Caught In Slips - Part 2

Caught In Slips - Part 2
by Christie Myr

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Season’s Greetings everybody OR if you’re as old as I am and you can remember Benny Hill on television in the UK………"Sea Suns Gleetings Everly Bloody.”
I’d also like to thank Emily 63 for her knowledge about various places and institutions within Australia mentioned throughout this story.

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My hospital visit to have the surgery Dr Case said needed to be done turned out to be uneventful and didn’t seem to affect me in the slightest. Then the family started slowly preparing for our move to Australia now confirmed to be just after Xmas and the last 3 months in England seemed to disappear in a blur. The five of us spent a quiet Xmas day at home with mum constantly reminding everyone that the walls and floors of every room had to remain spotless for potential buyers since the house was still up for sale. We’d already done the various family visits to relatives to say our goodbyes, so Xmas day was just one long drag and waiting for two more days until finally we boarded a plane bound for Australia.

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The first thing that struck me about Sydney, Australia was how hot it was out in the open air as soon as I stepped outside the air-conditioned airport terminal, especially having come from Essex where it was early winter. By the time the family arrived at Tamworth by hire car, having stayed the previous night at the motel near to the airport, air conditioning in the car or not, all of us were hot, sweaty, exhausted and cranky. Needless to say none of us had gotten enough sleep in the hotel for our jet lagged minds and bodies to enjoy, so the 10 hour car trip to Tamworth felt like “the car drive from hell” you often heard people telling others about.

By noon of our first day after arriving at Tamworth, the entire family could add painful glowing sunburned faces, arms and legs to the list of things that could only have shown the locals our ignorance and English heritage. We then spent several restless days either in our cool air conditioned lounge room or at air conditioned shopping centres browsing the shops and the uncomfortable nights trying to sleep in our rooms with little or no clothing on, which added to our not yet adjusted from jet lag bodies and made our first week in Australia less than memorable.

Mum on visiting the main shopping complex in Tamworth quickly purchased tubes of extreme sunblock of god knows what block out strength factor along with Akubra hats for her men and huge white floppy sun bonnets for her and Sue to wear outside. Mum also decided after commenting about how the local women’s skin complexions looked, said that she didn’t want hers or Sue’s skin to end up looking like old leather. When my sister and I went to the shopping centre a few days afterwards and saw the local people, the guys and younger women and girl’s bronzed appearances actually looked good on them we thought.

By the middle of January courtesy of the fact that dad’s job entailed him working mostly outside, had his skin looking like an “trainee” Australian male as he was well on the way to the dark mahogany colour that showed you worked the land here judging from the appearance of some of the men we saw while shopping. Greg, Sue and I (after strict 15 minute supervision checks by mum) sunbathed in our bathing suits twice a day to slowly accustom our bodies to the blinding sun and had all actually started turning a nice brown colour all over although Sue kept her face protected by her white bonnet. Even mum couldn’t avoid the inevitable and soon had a healthy light brown tan on her arms and legs too. Although I hated it at the time, mum made Sue and myself moisture our faces of an evening, (my sister already did it each morning anyway because that was how mum had taught her) which might possibly have played a small part in the cause of my eventual undoing.

Every day was one of exploring for mum and us kids while getting accustomed to what happened around us. Although most of our clothes were still on the water in a shipping container, we had packed enough to get by with which after our first few days in Tamworth quickly saw mum buying more suitable clothing for summer in Australia. Greg and I went shopping with mum grudgingly, but our sister loved clothes shopping and it was where (and why) she fitted in so quickly with the local girls shopping for clothes, that also quickly saw my older brother Greg being sized up as possible boyfriend material by several of Sue’s new found friends. He didn’t seem to complain about the clothes shopping for long and enjoyed the attention being shown by girls who were chatting with his sister.

The house we lived in was on one of the larger farms that dad was expected to consolidate and had several air-conditioned rooms as well as ceiling fans in every room, while the house was large enough for us siblings to have our own bedrooms too. Great no more fights with Greg over musical choices in the bedroom. The house was located about eight miles outside of Tamworth and although mum was the official taxi service for getting around initially, dad had quickly purchased bicycles for Sue and me while Greg was presented with a helmet and the keys to a 2nd hand 175cc motorcycle, which quickly ensured no one ever saw him at home except around dinner time of an evening.

