Saturday, August 28, 2021

Astra Zeneca

It is now more than 24 hours since I have had my first shot of Astra Zeneca -- and I have had ZERO side effects -- no aching bones, no high temperatures. Just my usual perfect health. My immune system once again seems to have done an exemplary job.

I was afraid that I might experience enough adverse symptoms to interfere with my usual Saturday morning with Anne. But we were in fact able to do all our usual activities. I even got some Portuguese custard tarts for our 11am cup of tea

Why Astra Zeneca? Mainly because it seems to give the longest period of immunity

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A small drama with an unexpected ending

I seem to have a talent for losing my car keys.  Because of that I always carry a backup set with me -- in a different pocket.  So a few days ago when I again lost my keys it was no inconvenience.  I just used my backup set. So my backup set became my main set

But that meant that I was now short of a backup set.  So I went in to my local Pakistani keycutter to get a new copy of my car key.  I knew however that  he sometimes does not get his copies right so I parked my car very close to his kiosk.  My caution was vindicated.  To the surprise of neither of us, the copy he gave me in return for $66 did not work.  So he had a second try.  But that did not work either

So we were now in deep waters.  He said that my key was faulty and that is why he could not copy it.  He asked did I have another key that might copy better.  I replied that I had only the one key.  All the others I had lost.

He could see however that I needed to have a reserve key so took it on himself to get me a usable copy by hook or by crook.  He actually got into my car's electronics to see if he could read the code my car took.  I don't know how far he got with that before I remembered something.  My son Joe drives my car at times so he has a key to it.  So the keycutter's mate drove me to my place so I could borrow Joe's key

That worked better.  The copy taken off Joe's key did work the doors and the ignition but it did not open the boot.  So it was some use as a backup but not great. So I let matters ride with them at that point and decided to try a different locksmith the next day.

So I found a locksmith near me and started again.  But it was not plain sailing with him either.  He gave me a copy without the black knob on the end of it.  He said that the black knob was not needed.  He was sort of right. The knobless key opened my doors and turned the motor over  -- but the motor would not start.  It needed the electronics in the black knob to go.

He was a bit embarrassed by that and on the second try gave me a new key -- with knob -- that worked perfectly.  And here's the surprise:  He didn't charge me for it!  So I ended up with an imperfect copy for $66 and a perfect copy for free!  Beat that!

Monday, August 23, 2021

On being offended

It is a reasonable diagnosis to say that I am a high-functioning autistic.  I have discussed the evidence for that previously.  Just admitting to being autistic  is itself autistic, I think

And there is something about me which I have long been aware of but which I now realize is profoundly autistic:  I never get offended by anything.  In all my life I can recall no occasion when I was offended by anything or anyone.  I have sometimes acted offended when I thought it was expected of me but there has been no feeling behind the act.

So when people criticize me I simply see it as information. It tells me something about the critic and may tell me something about myself.  I perceive only the informational component of a criticism, nothing more .  I just don't understand why or how people get offended by things.  It is basically a mystery and a surprise to me

That does let me down at times. I rather often do or say things that offend people without my meaning to.  The thing would not offend me so I don't expect anyone else to be offended by it.

My deficit in that regard is however also a blessing.  Being offended seems to be a rather unpleasant feeling so I am glad to be free of it.  I sail through life with a great calmness and serenity of mind

Sunday, August 22, 2021

"There is nothing more that we can do for you"

If you hear those words from your doctor, it will normally be a knell of doom.  It will mean that your illness is so far gone that it is untreatable and that  you will probably die soon

So I will always remember the moment my oncologist said those words to me.  Fortunately, in my case he followed with the words: "You are in complete remission".  He meant that I was so  completely cured that there was nothing left for him to treat

People will probably congratulate me for being so lucky.  But it was nothing to do with luck.  What happened was that I was treated by an eminent professional in Australia's private health system who arranged for me to get advanced treatment as part of a clinical trial of a new medicine.  I was the beneficiary of specialized knowledge, not luck.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Rehab going well

After the defeat of my life-threatening illness comes rehab and I am making steady progress with it.  Today was a notable waypoint on my journey back to normality:  I completed the full ritual of a Saturday breakfast with Anne.  Ritual?  Yes.  Anne and I have a set of things that we have long done at Saturday breakfasts.  It is very stereotyped but it is simply the things that we enjoy doing.  I will outline it:

I drove us to the Phams where I have a booking for 9am.  Anne particularly likes the coffee there and they have a very good menu. We order something familiar from the menu and enjoy it.   I ate the whole of one of my usual breakfasts (calamari)  -- something I could not do while I was ill. 

