Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Burnie Tale – Dandruff.

June 25, 2000
To Whom It May Concern

It’s getting closer now. I’ve only a few months to go, according to Doctor Jim, my oncologist. I was once so positive that, together with Tori, we’d beat it. But this time around there was no secret Chinese cure for what is afflicting me. Now I know that the end game is not so far away my place in the hospice is booked. Tori, Jack and I have discussed life for them post me. My wife has decided she’ll sell up and move back to Melbourne and naturally her son will accompany her. Her parents are getting quite frail and she feels obliged to care for them in their declining years. I tell her she’s going from the frying pan into the fire, but she’s happy with this decision. It is the Chinese way, she reckons

Death. Does it worry me? I guess I have come to terms with it in some ways. I feel cheated that I will not get to see a bit more of the life journey for the people I love, but it, in itself, is no longer frightening. I know the facility I am shortly headed for has an excellent reputation for making one as comfortable as possible. I’ll be managed well and my passing will not be a shock for others. I know, now, that with the impediments to living anything remotely resembling a normal lifestyle increasing, as well as is the amount of medication required to keep the pain at bay, it will be a quite quick demise from here on in. I cannot use a keyboard any more so this is being completed through a voice activated programme. I have had a compulsion to put this document together for some time now. I want to write my story. Bill will tizzy it up for me and place it with the papers held by my lawyer. By the time this is read, by those it is intended for, I will have departed. This record of my time on the planet is not designed to hurt, but I am being frank so I suggest it may well upset, in some ways, a person I hold very dear. Bill has his instructions as to people he is to pass this on to. Here has been my life – as I see it.

Before Tori there was, of course, my first spouse. Veena was – sorry is – of Indian extraction and wasn’t like some of the others. She wasn’t a ‘gold-digger’ as, it seemed to me, many of the nurses I worked with back then were. Some of her mates even were decidedly that way inclined. She, in contrast, was quiet and professional, devoted to her work in that Melbourne hospital where I was completing my residency. Back in the late 60s, when we were starting off, it seemed a sexual revolution had occurred and many of the nurses were after a doctor as their pathway to financial security, even wealth – and often were prepared to use their bodies to smooth the path. Not all, but a sizeable minority. That wasn’t Veena’s way whatsoever.

As for me, by this stage, I was still a sexual novice. I was bought up in the Western Districts of Victoria, my father being a leading and successful pastoralist. My mother, quite well off in her own right, had never done a day’s paid work in her life, devoting herself to being an affluent grazier’s wife. I knew, over time, my father had been involved with other women around the district, perhaps explaining in part what happened to me in life. I also knew that my mother was aware of his indiscretions too – but in those days marriages stayed together, no matter what.

From an early age I was compelled to leave for boarding school in Geelong – a sheltered, lonely existence that I think is to ‘blame’ for the way I am today – that and my appearance. There was no possibility of any interaction with members of the opposite gender, either in the school beside Corio Bay or at our fairly isolated rural homestead. So going to university was quite a shock. Although most training to be doctors were still of the male persuasion, there were nonetheless quite a selection of confident young ladies at my lectures as well. In truth, they scared me – so overt and capable – nothing like my mother. As I was no where near handsome, in conventional terms, the sexual revolution on campus entirely passed me by. By the time of my residency I had not known love, sex or even the touch of a woman’s hand on mine. A late developer in that regard, I was a tall streak with a pinched, seemingly disapproving mouth, eyes that bulged and already thinning hair – and even that wasn’t the worst of it. So, as a target for even the least choosiest nurse, I was lower than the proverbial bottom of the barrel. So when Veena showed the slightest interest I grabbed on to her for all I was worth, especially as, along with all my other disadvantages, there was the dandruff.


It had afflicted me all my life. My growing up was a misery at boarding school as I was bullied mercilessly about it. No matter what I tried – expensive lotions, specialist doctors, old wives’ cures – nothing, nothing would do the trick. With it any shred of confidence I could muster to approach a woman was immediately negated. It made me feel wretched – made me feel completely unlovable even – that is, until Veena.

I never did get up the courage to approach any girl I took a shine too and beforehand I barely knew Veena existed. She was so unobtrusive, devoid of the usual high spirits of the other nurses. In the end our meeting was brokered by Reg, another doctor to be. He had his eye on one of Veera’s mates but she would only date him as part of a foursome. She would bring Veena along – Reg had to find her a partner – and that was me. He’d chosen yours truly for two reasons, or so I assumed. First of all I was available; secondly I would certainly not provide any threat to his intentions with his girl. In the end he didn’t even get to first base – but there was one marriage that came out of that evening. Mine!

We seemed to hit if off, Veena and I. We had work in common and were both shy – me to the point of paralysis. I think Veena was unsure of me for a long time. Our first kiss took forever to achieve, and it was months before I could convince her to consummate the relationship – and I choose that word – consummate – carefully. We knew the theory of course, but in practice sex was a different matter. Still, I enjoyed myself that first time. Veena looked good in a sari, which she tended to wear frequently in private – even better out of one. But ‘making love’ with her – well it seemed she felt it was my right and her duty. She in no way approached deriving the same benefits as I did. I doubted that we’d last the distance. I knew with what I had to offer I couldn’t be choosy, but she seemed happy enough. Before too long we had announced our engagement in ’74 and married the following year. It was then the double whammy hit.

Being so lofty the only sport I displayed any aptitude for was basketball. I can’t say I overly enjoyed it, but it kept me from being totally sedentary. My job in the team was to dash ahead of the guy with the ball and be under the ring when he lobbed it up. Mostly my height ensured I caught it and then popped it where it was meant to go, but along the way I copped a few hits in the nether regions shall we say. By the time I was getting serious with Veena, my basketball days were over mainly so I could concentrate on my career. It is my feeling the sport left a legacy. Soon after I commenced being intimate with Veena I noticed one of my testicles would ache off and on. I put it down to the sex but, being a doctor, I should have known better. Discovering a lump in the offending testicle I knew it was more serious and consulted a specialist. He confirmed my worst fears and slotted me in for an operation as soon as was possible. I gave the regulatory amount of sperm – just in case – and then the second whammy hit. It turned out I needn’t have bothered. Irrespective of the result of the procedure it turned out my sperm count was way below that required to inseminate anyone. I would never have children in the natural way.

At that point in time that fact didn’t seem to faze Veena unduly – she was more concerned about the cancer. I was lucky. Soon I was able to put the incident somewhat behind me. I thought further down the track we would look at our options and have some offspring by the other available means. Soon after all this I decided to specialise in gynaecology. I took the view that if I couldn’t have kids myself, I’d do my level best to assist others in doing so. And that’s what bought Veena and I to Burnie, over the water, in Tassie. The town was now big enough for a second practitioner and I was soon joining the overworked original in his rooms. Veena had no trouble obtaining shift work at the local regional hospital, so it seemed that all was going along satisfactorily and I supposed it did turn out that way, all factors considered.

Life in the provincial town had few attractions for me apart from work, that being my salvation. By the time the eighties arrived Veena and I were sleeping in separate beds and an invitation to her room was hard to come by. Financially, as the decade proceeded, we were doing better and better. I set up in my own practice and soon we could afford real estate on Grandview Avenue – the best address in town. I didn’t think this made either of us particularly happier. Veena was of the opinion life was passing her by, now vociferously expressing a desire to have children. I was okay with that – the only problem was she wanted to have them naturally. That I couldn’t give her – we both knew it. In hindsight I now think it was a deliberate ploy – she was using my inadequacy as her ticket to freedom, her excuse to be rid of me. Soon I too realised our marriage was in its death throes – that it was only a matter of time. I was miserable at home, but at least at work I was finding some consolation. I knew I had my faults there too. Some complained that my bedside manner left something to be desired, but I keenly felt I was thorough and rigorous in what I did with my clients seeming to respect me for that. I took pride in my success rate, in dealing calmly with matters when they went awry during the process of childbirth. And then I met Bronnie.

For years she was just a patient. I say ‘just’, but right from the start of our professional relationship, through the delivery of three children, I liked her. She was a breath of fresh air compared to some of my usual clientele. Later I carried out some terminations for her. These never seemed to unduly upset Bron – she was always bright and breezy; always dressing provocatively, even when very pregnant. She had a flirtatiousness about her I was attracted to, but of course I would never act on that feeling. She was a small, bosomy blonde, always smelling of expensive perfume and always tastefully made up. I knew from our discussions re the cessation of her last few pregnancies that she had, what she described as, an ‘open’ marriage, engaging in a number of affairs around the town. The event that suddenly made life so much more worth living for me occurred when she came to me for a check-up after her last termination. She stood up, I thought to go – but instead she started thanking me profusely for all I had done for her over the years. She then bent over my desk, knowing full well that she was partially exposing her best attributes to my view, placed her hand over mine to inform me that, ‘If there is anything I can do for you Dr Alomes, anything at all – just say the word.’ After I regained my composure I asked her to leave and told her that this was to be be the end of our doctor/patient relationship.

I waited a few weeks out of ‘professional’ integrity before I relented and shoved to the back of my mind my conscience. After a particularly bleak weekend with Veena, I made contact and Bronnie and I became lovers. I knew I was one of a number, but Bron was addictive and she loved sex just as much as I loved sex with her. It wasn’t just the act. There was more to it that that. For want of a better word, there was languor. With her time seemed to slow down and we spent hours in bed just chatting, just cuddled up to each other. This was a new and wonderful experience for me. She also had orgasms with me. I couldn’t believe that. After years of Veena, that was the best feeling in the world. I found it hard to believe she was attracted to me, but so she seemed – and she never once mentioned the dandruff. We had our assignations out of Burnie in hotel rooms up and down the coast. When I attended conferences in Launceston, Hobart or even in Melbourne, she made it her business to be in whichever city as I was. Veena had given that away years ago.