Nearing the end of January saw our initial leisurely existence coming to an end as all three of us had to get ready to resume back to school again. “That” was another new experience in itself as the three of us had all gone to the same school back in Essex, whereas now Greg and I would be attending a boy’s only school/agricultural college while Sue would be going to another high school which was coeducational like the one back in Essex.

We’d all had to do pre enrolment interviews with our parents, where I was informed by my prospective new principal (Mr Mobs) that I’d be attending Farrer Agricultural High School as a year 7 general student although I’d had to repeat a year of school in Essex after my illness so I was a year older than most of the other boys in my year even though UK school terms meant that I had actually been in year 7 already for 6 months back in Essex. Greg was advised he’d be a year 11 student, concentrating mainly on agricultural studies which suited dad who’d emphasised to the school’s principal during the interview about Greg’s possibly wanting to take up one of dad’s firm's cadetships. Sue was going to be attending McCarthy Catholic College as a year 9 student and was glad (and lucky) to find that most of the subjects at her old school were covered in the curriculum with the exception being substituted for a “Religion Studies” subject which was funny in itself as our family was C of E and definitely not church attendees excepting for Xmas Eve services.

As for my medical concerns, they were going to be met by Tamworth hospital’s external medical centre. My medical records from England had been given to my parents to hand over along with an introductory letter to the specialist recommended back in Essex. And just like back in Essex I grew to loath the fortnightly blood taking as well as the monthly examination of my chest/breast. Mum and dad were always apprehensive the night before my monthly examination fearing bad news about my pathology results.

Still that aside, like the rest of my family, I quickly learned to love the Australian lifestyle and actually found I enjoyed the more laid back atmosphere of a country town far more than compared with living in Essex, although my body being what it was at the time 4’8” and skinny, quickly saw me learning my place in the school yard social pecking order.

Sport in Australian schools was mandatory for children, so given various sports to choose from I decided on athletics for school sport, because it appeared I wasn’t good enough during the school’s trials to play for their 14y.o. cricket team and in choosing athletics rediscovered my talent not only for running, (which proved useful when bullies chased after me I the playground) but also surprisingly enough for learning how to throw the javelin.

As it turned out Farrer Agricultural High School didn’t condone bullying at all and any boy or boys caught practicing it were suspended or summarily expelled. But take it from me. It certainly was there in the playgrounds let me assure you on that point and perhaps because I was small for my age, I did get bullied occasionally for the first few months. Never badly might I add, because I usually kept a low profile and mingled with a small circle of boys that avoided the “bigger” boys. But it didn’t hurt having an older and much bigger brother in year 11 either, although it would have been foolish to have claimed it to my persecutors in the hope that they would leave me alone.

Perhaps that was why the bullying against me wasn’t that serious, or perhaps it was because I never once complained to school authorities that I was being picked on and that usually I was unobtrusive outside the classroom that also kept me under the bigger boy’s radar most of the time, unlike some of the other small boys who were bullied and were considered loners in the playground and classroom, so overall high school didn’t seem “that” bad most of the time.

DRAMA WEEK SHENANIGANS & Ms CARMODY

I ended up staying almost three years at Farrar Agricultural and overall didn’t mind the school or most of the faculty and students there. Having written that, there WAS a certain female teacher in the English department (Ms. Carmody) who evidently had noticed me performing in my year 7 and year 8 plays during the annual School Drama Week (held the week before end of 3rd term holiday break each September) and besides becoming the bane of my existence at school, unintentionally also caused me to have to transfer to another district several hundred kilometres away.

Ms Carmody or to be entirely correct Ms Patricia Carmody……. How can I begin to tell you about the person who turned out to be the bane of my existence at Farrar Ag? Until I actually spoke to her sometime in October my first year there, all I knew about Ms Carmody was from rumours that school students spread about her. I’d usually see her at school assemblies where she sometimes made an announcement to the students, but as to why she became a problem for me is a long story and it might be best if I gave you some background about a particular school event if you are to appreciate some of the things that you’ll read in the next few chapters.