We then went to to Woolworths to pick up a few things.  I always tell Anne to put her choices in my trolley and I pay for them as if they were my own,  It is very rare for me to let a lady put her hand in her pocket. One of the things I always like to buy if available is Portuguese custard tarts -- and today I did score  some.

Something we used to do in the happy day before Covid was to finish our visit to Woolworths by sitting for10 minutes on the seat outside and watch the passing parade.  With the advent of Covid, however, they took that seat away and it has never reappeared. There was however there today an unoccupied seat a little further away.  So we sat there for a while.  It was good to revive that custom.

We then went to the local Vinnies to look for anything unusual that we might like.  I  can  usually find a piece of costume jewellery that Anne likes and I buy it for her.  We found today an ivory-look  bangle of a sort that Anne said she had "always wanted".  She was wearing a very pretty set of earrings that I had previously given her.

We then went home and lay around listening to classical music, with a cup of tea around 11am.  We had a custard tart with it

Then Anne went home around 12noon with a big departure kiss to send her on her way

Below are some things I have bought for Anne recently.  The item on the left is a fold-up lady's mirror

Thursday, August 12, 2021


Magic words those.  The cancers in my stomach are gone.  I have always had a good immune system and over a 9 week period the immunotherapy has energized it into completely killing the cancer cells

My life expectancy is once again measurable in years

At dinner that night we had  a Black Forest torte to celebrate


The treatment I received  was KEYTRUDA, which has shown "sustained, long-term survival benefit and durable responses".  So the cancers should stay away

The diagnosis of remission was based on PET scans.  My most recent PET scan showed nothing where there had previously been cancer

My treatment was over 9 weeks, which is very short.  Some treatments run for 30 weeks

Sikhs and I

Jenny and I were driving along Logan Rd in Brisbane yesterday when we passed the Sikh gurdwara (temple) there.  I remarked that I had had Sikhs around my life since childhood and had always had a good impression of them.   I remember in my early teens how a tall dignified brown man in a blue turban gave me a tract about Guru Nanak (founder of Sikhism).  It was published by the Gurpurb publishing company, a name which I have never been able to forget.  I read the tract

Jenny endorsed my opinion of Sikhs and reminded me that in her travels in India in her youth she had been to Amritsar and actually slept in the GoldenTemple there -- a beneficiary of Sikh charity

When I was in London for  a year in 1977, there were a lot of small shops there run by Sikhs.  I was in one such shop once  when I saw some old fool abusing the employees there, telling them how he had won the war and Sikhs had done nothing.  In truth of course many Sikh families had lost sons in Britain's wars. I was quietly enraged by this so as I walked past the fool on my way out the door I gave him a heavy shoulder bump which sent him to the floor.  It was probably wrong of me to do that and a Briton would never have done it.  But I am not British.  I am Australian

On another occasion I was in the habit of shopping at Sikh store near where I lived at the time.  The Sikhs working there were used to getting a cold shoulder from their British customers.  But, given my view of Sikhs,  I always walked into their store with a smile on my face and was very friendly to them.  The Sikhs seemed initially to be surprised by such treatment from a "British" customer but warmed to it.  And one day when I had ordered two samoosas for snack, they popped a third samoosa into the bag at no charge.

I think Islam tends to make men into monsters.  Sikhism makes them into gentlemen.

Although Sikhs are sometimes mistaken for Muslims because they wear turbans, Sikhism in fact started out as an Indian alternative to Islam and Sikhs fought the Muslims almost from the inception of Sikhism.

Some Sikhs in the company of a well-known Christian gentleman

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

An excellent new performance

A great favourite song of mine is "Moscow nights" -- as sung in the Red square by Dmitry Hvorostovsy and Anna Netrebko. I was looking forthat version to play to Anne after our breakfast yesterday when I accidentally came across a new version -- featuring Dmitry as usual but with Aida Garifullina as his female counterpart. I was transfixed. She matched Dmitry in the brilliance of her performance. Netrebko is no slouch but Garifullina eclipsed her. It was her best performance yet to my mind. And she dressed to look Russian, which she is

Anne was much taken with her as well and asked me to find other pieces sung by her, which I enthusiastically did "O mio babbino caro", "Ave Maria ", "Time to say good bye" etc.

So her performance with Dmitry was a very pleasant discovery for both Anne and me

I also put on some Monteverdi -- "Zefiro Torna" which again was new to Anne and which she greatly liked

Monday, August 9, 2021


Today for the first time in months I was able to resume my old breakfast routine with Anne.  We went to the Phams and got regular meals off the menu.  It might seem a small thing but I have been unable to do it for months now so to return to an old and treasured routine was a great pleasure.