I knew my wife was sensing something, but I didn’t think by this stage that she particularly cared. I know I had few scruples about the affair. By now Veena was mute on the child thing; was as removed from me as it was possible to be under the one roof. She was clearly ‘considering her options’. We treated each other cordially when our paths crossed on the occasions I attended the hospital, but at home she locked herself away in her room, I in mine. Stony silence reigned. Unlike popular misconception, she didn’t leave me because of Tori – or indeed Bronnie – nor do I think she specifically left to have children before it was too late for her. I think she left because she simply couldn’t stand me any more. One day I came home to discover the house empty of all her gear. There was a note stating that she was intending to return to Victoria, not to try and contact her and wishing me good fortune in all future endeavours. I have no idea what came of her. I respected her request and signed the divorce papers when they arrived, returning them to her lawyer without quibble over her admittedly quite reasonable terms – and so ended my first marriage.

So it was to my immense good fortune that soon after those events Tori entered my world. The leaving of Veena put some extra pressure on Bronnie – I now saw her as a future partner in life but, of course, she wasn’t in the least attracted to that notion. She wasn’t about to give up all that she made no secret of for me – and I sensed I was in danger of losing her. I backed off. Keeping my lover was an imperative, so Tori suited me down to the ground. Besides, I liked her. I liked her very much and I had delivered her first, Jack, not so long beforehand. The town library had always been one of my haunts in my attempts to escape the house when I wasn’t at my surgery. Frequently I would spot Tori at work there. One day I noticed she was seated at the ‘assistance’ desk so, affecting an air of casualness, I sauntered over and asked after Jack. She answered in a way I’ll never forget, but that was Tori, forthright to a fault. ‘Thank you for asking but he is fine, but look at you. You’re a mess. That dandruff! Why don’t you do something about it?’

I suppose part of me was offended, but I gave her the abridged version of my lifelong affliction and then she really startled me. ‘Bah! I can fix it. Give me your address. I’ll come around tomorrow. Give me a time. Ancient Chinese remedy,’ she laughed. ‘Success is guaranteed. Only will take a few treatments. And to thank me, you can then take me out to dinner.’ For better or worse I agreed. She was there at my door the next day, spot on the agreed time. She noticed the neglected state of the house, turned and simply raised an eyebrow. I told her. I told her of Veena’s departure a few weeks previously. I now suspect it was even as early as that moment that Tori started figuring out a new path for herself as well. I may misjudge, but that is what I suspect.

I was instructed to get a towel, put it around my shoulders and to sit. From her bag she produced a jar of a substance that she proceeded to massage into my scalp. Her fingers gently prodding the top of my head felt so heavenly I could have purred, but the stuff itself smelt foul. I asked what was in it but she just laughed and said, ‘Let’s see if it works first!’ It did, noticeably. After a few more applications in the further visits Tori made, for the first time in my existence I became dandruff free. True to my word, I asked she and her husband to dine with me. ‘Bah! Who needs him?’ she responded. ‘I’ll make some excuse. I want it to be just us two.’ Who was I to argue?

At Burnie’s best, the Raindrops Room, we chatted amicably enough, but I could tell she was in a rush to be away and I naturally assumed it was to get back home. But no, it turns out it was my abode that she was anxious to get to. After she refused coffee she announced, ‘Now I would like you to take me back to your house. You will make me coffee.’

At that moment I didn’t think much of it – I was just slightly shocked. Looking back, it seemed further evidence she had it all planned from the start. Was she akin to those nurses way back when. I figured she wouldn’t be badly off, but certainly her husband’s teaching wouldn’t be as lucrative as my gig. It was all very suspicious but, as I said, it suited my purposes.

I was no sooner through the door than she grabbed me. ‘Wouldn’t you prefer to do something with me other than just have a coffee? she whispered. ‘Take me to your bedroom!’ When we arrived she ordered me to remove my clothes, then I was to undress her. I was immediately struck by the difference of her body when compared to Veena’s and Bron’s. She was so lean, almost boyish. We made love. It was very quick, hardly satisfying for either of us and we were no sooner finished than she was up and getting dressed. ‘It is time for me to go. When would you like to do this again?’

There was something about Tori that was so engaging. I knew I’d never really love her, nor she me, I quickly figured. But we made her version of love frequently for a while after that. When I told Bronnie about her, I was fearful – but determined to do the right thing. I shouldn’t have worried about her reaction. She said she was delighted but warned about the small town thing. I’d have to be very careful or it’d be all over the place – the local gossips would see to that. She was correct – it didn’t take long before I gathered all and sundry knew. Bronnie inquired if I still ‘required her services’. Again she seemed delighted when I answered in the affirmative.

Tori’s plan was proceeding apace, talking of moving in with me. So it came as a surprise when she announced, a few months into our relationship, that she was pregnant. It didn’t seem to throw her in any way. She simply announced that she would wait a year after the birth of, as it turned out, Kerryn and then she would commence her life with me. I complimented her on her efficiency and asked, only half jokingly, if I had any say in the matter. ‘Not really,’ she responded. ‘You want me, don’t you? We’d make such a great team. You can wait a little longer.’ Then she threw me the curve ball, ‘I know there is someone else in your life. That is no problem for me as long as you are discrete. Don’t worry, you can still still have nookie with me too!’ And so wait I did.

Did I come to love Tori in the end? Love wasn’t a word she would use. What we did together was always ‘nookie’ – never ‘making love.’ It was quick and efficient, just as Tori was with everything she tackled. I had Bron who gave me the caresses I craved – so no, I wasn’t in love with Tori. I couldn’t fault her as a wife when, true to her word, the day after Kerryn’s first birthday she, Jack and the little tot moved into my Grandview Avenue house. She transformed it in a flash – made it into the home it never felt like when Veena was resident. That I did love! After her divorce came through we made it all official in a simple wedding. There were just a few guests at the lovely rhododendron gardens in the hills behind the town. The only minus was the way she treated her husband. Soon I was concerned that he would worry about whether he was actually the father of Kerryn and I didn’t think that was fair. The only cross words I had with Tori were over that issue. She always told me to butt out – it was her business. I never quite figured out why she – and later on Jack, treated him so, in my opinion, poorly. In my few dealings with him he seemed a fine fellow and certainly a caring dad.

Now in these days of illness Tori cares for me in her usual no nonsense manner. All my needs are catered for and she never turns a hair at some of the more unpleasant aspects of her task involving my well being. In my heart of hearts I do wish it was Bron there in her stead, for at least then the care would come with a little more affection. Oh dear I miss Bron. We kept going as long as we could, but once it became obvious that the diagnosis was terminal I ended it. Bron shed a gallon of tears. If Tori has wept over my impending demise then I haven’t been aware – it has always been business as usual for her.

As it turned out Kerryn was a little force of nature. She adored her dad more and more as she grew. It also seemed the harder I tried the more she disliked me. I persevered with her, I really did. Her growing animosity towards me as she proceeded through her primary school years really put a strain on the relationship. Tori kept saying she’d get over it, but Kerryn manipulated for all she was worth – manipulated to spend as much time with her dad as possible. She has blossomed into a lovely teenager, but eventually even Tori had finally had enough and acceded to her requests to live with her father. Till that point she did everything she could to make our lives difficult. Once she left it was all so much more relaxed and she would happily visit. The young lady even tolerated me enough to have a civil conversation with me once in a while. And Tori’s attitude to her ex also seemed to soften as well. I am hoping that once I am gone there can be even more of a thawing all round.

As for Jack? Well a father couldn’t be more proud of him than I am of that young man. Jack’s gay. I’d suspected it for a while. That night he called me into his bedroom and told me of his darkest fears I now honestly think was the best moment of my life, even if it must have been so difficult for him. I cannot write this without tears coming to my eyes. To think that I was the first that he confided in – expressing his fear of what may lie ahead for him. I like to think it was me that eased his concerns that he was abnormal – that he was a freak. I explained how that in this day and age his life would be much easier than it would have been for me in the same situation, but I didn’t hide him from the fact that, in a place like Burnie, his journey wouldn’t be a breeze. With Burnie being Burnie he sometimes had a tough time at school and out of of it. He feels the move to Melbourne will make it easier for him. It took Tori a while to come to terms with his homosexuality, but now she is as pragmatic about it as she is everything else. His father was fine with it as well, although that didn’t seem to make any improvement in their chilly relationship. I never got to the bottom what the issue was between them, with Tori also claiming to be at a loss. I can only hope that as time passes Jack will see that the guy has always wanted the best for his son.

So – that’s it as I see it. A better life than I could have reasonably hoped for, all factors considered.


(I have requested the accompanying notes be given to each significant recipient of the above.)

To Jack
I know you are distraught at what’s happening to me and I love you even more for that. I do thank you, Jack, for your confidence in me that night I wrote of and during the following years. The idiot fringe at school in your last years and around the town weren’t easy, but you stood up and faced them as you did when you courageously acknowledged the way you are. I know you are at peace with that now as we are. Melbourne will be great for you – I am confident of that. I know you will find love and by the time you do I trust that society will be as accepting of that love as they are for that between opposite genders. I am so very proud of you.

