I have been a blog lurker and commenter for a long time.  This blog finally sprang not-quite-fully-armed from More lines from a floating life, after Ninglun called for participants in a meme to disclose 8 random facts about themselves.  As a non-blogger, I wasn’t really entitled to participate, but I did so anyway, by commenting on Dues Lo Volt.

Exhausted after the triumph (it’s all relative) of my entry on Miranda and The History Boys, I have been forced to fall back on old material and repost my response here.  I’ve wrestled with getting the photo to fit in the page properly, but that will need to await sage advice from somebody else (he knows who I mean) before I can put it to rights.  So here goes.

  1. In the year I turned 5, our family travelled to England on the occasion of my father spending a year’s sabbatical leave at Birkbeck College, University of London. We lived in a Queen Anne terrace in Twickenham (London real estate was cheap then) rented from a director of BP who was spending a year in some tax haven in the Carribean. I loved it and it was a source of great disappointment to me that, when the opportunity next arose, a combination of factors (including the fact that by then our family also depended on my mother’s income) prevented us going away. I started school while I was there. The playground chant I recall from Orleans Street Infants School was “We won the war in 1964.”
  2. I learnt ballet for a couple of years as a child.  There is a famous (in our family) photo of me in a white skivvy and black tights and purple cummerbund holding an arabesque, taken in our rather shady back yard, except that, allowing for the slow speed of colour slide film at that time, the shade and my sense of balance, I am actually supporting myself against a tree with a broom held in one hand. Note (rather indistinct in this version of the picture) the bruising on my left hand under the finger-nail – presumably from shutting some door or drawer on my fingers.  I was a clumsy child.  Not Sir RObert Helpmann!
    The ballet school was run by two sisters. The pianist was the husband of one of them, a man called Max Aronsten, now dead. He befriended me, and for many years after used to send me music for Christmas. In later years I sometimes visited him at Chappel’s office in the city, where he was a manager. I last saw him, briefly and in passing, at an eisteddfod in about 1985. I have since found out that he was a much more interesting character than simply a ballet school pianist or even music publisher. There is an interview with him in the oral history archives of ScreenSound Australia, but I doubt if I figure in it.  Although I loved the music, I had no physical aptitude for the dance.  I stopped doing ballet when I started piano lessons.
  3. In 1970 I won a children’s story-writing competition run by Puffin (ie, Penguin) Australia, and judged by Ivan Southall (the things authors need to do for a crust!). The prize was 50 Puffin books. I was allowed to take other Penguin imprints; I still have a few of those books today. The first third of my story was printed in the Australian and I was interviewed by Robert Drewe, who, tongue-in-cheek, imagined a future of literary awards for me. In fact, it was Robert Drewe who had such a future.
  4. In year 8 Geography, I proved unable to hand in my homework, and was given the lowest mark possible on the school computer report system: 30%. I was on a scholarship, and when things didn’t particularly improve by the next year, the headmaster threatened to take the scholarship away. Fortunately or not, this didn’t occur, and I managed to stay at the school until the end of year 12.
  5. In my teenage years I briefly learnt the cello. My first teacher was Henri Penn, once a pianist and accompanist of some renown on ABC broadcasts but by this time (obviously) fallen on rather harder times.
  6. In 1984, at the end of my history honours year at ANU, I arranged for all of my fellow students to make Freedom of Information requests for documents relating to our assessment. There was little reason for me to make such a request other than the trouble-making of youth, as I had been treated well. I have reason to believe that this act of ingratitude on my part backfired insofar as the unavailability of my file appears to have prevented an application for a scholarship at the Research School for Social Sciences being considered. I made the first request. The case appears in the textbooks, but not under my name, because of an anomaly in the university’s response to my request which meant that another student’s request became the lead case.
  7. I have performed in two productions of Benjamin Britten’s Noyes Fludde: first on the treble recorder (doubling handbells) and the second playing the piano duo primo part. In the first production, one of my handbells was defective and inclined to just click rather than ring; in the second, my left elbow was fouled by the secondo player’s right elbow at a crucial moment, and a leap down to the D just above middle C, which was a vital cue for a singer, came out as an E. The performance, recorded by ABC, was never broadcast.
  8. In 1994, after a whirlwind romance, a colleague and I proposed to marry. You had to fill in a form at the marriage registry which needed to be witnessed by an eligible person. As solicitors, we were both eligible persons, but the clerk baulked at our witnessing each other’s signatures. The woman in question called the whole thing off in the week it was due to occur. When I announced the impending marriage to a colleague, she said “but we all assumed you were gay,” to which I beamingly replied that I was a “closet heterosexual.” I have since retired (hurt?) from heterosexuality.

This meme seems to have had quite a ripple effect.  There have been some striking disclosures as well as some which, have apparently been regretted and consequently retracted.  As almost everybody I know seems to have participated in this meme already (it obviously gratifies the bloggers’ rage for free-form self-disclosure) I won’t bother with inviting further participation, though, God knows, I would welcome practically any comment by anyone who wants to follow on.

9 Responses to “Meme”

  1. ninglun Says:

    Very cute picture, Marcel.

  2. marcellous Says:

    Thanks, but you are the one whose advice I am relying on to get it to fit the page properly, in case you didn’t realise.

  3. ninglun Says:

    Well, one way (which I usually do) is to cut the picture down to size before uploading it, using photoshop or something similar. You need to make it around 400-450 pixels wide. Alternatively, specify width and height as explained on HEIGHT And WIDTH Attributes — scroll down that page to that heading. In that pic width=460 and height=308 should fit reasonably well; that’s just halving it; or maybe width=300 height=205 which would cut it to one third. Or you could delete the pic from the post and resubmit it as a thumbnail; then people could clicks on it to see the big one.

  4. Jim Belshaw Says:

    Marcel, anyone who clicks on the picture will get the full photo. Are you still interested in history?

  5. marcellous Says:

    Jim, yes, I am still interested in history.

    Ninglun, I’ll have a go later. What I want is a picture in the post which is bigger than those tiny thumbnails, and a picture which you click to which could well be bigger than this one.

  6. ninglun Says:

    Then go with: Alternatively, specify width and height as explained on HEIGHT And WIDTH Attributes — scroll down that page to that heading. In that pic width=460 and height=308 should fit reasonably well; that’s just halving it; or maybe width=300 height=205 which would cut it to one third.

  7. shaz Says:

    Hi.I am shabi live in syd for last few years and I m gay living with my partner less than 12 months but I want to apply refugee gay visa.I m in gay dating sites since 2008 and have many gay friends I am Happy to get reply.


  8. May 2007 recycles | Neil's Commonplace Book Says:

    […] computer failures there and here I have saved certain incriminating files, so in response to Marcel’s ballet picture I offer the most reluctant gymnast of […]

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