And we did the second part of our routine too -- a visit to Vinnies.  And it was an unusually good day there.  I found THREE things to give Anne that she liked, including a very fancy lady's pocket mirror

And Anne was wearing a pair of earrings that I had given her recently. See below:

Saturday, August 7, 2021

My time with JM

I have always sought continuity in relationships.  The fact that I married 4 times is proof enough of that  I think.  So I think very highly of a lady with whom I had a four year relationship and would like to leave some memoir of her

JM was a rather pretty nurse aged 51 and 5’6” tall. We started a relationship on 4.9.01.  I was 58.

JM is a very quiet person but I found that she liked Mozart, Pergolesi, Albinoni etc. so she passed the all-important music filter as far as I was concerned. She had an interest in some of the other things I like too (history etc) but at a fairly low level. That she worked caring for the demented elderly gives some idea of how good-hearted she is.

She was slim but with a nice bottom. She had not gone past high school but she read a lot and had studied piano to Grade 4.  She tended to wear her skirts short and her hair long

Like my other girlfriends, JM had an ethnic and cultural background very similar to mine. So I was able to speak broad Australian with her —which is a relief after all the standard English I write on blogs. I was able to say things like: “I’ll give it a burl” (translation: “I will attempt it”) and be instantly understood.

Culture is an amazing thing. And it’s particularly amazing in Australia. JM and I grew up roughly 2000 miles apart (Melbourne versus Cairns) and yet it was as if we grew up in the same town. We speak the same slang and have very similar recollections of our early years. The hymns she learnt and still loves from her Methodist church past overlap mightily with the ones I love from my Presbyterian background. We are both total unbelievers now but  it was still a great pleasure to reminisce by singing the old doxologies and hymns.

Her father was a successful Melbourne businessman who sent both his daughters to Melbourne MLC (Methodist Ladies College) so she had just about the best education money can buy. MLC ladies acquire an accent, attitude and manners that enable them to glide easily into the “best” circles of English society.

An educated Australian accent is in any case pretty close to RP (Received pronunciation: The accent taught in British “public” [meaning “private”!] schools) and at MLC and other Melbourne private schools that accent is refined even more towards an English upper class standard. And JM’s sister did make that transition — marrying a rich Englishman.

JM however is a born rebel and all middle class values were not for her. She looked with horror at the middle class life that lay before her and wanted out. So she left school as soon as she could, took a humble job waitressing and never wanted anything more.

Mind you, she was very good at accents and could slip into a very good facsimile of RP if ever she wanted to. Though she normally spoke with a fairly broad Australian accent.

Another curious thing that quite stunned me was the effect of shoes on how she presented. I have never understood the way women collect shoes but JM gave me at least a hint of it. She normally wore very flat shoes and in such shoes looked like the hippy she is. She just had to put on heels, however, and she immediately became a lady. Amazing. She is quite a pretty girl so that had something to do with it but I doubt that I will ever understand it fully.

I know this is completely mad but I thought I might note another way in which JM seemed to me to be something of a chameleon.

Optometrists make a great play of spectacles being some sort of fashion statement and it is undoubtedly true that different spectacles do somehow seem to convey different images of the person. And JM’s choice in spectacles did somehow convey the impression of a Melbourne Lady to me. She could be sitting in bed with her specs on talking on the phone and I definitely got the impression of being in the presence of a Melbourne Lady.

It was for a few moments almost like being in the company of the ultimate Melbourne Lady — the redoubtable Susan Rossiter/Peacock/Sangster/Renouf — a lady who definitely cut a swathe through her social circle in her time — but in the nicest possible way, of course. No wonder Barry Humphries found/finds his native Melbourne infinitely amusing. Perhaps JM was well out of it.

JM soon made her presence felt in my life. She was so feminine and so totally devoted to me that she eventually became the one whom I tended to think of affectionately during the day. I think she loved me as much as any woman has ever loved a man and that was of course a great experience for me. She slept overnight at my place in my second bedroom for about half the week and it was lovely to have her around. So I came to love her too.

I was hers after that. We stayed happily together for a long time after that, with our vacation in the Far North in August 2004 being a highpoint.

Following is what I said about JM in my 2004 Christmas letter: JM has now been living with me for some time. I am not sure what she sees in me but it is certainly not good looks. She is a geriatric nurse by occupation so that must make her feel at home with a moth-eaten old curmudgeon like me. She says that if I sat down to dinner with the residents at the nursing home where she works, no-one would notice anything out of place. She is a very kind-hearted soul so that when the more friendless residents of her nursing home go into hospital, she sometimes goes to visit them in hospital in her own time. It probably needs someone that kind to put up with me.