To Tori
I know some of what I have written may have hurt, but I also well know, with that resilient nature you possess, you will not let the grass grow under you. You will move on quickly to a new life in Melbourne – and I know it will be an exciting one for you will make it so. You go where angels fear to tread. Thank you for giving me Jack to love. Thank you for being the best wife a man in my situation could have hoped for. It is my belief that Jack will find his way in Melbourne and may even build bridges with his father. And thank you, Tori, for curing my dandruff. I’ll never know what was in that concoction of yours but it did the trick and in so many ways made me feel so much better about myself. Bottle it and you’ll make a fortune – but I know you don’t do that with old Chinese recipes.

To My Bronnie
Thank you my love. If I could have had you to myself I would have done so in a flash. If I loved – truly loved anyone it was you. You are a magnificent woman and it is my hope that one day you will find all that you need from just one man – be that your husband or someone else. You have been the light of my life all these years and have given me so much pleasure that even now, with my life dominated by pain and how to manage it – I can look back and still remember and smile at the wonder of it all.
Dr Louis Alomes

Matthew I Hardly Knew Him

As his star rose in the early years of the last decade he was only vaguely on the radar of this relatively fervent cinema goer. If I saw any of the fluff back then he was known for, I have no recollection of it. I doubt if I ever braved titles like ‘The Wedding Planner’, Failure to Launch’ or ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’. The gossip magazines were in love with him and he was a babe magnet of the first order. He was awarded the dubious sobriquet of ‘People Magazine’s’ ‘Sexiest Man Alive 2005’ – enough said for where his career was at then. The titles of his ouevre were as inconsequential to me as probably their substance was inconsequential to him in the long run. Reportedly, towards the end of the decade, this caused him to sit down and have a long hard think about where his career was headed. He started rejecting the fluff and waited for substance to come – and waited. He was without work for a year but no worries – the fluff had ensured he wasn’t penniless and eventually his patience was rewarded. Some film makers were prepared to take a chance on him for more demanding, character driven roles – and he didn’t let them down. This man could act!

He garnered positive reviews in titles like ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’, ‘Magic Mike’ and ‘Mud’ – all unseen by me. But I leapt to attention when he presented as the sleazy scene stealer in the opening stanzas to ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. On the basis of this and his ’14 Academy Award nomination, in best actor category, for the film, I made a beeline to see ‘Dallas Buyers’ Club’ when it arrived on a Hobart screen. It proved to me his turn in the Scorsese offering was no fluke.

Sexy Matthew McConaughey was not in this role. He starved himself to skeletal proportions for it and resembled a gangly cross between flamingo and giraffe. It was not a charmless performance as he could turn it on, particularly in some scenes with Jennifer Garner’s Dr Eve Saks. Otherwise, throughout this tale based on a real life anti-hero, he was venality personified. He used the early years of the AIDS epidemic to turn a buck after what initially was a project in self survival. He was, at his core, a rampant homophobe, indulging in an excess of drugs and alcohol. Equally he was an enthusiastic participant in sex with any willing strumpet. The consequences of the latter for his character, Ron Woodroff, were appalling. (It must be noted that the real Ron was very possibly gay, or at least bi.)


At the movie’s commencement the ‘fictional’ Ron was a rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ (up) amateur rodeo carny come electrician, who, due to an accident in the latter guise, finds he is HIV positive. The discoveries he makes in researching his affliction to prolong his prognosis time – one month – sees him become a gay saviour of sorts. As well, he raises the ire of the powerful vested interests in the health system of the good ol’ U S of A. The movie is not, though, a case of a Hollywood ‘David v Goliath’ with the little guy winning out. Back in those days, the combination of AIDS and the big drug companies took no prisoners – the end for Ron, as well as for his cause, was inevitable.

‘Dallas Buyers’ Club’ is an intelligent, warts and all portrayal of a scourge whose edges we have softened but are yet to defeat. The movie is immensely enhanced by Jared Leto’s superb turn as the transsexual who softens our Ron’s heart. It is not top drawer this film, but is none the less a quality product and I suspect this role is the pinnacle Matthew McConaughey will be remember for – but who knows what the future holds for an actor I well and truly know now.

Official Site ‘Dallas Buyers’ Club’ =

A Burnie Tale – Honey

 Skin of Dark Honey

So here it is Jake – the first draft of the first instalment. Have a look and let me know what you think – if it is okay I’ll finish it off over the next couple of weeks. I think it is much as you told me except I’ve fiddled around with the chronology to make it more ‘literary’. Hope you approve. I must admit some of the stuff you informed me of came as a bit of a surprise – but good on you for being so frank. Other bits and pieces I already knew from our gasbagging at the Brunswick on Thursday arvos. When you turned up here that Friday a month or so back I was initially taken back by your request. Leigh must have wondered what we were doing in the ‘man-cave’ for that length of time. And you, with that dinky little cassette recorder from some time last century! You have never come to terms with the digital age, have you? But it did a good job recording what you related to me so I had something to work from writing your story up. These days my memory is pretty well stuffed so I would never have recalled the detail without it. Well, you are a bit of a dark horse, aren’t you? Now I know what your trips to Sydney are all about. Still you are in a much happier place these days compared to the years before you left Burnie. I did wonder about Franksy’s disappearances in Melbourne. Now I know what that was about as well. I did have my suspicions. It honestly doesn’t bother me what both you and Franksy have been doing, but I do feel you in particular had good cause. If I didn’t have Leigh – who knows Jake? In your situation I may well have done the same, but I doubt it. With Franksy it is a bit different I suppose. I am humbled that you entrusted me to do this for you. I know you have enjoyed some of the other scribblings I have given you, so thank you for allowing me to place ‘your journey’ on my blog – with a name change of course to protect your ‘reputation’. So read on, let me know of any alterations you require, or errors of detail I may have made. I’ll wait for an okay, or not, to complete the task.

When she left I felt ecstatic, euphoric even. She was all I had hoped for – and more. After all my, as it turned out, not so thorough planning; after all my nerves; she had put me at ease from the get go and she was just perfect. After that night I knew I could get on with stuff, have some control over where the rest of my life would take me before I ran out of time – and its has taken me to some pretty good places. She changed me, gave me back some respect. Let me accompany you to another place in time, though, to where this journey began.

I remember the black tarmac out in the front of our state school – the Mount Street frontage. The big boys had their play area down the side of the clay-yellow school buildings; the primary girls had a quadrangle near the Alexander Street entrance, cut off from everybody else. For us little kids, though, it was boys and girls all in together – that being how I first came in contact with Ellen. I was usually too involved in marbles with the other small lads to notice any girl. I must have been in Grade 1A or 1B – there had been no kinder for me and prep didn’t exist. For some reason that particular recess I had forsaken chalked circles of thumb driven glass balls for the monkey bars. I must have been testing out my limits when I fell from the highest ones to the unforgiving black stuff below – no soft landings back then! I head-butted the rock-hard surface of the infant school playground. It hurt. I let out an almighty yelp and then started howling. And she came rushing over to me – Ellen. She put an arm around me and told me I was going to be fine. Then she rushed off to find the duty teacher – Miss Tiddy (you can imagine the fun the naughtier scamps had with that name!) She took one look at me, disappeared inside and then came back with a lump of cold butter and told Ellen to hold it against my forehead and I’d soon be as right as rain. By now my howling had diminished to a whimper when Ellen draped her arms around my shoulders again and kissed me on the cheek. It was my first non-familial kiss. I remember it was as light and as delicate as a feather. I recall also being stunned. She then informed me, in a proprietorial way, that I could be her boyfriend if I liked – if it would make me feel better. I soon forgot all about my throbbing head. Of course we were only about five or six which meant being boyfriend/girlfriend was all about holding hands and occasionally a chaste peck on the lips. It didn’t last. I was soon back with the marbles and she with her giggly coterie, but I knew I’d keep an eye on her, this little lass with skin of dark honey.

‘Satisfaction’ – that was the name of the pay-TV series that started me thinking about it all. By the time I was working my way through the three seasons of the show about an upper end Aussie brothel my wife had been long gone and I had found myself in an emotional desert. Shows like ‘Satisfaction’ helped in a way that porn never did. I started thinking about it as a possibility for me – I’d been starved of affection for so long.

Ellen was there with me all through primary school, in each of my classes as I made my way into the primary section where finally I got to kick the footy with the big boys. Grade 6, the final year, came with Mrs Harrison. She was really, really old – sixty at least, or so I figured. Unattractive, squat and dowdy – but boy, did she know how to teach. She was going to give our cohort the basics, come hell or high water. There were no frills with her, but she did give me a great grounding for the years to follow. Gone was any form of the fun stuff and I thrived.

It was the role played by Alison Whyte in ‘Satisfaction’ that really drew me. Her brave, or so I felt, revealing performance as the mature lady on the premises made me think on my nascent plan. She wasn’t physically the mind-image I couldn’t shake from all those years ago – in fact, with her pallid complexion, she was more akin to my former wife – and where did that lead to? I knew ‘Satisfaction’ wasn’t reality, but maybe, just maybe there were women like Lauren, Ms Whyte’s role in the small screen offering. Someone who catered for men, like myself, whose fantasies didn’t revolve around nubile girls barely legal. But could I really do it? I had my doubts.

By Grade 6 the girls in the class were developing, Ellen included. I formed a special interest in their chests – hers especially. That year at Burnie Primary School I spent a great deal of time observing and imagining. I also knew from thinking about them under the blankets of a night I was changing too. My dreams were almost exclusively of her – she of the flawless complexion and honeyed skin. Of course she was so cool these days, always in a tight huddle with her mates. She never failed to give me a smile or a wave though – keeping my hopes alive.