Drama Week is a festival held by Farrar Agricultural High that originally was thought would encourage students who had thoughts of doing something in the Arts after they graduated school, to participate in acting on the stage in high school to try and get some idea if they liked the sensation, or for shy or nervous boys, to try working behind the curtains helping out with props and such. It had been held annually at Farrar Ag for over 50 years and was considered an institution there. You therefore shouldn’t really be that surprised that I’ve included the following as background for anyone reading this tome, so you can begin to understand that some things happen during that week that simply aren't always run of the mill things. SO when reading the following background information, hopefully you'll begin to understand just how seriously some people take performing on a stage.

Several years before my family even arrived in Australia, Drama Week was already an established event and eagerly looked forward to by students at Farrar Agricultural High who enjoyed drama and performing in plays. When Ms Carmody was appointed to the school and being a frustrated thespian herself, she recognised Drama Week as a unique outlet for all of her pent up enthusiasm about performing. After producing her first Drama Week play, she contacted the local newspaper about promoting the school event more heavily in future years as a possible social attraction for local Tamworth people that might even raise funds for the school (or for charities) by selling tickets to the public for Drama Week’s evening performances and possibly create a new audience base instead of just the student’s parents who were the only ones who usually turned up.

Rumour had it that she’d agreed with an idea the local newspaper editor’s suggested to her about staging Drama Week more on a semi profession basis then it had previously been done before. This same editor who was himself a self-confessed frustrated amateur thespian, suggested that she might form several backstage working groups from among the students (and staff) especially for Drama Week. These groups would be responsible for building new stage props or remodelling old ones (which would be outlined for them to build) then another group would be responsible for setting up or removing props from the stage for each play to be performed, while yet another group would handle wardrobe clothing maintenance, finally leaving a small well trained group to apply makeup to the actors in waiting rooms behind the stage, saving Ms Carmody or other teachers from having to be involved in everything and so allowing her (or the actual English teacher whose class was performing) to do lord knows what else behind the curtains to ensure the success of the play.

Somehow or other, she managed to persuade (con more likely so the rumour goes) the school Principal Mr Mobs into not only spending school money on purchasing professional stage make up, along with materials for both new clothing and material for building new props each year, but also persuading the Manual Arts Master (wood/metalwork) at the time into using the year 11 and 12 students doing woodwork, to assist the group workers involved in building any requested stage props.

Her plan to achieve a certain level of “professionalism” worked and ensured that Farrar Ag’s Drama Week was considerably better than most schools attempts. It also was able to make a small profit each year (which was earmarked for future Drama Weeks).

NOW you know some of the background for what happens in the some of the chapter along with the next one.

Anyway the now accepted story handed down through Farrar Ag school boys was that Ms Carmody herself had supposedly been contemplating a stage acting career when she was younger, (and probably still is for all I know) but had had to take up teaching to pay the bills. Her oft stated intention at Farrar Ag was to cultivate culture among the school student body by directing/producing the best school play each year and was particular in always selecting a Shakespearean drama.

What always excited her especially, was that the best plays performed during the two days at school in drama week, were presented on the last three days of the week (of a night) to a paying public, along with parents and students who wished to attend (and pay) and her own dramatic production were almost always chosen as the best each year since she had started staging them.

Mr Mobs our principal would state at the first general assembly each year how Ms Carmody had improved the level of acting at Farrer Ag’s school Drama Week (particularly her “Shakespearean” re-enactments), and only asked of potential student actors that they give exceptionally high standard performances as repayment. He suggested to the new intake of year 7’s each year that they might like to consider being involved in Drama Week either as a budding actor or perhaps a stagehand assistant. Having seen her body language during the principal’s introduction, one has only to imagine a bird preening itself to picture Ms Carmody.

With the assistance and encouragement of the local paper, whose articles each year were proudly displayed on school notice boards and also in the English teacher’s staff room, it was general acknowledged by both students and faculty alike that Ms Carmody “HAD” raised both the level of each dramatic performance she directed, along with the production standards and quality of every other play selected for the evening performances, to where it was now considered an absolutely “mustn’t to be missed social affair” by a small section of Tamworth’s “society” each year (unless of course you weren’t interested).