In 2005 JM went to England to visit her sister there. She spent 6 weeks there. I did not like the long separation but the strength of our relationship kept me reasonably contented with her during her absence. She seems to have misread that. She seemed to conclude that we could be in a relationship even while being physically apart for most of the time. It's a romantic notion but I did not share it. Physical closeness is a major part of a relationship for me.

At any event, while she was in England she got news that her elderly father in Melbourne was ailing and needed close support. So she announced without consulting me that she was going down there to live with him and help him. She seemed to think that I would be content with that. I was not and told her so. I told her that I understood her position but if she moved to Melbourne it would be the end of our relationship. She was upset but stood by her plans. So it ended up that she thought I had left her while I thought she had left me. It was a sad end to a good four year relationship. I saw the last of her at the end of August in 2005.

Her father died a few years after that and she now lives happily on the Gold Coast.

JM in England

Friday, August 6, 2021

Zefiro torna

I have been a great fan of Monteverdi madrigals since I first heard them some time in the '70s.  So I was most pleased to find recently a really good version of one of the best -- Zefiro torna --

Three fiddlers, two lovely ladies and a drummer produce a magical sound. They sound good even if you have no idea what they are singing about but knowing that does greatly enhance your enjoyment. So I provide one translation.  Note: Zephyr is the West wind that brings Spring

Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion
Make pleasant the air and scatter the grasses in waves
And murmuring among the green branches
Make the flowers in the field dance to your sweet sound;
Crown with a garland the heads of Phylla and Chloris
With notes tempered by love and joy,
From mountains and valleys high and deep
And sonorous caves that echo in harmony.
The dawn rises eagerly into the heavens and the sun
Scatters rays of gold, and of the purest silver,
Like embroidery on the cerulean mantle of Thetis.
But I, in abandoned forests, am alone.
The ardour of two beautiful eyes is my torment;
As my Fate wills it, now I weep, now I sing.

That gives you the idea but, as always, the translation loses a lot of the beauty in the original.  Almost any song is better in the original language.  As it happens, I do have a minor qualification in Italian.  It was one of my high school languages.  So with a lot of preliminary work, I can usually follow songs in Italian.  So I also provide the Italian original:

Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti
l’aer fa grato e’il pié discioglie a l’onde
e, mormoranda tra le verdi fronde,
fa danzar al bel suon su’l prato i fiori.

Inghirlandato il crin Fillide e Clori
note temprando lor care e gioconde;
e da monti e da valli ime e profond
raddoppian l’armonia gli antri canori.
Sorge più vaga in ciel l’aurora, e’l sole,
sparge più luci d’or; più puro argento
fregia di Teti il bel ceruleo manto.

Sol io, per selve abbandonate e sole,
l’ardor di due begli occhi e’l mio tormento,
come vuol mia ventura, hor piango hor canto.

Hurdles I have leapt

A few months ago I found that I had a lot of cancer in my stomach that had various consequences

* I could eat only small meals 
* My stomach was often painful
* I got bouts of severe nausea  roughly every second day

Dealing with that meant that I took painkillers (Tramadol) as a palliative measure.  But the painkillers had two troublesome side-effects:


So I suddenly had five hurdles to overcome instead of one.

* Then came a further problem.  I have always tended to insomnia  and that suddenly became worse.  Some nights I would not sleep at all.  The doctors gave me the strongest sleeping pills available (e.g. Zolpidem and Alprazolam)  but they did not help.  Sleep deprivation is however destructive to both one's physical and mental health so cancer was suddenly the least of my worries.  If I was to solve my insomnia I would have to do it all by myself and I would have to do it in a matter of days.

I took a lesson from my pioneer ancestors: Grit.  Medical help was often not available to them so they simply ignored the problem until it either went away or killed them.  

I have got nothing like the grit they had but I do have some.  So I simply threw away all my pills and just lived through the insomnia.  If I was awake I was awake and if I could sleep I slept. I let events take their course and simply accepted that I could not control them.  I hoped that once free of chemicals my body would return to a healthy default state.

And it did. One cannot expect a complete cure of a life-long problem but I do now sleep at night at irregular intervals  and I get a couple of hours of naps in during the day. It's enough.


So what about my cancer?  I go to a private  oncologist and he got me into a clinical trial of a system designed to alert my immune system to the cancer. The immune system then attacks and destroys the cancer. It costs a bomb and sounds fanciful and it does not always work but I have always had a good immune system and it has worked for me after just two months.  I am now well on the way to slow but complete recovery. I now take no pills whatever. I have successfully leapt all six hurdles


My illness has had one good effect. I have lost a lot of weight. So I am no longer a fat man. I am of fairly normal weight for height. Behold below a photo that Jenny has recently taken of me

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

My second wife

I met JP at a Mensa meeting quite soon after splitting with wife D. but nothing much came of it for a while.

