Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Bookcase of Memories

Words and pictures by the Blogger

A daughter is one of the most beautiful gifts this world has to give
Laurel Atherton

Two decades + 1 year - from  an exuberantly wild, long-limbed topless tomboy to a mature, confident and driven young professional woman. Where did the in-between years go?

Fathers and their daughters, even more so when they are the first born, are ‘coalesced and conglomerated’ into an almost indescribable and inseparable bond. At the tender age of twenty one (21), a milestone tinged with poignancy and parental reflection, there are just as many unanswered questions, unfounded fears and absurd anxieties as there were a new life and time ago! 

 An extract from a previous blog post entitled: More M&Ms - Mutterings and Musings – August / September 2010  With my new eyes, acutely attuned ears, my sensory overhaul, I feel the way that a condemned man might feel on receiving a last minute stay of execution.  It’s no wonder that I’ve experienced some intensely emotional moments recently, on my leave particularly in relation to my own immediate family and friends. I’ve witnessed Frances blossom into a versatile, more confident and very capable adolescent reveling in sociable, team-based activities. Giving her all, whether as part of her school flute ensemble or club netball team. Stunned at how with nonchalant ease, steely composure and pin point shooting accuracy she could singularly, almost, dismantle her opposition in their Grand Netball final after the scores were deadlocked with precious minutes remaining. With no experience to draw on … where did this ability come from?? Perhaps the exuberance of youth, African resilience (vasbyt) or Aussie bravado / fighting spirit or perhaps it has a closer genetic home? I seem to be a stranger to this person, mind and personality that has been developing at the centre of our family life.

Shelved memories on display ..... lest those in the inner recesses of our mind and heart begin fade......

At this significant rite of passage, bookended by two decades and continents – with formative years in native South Africa and adolescence/adulthood in adopted Australia, there is a measure of satisfaction that as parents we’ve been able to provide a balanced upbringing and education representing, arguably, the best of both disparate worlds. Whereas the physical remoteness, oceans apart, remains a constant the socio-cultural gulf, worlds apart, is ever increasing. Yesteryear’s hope and promise all but snuffed out but fortuitously replaced by a bright and viable alternative - the Australian dream.

Cherished times never taken for granted

Experienced it! Pokemons, Sims, UniGames .... 

One of many life-altering memories ‘gifted’ by a progressive and functional Australian society, that prides itself for its hard yakka – work (and play) ethic, is legalized/protected employment for youth in their early teens. Juggling extra mural sport/art with approximately 40 paid employment hours per month in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector is a tall order but a fascinating and necessary ‘rite of passage’ for countless young Aussies – it’s simply the done thing! Commencing at the confused and clumsy ‘twilight-age’ of 14, most are thrust into the fore-front of customer service/retail trade serving at fast-food outlets, restaurants, supermarkets, fruit and vegetable outlets, butcheries and delicatessens.

Working and playing hard - putting everything into life

Many teens are exposed to an array of store front, customer service, and back office tasks – roles and responsibilities including cleaning chores and financial transactions - dealing with cash and credit. The nett result, invariably, is a confident and switched-on Aussie adolescent consumer group with marketplace/consumer SMARTS including a well-defined and personalized work ethic; what it is to provide as well as receive ‘acceptable – world class levels’ of customer service in an increasingly service-oriented milieu; the value of money – earning and spending it; and time/priority management.

Adorable idiosyncrasies given wings........... 

The flip-side of all of this is that Australian society/consumers are covertly seduced and or blatantly king-hit by highly sophisticated and ruthless multi-media machinery intent upon extracting every possible dollar, present or forthcoming, from less vigilant or discerning shoppers. With immense societal/ peer pressure and a pre-occupation for immediate gratification fueled by beautiful people, bodies, places and cuisine – let the good times roll! Health, fitness and well-being, once peeled back and exposed, competes constantly with an insidious ‘cringe- binge society’ predominated by fast food, fast alcohol, fast sugar and other fast vices.

Confronted by this bookcase and its countless vignettes, short stories, chapters, books – fables, non-fiction or otherwise – even if incomplete – this represents a personal, living library in its own right. First faltering footsteps; ‘raptured’ randomness, of thought, personality, and aptitude, emerging and evolving; uncanny fingered and spatial dexterity – boxed origami menagerie with all manner of walking and flying creatures – precise, practiced, perfect – origins unknown ……. early glimmers of self-discipline and determination; fastidious fascination with mythical and ethereal creatures – dragons and Dragonology, fairies, dinosaurs etc……

Dragonology and drawing really cool stuff....

A bookmark – WRENCHED away to new and different world ….. finding a meaningful place in it. Pedagogical and personality transformation centered upon an open, energetic, inquisitive, adventurous, no bars hold mindset. Unrecognizable quirk-arty twist.  Opportunity given and taken – a life embraced and lived to the fullest. Streakish independence verging on selfishness – perhaps the difference between mediocrity, being just another Sheila blogs ssp. Australiensis, or someone of substance – perhaps excellence given the fiercely competitive nature of the Australian way of life.

Womanly paraphernalia......... 

From an exuberantly wild, long-limbed, topless tomboy to a mature, confident and driven young professional woman but still, a yet incomplete metamorphosis.

Celebrating Aussie Awesomeness! A work in progress.

Friday, May 13, 2016

When I was Once King.....

Text by Barry Greville-Eyres

Once upon a time whilst muddling and muttering through this life I received an arrow shot and very timely reminder of what I once was. This struck rawly at time-numbed and travel-wearied nerve endings but has been an enduring epiphany ever since. 

I also recall that in a port city, in the very small Kingdom of Our South Africa, there are priceless treasures hoarded away in the smallest of boxes within many other, bigger boxes. One wonders whether they have survived the passage of time and pilferage. These treasures are odes to those at the very centre of this kingdom and for the very fear that they will never be told or retold enough, as they richly and deservedly should; there is no better time than now to share these stories and expressions of love and gratitude towards my family – both to my partner and wife for the better part of my life and our children.

Throughout this and rough and tumble rule, countless gifts were bestowed upon this undeserving King. Most were at the hand of his gracious Queen..... some were immediate whereas others were time-lapsed and often not fully realized or appreciated. They included unwavering support; rude career and directional nudges; incredible patience; much self-sacrifice and a priceless family.   

The heirs rode handsomely on his knees, back and shoulders; waltzed cocooned in his arms; juggled and caught countless balls with relentless monotony and blazed, with same intensity, many walking trails throughout his and other kingdoms in faraway lands.

Once, as a husband, parent, confidant and imperfect ruler he was at the centre of their universe. He was touched and re-touched by their love, energy and adoration but now, alone, exiled to troubled lands and with wonky knees, wizened features he desperately longs for that ‘touch’ again and harbors secret and irrational fears that he has already had, that last touch!