I started to research on-line. I knew it’d be useless locally. I’d read those daily ads in ‘The Advocate’. I couldn’t imagine anything more tawdry – but what did I know? No, for me it would have to be classy – the last place I would want to carry out out my fixation would be a seedy hotel room or suburban brothel. Melbourne was a possibility, but it was too associated with our footy trips and too likely that I would run into someone I knew from back home. No, if I was going to do this, then Sydney would be the place. I’d research Sydney. If I could summon the courage to go down that course, Sydney was the go.

As my final year at primary school drew to an end and high school beckoned, I realised my connection with her would be broken. Living on the cusp of Burnie’s hill suburbs the secondary facility on the southern fringes would be my home for the next four years. Ellen lived down on the flat, on the other side of the town’s main park, so she would be attending the older, more reputable school by the sea at Cooee. The thought disturbed me that I would no longer be within cooee of my honey skinned classmate. We hadn’t been boy/girl friend at any time since those very early times. So why was I feeling so bereft?

I set to googling. Googling ‘Sydney Mature Escorts’ to see what I would find. What an eye-opener that was! ‘Satisfaction’s’ Lauren had many real world contemporaries – and some of the sites had pictures. Some were a tad on the seamy side, but most were tasteful – lingerie, that sort of thing. I could draw up a list of possibilities – lookalikes, or at least, what I’d imagined she’d resemble these days. But could I go through with it – me? I’d been faithful to the woman I promised to devote my life to at our nuptials. My life since her departure had me devoid of what I wanted most in the world. Since that summer my confidence had been shot; my tentative efforts to find what I needed were usually stymied because the few women I got to first base with didn’t fit my parameters, my ideal. My fault, not theirs. That ideal had been formed back when I was a youth – in truth I had lived in its shadow ever since.

Finally I realised an Aussie rules footballer I’d never be, nor would I ever wear the ‘baggy green’. I had no aptitude for those pursuits, but in high school I knew racquet sports would be my forte. Initially it would be tennis. I was at training at the old courts in Avon Street that Saturday as summer approached during my Year 8. After I finished there I decided to walk along the beach into town. My early secondary school time saw me morph into what would now be call a ‘nerd’. I was studious, a book worm apart from tennis and I wore not particularly appealing glasses. I also sported a heavy fuzz – I was no chick magnet. But in recent weeks I’d been to the optometrist and had more fashionable specs. I’d also survived my first shaves. I was feeling better about myself. I felt change was in the air. I hadn’t laid eyes on Ellen for almost two years by then and she was the furtherest person from my mind that day as I perambulated the strand. I was probably thinking about the following year at school and what ‘options’ I would undertake. I’d be moving away from the compulsory subjects of the first six terms, some of which I struggled with. I had decided biology would be one. I was quite excited about that.

The trip to Sydney was booked. I’d lashed out on a reasonably flash hotel in the Rocks. It’d been a while since I’d been to the Emerald City so I felt somewhere near Circular Quay would suit. I’d a list of phone numbers for a dozen or so seemingly suitable escorts, or at least those of their agencies. They were the ones that seemed best to fit my fantasy – or perhaps obsession would be a better word for it now. Could I go through with it once I made it there? That remained to be seen.

That day, way back in 1965, lost in thought on West Beach, I looked up and happened to spot a lone figure in the surf. I didn’t really pay much attention at first, but as I came closer I noticed it was a girl in a yellow bikini. Closer still and it dawned on me it was her. She had picked up on me as well and smiled, giving me a wave. I waited as she emerged from the water and pointed to a white towel on the sand. I gathered she meant for me to pick it up and hand to her – which I successfully negotiated. And at that stage I noticed her breasts. She had grown since I had last seen her.

I arrived in Sydney towards dusk on that fateful day and took a taxi to the hotel. I was pleased with what I found. My chamber was well appointed and comfortable, with a view across the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Quay, the Opera House and beyond. My stomach had churned the whole flight – and to think that for some men this was normal when away from home. I couldn’t dream of eating yet. The deed had to be attempted first.

She dried herself off and I observed her honeyed complexion had not diminished and was uniform all over her anatomy, or that of it I could see. Of course she noticed me looking. No doubt I went beetroot red, but soon she had chucked on some jeans and a t-shirt over her bathers and asked where I was headed. When I mentioned Wilson Street, Burnie’s main drag, she informed me I would be accompanied to my destination. She asked how I’d been and about life at that other school. I managed to stutter some semblance of reply. She then inquired if I’d remembered our romance way back when. I nodded in the affirmative and she laughed. ‘How would I like to be her boyfriend again?’ she shot back, with a mischievous glint in her eye. I responded in a querulous voice that I supposed I would be fine  with that, incurring yet another chortle from her. Then, to my surprise, she took my hand and held it the rest of the way into town. We had a shake at the Vogue Milk Bar before we went our separate ways. It was all too brief, but she left me in heaven.

Of course, how idiotic of me! As I nervously worked my way down my list all my prospects, or their mouthpieces, told me they were already booked. What was I thinking. Book in advance. I’d do it for everything else – why wouldn’t it apply to escorts? Stupid, stupid, stupid man!

The following Monday, at school, a girl I didn’t know came up to me, asked if I was Jake and gave me a note. It read, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t be your girlfriend. Love. Ellen x’. I was shattered. I couldn’t understand. Of course back then I had little sense of the fickleness of the teenage female mind. I moped for days afterward, barely uttering a word to my parents. But, as she didn’t attend my school and there was no daily reminder, time passed and I recovered.

There were only a couple left on my list now and I was fast losing all my initial bravado. In our trips to Melbourne, when others, as they inevitably did, suggested a visit to the fleshpots of King Street, I always demurred. Thankfully Steve, the other constant on those footy excursions to the G and later Docklands, passed as well. In later trips Franksy would take to disappearing too, so Steve and I would head off to Crown, or maybe a night game when they became a fixture. Since his heart scare Franksy doesn’t come any more. Back then it was now well past meal-time when I rang the penultimate one listed – Constance – before my nerve departed for good.

In 1967 I finally had a real girlfriend – a lovely freckle faced soul called Jocelyn. We were, for some reason, down on Hilder Parade, by the sea, on an excursion and she asked me to join her on the other end of a cruddy old see-saw. After a while she hopped off and requested that I accompany her for a walk along that same beach. It was the start. Soon we were ‘going together’. It lasted a few months. We pashed and we fondled. I became all hot and bothered but that was as far as it went. As my time at the school on the hill drifted to its conclusion, so did my first proper relationship. I’d had some fun with Jocelyn, but wasn’t too despondent when she moved on to one of the cooler guys. I went to the leavers’ function on my tod. I knew now I was attractive enough to be a ‘player’ – my time would come.

Constance had a whispery, throaty voice on the other end of the line. She had an accent – slightly Italian or Greek I would have thought – and partly because my ‘specifications’ I wasn’t surprised. She kept calling me ‘darling’. I liked that. Fortunately, or so I hoped, she’d had a cancellation for the following evening. She mentioned her fee. She didn’t come cheap, but she intimated I’d get my money’s worth. Sounds sleazy I know, but didn’t seem to me to be the way she said it. ‘Would I like to take her out for dinner?’ I asked if that was expected. She riposted that it wasn’t compulsory, but in her experience it made for a far more pleasurable affair if we were as relaxed as possible in each other’s company. It was then I mentioned my special request. At that she gave a throaty chuckle and stated that, as requirements went, mine were easy to meet compared with some. She concluded by saying it would be a pleasure to do it for me. It’d give her an excuse to engage in some shopping in the morning.

I was awarded the biology prize at the speech night before school broke up for the year. When I moved to the other school for my matriculation – as the system worked back then – I naturally decided to continue on with that, along with some geology, history and English. I was also starting to think what my future, beyond the education process, would hold. I was contemplating teaching. Also, at the back of my mind there was the notion that the school by the sea could mean that I would be able to reconnect in some way with the girl with the skin of dark honey – with Ellen.

After I put the mobile down, the little bottle of whiskey from the room’s bar fridge was partaken of. I needed to calm down. I had done it – or at least set the wheels in motion. I then took myself out into the warm night air of a late spring Friday. I wandered around the Rocks and found a quiet bar, no mean feat as everywhere else seemed to be pulsating with end of the working week suited revellers. I ordered a few more scotches, listening to an exotic young lady as she trilled a torch song and tinkled on the piano. This soothed me, despite the rest of the clientele largely ignoring her efforts. My gut was starting to feel normal and a pleasant buzz from the alcohol relaxed my mind as I sauntered back to my hostelry. I had my hopes that the planned evening may be a turning point in my life.

I did. She acknowledged me in passing on my first day at Burnie High. Soon I discovered she was in both my English and history classes. I couldn’t believe my luck. That dissipated somewhat when I saw her frequently in the company of a burly lad wearing a bright red and yellow ribbon on the pocket of his green school blazer. I discovered that this signified his status as a prefect. I also uncovered the fact that his name was Geoff. My hopes became increasingly dashed when the news reached my ears they had been an item for sometime, a high profile item in the social milieu of the senior cohort. But still, when we encountered each other in passing, she always smiled or waved. In class I couldn’t keep my eyes off her, but she never sat anywhere near me in those early days.

Where would I take her? That was the next issue that weighed on my mind as I plied the streets around my hostelry that bright Saturday morn, following a fitful sleep. Eventually I found it – the cafe on George Street I breakfasted at had an upstairs restaurant as well. I took a peep at the menu – it seemed suitable, being neither too pretentious nor too basic. Being caught out once, I wasn’t about to make the same mistake. I booked a table for two for seven-thirty. I moped around – purchased a Ken Done print in a sale at his shop nearby, then took myself around to the ferries.

