What’s the one musical event you wish you’d been at?

Red Hot Chili Peppers ticket

You know how people go to a great event and they don’t stop talking about it 20 years later. You wish you could have been there but you weren’t so it doesn’t matter how many stories they tell about this fantastic event you missed out on, you weren’t there and you just smile and nod and wish they’d shut up about it because of course you would have loved to have been there.

What event would this be for you?

For me, it was the 1993 Big Day Out in Adelaide. It was the first Big Day Out here, and it was held at Adelaide University. It was a stinking hot day in early February as days in Adelaide are bound to be at this time of year.

Iggy Pop played and he was awesome. You should have seen him. Well I couldn’t because I wasn’t there.

I had a really good excuse as to why I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in the country. I was in England – freezing – in winter.

While you were getting squirted with firehoses at the Big Day Out before Iggy Pop came on, I was commuting for an hour or two to work in the dark.

There’s been some other good bands play at Big Day Outs in Adelaide, but they’re still not as good as the first one. Because the first one was at Adelaide University and all the rest have been at the Adelaide Show Grounds. Totally different venue. Totally different feel.

So when people are still posting photos on Facebook from that day, or talking about it at parties, I just try to think of all the great gigs I went to in England.

I could tell you about the time I went to the Reading Festival in 1993. Or when I saw Red Hot Chili Peppers and Henry Rollins on the one night at Brixton Academy for the princely sum of £10.50. One of my favourite shows was Pop Will Eat Itself at the Town and Country.

Smashing Pumpkins ticket

Here’s some more:

  • Smashing Pumpkins at the Astoria – 14 February 1992
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain (Rollercoaster tour) with Blur, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr at Brixton Academy – 7 April 1992 (£12.50)
  • Fugazi at Brixton Academy – 9 May 1992 (£5)
  • Sonic Youth at Brixton Academy – 15 December 1992 (£9.50)
  • Jesus Jones – 1 April 1993 at the Astoria (£8.50)
  • Madonna – Girlie Show  at Wembley Stadium- 25 September 1993 (£22.50).

Ok, so missing out on that inaugural Big Day Out in Adelaide perhaps wasn’t so bad after all. And it’s a pity those prices are now long gone.

The Pink Pussycat

Budapest
Creative Commons License photo credit: ** Maurice **

Inspired by Me & Boo’s precarious travel tale #2 I have a travel tale. Don’t know that it’s that precarious but it’s one I’ll never forget.

October 1992

I’d spent a few days in beautiful Prague despite a case of the flu. My next destination was Budapest and I hopped on the train, sat myself down in a seat feeling a bit revolting and my hair felt greasy even though I’d washed it recently. All the way to Bratislava (on the border of Hungary) people had been speaking non-English and I didn’t understand a word and I didn’t understand why they kept looking at me.

In Bratislava two men stood outside my carriage door and one of them said in an American accent, ‘someone’s sitting in our seat’. Now I understood why the others had been looking at me strangely, I’d been sitting in their reserved seat. The man’s words took a while to sink in as I realised he was speaking English and I could understand him. He was very cute so I said ‘there’s more than enough room for you here, I’ll move over’ and patted the seat next to me.

All the way to Budapest we chatted. It was the usual travel stuff, where have you been, what have you been doing, where are you from. The cute one, Eric, was from Iowa and had been in the Peace Corp in the Gambia in Africa for the past two  years. His English mate Dave with a very dodgy looking moustache had also been in the Peace Corp.

I had nowhere organised to stay  in Budapest and no friends there so after a while I suggested that perhaps we could find accommodation together, trying my hardest not to be too obvious that I was finding Eric very cute indeed. They thought it was a good idea as they had no accommodation organised either, and when we arrived in Budapest’s train station a woman with some bed and breakfast accommodation approached us and convinced us to go with her. She was only a short way from the train station she said. It wasn’t that short, 20 minutes or so my car and longer by bus. We had a room all together with three beds.

That night we hung out in a local bar and Eric mentioned that it was his birthday the next day. As I didn’t have any definite plans for sightseeing so I said I’d love to celebrate his birthday with him. Their idea of spending a day in Budapest was to do a pub/bar crawl. We managed to do that while incorporating sight-seeing and meeting locals. After all, what better way to meet locals than in a drinking establishment, or ten?

The day started at around midday and we spent it travelling from bar to bar, including catching the Funicular railway and spending some time at the top of it before descending and going to another bar. Towards the late afternoon Eric and Dave told me that they’d arranged to meet up with two fellas they’d met in Prague and meet them we did.

The first thing they told us was that they’d been to a great place the prior evening called The Pink Pussycat and they were really keen to go again. Without too much prompting they told us it was a lap dancing place. Obviously it wasn’t the type of place I would normally frequent but I was going to see the day out – after all it was Eric’s birthday.

The Pink Pussycat was one of those establishments where you don’t pay upon entry, but pay when you leave – you pay for everything when you leave, including the lap dances. After we sat down and I had a chance to look around I realised I was the only woman there who wasn’t an employee. All the seats faced towards the dance floor and all the girls wore were g-strings and when they weren’t doing lap dances put on various dancing shows. All I can say is I’m glad I was drunk because being in an establishment like that sober would have been too much. At some stage during the evening Eric and I held hands and through the drunken haze there was a definite connection there.

After we left the Pink Pussycat we’d missed our last bus so stayed at the other guys place as they were more sensible and had a central location. As they were also staying in a room in someone’s flat we left via the bedroom window so the owners wouldn’t see us.