JP had very thick and well-coloured brown hair, blue eyes, fair skin, a big mouth, a very slim waist, high cheekbones and a perennial smile. She was obviously intelligent, was tall (5'8"), listened to classical music, had a good sense of humour, was very diplomatic and I liked her body -- slim but with plenty of breast and a nice bottom as well. You normally get one or the other but not both. 

She was a medical detailer (salesperson for a drug company) when I met her and already owned a few investment properties. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31.7.1932 and grew up there but also had some German noble blood in her (whatever that means). Her original surname (her father was killed in the war and her mother remarried) was German: A quite prominent aristocratic name in both Germany and France.

JP's family actually came from Aberdeen rather than Glasgow. Joy remembers her father as giving her "coalies" (rides on his back) while she was a child and as playing his violin. She also felt that I was like her father in many ways.

After travelling around a lot in Britain and overseas during her days as a nurse, JP emigrated with her brother  to Australia when she was in her early 30s. Her mother and stepfather followed soon after.

She is a bit eccentric and does not have much dress-sense but as I am eccentric and care little about dress too that suited me quite well. She had had various relationships before she met me but had never married or had children. That really is a bit strange as she was in my experience of her a very loving person. I remember I used to give her a lot of bear-hugs.

She has an almost obsessive interest in anything medical. No wonder she started out as a nurse. Our dinner conversations would sometimes be about the latest academic journal articles on matters of interest to her. We are still good friends. A curious thing about Jb is that she was a smoker when I met her but I never knew it. She knew my dislike of it so just did not smoke in my presence and then just gave it up altogether. She must not have been heavily addicted. It paid off, however. Some years later she did a spirometry test and was found to have early emphysema (of which her mother later died). The specialist who ran the spirometry told her that by giving up smoking when she met me she had added ten years to her life!


Around 1975 I moved  in with her and married her about a year later -- on 15.5.1976. She was 43 at the time and I was 32 but that did not worry me as I had been told that I was infertile and could not have kids anyway.

JP on our  honeymoon at Peregian beach. Note that waist.

The wedding was a "Scottish" one (at the Waverley Presbyterian church!) with many of the male guests (and myself) wearing the kilt. I also made up a tape of all the best Scottish sentimental songs and played it for a large part of our wedding reception.

You should have seen the funny faces as all the Scots tried to restrain the tears! I hadn't quite foreseen that but perhaps I should have. Anyway, it certainly did a lot of Scottish hearts good to see a Scots lass wed so far from home but amid such devotion to all things Scottish. Just writing that sentence brought tears to my eyes so I must be a pretty solid sentimentalist too.

JP and I were together for about 8 years and she suited me very well. During the day I would usually be busy at University with my research and writing but I still kept good working class hours and would arrive home at about 5 p.m. -- like my father before me. Our usual routine of an evening was for us to sit around and chat between 5 and 6 p.m., go out to an ethnic restaurant at 6 and take a bottle of wine.

In 1977 I went to London on my Sabbatical year. JP came with me but stayed only 2 or 3 months. While she was there she wanted a job. As she was still an SRN from her Glasgow days, so she first looked into becoming a "temp" nurse. She found it offered one pound an hour. She thought that was a bit derisory so looked for a job as a "temp" secretary. She also had those skills. She found that she could get TWO pounds an hour as a secretary so did the obvious. But something seems wrong there. British socialism?

She also noted that some of the hospitals she knew had new buildings attached. She was excited to see the new wards. Alas, they were office buildings: British bureaucracy. Puzzle solved. All that health bureaucracy required a lot of staff. So the big demand for secretaries bid up the wages of secretaries to double the wages of nurses. No doubt all those extra clerks cured a lot of people of their illnesses!

When I got back to Sydney I resumed my interest in Real Estate. I bought a block of flats at 13 Wallis Pde., Bondi in conjunction with JB. I put in 25% and she put in 75% of the cost. They were the first places I "did up" -- prior to strata-titling them. We later bought other properties  but most of our business activities for some years afterwards consisted of managing what we had -- cleaning up after tenants, getting new tenants etc. We seemed to be doing a re-letting almost every second weekend as we had over 20 properties between us.

We lived for a couple of years in a rented unit at Randwick and then also for a time at 6 Norton St, Kingsford -- a house which JP bought. It was next to her mother's house at 4 Norton St. 6 Norton St was just outside the Uni of NSW fence so for a couple of the 12 years I was a university lecturer I used to walk to work. When we eventually let 6 Norton St out it was to a Chinese man who liked the property because he thought it looked "very crean" (sic).

