January 13, 2018

"I finished Year 12 in 1988, auditioned for WAAPA, which even though I didn’t get in, getting an audition was still a huge achievement."


The packing process continued today, as I wind up yet another phase of my life. This blog piece was heavy on my mind, like a goal I had set for myself…if I finish packing up the studyroom, I will reward myself by sitting down and continuing with the story of my life…the places and people that I’ve had the privilege to share it with and the stories laced in between that come to mind as my memory drifts back.


       I’ve been reminiscing throughout the day about Roleystone, and before I leap into where I ended up next, I feel there is more to say about my childhood home. At one point in the 80’s my Nanna and Pop came to live with us while they built their new home in Ferndale. Ironically the house I’m about to take refuge in until I sort my next move out.

If memory serves the house and land package cost them about $69,000 and they paid cash for it. It was a Plunkett Home. I don’t even know if Plunkett exist anymore?


       My Nanna was always a good saver and lent money to everyone in the family over the years. I’m not sure anyone ever paid her back, nor do I think she expected them too. She was a generous lady when it came to family and all she ever wanted was to see us thrive. My Pop was a loving man, who always had time for us kids, taking us fishing and letting us loose in his tool shed. I loved that man with undying devotion and have soul custody of his handwritten memoir that he began writing in 1978 and continued until 1998, when his Parkinson’s got so bad, he couldn’t write any more.

He cared little for money and let Nanna worry about the finances. She’d give him $10 pocket money a week, half of which he always gave to me to spend on a new album at Kmart whenever I went to stay with them.


       In the mid 80’s my Nan won $50,000 once on a Scratch and Win draw. The radio station rang her expecting a hyped-up caller, screaming about winning that much money. Instead my Nan was very reserved, as her Austrian heritage is, and when they asked her what she’d do with all her prize money, she said, ‘I’ll probably just put in the bank.’


      What she actually did with it was give her three children $5000 each and all the five grandkids got $1000 each. At the time I was 17 and it felt like a million dollars. I bought my first car with it. A 1976 Triumph 2000 that some guy up the road was selling. To be fair, I didn’t get a say in it, my Dad bought it for me, thinking I’d love it. I hated it, because all my friends had Gemini’s and Cortina’s and I had to drive around in this ancient heap of shit. My Dad had a Triumph Spitfire, a little snazzy sports car he was doing up, so I think he was trying to buy up an empire but I didn’t see the value of a vintage European car the way my Dad did. Well, not until the day I went to sell it.


      I’d set my sights on travelling the world and to do so I needed to get the cash from the car to help fund my trip. I cried buckets, because I’d grown to love my quirky Truimph. Like most of the cars I’ve ever owned, if they could talk, they’d tell you some great stories. Like the time it conked out in the middle lane of the Perth Causeway in peak hour traffic. I just got out and abandoned it. When I returned later with my Dad to see if he could fix it, someone had bounced it onto the centre of the roundabout outside Police Headquarters.


      Ironically it started first time when my Dad turned the ignition key. ‘Probably just overheated,’ he said matter-a-fact-ly and I drove it home.

It’s probably worth a fortune now as a collectors item.  It was red, an automatic (when everyone else was driving manuals), and had a wooden dashboard and white leather bench seats.


       Anyway I digress, back to my Nanna and her generosity. I remember one family gathering, must have been in the early 2000’s because I’d just returned for living in Kalgoorlie for 6 years.  Nanna and Pop decided to gift all of us grandkids with $8000 each from their savings. It was totally unexpected. She said, ‘We want to see you enjoy the money, we don’t want to wait until we’re dead’.


       I paid off my loan on my Toyata Forerunner, (another car with a colourful history),  my cousin Andre and his wife spent it on renovations for their house and my youngest cousin Vanessa, bought herself a boob job. 


       When Nanna and Pop came to live with us in Roleystone, I loved it. Nanna and I would go ‘scrumping’ in the apricot orchard up the road and eat so many apricots it gave us tummy ache but lovely loose bowels. She taught me how to preserve them and we had jars of them stored in our pantry. I can’t eat one now without thinking of that time.


       I finished Year 12 in 1988, auditioned for WAAPA, which even though I didn’t get in, I still think getting an audition was a huge achievement. They said I was too young, and that I need to go get some life experience then come back the next year and audition again.


        Mum and Dad had planned to go back to the UK to visit relatives in 1990, so I worked for a year at MYER in the city and saved all my dollars to go with them, with the intention of continuing on to travel the world and get all that experience I needed to re-audition for WAAPA. But what eventuated was something entirely different.


         The day I arrived in the UK, set me on a completely new path and I never looked back. Needless to say, I never went back to do that re-audition at WAAPA and I often wonder if I might have made it second time around, but to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t because I love what happened to me, and my life is so much richer for it. 


         I was 18 when we went to England. Mum and Dad stayed for about 8 weeks, then returned home to Australia. I stayed on as planned. I don’t recall either of them being cut up about it, but then I was staying with my grandparents (Dad’s Mum and Dad) and I think they thought it would be nice for me to get to know them better.


         Literally from the day I arrived, I knew I was meant to be there. My half brother Chris was on the phone within hours of my arrival. Chris and I have the same Dad, but different Mums. We were born one month apart, but that’s another story entirely! He grew up in Coventry with his Mum and even though we grew up in different hemispheres, Mum and Dad would take me to the UK, every four years during my childhood, and we’d hang out every time and we bonded. We genuinely felt like brother and sister. I really have him to thank for introducing me to the friends I made when I arrived in Coventry who shaped the amazing six years of my life that I spent there.


        While I had left Roleystone and my childhood friends behind, a whole new life was about to begin and I can’t imagine a life now without the friends I made in those years. They are in my thoughts and my heart everyday and each day without them feels like a party I’m missing out on. I can’t pinpoint what is was about those years that was so special but it’s like a magical dream that I dread waking up from, because I still want to be there with them. I miss them all everyday.


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