My size being what it was back then (even though I was 14½) saw my English teacher “volunteering” me to be an actor in the 7D English class play. (I never even got offered the chance to decline my first acting role)

So what I hear you say"………………Well yes I suppose I did end up doing it BUT you need to understand from my perspective that my introduction to acting on a stage was to be in the role of a “female" and worse still (aside from the fact that the play was crass anyway) I had to play the role of the “love” interest in the play. So that meant that for realism, I’d be wearing a dress, a women's wig, make up and so on (all of which came from the school’s meagre drama supplies and my dowdy clothing from the mothball smelling costume’s wardrobe) for me to be able to play the part of the infatuated girl hopelessly in love” with the acne riddled male hero. Worst of all, my English teacher instructed me that I had to romantically hug (not kiss I hasten to add) my lover during several scenes.

Even though our play was performed by 13 and 14 year olds, I soon discovered that ANY play where the girl hugged the boy performed at Farrar Ag, received loud cat calls from the entire student body in the hall………and very likely a fair few of the teaching faculty in the hall too, especially if the teachers thought the same way as the students did about one another.

Drama Week went for two entire school days where every English class from year's 7 to 10 performed a play as well as one play each from combined year 11's and year 12's English classes. Then those plays considered the best, were performed over the evenings of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with several plays being performed more than once. I quickly found out that during the evening performances, it was mainly the adult men in the audience who'd do any wolf whistling and/or calling out of ribald remarks, but a few women in the audience were just as bad and more obvious.

The play I performed in was selected as the year 7 offering to the public, so I had to endure not only a night of being catcalled and wolf whistled at whenever I had was required to romantically hug my “lover”, BUT having to perform it “in front” of my parents and family was the ultimate humiliation (Greg and Sue gave me merry hell over it for weeks afterwards). For several days of the following week, I along with my love interest were the butt of taunts and jokes and minor bullying from most of the boys in our year at Farrar Ag.

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As the middle of October rolled around, the start of junior cricket season did as well. Although I didn’t play cricket for the school, Tamworth had a very healthy Saturday morning cricket competition that catered for as many children that wanted to play cricket from around town and the surrounding farming communities. I tried out for a local junior club and found myself playing under 15’s cricket as a middle order batsman because I was considered far too slow as a “quick” bowler to ever get an opportunity to bowl in matches. Our coach (Mr Newman) having quickly learnt that I was English, discovered I also bowled slow off spin as well and after quickly telling me it was a waste of time bowling that, instead showed me how to bowl leg spin, which he assured me if I practiced bowling that in the nets, he’d soon allow me to bowl a few overs each game (for variety from all the fast bowling the kids usually bowled he said).

I went home with my coach’s advice spinning round in my head and whenever possible practiced bowling my “leg” spin in the backyard at an old 44 gallon drum as a wicket as well as at team practices twice a week. Sometimes my brother Greg would come out into the backyard and practice his slogging against my “trash” bowling and even dad wasn’t above getting involved in trying to help me, although he was disgusted that my coach had told me that “off” spin bowling was a waste of time in Australia.

One Saturday morning game, having been told by the team captain I was to bowl the next over, I took it upon myself to bowl “off” spin instead of “leg” spin (during Mr Newman's instituted 3 mandatory overs of spin each game that he liked to have happen after he finally decided I bowled “just” well enough not to be hit around too badly). His shouting out “what do you think you’re playing at Michael” before yelling to the captain (who was also his son) to take me off at the end of the over, then yelling out to me “you AREN'T allowed to bowl that pommy garbage off spin any more for this team son, or you can forget about ever getting another bowl for the rest of the season, and that includes at practices”.

So from that day onwards it was leg spin bowling or NO bowling for me if I ever wanted to get a bowl in a game coached by Mr Newman. BUT as a "batsman," I was no better or worse than most of the other under 15’s I played against. My top score was 30 that season but I simply enjoyed playing cricket. In our U15’s competition you could always pick the players who played representative cricket for town by either their batsmen constant hammering our bowlers to all parts of the field in a game, or the bowlers by the vast quantity of wickets a boy took against us.

Australia I quickly found out is a hot dry country and in summer you could actually fry an egg on a car’s front bonnet quite easily. I guess that’s why Australian cricketers are so tough, because the adults played of an afternoon when the sun is at its hottest. Junior cricket in Tamworth was played in the cool of the day (usually between 8am and 12noon) often stinking hot and the thermometer hovering in the low 90’s. How more kids don’t faint or collapsed on the field is a mystery.