After that we moved into first flat 3 and then flat 4 of our building at 13 Wallis Pde. -- with a view to doing them up for sale. Dinyar Mistry lived with us for a while in flat 3 and the smells of his delicious Parsee cooking were really distracting. We "raided" his evening meals from time to time, rather to his amusement.

Leaving Sydney

When I began to get near 40 years of age I began (as many men do) to feel that I was in a rut (the mid-life crisis) and resolved to retire to Queensland. JP and I had a great life together with everything more or less as I wanted it but I still felt that I wanted to make an entirely new start for the second half of my life -- including a new female or females in my life.

I think she was 51 when we split up so it was pretty devastating for her. It was for a long time too upsetting to her even to see me but she has now got over that and seems to love me as much as ever! I think why I left her had a little to do with her beginning to look older but the main reason was simply the mid-life crisis, the need for a new life.

When I was no longer around to protect her interests she eventually took big risks in real estate and ended up making some costly mistakes. Optimism's reward! Her constant pleasantness, good cheer, enthusiasm and intelligence did however make her a quite remarkable person and I do regard myself as lucky to have had so much time with such a fine woman.

At the time I left Sydney I already had enough equity in Real Estate to provide income to live on if need be so did not need to continue in employment. I set the date for retirement from the Uni at Feb '83 when I was 39.

A few weeks before I was due to leave I told JP that I would not take her with me into retirement. I handled it rather badly, causing her more upset than was needful. I suppose after such a long relationship it is hard to handle things coolly.

The fact that I left my wife, my job, my city of residence and most of my friends does show, I suppose, that I even went about my mid-life crisis with my usual thoroughness. I do see myself as having had a really good mid-life crisis with generally very good outcomes. Anyway, at the beginning of March 1983 I drove up to Brisbane.

Meeting Jenny, my third wife

During my years in Sydney I had kept in touch with my old friend Alex Barnes. He had married one of my ex-girlfriends (Joyce Hooper) -- both now deceased -- so there was in fact something of a double reason for that.

Knowing Joyce and Alex did however prove to be very valuable indeed. I looked them up very soon after I arrived back in Brisbane from Sydney in 1983 and Joyce shortly thereafter invited me to dinner at their place. It was there that I met Jenny. Joyce had in fact arranged the dinner for us to meet. Jenny was an old friend of Joyce's.

So I met Jenny a week or two after I arrived in Brisbane. It was the same night Bob Hawke won his first election (5th. March, 1983). Joyce saw me as something of a "catch" and had primed Jenny up to win me.

When I arrived at the Barnes residence and was introduced to Jenny, the first thing I said to her was "Stand up and let me see how tall you are". In other words, I knew the sort of setup it was and was quite frank that I was evaluating the prospects too.

I drove Jenny home from Sandgate that night and arranged to see her again when I dropped her off. We "dated" after that quite frequently but I was by the time we met also seeing the little red-headed Marie T. Marie and I went to bed the night we met, which was around a week after I arrived back in Brisbane. Anyway, I told Jenny fairly soon that I was also seeing Marie and she seemed initially to accept that as no problem. It didn't take her long to brood on it however and she then in effect told me to choose her or Marie.  I chose her and broke it off with Marie but still for a time kept some interest in other women.

I think it was while I was living at Milton that I once took Jenny out for breakfast -- after a night together, of course. Jenny had never been taken out to breakfast before so that was a great hit.

About Jenny

 The reason I chose Jenny rather than Marie was mainly twofold: Seeing Jenny in jeans and seeing her do ironing for her flatmate, Kym. I have been a flatmate and observed flatmates on many occasions and recognized immediately how unusually kind and generous Jenny was to do that ironing.

Jenny has of course all sorts of other good attributes (such as intelligence, a good knowledge of the world and some liking for classical music) but so did Marie and various other women I might have pursued. It is however relevant that Jenny was pretty aspirational in looks at age 31. Ask most men what their ideal woman would look like and they would say something like: "A busty blonde with long legs". That would be a pretty good description of Jenny's looks at that time. I also liked the fact that she was relatively tall -- 5'8".

Jenny was born in Melbourne to Lindsay Albert Dene Lucas and Lena nee Cairns. She was an only child. Her parents moved to Brisbane when Jenny was aged about 5 because Lena was having difficulties with bronchitis in the cold Melbourne climate.

A photo of Jen when she was 15. Not terribly clear but it will have to do

Jenny had married Ken in her early 20s. They met in Brisbane but also lived together in England for a year or two -- where they married. They travelled back to Australia overland -- which was a very mind-broadening experience for Jenny. The marriage had however broken up by the time I met her and she was living in a flat at Sapphire St., Holland Park, with her friend, Kym Carter.