By winter that year I had two new people in my life. Firstly Steve and I struck up a friendship over our mutual regard for a local footy team. We took to hanging out together and cheering the mighty Burnie Tigers on of a weekend. And then there was June, whom I met – you guessed it, in June. She didn’t have the beauty or sheen of the obviously unobtainable girl with the honeyed complexion, but she had a pair of twinkling hazel eyes, a trim figure and was pretty easy-going. Her draw-back was that she wasn’t a ‘Burnie-bird’, residing in the next town to the east. Of course I was carless in those days, so of a Saturday she’d catch the early bus into Wilson Street and we potter around the milk bars until the footy started. Steve was pretty keen on a young lady called Glenys, so we were usually a foursome at West Park where matches of Aussie Rules were fought out to a far larger crowd than would attend these days. It was much the same as with Jocelyn – much fondling and fevered kissing, but neither June nor I seemed particularly driven to go ‘all the way’, even if it was possible to find a likely location. At school we spent out breaks together, again often with Steve and his ‘squeeze’. The relationship meandered on till the end of year formal. She was my partner, but by this stage it was in its death throes. She was heading off the following year to teacher’s college in Launceston, I had to proceed on into Year 12. We didn’t see much point in continuing after we said our last goodbyes the final day before the Christmas hols. I haven’t laid eyes on her since.

The rest of that Saturday in ‘Sin City’ went in a blur. I played tourist in Manly, listlessly wandering around the Corso and then down to the beach. Where the two intersected was a large pub, so I had a few bevvies watching the frolicking on the sand, before catching a returning boat back to Circular Quay around five. It was time to make ready for what lay ahead.

That summer of 68/69 passed with nary a sighting of Ellen around my provincial town – neither at the beach nor up the main drag, so when school recommenced in February I half expected her to have gone the way of June. I’d made it close to attaining my matriculation the previous year, so I was expecting a fairly easy time of it academically. Uni lay ahead, and a studentship to enter the teaching profession. I knew I’d have my work cut out once I hit Hobart, so I thought I’d deliberately take a bit of pressure off myself and get involved in a few of the extra-curricula activities the school offered. One of them was volleyball, which I found I could play reasonably well – adept enough anyway, I thought, to make the school team. Back then it was a mixed sport. The other development in my life was that my father had purchased me a car – a decrepit old Morris Minor, but it went after a fashion. I had some freedom in my life.

Of course I wasn’t totally unprepared for it. I called in to a bottle-o on my way back to my room and had a bottle of Tassie champers chilling. I had bought with me a collection of images of my candidates, printing them off from the net. My printer wasn’t up to much, so they were a bit out of focus, but the one for Constance showed her in some black confection of a negligee, not overly revealing and in quite good taste – or so I thought. If all went to plan tonight she’d be wearing something else entirely. She was quite a striking woman, bosomy with long, straight black hair – that being a requirement. She wore glasses, as I did, so I didn’t hold that against her. I’m not sure if looking at her made me less in trepidation, but the point of no return was quickly approaching. Shortly I would be summoned down to the hotel’s foyer. I needed a sup or two on some scotch to give me some Dutch courage. That Sydney eve, in my mind, would be be a milestone in several ways. I hoped, back then, that one would make the other a night I’d never forget.

So there you go Jake. What do you reckon? Worth persevering with? Of course, by the time this part ends I had come into your life – but not Franksy or Celia. But then, nor had Ellen – not really. But it was Constance who was the real game changer for you. I’ll let you have time to digest all this and when you are ready for me to have a go at the second part, get back to me. Feel free to suggest any changes to what I have written already. I’d like to think it is a reasonably accurate reflection of what you told me in the man-cave not so long ago. I admit I’ve enjoyed the exercise you gave me. Maybe I’ll have a go at my own story, such as it is, one of these days.


A Taste of Honey

So Franksy came clean with you Jake. The couple of times I visited him Raissa was there so obviously I wouldn’t be privy. She patently wasn’t there when you attended his bedside. We now know why he absented himself during our trips in recent years. Of course we were astute enough to never let on to Raissa about his disappearances. So he was with Judy. I remember her from school you know. In fact we had a ‘thing’ going for a while – about a week I think. You know how it was back then. The couple of times I have visited him up in Burnie he seemed so flat – almost as if he has done all his living. I put it down to him still getting over his op – but now I am not so sure. Gee, though, with a woman like Raissa, you’d think he’d have enough for any man. I’ve always had a soft spot for her and I know you have too Jake. And she is still a stunner, even after all these years. You remember when we first came across her and Franksy – at Tich’s dinner parties all those tears ago. I wonder if he’s still around, old Tich?

Anyway my mate, I’m glad you’re okay with what I did to the first part of the tale and I hope you now like how I’ve pulled it all together here. So ol’ fella sit back, read and hopefully enjoy what I’ve done to the rest of your journey to this point. You are no longer the sad old Jake of not that long ago – the Burnie Jake. The move down to Hobs has done you good too, as it has me. Yes, I know now it’s not just down to that. I for one am glad she happened and I look forward to catching up with you at the Brunswick for a few bevvies and a bit more of a chat now its all out in the open, so to speak.

The call up from down below was right on the dot of seven. She was, as promised, on time – probably realising my nerves would be jangling, as they were. My tum, as it turns out, was a mess, but I answered that I’d be down in a jiff.

I was bloody hopeless at it, I really was. What made it worse was that she was quite the opposite. Franksy was the one who saved the day and turned my life around, well at least my working life. He took me away from one nightmare, but another came in any case with her leaving – but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Constance, after the receptionist gestured in her direction, eased across to me, put her painted lips to my ear and whispered, ‘Are you ready for a special night, darling?’ She was fulsome, without being over-weight, was sheathed, neck to knee, in something green and satiny, with her arms and fingers revealing some serious bling. Both that and her outfit highlighted her skin – toned to the lustre of bronzed honey; she smelt musky and spicy at the same time. She held up a small carry bag. ‘In here is something special for you. I have not forgotten. May I deposit it in your room before we dine, darling?’

To my delight it turned out that Ellen was still on campus, greeting me in the manner I’d come accustomed to when she first espied me. Sadly, she wasn’t in any of my classes as it turned out, but rewardingly, there was no sign of Geoff. I didn’t realise till later when I was informed that he was Grade 12 the previous year and was now down south. The best bit though was that she turned up to the volleyball try-outs later on in that first week – and we both successfully made it across the line into teams.

In the harsher light of the elevator I had the chance to more fully appraise Constance, trying to estimate her age. Judging from her laughter lines around her not unattractive face I eventually decided on mid-forties, although the blurb that came with the image stated she was a decade younger. This, at a later time, was confessed. In her high heels she was about my height and she was certainly well put together. Going up she asked about our dining venue and yes, it was okay that we walked the couple of blocks to it. Slowly, she was putting me at my ease.

Volleyball after school was a couple of nights a week – one for practice, one for the matches. I eagerly anticipated them – they were the highlights of my life at that time. I would see her, watch her bounce around the court and we would, occasionally, exchange a few words. By now I’d deduced Geoff was definitely off the scene and she didn’t seem involved with anyone else. Steve had made it his business to find out all this for me. A good mate then – a good mate now. He was still attached at the hip to Glenys and was nagging me to get a move on with my girl of the honeyed skin so we could be a foursome. I knew for my dream to become a reality I had to make a move – but how, that was the issue.

I opened my door and ushered Constance in. As soon as it was shut behind us this radiant woman stepped in close to me, almost touching, but not quite. I could feel her breathing as she inquired, ‘You like what you see, darling?’ When I nodded in the affirmative she closed the micro-space between us, put her lips on mine and pulled me into her. I could feel her breasts pressed against me and that first kiss was long and deep. I melted. There were tears in my eyes as she finally pulled away. It had been so long. ‘And that is but a taste my darling. Now you must pay me.’

As the first term drew on and the days shortened I was still prevaricating, but Steve never stopped his urgings. Without him I would have bailed completely. One evening Ellen and I were sitting closely together on the bleachers when she leaned across and asked how I was enjoying volleyball and my final year. I told her it was all pretty good except for one thing and that one thing would make it a whole lot better. In answer to her expected and given response I simply requested to have the pleasure of driving her home. She smiled and her eyes twinkled. ‘That would be wonderful’, she said, ‘but not tonight. I have already made arrangements. But next time I will be sure not to.’ She hadn’t changed. She still loved to tease. I wanted her even more.

Constance took my arm as we walked to hopefully the culinary delights ahead, although I was more focused on the other delights beyond – and still nervous, if not now petrified.  It was a balmy Sydney eve as we entered our destination and took to stairs to the second floor. I was due to fly back to Tassie the following day and as we were guided to our places, I was wondering what my recollection of this night would be.

Taking her home became a regular occurrence after volleyball with it being a credit to my little Morris that its part was played perfectly. Although on other occasions it wasn’t the same story, she never let me down when I was transporting the girl with the golden skin. We usually chatted away amiably and I had the distinct feeling that she liked me – but was there more to it than that? Did her friendliness mask the sort of feelings I had for her. Would my yearnings ever be reciprocated? How could I get to the next level? In the end I didn’t need to worry – Ellen saw to that.

In my recall the meal is just a blur. But I remember our conversation vividly. She wanted my back story and I agreed to give it. There was the condition that I’d receive hers in return. She declared it a deal. She beckoned to me to commence my narrative.

Term one was quickly coming to an end and I was not looking forward to a fortnight without the joy of her company. Then, as I dropped her off after the final game for the semester she reached into her bag and passed me an envelope. In the privacy of my room I opened the precious document. It was a formal invitation to her eighteenth birthday bash, to be held at her parent’s home on the other side of Burnie Park the Saturday before school went back. By this I realised she was a tad older than I and it was a pretty formal invite, or so it seemed till I read what she wrote in brackets after all the details – (I will save the last dance for you).

