Month: April 2015

Merri Hagan 50/365

Merri arrived in town relatively recently. And its a good job she did because we needed someone to sprinkle a bit of magic dust over us all.

She’s the one person I know who really looks like a Disney princess. She doesn’t mean to, she was born like it. So if she is wearing her wetsuit, or her pajamas, her track suit or her ugg boots, she still looks like she has been drawn and little stars are twinking round her  face.

merri paddle

I went round to her house for a coffee and a blog chat. Sometimes, when I’m ringing people whom I haven’t spoken to in a long time (and soon I will speak to people I haven’t spoken to ever before) I feel like I’m all at sea in a massive boat of words, clinging as it rolls to the capital ‘I’. Forgetting the phone altogether and gathering with one geographically close person round coffee, talking all things bloggy, is a welcome harbour in a rough sea of  emotions. Sorry if I am breaking the blog laws, blog god Adrian (1/365)

The main probem with nipping round to Merri’s was that we chatted away about friends and family and children and life and when we were coming to the end of our second cups, I realised that I didn’t have anything to write about and we couldn’t exactly begin all over again. She said ‘Oh just make it up’ and I wrote these notes…

‘Apollo Bay’s answer to Grace Kelly, taps into quantum physics, main manifester, Nespresso, hopes and dreams, Cirque du Soleil, always destined to marry an American, thoughts create your reality, Cate.’

It was the last word that was undoubtedly the reason why she and I rabitted on about nothing tangible for two hours. It was out of a sense of relief. The night before, we had both had little or no sleep, as had few people in our town because Cate’s (30/365) 18 year old daughter and her friend were missing in Nepal in the eathquake zone. At 3am my husband had woken me to say that an ABC journalist had phoned Cate and the girls were injured but safe. The air that night had been so heavy with prayers.

Looking again at the list I made, let me see-

Grace Kelly/Disney princess, same same.

Quantum physics. Merri and I both have a fascination with the notion that your thoughts have power. She can reel of a long list of great things that she has manifested and I brought to the table the fact that I asked my (departed) Dad for a powerful stereo (he was always so good at chosing that sort of thing) and there it was (for free) on the nature strip of the house opposite, three days later, speakers, 5 cd holder, everything! Yes it is permanently on random, but isn’t everything!

So that has dealt with the ‘main manifester’ note, the Nespresso speaks for itself, hopes and dreams all look like coming to fruition, and that brings us to Cirque du Soleil.

merri masks merri caravan

Merri had a very interesting career working for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vagas. I don’t think I need to add to that because you can just imagine how good that would be!

And as a bonus, she also met her lovely American partner at the office, and he wins the prize for most romantic husband ever. Here they are on top of the big top.

merri tent

She tells me all the little things he does, like the flowers he arranges to be delivered (no he doesn’t arrange them!) to the surprise hotel he booked for a romantic weekend together away from the children. It gets worse, he also buys her chocolates and gifts and takes her to choose boots and restaurants and champagne, he leaves little notes and trails to pretty things for her and she must feel like she is in some sort of movie.

But for a girl from Victoria who is a strong believer in your thoughts creating your reality and who needed to manifest a romantic lead prince to go with her sparkle and who had an American flag in her bedroom because she had hopes and dreams… well, it looks as if they are all coming true!

merri and dan merri flag

Brigitte Fessier 49/365


Brigitte and I only connected on Facebook a month ago after 15 years out of touch.

She lives in Toulouse in France and our mothers are good friends. She became my summertime au pair when the phones were ringing to the max in 1970 and I saw her as a bit of a genie! She wanted to grant every wish I had and that led to some very spoilt facial expressions from me.

I was lucky to have her to myself as no one else had plans to pamper me, but her ideas for dressing me each day led to one big rebellion. Definitely not the blue dress, definitely not the pigtails with ribbons. Today she was quick to remind me that I took the scissors to the blue dress and made a wrap-around garment for the doll I hated too.

Hearing her voice and her stories brought back so many great memories and made this song ring in my ears.

In 1980 when she was less of an au pair and more of a talking point, she bought this single and played it on repeat for the entire six weeks of her visit. We watched her through glass doors dancing.

Chatting, we cover a lot of old ground. She says my page about (“the very naughty”) Damian Buckley really rang true for a time when the phone never did stop ringing. She remembers standing in the hall with three phones blaring out and knowing that she would have to pick one up and face a patient. The very thought took me right back to moments when I would have to lower my voice and act like I knew what I was talking about too. On that particular occasion, she thought she had done quite well until the patient asked her which part of India she was from.

Then she reels off our number 70699; we all had a soft spot for it.

I was Godmother to her younger daughter and over the years we have had great reunions for family milestones. Cecilia (Missy) has taken the family skill in dancing to a new level, Kizomba! Here she is in Paris.

We finish our conversation with a lot of love bouncing off the satellites between Australia and France; very appropriate for this ANZAC day blog because everyone is feeling it.

Rene Knaap 48/365

Rene 2

Rene and I have spoken quite a lot on the phone recently, the real phone, you know, the plugged in one. It feels a bit like going back in time because when we were small we seemed to be phoning the local Anglican priest a lot; church was at the centre of the village and the centre of our lives in the 1970’s.