By that time she also had a quite active social life well underway so to see much of her I had to do things like pick her up after pottery classes. Pottery classes! Not being at all arty, that rather gave me the heebie jeebies.

Jenny's Autobiography

 At one stage Jenny began writing her autobiography but did not get far with it. I give below what little she did write at that time:

"I, Jennifer Ann LUCAS was born on 27th May 1952. My parents owned a delicatessen in Melbourne when I was born. They lived upstairs and the shop was below. My father used to cook rabbits for sale. They were very popular. He first used to cook them in the pressure cooker then he deep fried them, and sold them as roasted rabbits.

My earliest recollection of my childhood is of my parents playing a game called mahjong with some friends, and me sitting on my father`s knee "helping Dad to win", with a crocheted blanket over me. I am told that I was about 2 years old.

The blanket was made by my grandmother, Helen Cairns. She used to make lots of them and give them away to nursing homes. She liked to keep busy, and always liked to be doing something. She enjoyed going shopping even if it was only window shopping. She often used to go with my Aunty Peg.

I remember my father as being a very big man. He was a heavy drinker and a big eater. He always seemed to have second helpings of everything. In later life he developed diabetes and was forced to stay on a strict diet for his health. He lost a lot of weight for a while. Dad had black wavy hair, was clean shaven and was 6 foot 1 inch tall.


I still had the travel bug at the time I met Jenny so I did not settle down with her straight away . I had several trips away for a while, to Britain and to Townsville, mainly to escape winter.

 Anyway, I gradually settled down with Jenny. She and her little red port moved in with me when I got back from Townsville and rented a flat at Birdwood Rd, Auchenflower. The flat was built in underneath an old Queenslander and there was a swimming pool in the backyard.  Jenny was still working during the day for Ken at that time and, as I recollect, still kept up her flat at Sapphire St. Most nights she was with me, however.

One amusing episode there was when I decided that I would like Ton Katsu for dinner. I therefore looked up Charmaine Solomon's cookbook for the ingredients, went out and bought them and told Jenny when she got home that we were having Ton Katsu for dinner. She had never even heard of it before but rose to the occasion with her usual culinary competence.  I took a lot of photos of Jenny when I was living in that flat. The first flush of romance, I suppose you could call it.

As the Sydney summer came on in early December, I left that flat to go down to Sydney again. I have always enjoyed Sydney and I still had a lot of friends and contacts there at that stage. I would probably never have left Sydney if the climate had suited me better. So I rented a unit at Bronte.  I invited Jenny to come down and share Christmas Day with me there.

 When I again went back to Brisbane with the onset of the Sydney cold weather, I lived in a room at the "Avon" guesthouse in Gregory Tce and Jenny continued on at her flat at Sapphire St. We still saw one-another all the time, however. I think it might have been then that we also did a trip up to Cairns to introduce Jenny to the area and to my mother.  When we got back to Brisbane I took yet another room at the "Avon".

Overseas in 1984

 New York.  Anyway, my next and final overseas trip soon came up -- in 1984. I was away for five months -- partly spent in New York and partly spent in London. I remember the whole trip cost me $14,000: Rather too much in retrospect.

I first spent the first month living in an old hotel just off Broadway on the upper West side of New York city. Boy, it was really summer there at the time! The hotel had no air-conditioning so I bought a small 110v electric fan which years later I gave to Timmy. After about a month I flew up to the Political Psychology conference in Toronto. It was intellectually a very incestuous affair with pervasive Leftist and psychoanalytic assumptions. No wonder it was the last one I attended!

Back in Australia

 When I got back from England and the USA I took a flat at Greenslopes -- again the lower part of an old Queenslander. This time Jenny gave up her flat to move in with me full-time. We stayed there for a while but with the onset of the Sydney summer, Jenny gave up working for Ken and we moved together down to Sydney. In Sydney we lived in my unit at 1/31 Elizabeth Bay Rd.

It was while we were there that Jenny catered for a Burns night in a vacant house at Glebe belonging to John Henningham. We had Haggis, "Dunlop" cheese etc. It was quite a feat for Jenny to cater for about 25 with the limited cooking utensils etc we had in Sydney at that time but the evening was a great success. Plutarch Gerolymatos, Boozy Suzy and a lot of the Mensans were there.

My main activity in Sydney at that time was selling off various Sydney properties I owned plus giving a few lectures at Uni NSW. Jenny loved living in the heart of Kings Cross while we were there and spent a bit of time exploring Sydney while I was at Uni etc. She discovered a little Vietnamese restaurant in the Haymarket that did Sate Pho so she loved that and went there a few times for lunch. Jenny likes Pho and Kim Chi almost as much as a Vietnamese or a Korean would.

