26 January 2011

Posted by DMC on 26 January 2011 in Diary |

A handsome win for England, by 22 runs In the fourth of the ODI cricket series against Australia. The first win against Australia on this ground since 1983 and this, ‘rubbing in the salt’, on Australia Day. Jonathan Trott was again star of the show with a century, well supported by Prior. This series is still alive with Australia leading 3-1.

Seeing the spectacular sunset which highlighted Adelaide’s skyline, behind the cricket oval, reminded me of the six months that I spend in this city in 1957/58. Here is an extract from my Autobiographical Notes covering my stay there.

Either before or after Queensland I spent six months or so in Adelaide. Here again I was introduced to the local deb’s delight, Bill Hickling. It may well have been after Hobart as I was probably introduced to him by Ginger Morris. Bill had a spare bed in his flat and invited me to share with him.  He was particularly fascinated by all things British and, in particular, the beginning of the swinging ‘60’s in London. One evening, he was thumbing through one of the many glossy magazines with which he kept up to date with social events, he threw out the casual remark to the effect that he would really love to start the first coffee lounge in Australia. These new fashionable meeting places for young people were springing up all over London at the time.  There was a very famous one in Knightsbridge called the El Cubano. It was fitted out inside like a jungle, it even had colourful parrots in gilded cages. The entrance was flanked by two half naked shining Nubian spear carriers.  A great place to take one’s young lady.

From memory they only served  varieties of exotic coffee but these were in the days before young people felt it necessary to get paralytic in order to enjoy themselves. I suspect it was my account of this particular establishment that prompted the wistful comment from Bill.

As a great believer in the saying, that if you want something ‘go for it’, I told Bill that if he really wanted to open a coffee lounge then he should do so and, in fact, I would help him. I persuaded him to come with me, there and then, drive round the streets & find some suitable premises. I saw a ‘To Let’ sign on an old bank building at 105 North St. I rang up the following day and procured a five-year lease. Together with a third partner, Syd Ball (who subsequently became quite a famous contemporary Australian artist) we spent the next six months, at weekends and evenings, painting and fitting out this coffee lounge/cum restaurant.

We had a little capital between us, around £400, indeed I have a  record of my £165 contribution, which was the maximum amount contributed by any of us. Nevertheless we did succeed in completing the task.

We painted the exposed, un-plastered, brick walls white, on which we displayed paintings from struggling Australian artist’s — these were changed every month. As the ceilings were very high we hung  alternate layers of orange and olive green plywood sheets, between which spotlights shone on the paintings.

We made the tables from cast-iron bases from sewing machines with circular plywood tops which we covered with full-length white linen table clothes. The chairs were bentwood, which I remember, very clearly, purchasing for nine shillings for 18. (or around 45p each in modern coinage). Our crockery was the finest bone china Noritaki – as it turned out, a great mistake

Health and safety regulations  was one of our major areas of expenditure.  However, again, all of the equipment was purchased second-hand, usually at auction. So, it came about, some months after we signed the lease, we were ready to open. The whole place looked frightfully smart and was finished off with a black  and orange awning over the front shop window.  I think I was the only one of the three of us who had a full-time job, certainly Syd was painting and  Bill may well have been between jobs but I cannot be sure about this.

I know that we opened at lunchtime and closed after midnight, most evenings.  Our biggest problem was cooking, even though our menu was very limited. Here we were fortunate in managing to persuade a very ancient chef to come out of retirement.

He was a very short gentleman and his chefs hat almost doubled his size.! This became an important factor when it came to toasting our speciality, the club sandwich. We had a very powerful wall mounted toaster,  on a shelf in the kitchen,  around 5 ft. above the ground, which was wired direct into the electricity main in the street, as it required an enormous amount of power,. Orders from the customers were written on slips of paper and placed in a hatch between the main restaurant and the kitchen.  For some reason the kitchen always seemed to be in chaos and it took what seemed to be an inordinate amount of time to fill the simplest of orders.  Frankly, it was far too much for the poor old chef who was probably over 70.  On this particular occasion I remember attempting to control the anxiety in my voice when asking where a particular order for a club sandwich was.

Picking up on my anxiety  the little chef rushed over to the toaster and yanked it out so violently that at least six club sandwiches shot straight over the top of his head onto the floor. All of this was a very stressful experience after working all day in a surveyor’s office. Despite these small setbacks, ‘The 105’, as it was called, was an immense success. Many times there were far more people queuing outside waiting to get in there and the 30 or 40 people who were already fortunate enough to have gained access.

I left Adelaide a few months after the coffee lounge opened. However, I had made my point to Bill.  If you want to do something badly enough then go for it. . The business continued for some years and then was sold but I never recovered my £165

I slept on the ‘sliding’ WendyLett sheet last night and I must say I was impressed. It’s certainly enabled me to turn over far more easily than without it and I was a little surprised that it was not more slippery. In order to affect the turnover however, I did have to press my feet on the footboard but that  is, I fear, due to my general body weakness.

From the illustration that I had been sent I was under the impression that the bottom two or three feet of the sheet was nonslip material which would enable the patient to push against it in order to affect the turning over. I telephoned the Nordic Care People and spoke again to Mahesh (Shenoy) the office manager, who I’ve found charming and extremely helpful. He tells me that his company’s policy is to find the right product for every enquirer and if a customer is not satisfied they are only too delighted to either refund the money or substitute a different product. As a result of my call Mahesh is going to send me a piece of nonslip material to fit over the bottom end of the sheet to see if that will make it easier for me to press against when trying to turn over. When that arrives I will see how I get on with it and then say whether I would endorse this product for people with similar physical difficulties.

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