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?)
(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.
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.”