Old folk at lunch

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Romance and turning points


I think that those who know me would agree that I am not a romantic type of person.  And I have no problem with that.  But anyone who has been married 4 times would seem to have some claim on being romantic.  So let me wander a little through my past.  At age 70, such wanderings are, I think, par for the course.

In my teens I was too much concerned with religion to have any interest in women but I do remember two married ladies from my congregation as thoroughly admirable women.  I imagine that both Ruth and Sylvia Reynolds of Cairns are by now deceased but I retain my high opinion of them both.

When I was about 19 or 20, I became a member of Ann St. Presbyterian church in Brisbane and joined the PFA group there.  I was rather taken with Kay Houseman.  I liked the way she did her hair and admired her beautiful blue eyes.  But am not sure if I ever got to take her out. She is still known at the church and I believe is now a married and divorced lady.

I did however take out fellow PFA member Rhoda Roberts.  She was a sensible, good-natured, down to earth girl.  When we were  walking past a pub once, however, I said to her that maybe we should go in for a drink.  Since we were at the time both teetotal in the best Presbyterian way, it was a joke.  But Rhoda mentioned the utterance to her mother -- who thereupon forbad Rhoda to have anything more to do with me.  So no romance at that time.

About a year later I met Janet Coomber at a folk-music place. She was my first real girlfriend.  She was 16. We did have a rather intense relationship but was it romance?  The relationship went on until her parents forbad it so I think it had some claim in that direction.  Her parents did not like that I had a beard.  I still think Janet was/is an exceptional lady.  She used to play me Chopin's Fantasia Impromptu on her goanna. I can still hear it.  Surely Chopin is ineluctably romantic?  She now lives in France with a French husband whom she greatly admires.  Lucky man!

Life after Janet had a lot of ladies in it but the next one that stays in my mind is Isabella Schmidt-Harms.  I met her at a Goethe Society function at the University of Sydney.  She had the bloom of youth upon her and fitted the Scots description: "a bonny lass".  She was the daughter of the West German Consul in Sydney.  I took her to a musical  -- Man of La Mancha, I think  -- but basically did not know what to do with her.  I get on easily with English and Australian women but I don't really understand German women at all.  I think that German women expect German men to order them about whereas I am more used to good old Anglo-Saxon "signals" to guide behaviour.  So I never asked her out again.

I felt rather foolish about that at the time.  It would not really have been hard to progress matters further and if romance had developed I might well have followed her back to Germany.  My German wasn't too bad at that stage and I would have been fluent within 6 months.  And there is a lot of German in my personality -- Prussian punctuality etc. I am even a devotee of sausages!  And a diplomat's daughter would have socially elevated contacts so I might have ended up among the movers and shakers in Germany.  And Germany is a much more important place than Australia.

I saw all that at the time but deliberately opted out.  I could have been a very good German -- the high culture would have suited me greatly -- but it was a lot easier to be a relaxed Australian.  I was lazy and unambitious.  Still am. So that was a turning point  -- a road not taken.

High culture:  Dr. Merkel, above, at the opera.  She is Germany's "Kanzlerin".  She attends the opera regularly.  Classical music is widely followed and esteemed in Germany (most of it is German anyway).  Most German federal politicians have doctorates (some dubious)

Another such turning point came my way when I was in England and met Margaret.  She was/is a member of Britain's hereditary aristocracy  -- a genuinely upper-class person.  She was/is a lovely lady and wanted to marry me at the time.  I seem to have very good acceptance among the upper echelons of English society so I have no doubt that I could have developed my standing in England to whatever degree I wanted if I had married Margaret.   But again, life in Australia seemed a lot easier.  Margaret is very tall, too, which I like.  We have stayed in contact, though very infrequently.

The next possibility of romance is probably my second wife, Joy.  Joy was/is a very good natured lady with a very good figure.  I met her at Mensa so she was/is bright too.  We were together for 7 very amicable years so I think some romance has to be allowed there.  We used to dine out every night of the week.

And then there was Jenny, my third wife.  She was the only woman to whom I ever gave total committment.  But she let me down.  She gave me a fine son, however, so there are no hard feelings.

Then there was Geraldine, whom I still think of as my little sweetheart.  She let me down too  -- repeatedly.  But there is still a strong feeling between us. We just don't do anything about it any more.

I met a lot of nice ladies after Jenny and I broke up and I even married one of them!  I married big Kath (she was a 5'11" tall redhead and looked great generally) 6 weeks after we met and the marriage lasted 3 weeks!  I think that was a romance in the best Hollywood style!

And then there is the present lady in my life -- Anne.  I have told her -- and mean it -- that I am with her to the end so maybe that counts as romantic -- in my stiff Anglo-Saxon way.

So I now live an obscure life in an obscure part of an obscure city and am quite happy about it.

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