I have an idea that the restaurant Jenny found might in fact have been the "New Hope" Vietnamese restaurant. I was always moved to tears by the very name whenever I walked past it. It started up shortly after Vietnamese boat people had started coming to Australia and that people had been through so much to find "new hope" in Australia was just somehow very moving to me. I felt so sorry for what they had suffered and so glad that they had found new hope. Just asking for hope seemed to be such a small ask. It was a very small and humble restaurant and has since been demolished.

We also bought my Jade green Ford Laser hatchback (for $7,000!) in Sydney at that time so eventually returned to Brisbane in two cars.  I was in the Laser and Jenny drove the Gemini.

21 Queen Bess St.

 When we got back to Brisbane I lived in a rooming house in Spring Hill (since demolished) and Jenny stayed at Ken's place (23 Camlet St, Mt Gravatt) while we looked for a place to buy as a home. We both liked old Queenslanders so that was what we mainly looked at. What we found was 21 Queen Bess St., Woolloongabba. It was an absolute slum at the time we first saw it but was basically sound so I bought and did it up with the assistance of Joe Grubb and other tradesmen he recommended.

It was rather beautiful when I finished with it -- long open verandahs with white iron-lace railings etc. It had six bedrooms and an extra-large dining room that became something of a family room. I think Jenny ended up with 12 power-points in her kitchen and also had a walk-in pantry!

It was at 21 Queen Bess St that Jenny first went on the IVF programme and conceived Joey at first try. It was largely Jenny's idea as I had long given up any thought that I could have children (I had previous expert medical advice to say I couldn't) but she was determined and thus achieved the best thing she ever did, in my view.

Paul, Suzy and Vonnie

From the beginning, Jenny's chidren by her previous marriage formed an important part of our relationship.  Only a few weeks after I first met Jenny, she introduced me to them. I called at 23 Camlet St., Mt Gravatt to pick them up. When I arrived in my Gemini wagon, Jenny came out with three tiny kids bobbing along behind her -- rather like a ship towing rowboats. Paul, Suzy and Vonnie got into the back seat of the Gemini and sat there in total silence as I drove along -- quieter than they have ever been since. Paul must have been about six and the twins four.

 Shortly after Jenny and I moved into Queen Bess St., all three came to live with us. So from that time on I saw quite a lot of the kids and made some contribution to bringing them up.

One amusing episode with Suzy was up in Cairns in 1987: Suzy had come up to Cairns with Jenny so was left in my care while Jenny was in hospital having Joey. Within hours of Jenny getting out of hospital, Ken, Maureen and family arrived to stay with us and see the baby.

While Ken, Maureen and everyone were sitting there talking, Jenny asked Suzy what it had been like with John looking after her. Suzy replied "John was a bully". This was greeted with a rather stunned silence by all concerned. The stereotypical evil step-parent no doubt occurred to all minds. Jenny then asked, however, "How was John a bully?". Suzy replied: "Because he wouldn't buy me a cream bun". She looked pretty puzzled at the gales of laughter this evoked. The episode does however tend to show two things: 1). How misleading the testimony of children could be; 2). The importance of cream buns. Suzy was 9 at the time.

I put in a roofed swimming pool at Queen Bess St. with the idea that fair-skinned people such as Susan and myself could swim without getting sunburned. The roof did however tend to make the pool rather cold and even a rudimentary solar-heating system that I installed did little to alleviate that. In the hot weather, however, the twins used to spend hours in the pool and even I used to get in around once a day.

It was also at Queen Bess St that we got a dog -- a female Bull-terrier named "Pepper". She was a rather weird dog but we enjoyed her greatly anyway. She functioned reasonably well as a watchdog in that she was a pretty good barker but if anyone had come in she would probably have only licked them to death. Bull-terriers look so mean, however, that nobody was likely to risk it. She had an unusually good coat for a bull-terrier -- mostly glossy black with splashes of white.

We had one or two barbecues and parties at 21 Queen Bess St but not a lot -- Though both Jenny and I and Ken and Maureen had our wedding receptions there.

Jenny and I were married on 30th. November 1985 at Ann St Presbyterian church -- my old church. The last of the major renovations (laying the verandah boards) at Queen Bess St were finished at 4pm that day and we were married at 5pm. Close!

A small note about a small point: I recognize the glass that I was drinking whisky out of. It is one of a sort that I use to this day: A large substantial tumbler. I have 10 of them.

The twins were there

The story of Jenny and me continues to this day in the year 2020 but here I just wanted to recall the complexities of our getting together. Jenny had a lot to put up with from my peripatetic nature in those early days. She is one of those heroic women who continue to support difficult men. Below you see us having Christmas dinner together in the year 2020 -- with our son Joe