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When the middle of December finally rolled round, it was time for the long break school holidays which meant I didn’t have to think about school again until near the end of January. Six whole weeks of no more school teachers, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks!

One bit of surprising news during the year was being told by my parents (along with Greg and Sue) that an insurance settlement claim against the British Health System had been finalised and in November was paid into a trust account under my parent’s guardianship. I had no idea that this had happened thus my surprise when told what eventuated and which had come about because apparently mum and dad had been furious about my misdiagnosed Gynecomastia and had with the aid of Dr Case lodged a compensation claim for damaged against the NHS as well as Dr Bryant.

So after a lengthy family discussion, it was agreed that since we (my family) might well eventually end up emigrating back to Australia permanently once dad's secondment to Australia was over, since we were all liked the people, climate and lifestyle, then the insurance money (or part of it) should be used to purchase a property, preferably in Sydney which could be rented out to increase the value of my trust until I reached my majority.

To encourage prudent investing in a property, Greg would be leaving at the end of the following year to do an agricultural course in Sydney at the University of NSW, as well as at Goulburn and if I bought a property somewhere in Sydney, then he could live in it and pay board while staying there (well below whatever he housing rental market dictated dad decided). Sue had similar thoughts for when she hopefully got to university to study computer science, while mum and dad or I could use it if they or we ever visited Sydney during school holidays or on business.

So during the end of year holiday break, everyone except dad took a one week trip to Sydney to look at several houses that had been found and investigated from off the internet. My insurance settlement exchanged to Australian currency came out to almost $1million dollars, which meant that at the tender age of 14 I’d become a millionaire (for a short while at least).

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Now we’d arrived and were staying in Sydney for more than just a night, it showed the four of us just how big the city was. We spent four days talking to 2 different real estate agencies looking at various properties and then every night afterwards we’d all go sightseeing around Sydney. Now $1,000,000 might be a lot of money to you (or me) to buy a house with, but in Sydney, it meant only the most basic of accommodation “if” you wanted to live anywhere close to the central area there. We quickly discovered that most of the properties for sale we were seeing were quite well away from the main CBD or any of the universities, although most had minor campuses in the far west of Sydney.

The second estate agency we used (the salesman having politely listened as property after property was rejected for one reason or another), asked if we might like to look at something older and smaller in a suburb called Fairfield that he had on the agency’s listings. He then drove the four of us there and showed us a small (very run down to look at inside and out) two bedroom unit, but which was close to public transport and shops. It had had several contracts placed on it, all of which had failed finance. After looking through it the four of us seemed in general agreement so mum phoned dad, told him about it, organised a building inspection for the following day and after another phone discussion with dad saw her placing a contract on the house, crossing out the finance exemption clause and instead adding a subject to structural inspection clause.

We spent our final two days in Sydney visiting Taronga Zoo and going to one of the local beaches at Manly, because my sister wanted to try out a new bikini she’d bought on our second night’s sightseeing. The swimsuit looked fabulous on her and encouraged several guys at the beach to ask her if she’d like to go out for dinner or to the movies. Much to mum’s relief Sue demurely deferred each invitation, only to have mum tell her that her father might not allow her to go to university in Sydney if mum told him about Sue’s visit to the beach! Greg didn’t join us, instead spending the two days using public transport to determine how easy (or not) it might be to use it to get to the university he was hoping to get approval to attend. The four of us headed back to Tamworth not knowing whether the house contract had been accepted or not.

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Then three days after we had gotten back home mum received a phone call advising that the offer had been accepted and the contract paperwork was now with our solicitor to do title searches. As a further side issue to the initial purchase, the same agent rung back two weeks later on with another investment opportunity which after a quick trip down by mum and me, saw the paperwork done that eventually would result in my trust having to get a mortgage loan of $85,000 to be paid off over ten years for a small one bedroom unit (mum called it a hut when she spoke to dad about it on the phone) somewhere near Liverpool. The agent also encouraged our purchasing the property by stating that he’d organise for a rental tenant, (which he did) who was willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money (to my parents way of thinking) to rent somewhere so close(?) to shops and public transport. The agent explained that the rent paid would cover the monthly loan repayments as well as any probable outgoings so that was the clincher. By the time I returned to school for the start of year 8, I was now the proud owner of two units in outer western Sydney.