I told Constance at that meal of the day I met Celia in my second year of university studies. I’d seen her at my lectures – a tall slim strawberry blonde, always surrounded by a bevy of happy, laughing female students. Since Ellen, I hadn’t been in a relationship of any significance. After gaining my matriculation I’d moved down south, sharing a room at a residential college. Passing my freshman year exams ensured me a single room for as long as I continued to be academically successful. That particular morning it was bitterly cold – a chill wind howling off from Wellington above. I was on my tod at the nine o’clock lecture – most of my mates were doing arts, so I rarely had company. I looked up as Celia and her friends walked noisily in. Normally they’d find a pew up behind me somewhere, but this morning Celia peeled off, coming to sit on a seat right next to me. Soon the lecture started and as it droned on I could feel her presence. When the hour was up, meaning our confinement together was ended, Celia put her hand on my knee and asked if I’d like to partake of coffee with her over at the student ref. When I indicated my agreeableness to this notion, she asked me my name, giving me hers. I remember we shook hands. When we were seated in front of our beverages she explained to me what had happened an hour earlier to cause me to be sharing a table with this quite attractive young lady. She told me of the daily dares they used to spice up their days. It was her turn that morning to be on the receiving end and the dare was me – to see if she could entice an unknown victim of the male persuasion for a coffee. I then inquired after her accent. Celia explained that she grew up in Belfast, but as a result of the ‘Troubles’ her family had to make a quick exit to as far away as possible. It seems her father, a peace activist, had incurred the wrath of extremists on both sides in the conflict. There was no further away than Tasmania. So we chatted on and she asked if I would really put ‘the cat amongst the pigeons’. In response to my obvious question she wanted to know if I would mind doing this after a few more lectures – that would really get her mates wondering! I reckoned I didn’t have a problem with that.

It turned out Constance’s accent was Italian. She and her former husband had migrated to Oz back in the seventies and with his family connections soon became successful in the Sydney restaurant scene. She discovered he was having an affair and had left him five or so years previously, leaving a life of relative luxury. It was important to her to maintain her lifestyle with as little assistance as possible from her ex, thus she had discovered the financial returns involved in being a higher end escort.

I was again a nervous wreck as Ellen’s party approached. What to wear? Exactly what did that ‘last dance’ notation mean? Would there be something expected of me as a result? At that stage I was still a virgin and would of thought that would not be the case for Ellen. Over all this I was in a right lather!

I told Constance of how the coffee led to much more and soon Celia was sneaking into my room for mutual pleasures at all hours of the day. That was common as the security was haphazard,  made up of mainly senior boys – our mates by the time we were in second year. They turned a blind eye. Celia was the complete physical opposite of Ellen – almost boyish in her physique with a milky white complexion she was inordinately proud of. Even at this stage she was applying copious unguents to to keep it that way. She resided in Hobs with her parents and was, like me, indentured to teach the sciences. We seemed to fit together pretty well, although she was certainly not into sex to the degree Ellen had been, but by year’s end we were engaged. At the conclusion of our third year we married.

Constance informed me that she rather enjoyed her ‘job’. Because she was expensive and ‘classy’ – her words, but I was soon to concur – she attracted quality clientele. As many were getting towards the latter stages of their lives often it wasn’t sex they were after – more the company, affection, spice or just someone to listen to them. Just about all her ‘johns’ were straight, but when some, like me, had requests, as long as they weren’t too outlandish, Constance tried to fulfil them. If they wanted more than she was prepared to give she simply let them know and usually they acquiesced. She stated this in such a way I knew I had to take note.

Ellen had thoughtfully invited Steve and Glenys to the party to ensure I had company on the night. Her house was packed, the music loud and I was having a reasonable time. I kept a weather eye out for Ellen who, in modern parlance, was working the room. I had a few dances and a couple of beers, even if, strictly, I wasn’t of age. Just after midnight the lights came on and Ellen’s parents came out. Her father said a few words in praise of his daughter and then Ellen announced it was the last dance of her function. And as the Beach Boys’ ‘Then I Kissed Her’ cranked into life she walked over to me, offered her hand and we took to the floor. She pulled me in close, wrapped her arms around me and I was in heaven. Then, as we swayed to the final chorus, she did as the song prompted. It was long, it was deep and I knew. Finally, my girl with the skin of honey, had really kissed me.

I told Constance how the Education Department on my island appointed Celia and I back to Burnie. I was given the school on the hill, my old alma-mata; she the one down on the flat beside the sea. Her vivaciousness made her a natural. She thrived. She connected with her students, was innovative in the presentation of her material so she readily engaged. By the end of her first year she was already talked of as a future school leader. Admittedly my appointment was the harder nut to crack, catering to the tougher hill suburbs’ kids, but I really struggled that first year. My students didn’t seem to dislike me as much as they, in the main, just simply ignored me. My colleagues all reassured me that one’s initial twelve months were always tough – why not for Celia then was my thought? In my second year, I was soothed, I’d soon get on top of it all. I didn’t; it became worse; much worse. My labs were out of control, my senior master was tearing his hair out because of me and strings were pulled to get me out of the place at the end of ’76. I was transferred to the next town to the west. There was only one secondary school and it was where Steve taught. I hoped that’d make a difference – it didn’t. My mate did his best to support me – he was clearly on top of it all, but I soon sank back to the direness I endured at my previous school. I knew I was digging a hole for myself fast and I still had another year to serve before I could eject myself from the job I was clearly not cut out for. Celia, by now, was already in charge of her department and clearly was disappointed in me. It was a strain on our relationship and she could barely bring herself to sleep in the same bed, let alone have any intimacy with her husband. I had hoped for children. She clearly was having nothing to do with that. She was going places, or so she thought. She was spending as much time as she could out of the department house we rented for a peppercorn next to her school and I was a mess. Thankfully, as I told my stunning companion, it was Steve and Franksy who rode to my rescue.

After the Beach Boys had finished harmonising, Ellen grabbed my hand and led out the back door of her place. We walked down the street to the darkened park. Once inside the gates she pulled me close. ‘It’s bloody cold’, she whispered as she kissed me again, ‘but you know there is more of this if you want it. And I will promise you there will not be a note of rejection this time!’

Constance seemed genuinely interested in my life in that provincial Tasmanian town so I continued on as our main courses were delivered. I told her how Steve was mates with Tich, well known by the local teaching fraternity for giving the best diner parties in his federation home near Burnie’s centre. Of course I, equally well known for being so hopeless at my job by this stage, was now a joke around the traps, but somehow Steve wangled me an invite for one of Tich’s gigs back in the late seventies. By this stage I was, I think, close to a breakdown, but Celia was beside herself with joy and saw the evening as a chance for what we now call ‘networking’ and ‘promoting her brand’. There was no way she was missing out on a night to do this, so I reluctantly suited up and out we went. As chance happened, when Tich’s wife Lynne started serving the meal, Celia and I were seated next to Franksy. I had vague memories of him attending footy matches at West Park with his wife, Raissa, and another fellow back in the day, so at least I had the starting point for a conversation. We then moved on to jobs. It transpired he was an accountant at what was locally referred to as the Pulp – the paper mills, the town’s big employer. As I had a few wines in me and my defences were down, I confessed to him my abhorrence of teaching, how I would do anything to get out of it. After doing a bit of probing about my scientific background, Franksy let me know he may be able to help. He knew of positions opening up in the research labs on the South Burnie site. He couldn’t promise anything, but he’d see what he could do. That night, for the first time in months, Celia and I made love. It was the night that changed my life as Franksy came up with the goods. We also conceived.

Ellen and I were soon inseparable, both at school and out of it. I knew, that for me, it was only a matter of time before our fondling and explorations, grabbed when were could find time and privacy, would lead to us taking the next step. We were both keen, but also wanted it to be ‘special’, to be something romantic we’d remember the rest of our days. Boy, did she get that right. She knew I was a virgin just as I was correct in the summation she wasn’t. I suppose being older it was only fair she was the more experienced of us – at least that’s what I told myself back then. My own eighteenth was coming up and I decided that for me a meal at my town’s flashest restaurant, the Raindrops Room, would suffice. Ellen and myself, our parents and Steve accompanied by Glenys – that would be it. Ellen informed me not to plan for anything after the meal – she would take care of that.

During the break between mains and dessert I continued to regale my attentive companion with my back story. I told her that once I had settled into my job at the Pulp, lab testing the company’s product in various ways, life seemed to improve with Celia now that little Dawn was on the scene. Initially I couldn’t fault my wife as a mother and I was starting to feel I was pulling my weight in a job place and as a breadwinner. By the time my wife was ready to re-enter the work force in the mid-eighties, the future was definitely appearing rosier. Celia, however, resumed where she had left off. If anything she became even more driven. She began to focus entirely on her career, determined to make up for lost time. Her fretting about her complexion became an obsession. She spent ridiculous amounts on potions and ointments. In the warmer weather she took to walking around town completely covered and with a parasol, standing out like a sore thumb in casual Burnie. I found accompanying her anywhere acutely embarrassing –  but fortunately there was little call on my services in that regard. Dawn was largely left to my care. For most weekends and for large chunks of the holidays my wife would undertake the haul down to Hobs to ‘spend time with her parents’. I seriously thought it was a cover for an affair, but I had no way of knowing. As the peace process got under-way in Northern Ireland, she informed me her parents were thinking of returning to Belfast. What that ultimately meant for our marriage, as it turned out, was worse than any affair could have been.

