French Sundays

I remember when shops in Sydney and the suburbs were closed from 12 noon on Saturdays and didn’t reopen until Monday.

There were no shopping centres open on Sundays. No grocery shopping at 10pm weeknights, let alone on a Sunday. Thursday nights was late trading. Every other days, shops closed at 5.

Somehow we coped.

Lots of friends at school had retail jobs which were set Thursday nights and Saturday mornings – the “extended” trading days.

Young people, those without part time jobs, hung out at the shopping centre on Thursday nights. It was very quiet walking through Sydney shopping malls on a Saturday afternoon or after 5, even in the main shopping district. Everything was closed.

Slowly, hours have been extended.

Now most supermarkets are open till 9 or 10pm on weekdays, and both days of the weekend. Likewise shopping centres are open on weekends. Sundays have become the main grocery shopping day. Hanging out in shopping centres seems to be a national pastime, something families do.

The convenience of shopping whenever we want has meant we don’t need to plan ahead. Of course, it’s helpful for shift workers, like nurses and such. The extra opening times has created more part time jobs in retail.

But the cost?

  • There’s no quiet time.
  • There’s no dedicated time for families.
  • We’ve become a nation of shoppers.
  • “Going to the shopping centre” is a family activity.
  • We are fatter and in debt.
  • Lost income. Now we are an “open all hours” country, loading for working on weekends is being cut. If there’s no such thing as weekends or family time, why should employers pay more.

I was struck by how quiet Sundays were in France. Trucks are not allowed on the highways on Sundays – the roads are kept free to visit families.

Here’s a post from an English ex-blogger who has moved to France.

I know we can’t step backwards, and change expectations. Though, while I do like the convenience of shopping, I could readjust.

So do I shop on Sundays and check the workers get the extra loading, or do I go back to a slow Sunday?

What’s your view on Sundays? Do we shop too much? Should we have a day of rest, a day to go slow, to visit family?

56 Up

Why is this show so compelling?

The participants said we think we know them and how they feel but we don’t. Several said we see a minute snapshot with the producers taking a perspective, or an angle.

Yet we are seeing real people however small the snapshot. To see the arc of their lives, the narrative, is as engaging as reading a memoir.

It’s touching. I teared up at the fellow who moved to Australia. Mr S couldn’t understand it, “But it is happy.”

Yes, but he was so vulnerable. And sliding doors, I don’t think he would have had such a happy life if he’d remained in England. And how Aussie is the grandkid – Shano? An English documentary maker couldn’t have hoped for more stereotypical Aussies.

Some people seem to be hit with bad luck; drama, illness, unemployment, misadventure, all compounded by poor choices. But for me, it is the happier stories that are so touching.

I love seeing the changing fashions. The makeup on the women. The hair on the men. God, the 70s and early 80s were not kind to men with all that hair. And 80s make-up never heard the word subtle.

The increasingly compelling part is that nothing like this can ever be made again. Our view of the media has changed and this would affect the filming from the start. OK, some participants have come on in this or in previous episodes to promote something, a band or a charity for example, but reality TV and social media have changed the way we use and present ourselves. And the simple presentation, gentle editing and pace, would not be the style of a modern documentary maker.

There have been some short-lived versions from other countries. But they appear so derivative.

As the years roll on, my fear is no one will participate. So it becomes more compelling – will this be the last one? As we’ve come to know the people – we want to know what’s happened, like we do with old school friends who we “know” and are FB friends with. We know we don’t know what is really going on in their lives, we don’t know all they hold important, what they value, but we want to know what they’re up to and how they’re travelling.

What about class?

Although all the participants decry the concept of class that they say is the producer’s point, class is clearly a determining factor in their lives.

Class isn’t money. But the effect is evident in the life choices.

Of course, options are vastly different for whatever class you are born into than they were a century ago. Children may go to university, participants be the first to own their own home.

Representatives from different social groups may be tokenism, but it holds largely true.

But the saying, “Give me a child …” isn’t just about class. We see the personalities come through. Worried little 7 year old Paul is still worried at 56. Sparky Tony is still sparking.

Why do they agree to continue?

I am so grateful that they do. It must be interesting to have a kind of record. Yet strangely disturbing to see the years go by so quickly.

The wife of the lawyer said she gets to see the physical changes of her husband and compare them to her sons. But that’s hardly a reason for her husband to continue.

The posh country girl said she feels a responsibility to return but hates it. I am glad she feels that responsibility.

What’s the real lesson?