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The end of January rolled around again and that meant school again. I was promoted to year 8 mostly in A classes (I’m a Brainiac nerd) and school seemed just like the previous year, except now I did Music, Geography and Economics as my elected subjects in addition to my core subjects of English, Maths and Sciences. My range of friends grew in size too and my guitar playing quickly improved curtesy of my fellow music students who were another small circle of school friends. Sometimes I’d agree to a Saturday afternoon “jam” sessions at our house or go to one of the other boy’s homes who was hosting and found them a lot of fun.

But none of what I’ve told you in this story so far was helping me with my embarrassing medical problem, but on the other hand my secret was still safe from anyone who knew me in Tamworth.

With my chest, Mother Nature simply wasn’t allowing me a fair go at trying to be a normal boy. When I was almost 15½ and half way through year 8 I’d also been able to grow another couple of inches to 4’10 and now weighed a “hefty”(?) 80 pounds or about 40 kilos. It didn’t matter one inch at school where my vertically challenged body saw only one boy in my year shorter than me. I was now labelled “runt of the litter” by my fellow year 8 schoolmates and most of the bigger kids.

To compensate for that and while trying to look like most teenage boys my age living in Tamworth, I started to happily sacrifice personal comfort for the discomfort of teen male fashion and during the hot spring/summer days allowed my hair to grow out about as far as Farrer Ag’s rules would allow. To abide by the school rules my hair had to be kept washed, neat and be no more than shoulder length, while being tied back for sport or PE and any boy with long hair was also required a to use a hair net for subjects such as Woodwork, Metalwork or Art (which didn’t affect me since I didn’t do any of those subjects).

The problem for me though was that between my shortcomings in height, weight, yet to break voice, my now sun bleached blonde white shoulder length hair and my blasted reasonably soft clean skin (which I think mum was to blame for) I often had to look out to avoid being bullied at school more than before. I wasn’t exactly sure why that was, although I admittedly still had my (proper) English accent although it was now mixed in with a hint of an Australian drawl to annoy others in class when I answered questions from a teacher. Mum was constantly reminding me about how to speak correctly and all three of us children had her constantly grinding her teeth at our “antipodean" pronunciation of words instead of sensible English grammar. Greg was the worst as he had assimilated quicker than even dad and was peppering his conversations with words like “mate”, “strewth”, “bloody hell” although she particularly hated him using Strine such as “Snives” meaning St Ives which sent mum totally batty.

Mum was doing her best to ensure none of her siblings was going to go native and often corrected one or the other of us over our grammar. Strangely enough she never said anything to dad about his newly evolving vocabulary at the dining table. She also continued to insist about the sun damaging Sue's and my young skin that always saw me trying to avoid…..but rarely succeeding, the evening moisturising sessions that mum insisted on for both Sue, who was quite happy to do it and me, who definitely wasn’t. I certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone at Farrar Ag about THAT fact. When you combined my height, weight, hair and facial skin, (I certainly never walked around shirtless any more) I suppose I DID look “slightly” feminine although I’d hotly deny it to any of my tormenting bullies if they ever caught me whenever I raced away from them in the school yard.

I suppose my “looks” was why I was again the first “volunteer” chosen by our year 8 English teacher Mr Mowbray for Drama Week ……..with (again) no chance to argue the umpire’s decision. You've guessed it haven't you………another female role and this time as the “leading lady”.

There was riotous laughter among my classmates as Mr Mowbray announced my role and further laughter erupted when my male lead’s name was announced, Brett Lyons who was generally considered (in private) by most of the class to be the Brad Pitt of our year 8 English class and was rumoured to have countless pretty girlfriends as well. Brett also didn’t mind performing on stage either. Mr Mowbray said he was quietly confident that with two potentially “brilliant” actors, our play should be a certainty to be chosen to represent year 8 during the evening session during Drama Week, which had me silently wishing for an injury “just” debilitating enough to allow me to be excused from the play.