My eighteenth birthday bash was lovely. My father made a boozy speech and all was fine in my world until, just as coffee was being served, Ellen’s mother let it slip. She asked the question, ‘And what do you think of Ellen’s news?’ My love quickly hushed her, but the damage was done. I asked the obvious and Ellen told me it was nothing to worry about; she’d tell me when we were alone, after everybody had departed.

‘If she wasn’t having the affair,’ asked Constance, ‘what was she doing in Hobart?’ My response was that, although I didn’t know it until much later, Ellen had decided that her future lay back on the Emerald Isle, and worse, Dawn was included in this plan. It didn’t happen quickly, but by the Christmas of ’96 she went on what was ostensibly a visit to the old country. She’d been several times before once her parents had re-established themselves there, but this time she took my beloved daughter. Neither she nor Dawn returned. I remained quiet for a while and then Constance asked, ‘Do you mean you haven’t seen Dawn in all this time?’ I said that wasn’t the case – that there have been visits, but Dawn always wanted to go back. I even visited Belfast once but found the place, Celia and her parents, cold and unwelcoming. I joke that the main reason she went back was that their abominable climate was kinder on her complexion, but deep down I know there was more to it that that – especially the position at one of the city’s most prestigious girls’ schools her father, through his connections, wangled for her. I told Constance how expensive any court action would have been against Celia and then I told her how it had broken my heart. ‘My poor darling,’ responded Constance.

Nothing could feel as bad as when the realisation hit that I had lost a daughter, but when I heard Ellen’s news the night of my coming of age, it came close. As the dinner wound down my beautiful young lady of the honeyed skin indicated that her present was awaiting as soon as I saw off my guests. Eventually they all departed and I immediately asked her what her mother was referring to by ‘her news’. She told me to forget about it for a while – she’d tell me after she had given me her gift. When eventually I found out later that night it wasn’t good – at least, not for me. It turns out her parents had arranged a job for her and therefore she would not be joining me in Hobart for university as we had both expected. Through her uncle she was to be employed by Myer, in administration, in Melbourne; living with her uncle’s family for the time being. Ellen was naturally very excited at the prospect, but she realised I was committed by this stage to training to be a teacher. She figured our relationship was strong enough to withstand the separation. I wasn’t so sure, but I tried manfully not to rain on her parade. For the rest of our time together that year we tried to put the impending parting to the back of our minds and just enjoy the time we had remaining. We had a mantra of platitudes about what would happen that coming summer, but I think we both knew that the distance would make it incredibly hard, if not impossible. We had a blissful relationship going on, not the least of it being building on what followed that evening of my eighteenth at the restaurant.

Constance could see I was upset, so we paid up our bill at that other restaurant and made our way back to the hotel. She held my arm tightly, pressing her body up to mine at every opportunity over those couple of blocks we had to walk. Once back in the room my lovely hired lady was quite solicitous. She pulled me into an embrace and kissed my face all over, then suggested I see what the fridge had to offer by way of a nightcap. I was feeling more myself by this time and told her that was already taken care of, producing my Tassie champers. We had a couple of flutes each and then she said, ‘And now you must go and have a shower. When you return I shall be ready for you.’

After the departures Ellen produced a key. I asked the obvious but she simply took my hand and guided me to the stairs that led from the dining room to the hotel rooms above. Room No.11 was ours for the night, her gift to me – or at least part of it. Again I asked about her news, but she shushed me. She told me to undress. She told me to get into bed. She told me she’d be back before I could blink as she disappeared into the bathroom.

When I returned from my ablutions Constance was ready for me. She was wrapped in what I had requested. She moved towards me, reached for my hand, placing it under the silk, on her breast. I melted. I just simply melted. Another night came flooding back to me. Then Constance removed that special garment and she and I made love. In fact, we made love several times that night. I may have cried at one stage, it had been so long, you see, since I’d had a woman in that way. She stayed till morning. She didn’t have to. That wasn’t part of the deal. But she did – and I think with that she turned my life around. When she left, well, to excuse the awful pun, it was akin to a new dawn for me.

Since that night I now go to Sydney quite regularly and each time I see Constance. Don’t get me wrong. I know she has a soft spot for me, but it is all strictly professional – but she’s worth it. Another change occurred a few years back when Steve finally retired and moved to Hobart to be with his lovely lady. I followed him. I figured that would really give me a fresh start. By the end of my working life, with the Pulp long gone, I was now at the Elliott Research Station, just down the road from where Steve was then teaching. I have made a few lady friends in Hobart, with occasionally there being some intimacy. If I really feel like some TLC Sydney is less than two hours away. Constance is now a given in my life and I’m happy. I meet up weekly with Steve at the Brunswick, we chat over a few coldies. And now he’s done this for me. Dawn has come out to Oz a few times in the last few years and I am hopeful one day she’ll resettle here. We’ll see. I’ve been over there once more and it didn’t seem so bad this time. And yes, I’ve tried to reconnect with Ellen. There has been no joy through the usual means – presumably she is married – and that’s probably for the best. It has taken a while, but I have now moved on – I’m finally content with life.

After that night in the hotel Ellen and I made love at every opportunity, taken a few risks although I think by now both sets of parents were happy to turn a blind eye. It all became more fervent as the time for her departure approached. We loved each other with that particular night staying in my mind. You might say I was obsessed with it – that is, until Constance. Ellen and I were young, so young back then it seems now – but she made me so happy, a happiness I’ve never felt until Constance came into my life. Constance has only worn the garment once, but it was enough. Things really went belly-up for Ellen and I once we separated. We wrote to each other for a while, then her end went quiet. I later discovered from her parents that there was now someone else. It disappointed me, but I wasn’t surprised. I would have liked to have heard it from her though. I thought she owed it to me, but now, looking back, I know that I owe her far more.

And  really it wasn’t much to obsess over, it really wasn’t. But having Constance wear it on the night I turned fifty, well there was the parallel to that other night so long ago when I reached another milestone. It signified something in my mind – it really did. All those years with Celia – as that relationship waned so my time with Ellen came to the forefront as my template for contentment. Maybe Celia sensed that – who knows? Then, for all those years it was Ellen I fantasised about. Without Steve, Franksy, Raissa, our sporting trips to Melbourne I think I would have gone spare. Good friends. Knowing how content Steve is with his gorgeous Leigh, seeing what a difference Judy made to Franksy’s being – not that we knew that for a long time, it is magic what true affection can do for one. And as for ever-beautiful Raissa, a saddened husband is not making it easy for her – but then I suppose she has choices too – we all do. I made some, albeit belatedly.

She took my breath away as she walked from the bathroom to the bed. Simply and loosely sheathed in that knee-length white silk robe. She lent over me to kiss, almost fully exposing a breast to do so. She knew I was getting a good eye-full. She took my hand, pulled back the silk and placed it over that beautiful honeyed globe. I melted. I really did. When she fully disrobed and we made love. Well obviously I became a man that night in more ways than one.. The years have flowed away, but not a day goes by when I do not think of that moment of my hand cupping her breast. The thought keeps me forever young.

How have I done Jake? I think I’ve done okay, but you be the judge. Enjoy the rest of your life. I know I’ll enjoy sharing it with you. You and I, we’re mates for the duration. I know you can now go easy on yourself. I am so happy you’re finally at peace. And I suppose you have heard the news too – that Franksy has left Raissa and moved to Melbourne. I received an email from her a few days ago, as no doubt you did. Judy, I suppose.




The Past/Past the Shallows

As I watched the movie that sultry Hobartian afternoon its subject matter kept leading me back to the novel I had almost finished – Favel Parrett’s ‘Past the Shallows’. I was thoroughly appreciating the film in a way that the novel hadn’t totally succeeded in doing. What the subject matter of both could lead to, though, was fully rammed home by the nightly news a few hours later. It is a long way from my island’s deep south to the hardscabble, run-down migrant dominated working class suburbs of Paris, but the young boy in ‘The Past’ so put me in the mind of the three lads that form the focus of Ms Parrett’s tome it was a tad unnerving. In both narratives young people were suffering a form of post-traumatic stress due to the ‘deaths’ of their respective mothers.


