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

1 comment:

  1. JR,

    One does not have to be a saint in order for me to be impressed and you seem to have done well, which I admire. When doing well it is then no surprise that you are well off. Good for you and the people in your life, past and presently.

    Unless too personal, of course, I wonder if you have any thoughts about lessons in life and any blessings in disguise. I am rather intrigued with this topic especially in the context of having lived a long life.

    Warm regards from the Arctic