My playground was the graveyard that surrounded the church until swings arrived in about 1976. Having the gravedigger as a close personal childhood friend and swinging my legs in the hole as he sank deeper and deeper into the earth is one of my most precious childhood memories. Later, when he had gone, we would have competitions with friends to see who could jump over the hole- lengthways! It was fine with some of the little old ladies, but Sid Sumner, never. The invention of plastic tarpaulin ended that great game. And I stopped going to church regularly in my twenties.

Rene and I met in real life in a cafe because I had asked him to be a referee for me. I sometimes wish someone would come along and blow a whistle and instruct me to sit on the bench but Rene would never be that kind of referee.

We had chatted for about an hour and a half when I told him how hard it is catching people on the landline now and then I announced that I was going to take his photo and turn this chat into a blog post. I’m not sure if that is breaking the rules or not but with the next page 49/365 being dedicated to my lovely French nanny/friend whom I haven’t spoken to in 15 years, I could do with a quiet number 48.

I then begin taking notes which Rene looks unsure about. I try to make it look less like a dictation by writing just the odd word (illegibly) and the focus of our conversation turns towards the phone. Rene tells me what he thinks about the modern use of the phone, ‘it’s all so immediate. People rarely chat, they are more often than not giving messages’ and I chip in that most people now say ‘don’t phone, text!’ They even leave spoken messages telling you to do just that. It’s putting a strain on our talking time but not our voices.

I tell him, as if he is my counsellor (which I suppose he is), that I now really only have two or three friends left to phone in England, it’s all about Facebook now. He calls it ‘The Long Goodbye. You emigrate and expect to keep in touch via modern means but really it’s just prolonging the inevitable.’ He explains that when his parents emigrated from Holland, it was for good and apart from airmail letters you had to cope with having said goodbye for ever. I do visit my homeland in my dreams and my dad used to spend hours on google earth ‘driving’ round his practice after he had emigrated too. And thanks to modern aviation, I shall visit it in person later this year when I am going to be a bridesmaid for a friend outside London. Yes, that’s right, I have two beautiful daughters but my friend wants me as her bridesmaid!

We discuss weddings and Rene tells me that there has been an 80% drop in the number of weddings held in churches. However, there is a couple in New Zealand who went on google earth and thought that our town was the prettiest they had ever seen so he is marrying them in the church later in the year; they have never been here before!

Two coffees, one tea and one hot chocolate later, we head back into the street. I have to tell you that I went to four church services over Easter, Rene and Brett put on such beautiful and peace-loving services, I became addicted. I never thought I’d find a church like my old one back home, and I haven’t, I’ve found a new one and it’s really good.

Offspring on Swepstone Church wall. Dad's ashes are here.

Offspring on Swepstone Church wall. Dad’s ashes are here.

Brett and Rene.

Brett and Rene.

Raelene Hyatt 47/365


I have just been on the ABC radio and I had to keep admitting that my phoning friends blog is going to take some time. It’s all so emotional, you see, 365 days is nothing when it comes to digging up your past (with the receiver of a phone as a spade) and spreading it out across the internet for all to see. And the rush…I get excited that I will be ringing someone on, say, Friday, there’s the build up and then there’s the abject joy and hilarity in speaking to them down the line. Then comes the write up and that’s always packed with a suitcase full of emotion and then there’s the photo and the finished page, which I sometimes don’t want to move on from too quickly.

Damian 46/365, has been up there like a memorial statue to my youth for the last three weeks! It had taken me  three weeks in the beginning, just to digest the call.

Friends, we are losing a lot of sensory activity as the landline disappears into the landfill.

Here is the article.

In the title, Larissa Romensky from the ABC has written that I had endeavoured to ring all my friends in a year but you and I both know I have failed at that! I was saying as much to my friend Raelene after I’d put the phone down to Larissa and she had rung the door bell and walked in with a moist chocolate cake- Raelene, not Larissa!

‘I’m trying to contact my friends but it’s hard, very few seem to be able to get to a landline, I’d like to get to page 50 by May.’ Raelene looked at me with her big brown eyes and told me reassuringly that I’d get there.

Then I said ‘You’re my friend aren’t you?’ she looked at me quizzically. ‘I mean you are my friend on Facebook’ and then I remembered all the pictures I’d seen of her daughters dressed up as fairies, dancing in the local forest. ‘You’re next!’ I said, relieved that as I see her twice a week, I won’t have to run the gamut of my emotions with this one and I picked up my pencil.

‘You’re a great friend,’ I said, ‘you bring cake and your daughter draw pictures of me!’ What more could I want in a friendship! I quickly took a snap of her and she turned away because she wasn’t wearing make-up. ‘That’s a good one!’ I say, turning it round, and she agrees to let me use it.

She’s number 47, a prime number for a prime friend, she’s a singer, we are sopranos in the choir together- giggling at the high notes, she lives over the road, she’s Anglo-Indian, her husband is part indiginous Australian, she makes balloon animals and sells popcorn, she face-paints and she bakes cakes. She’s Raelene and look, thank goodness for her,  there is no tear in my eye today.

Paige fairy Paige pic