Directed by Asghar Farhadi, Iran’s Oscar entry featured the actress Bérénice Bejo as its fulcrum. If the name isn’t familiar to you, the face would be as the radiant love interest in the marvel of a movie that was ‘The Artist’. Although she still lights up the screen in this, Ms Bejo, as Marie, is not the glamorous star portrayed in the previous outing’s take on the silent era of film-making. She is a hard pressed mother attempting to get the balance of her frenetic life into some sort of alignment. Hers is an existence in the raw, not exactly impoverished, but nonetheless a struggle – so there’s precious little glamour to be had. She is estranged from two previous partners, has custody of two girls from the first entanglement and is struggling to come to terms with the aforementioned troubled child, Faoud (Elyes Aguis), traumatised by what occurred to his mother. He is prone to behavioural fluctuations and spends most of his time in Marie’s household. For a while, I did wonder just where this film was headed before it gradually dawned on me it was a double-barrelled mystery of sorts. What exactly does Marie feel for Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) whom she has summoned back from Tehran to sign the divorce papers, leaving her supposedly free to marry Samir (Tahar Rahim)? Both male actors are excellent in their roles – I was especially taken by the former. Marie’s eldest daughter, Lucie (Pauline Burlet), as a teen with a big secret, is also wonderful. Perhaps it was only the boy who is a little wooden. Then there occurred the other mystery that took over the narrative – who exactly was responsible for Celine, Samir’s wife, taking her own life? The crafting of that part of the journey, attempting to unravel the threads of the dilemma, was quite subtle and cleverly structured – cinematic magic. The powerfully enigmatic ending had the audience at my screening seated through the credits – spellbound, awaiting for the slightest twitch. ‘The Past’, this year, has been decorated both at Cannes and the Césars, as well as nominated for a Golden Globe. If it appears at a screen near you, do yourselves a favour and make the effort. Be patient – it may take time to grip, but when that occurs, it does not let go.

past the shallows

Joe, Miles and Harry are also shattered by a mother’s death, but thankfully none of the movie’s men are as brutally insensitive as the father Parrett presents to us in ‘Past the Shallows’. With his own feelings numbed by alcohol and the rigours of diving for abalone off my island’s unforgiving southern coasts, he is creating a living hell for his boys. Joe is old enough to act on his dreams of escape, Miles finds solace in the surf (a Wintonesque touch) and the youngest, Harry, stumbles on first a dog and then a grizzled grandfather figure to take away some of his confusion and pain. If you have ever fronted a classroom for a period of time, you’d have encountered lads like these from the fringes of society – unkempt, often smelly from the lack of hygiene at home and perennially hungry. Some eventually rise above it, most don’t – only ending up perpetuating the cycle with their own offspring. In their cases any semblance of a school uniform they may wear only seems to accentuate their difference. They are absent more often than present, are frequently aggressive towards teachers as well as their peers and very difficult to counsel. The three lads here, though, seem to have a bit more going for them than that, with the book ending on a hopeful note, even though it comes too late for one. Ms Parrett admirably evokes the battling communities that are too far south of Hobart to attract the influence of the tree/sea changers that Cygnet, Huonville, Bruny, and the Channel do. Places closer to the end of the road such as Southport and Dover, as well, to some extent, Geeveston, in my recent visit, appear to have seen better days. Here listless teenagers hang around the few shops struggling to survive in harsh economic times. Big money can be made from abs, but the dad, often operating illegally, seems to be too guilt ridden and out of it to profit much. The boys are called on to work the boat in an ad hoc manner and they hate it. They live in constant fear of the father’s all too quick refuge in violence. The mundanity and paucity of these kids’ lives are well conveyed by the author, but she seems to lose the plot somewhat in the climatic moments – the shark landing on the boat, the seizing up of the air pumps during a dive and the rescue attempt of the final chapters. These seem, to this reader, somewhat lacking in authenticity – something that is her plus as events build towards these moments. Heavy hitters have praised this debut and this writer of relatively tender years would seem to have big wraps attached to her future on the basis of this first publication. Generally it is quite easy to see why this should be the case. I would suggest it is as good as any textbook for local trainee teachers to alert them to the type of home backgrounds that may afflict some of their clientele in the coming years. Such is Tassie’s bleak economic horizon, at the moment, this is also likely to be the ongoing case.

Favel-.Favel Parrett

After the movie, with having finished the final few pages of ‘Past the Shallows’, I settled down to watch the nightly news on the ABC. Like the rest of the country, Leigh and I were horrified by the leading item. The little Mornington Peninsula community of Tyabb had suffered a tragedy beyond words of a father openly killing his own son on a cricket field. From the black arm bands of our cricketers in South Africa to the palpably distraught head of the Victorian police searching for answers, this event brings to all the reality of troubled lives, affected by mental illness, into harsh reality. As Luke Batty’s mother so bravely and poignantly reflected on our screens that night, ‘…family violence happens to everybody no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are.’ The film and book were sobering, Luke’s fate – unspeakably sad.

Favel Parrett’s website =

Fleur and the Photographer

She is nude and I adore her – always have, always will. I don’t really know her and we’ve never spoken – except for in my imagination. I know nothing about her apart from her name – and even that may be a furphy. My relationship with her has been longer than any other I have had with a woman – she’s been with me for decades. It was commenced so long in the past I now have only the vaguest memory of the occasion of our first contact.

I know our eyes first locked through a window, although I suspect mine were quickly drawn to her other attributes – for even back then she was unclad, the hussy. She came into my world disrobed and so she remains. We have shared quite a few bedrooms since that day and I can safely say that my regard for her has never diminished, despite the time we have been together. She would have seen me at my lowest, at my happiest and perhaps even at my most triumphant. She would never let on about all of that as she’s my trusted keeper of secrets.

Fleur is a framed image of an unclothed maiden, aged in her early twenties I would judge. She is posed naked in a sitting position with only some judiciously placed gauzy material across her lap. She is holding a hairbrush and wears some pieces of period bling. Where I purchased her I have no recall – only that I espied her through some shop plate glass. I figure she has been with me for at least half my life.


Countless times I have looked at Fleur and speculated on her story. Who was she? What enticed her to be posing nude. Who was her photographer? The initials JA do appear in one corner as a clue. When exactly was her image transferred onto paper? To me she could be Edwardian or a lass of the Jazz Age. I don’t have the intimate knowledge of historical accoutrements to decide on that. Perhaps it is the former due to her luxurious locks and she does not have the slim form favoured by the later period – but that is pure supposition. Was she French, given that they were the trend setters in the early decades of last century in the post-card trade featuring such beauties posing dishabille? It was a good little earner for photographers back then. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking, being the francophile that I am. If not, what nationality then? So much to discover about her, so little to go on!

Not so long ago I made a foray onto Google to see if I could ‘uncover’ any clues as to her provenance, using the various meagre clues her portraiture gave. This was to no avail despite the various combinations of wording I used. I will not be beaten. I will make future attempts. If worst comes to worst, I will endeavour to write a fictional account and entrust it to my blog. Stay tuned.

Although the datasphere didn’t throw any light on Fleur, I must admit I made a few discoveries that piqued my interest enough to delve a little deeper. One of these was happening across one A A Allen. What an interesting fellow – and what a life he led! Of course there is a link to my lady in this as he was in the habit of photographing the young women of his day in the same way as per Fleur.

Of course this was not unusual, for as long as there has been a camera the photographing of the fairer gender in various stages of disrobing wasn’t unheard of. For the first decades of my passion’s existence, as photographic techniques gradually became more sophisticated, this practice was largely ‘underground’ in response to the Victorian mores of the time. It was mainly for prurient purposes akin to, I suppose, today’s much more accessible internet porn. But there were some photographers who took the higher ground, believing their work to be an art form in itself. After all, nudity in painting, illustration and sculpture was perfectly acceptable under the guise of art, so why not in their line of work or hobby? I think our A A would have probably have had a foot in both camps.

For his purposes he had two factors going for him. History is somewhat vague about him but we do know he was independently wealthy – his rich parents supporting him through the early stages of his ‘career’. We know he spent today’s equivalent of a couple of million dollars setting himself up with the necessary gear and studio to carry out his business. What he produced he could not openly sell despite society, by the time this New Englander had made his way to California in 1921, becoming less morally rigid. It all worked on subscription, sort of like receiving ‘Playboy’ through the post, with one difference – if he was caught doing so he was in deep do-do. So with his private income and his subscribers he had the necessary dosh to hire models to do his bidding. His other ‘asset’ was, that as a result of a motorcycle accident, he was severely disfigured and was unable to move freely (although we do know he produced at least one child.) Maybe his subjects felt ‘safe’ in his presence because of his lasting injuries. And of course in the twenties nudity was starting to become acceptable in the silent movies of the era. For an ambitious wannabe actress, disrobing was often not a place too far. Think the lustrous Louise Brooks. This all ties in as well to the end of the Great War. Although not as pronounced as elsewhere, the void left by the doughboys heading off to Flanders was filled by women doing the work of men, giving them a freedom unheard of in previous decades. Once the soldiers returned it was all expected to revert to normal, except that many of the fairer sex quite liked their new found liberties. With the males again in the ascendency in the workforce, how was a girl of her times to support herself? Across the world many were drawn to the glamour centres where the risque side of life held sway, places such as Paris or Berlin. For America California and its burgeoning entertainment industry was the place to make one’s name. Anyway, for whatever reason, A A had the means to convince numerous girls to partake in his fantasies, often in multiple numbers. He chose a certain type, all slim with a twenties bob, even training them in what we would now call a ‘boot camp’ manner so his girls would possess his desired physical form for his tableaux. At one stage he proposed to produce moving pictures of his belles as well, but as the thirties approached and the Depression bit his plans fell through – and then there was soon the obstacle of the Hayes Code as the puritans regained the upper hand.

aa allen

As the times started to clamp down on his dreams, so Mr Allen starts to slip from view. He had felt that the 1930s would be his decade, a time when, weather permitting, even the average Joe and Josephine would go about their daily tasks unfettered by the limitations of clothing. Instead his business collapsed as he found himself in hot water with the authorities for daring to send what the law termed ‘obscene material’ through the mail. The only sign of A A was that occasionally his name would pop up as a snapper for early naturist magazines. He passed away in 1962, much of his vast output lost forever.

These days what remains has been reassessed and now exhibitions of his oeuvre have been presented. Slowly old A A is coming in from the cold. His work is adjudged to have a contemporary feel because it wasn’t retouched, as was the common practice in his day. He believed in total honesty with what he was portraying. Of course, if nudity does not offend, you may decide for yourselves on the veracity of this with a simple insertion of his name into a search engine to provide galleries of his work

Of course it would be drawing a long bow to think the paths of my Fleur and A A Allen crossed. It would be too much of a coincidence to think she was one of the subjects he trained so rigorously to feature in his various series of images. Fleur remains on my wall in my man cave – and she will always have a home with me. And I’ll continue to be ever-wondering about her. Her story will be told – one way or another!