As it turned out all the year 8 plays that year were actually quite good to watch as they shared hall or stage space when they rehearsed (apparently our Principal Mr Mobs thought so too). I was silently hoping (the reader may insert the word begging or pleading in place of hoping if they prefer) for 8D’s “The Trouble With Nothing” to be nominated as the year 8 play for the evening performances, but I suppose you’ve already guessed THAT too…….8A won the honour of representing our year for the evening performances. Most of the play’s performers along with Mr Mowbray were pleased with the principal’s decision, although personally, I wasn’t!

Our leading male Brett Lyons “would” have been described as the consummate amateur actors professional if you’d ever asked “HIM”. I’d have said something more derogatory to describe him if I’D been asked. He often spoke to me (during the endless rehearsals after school) about trying to relax more during our intimate scenes………Intimate should be clearly understood to mean in THIS instance – “where two actors come together to hug as a sign of showing love and affection” (with strictly NO kissing to be allowed).

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, (done very sneakily and subtly you understand) our performances during the five intimate romantic scenes in the play, “appeared” to the audience to be “thespian correct”, if such a term exists judging from the volume of the catcalling by the student audience. BUT in at least two of the scenes, I positioned my body in such a way as to give the impression that the two of us were hugging, but most of my body wasn't touching his although admittedly my arms were around him. The two evening performances we were allocated this time, had the adult crowd exceptionally vocal about our intimate scenes and even had Mr Mowbray quietly chuckling behind the curtain over one remark made by someone in the audience.

Photos of two of the romantic scenes from our play were published in the local newspaper several days later, taken by the school magazine’s theatrical critic and quasi local newspaper reviewer - who the newspaper used for the article……..perhaps because the editor had already approved our critic’s apprenticeship application to become a journalist with them. The school scribe wrote that our romantic scenes were “among the best he’d seen in a play in his six years at the school!”……. Now there’s backhanded praise for you…..and from such a professional drama review critic, wouldn’t you agree?

8A’s “two” evening performances both received standing ovations……….and I swear I would’ve punched anyone in the face who tried walking on stage to present me with a bouquet of flowers! It was bad enough listening to my brother and sisters comments in the car on the way home each night, but even dad and mum were chuckling as they reminded me not only about how I sounded (and looked) so feminine, remarking how I had to stand beside my leading male and bow for our encore ovation in all my feminine glory!

But folks, praise and applause can be such a fleeting thing, especially in the theatrically world.

The following Monday after the Friday night dramatic success, I heard during second period that Brett Lyons got punched in the stomach several times in the playground before school while I’d only gotten pushed and tripped on the stairs landing flat on my face while walking into the main building for 1st period. Worse followed after the next edition of the local paper came out and showed the photos of Brett and I embracing along with several scenes from other plays as well as our theatrical critic’s review of each play performed over the 3 nights.

Both Brett and I got roughed up several times in the playground in the days following the delivery of the local paper in Tamworth that showed the photographs along with the reviews and we both might have gotten beaten up worse if my brother Mike hadn’t spoken to some of his year 12 prefect friends, who then kept a close watch on both Brett and I, which included a disciplinary detention for several boys along with a verbal warning by my big brother to the boys as well, that saw the physical threats stop and the verbal teasing eventually becoming less and less until overnight, it finally stopped.

However the final word over drama week for me actually came after Ms Patricia Carmody stopped me as I was leaving school for the day after final bell one afternoon several weeks afterwards. She congratulated me on my recent stage performance and said she was looking forward to working with me on her favourite Shakespearean drama next year……….Oh what joy..... And now I had THAT to look forward in year 9? As she walked off I silently thought………"There’s NO WAY I’m doing that!!”

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**** Now should anyone be wondering what this chapter has to do with cricket in the story’s title, I admit I have absolutely no idea whatsoever! But I DID manage to mention cricket a tiny bit in the chapter. But ideas about Drama Week flew into my head and my sense of humour (remembering about my own experiences acting in high school plays as a teenager) started me thinking about unusual situations and voila out popped this chapter (along with part 3, hopefully sometime next weekend).

**** After the 2nd of January I will only have time to post a chapter once a week (IF I’m lucky) and I promise they will include more serious cricket. I just don’t know how much until Michael grows a little older!

**** If you’re reading this story Emily63, why not contact me again by email because I could really use some help proof reading and catch up. Ciao, Chris
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