrooms on one side and in the middle where the down-stroke of the T is there was a lounge with a fireplace, large comfy armchairs and sofas, etc for reading and such.

It seemed a spark from the fire had somehow gone into the woodbox (which was full of small cut logs, kindling and newspaper on the bottom), during the evening after dinner, and no-one noticed anything untoward.

After lights out this must have flared up and began to burn the wall beside and behind the fireplace. One of my friends who was in the boys building said they were all very surprised to wake up to the sound of fire and a huge amount of smoke. The silence thing flummoxed them for a minute or two until they realised that this was an emergency and that quite probably as of this moment the retreat was over.

This friend came out of his room which was right at the top of the T to find that the corridor wall just outside his room – the rear wall of the lounge - was completely engulfed, and that the only fire hose reel in the building was on that wall in the middle of the fire. A few seconds longer he thought later, and he would have been no more. He dropped and rolled along the corridor knowing that there was a door at each end, and he could get out.

Safe; he ran round to the front of the building where he and others were able to assure themselves that all the other boys had evacuated. By this time the priest and the girls were collecting in the area in front of the main building. I think some of the priests, and the boys too, were having trouble deciding which was more exciting – the girls' night-attire or the fire. Suffice to say there was hotness all around.

Being Friday night, and outer suburbia there were pubs and drunks in abundance, and a big fire like this is always a draw-card. My friend saw a couple of likely lads throwing rocks at the fireys who were working hard to stop the blaze from reaching a number of gas cylinders and some waste tar drums – from the driveway upgrade a few weeks earlier. He alerted a fireman with a big hose (you know what I mean – stop it) who then turned this towards the two idiots and needless to say the rock throwing was a wash-out.

The building was not completely destroyed, but might as well have been. It was going to have to be demolished.

Aftermath

We had an emergency meeting in the main meeting room to formally close the retreat, and after ensuring that we had collected all undamaged stuff from the boys building (with help from the fabulous firemen), we all began to head home.

Some people had been dropped off by family and were going to be picked up at the end so Jillian and her - very lucky to be alive - friend began a taxi service to take some of these new acquaintances home.

There were a number of other admin kind of things needing to be done and Jillian's friend (I think I remember now, his name was Patrick) offered to help the priests who were a tad upset and not sure what to do nor to whom to turn in this completely unforeseen and extremely unusual circumstance. The upshot was that Jillian and Patrick managed to get to their homes - to their own safe, unburnt beds - late on the Saturday night.

It was a pretty dramatic retreat. Nothing like what was expected. Probably took a few days for the adrenaline to leave the system and for things inside to return to normal. Patrick could not remember he or anyone he knew being that close to death. It was an awakening. As good as any retreat for bringing one closer to God and renewing one's zest for life.

The next week

Patrick was able to retrieve the remains of the very burnt crucifix that had been above his bed-head (on the wall nearest the actual fire) and he brought it along to the Church service at his local Parish on the following Sunday. The priest gave a sermon on the fragility of life while Patrick stood there with this burnt offering in his arms.

Beat that for Drama.

#ourjillian

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