Family, significant other relationships, purpose. Those three things are most important for happiness, feeling satisfied and content, and getting through the rough patches. Irrespective of class.

I saw The Wiggles before they were really really big

While on the topic of children…

The Dreamer was mad keen on The Wiggles. Actually mad keen on ONE of their videos – A Wiggly, Wiggly Christmas. 

If hearing their songs over and over again wasn’t bad enough, listening to Christmas songs in April was pretty awful. Feliz Navidad is an ear worm that will never leave me. 

We ended up hiding the video. Much to Dreamer’s distress. 

But before The Dreamer’s fandom, Older Boy quite liked The Wiggles. 

We spent a year living in a rural town on the far north coast when Dreamer was born. Older Boy was three. I had the year off on maternity leave. The Wiggles toured and played in a community hall. No ticket numbers. No seats. Just pre-schoolers and mums with prams. Even then in Sydney, they were playing in large venues with so many in the audience that you wouldn’t get anywhere near the stage, even if you were lucky to get tickets. And the stage would have been up too high for littlies. 

One of the benefits of small town living! We got to be close up to The Wiggles.

What prompted this reminiscing?

I received a regular email from a ticketing company with info on buying tickets for, among others bands, The Wiggles. 

Ha! I saw them when they were the original line up and before they were an international success. 

Had the Dorothy cap and tail too!

Oma Kardashian

I shared the photos sent from my father’s side of my family with my only cousin and aunt from my mother’s side of the family. 

My mother’s mother was in several shots. 

We have built up a wealth of mythology about our Oma (German for nanna). She definitely was a classic. A unique woman, she had an illegitimate child (possibly half Jewish) before the war and then married and had my uncle (now deceased) and my mother. My mother has written here how Oma made their experiences seem like an adventure and made sure they did not go without. 

Oma moved to Australia as a divorced woman in her 50s without any English. She gained employment. She learnt English and ended up able to do crosswords in German and English. She was fiercely independent. 

Now, with the photos we’ve discovered a new trait. And given her a new nickname. A nickname that couldn’t come in time. There are now so many Omas in our family. My mother. My aunt. My cousin. My sister. All Omas now. 

The nickname came as a result of the poses she pulled in the photos with the English family. 

Here she is. Classic Kardashian pout, in her colour coordinated outfit. She wouldn’t let the Pommie family outshine her. 

And not for her to be hidden in the back row. She would out front in a statement pose. 

Then my aunt and mother shared the story of my sister’s christening. At that time in Australia women still had to wear a hat to church. So Oma went out and bought a hat. Of course it had to be a hat bigger than anyone else’s. Of course she had to outshine the English. A tall, white hat. A look-at-me hat. 

Oma Kardashian. Gone over 25 years ago. Still making us laugh. 

Who’s that?

A cousin who lives overseas recently sent me some photos that she had unearthed from her mother’s (my father’s sister) collection. 

Some people in the photos were instantly recognisable. That must be dad. That must be dad and his siblings. That must be nan when she was young. Look at her gloves – what the groover she was. 

That must be dad’s family at the seaside in Wales. I mean who visits the beach (we don’t do seasides) in Australia dressed up like that? And rides donkeys?

But who is that? And that? And this little round thing?

My father died when I was a teen. He left us years earlier. I don’t have much to do with his side of the family for multiple reasons. Even if I did, there are not many people who would know who the people in the photos are. My aunt is 80 and has Alzheimer’s. There’s only one other sibling still alive. She is significantly younger and may not know the people either. 

Then I helped my mother with a couple of entries on her blog. We uploaded some photos. Again of people I didn’t know. 

All this got me thinking. What is the point of family photos?

Are they just for those who take them, and their immediate family, to recollect or celebrate events in their lives? To act as decorations around the house?

Are they records for family history? 

Are they for future historical and cultural references?

Should we keep old photos? Should we bother keeping all our own photos? What now that we take thousands on our phones? Should we treat photos as ephemeral?

Is it better to have one photo with a record of who is in it and where it was taken and other contextual information than thousands of unknown people and places?

Now that I know who some of the people are in my mother’s photos, the photos mean more to me. But will my offspring care?


In the beginning

The trials and tribulations and vents and plans of my life can be summed up by that annoying phrase first world problem. 

Really I am thankful my problems are so minor. Going to bed at a decent hour. Decluttering my house. Finding time to read. Travelling. 

Pop over to my mother’s blog, The Girl from the North. She’s posted on her memories of bombings during WWII. 

I wonder how we’d come out of the same situation? Definitely changed.