I had one more night in Budapest after this and I had a chance with Eric to take things further and I never did because I knew it would only be for that one time and I didn’t think I could bear it. We parted ways and I had a day in Budapest by myself before boarding a train to head back towards London as I’d run out of money and needed to get some more work. Eric and Dave were heading off to Poland. I was sitting on the train waiting for it to leave the station when I looked out the window and saw Eric walking up and down the platform. I’d told him where and when my train was leaving from. I leaned out the window and chatted to him for a couple of minutes before the train departed and we held hands again just as the train started.

I’ll never forget my time in Budapest. I’m sure it would have been quite different if I hadn’t accidentally sat in reserved seats en-route to Budapest. I’ll never forget Eric either. After I got back to London I wrote to him in the States but I never heard back from him and I sometimes wonder if he remembers his time in Budapest?

Once upon a time

Once upon a time there was a girl with two younger sisters. Their parents had been on a two-three week holiday without them but brought them t-shirts back. They made them wear these t-shirts to take a photo and not only that they gave them identical haircuts and made them tuck those t-shirts into their pants.

The girl was kind of sick of looking like her sisters so she thought she’d dress up Spanish for the day. Luckily it coincided with an international theme at school.

The girls parents liked buying more matching items of clothing for the two older girls while the younger girl generally had the hand-me-downs. The girls were also made to collect the eggs and help feed the pigs.

The fife band - Minlaton

The girl played in her school’s fife band and they used to go to Nuriootpa for band competitions every year. (She’s the 2nd one from the left in the top row). The band weren’t really that musical but they looked pretty damn good in their red and white uniforms with the girls wearing bobby socks.

Flower girls

The girls’ aunt got married so she invited the girls to be her flower girls. The girls’ mum made all their dresses while the bride’s mum made hers. The mum kept all the bridesmaid dresses until quite recently but the girl said that she didn’t want to keep it. She didn’t think her son would want to wear it.

Swimming

Once upon a time the girl swam in a swimming pool that didn’t have a great big fence around it. Her Nana always supervised her and her sisters to make sure they were safe. Nana isn’t around any more but her memory definitely lingers on and the girl’s sister lives in the same apartment. The pool is still there too but now it has a great big fence around it and a list of rules as long as your arm.

The Footy Club

Eating out with children is fun isn’t it? There’s nothing like trying to make them sit still when all they want is their fish and chips NOW. Then when they do finish they want attention and you can’t chat to your adult friends. And watch out if you’re out with friends who have kids the same age – it just gets a whole lot harder. But you’ve made do over the years and know what to expect so it’s not too bad most of the time – really.

When we were kids we grew up in the country and a great Saturday night out, for us kids anyway, was to go to the Footy Club for dinner.  The town we lived near had a pub and the Footy Club so there was a choice of two places to hang out for drinks and dinner. But going there was an exciting outing and it was the main place we went to.

There were always other kids there and because the town was small and you went to school with all the local kids you all knew each other so you had someone to hang out with. The Footy Club was always overrun with kids running around, hanging out and playing a video game.

There was a foyer that everyone walked through to get to the main area. This foyer was fairly large and you had to walk through another door to get to the main area. So the kids had this big room all to ourselves, apart from when people entered it as they were arriving or leaving.

As a parent, I look back at this and think what a bonus that would be. You go out for dinner, you catch up with your mates, you just have to buy your kid one bottle of Coke or a raspberry and lemonade and you won’t see them until you’re all eating together. Meanwhile your kid’s running amok and if something happened someone would come and tell you because everyone knows who everyone is.

As a kid then it was great especially as we grew up on a farm so socialising with other kids our age out of school was fantastic. The video game I mentioned before was Space Invaders and as time went on, Pakman and Froggy. I didn’t play them much as there were always other kids there who were way cooler than me and a lot better at the game.  I was content to watch, interact with the others, and listen to the music like Split Enz through the loud speakers.

We probably went to the Footy Club once every two months or so for dinner and the nights would finish with car rides home in the Kingswood. The car would just get warm 15 minutes later as we pulled into our driveway and if Dad had had a few beers, the car would be filled with the smell of his burps. I’m sure quite a bit of drink-driving happened when we were kids – a lot more so than these days as it’s rammed down our throat how dangerous it is to drink and drive.

When JJ and I go out for a meal in a public place I have my eye really closely on him just to make sure he’s not fighting with other kids but the more I think about it the more I want him to interact with other kids even if it does mean a fight and I don’t mean a hitting fight, I mean an argument.

There’s not many places I’ve been to eat around where I live where I would let JJ run off and muck around with other kids because those places aren’t conducive to that. And that’s the difference, perhaps, of growing up in the country compared to the city. Although in some places there are kids areas with video games setup but it’s different because they’re playing with kids you don’t know and you need to keep a closer eye on them.

Having said all of that, JJ gets his mixing fix with other kids at kid-friendly functions I go to where I do know most of the other people there and he does have the opportunity – within reason – to go off and play.

When I talk about footy I mean the Australian Rules kind. It’s like a religion to a lot of people in Australia.

Biking

ridingbike1

I was riding towards the fence and powerless to change the direction I was going in. There was only one way this was going to end and it wasn’t going to be pretty.

This is one of my first memories of riding my first two-wheeler bike. The reason I couldn’t steer the jolly thing was because of the trainer wheels at the back not allowing steering to be very easy at all. Luckily I wasn’t going too fast, but I did come off the bike. Boy, I hated those trainer wheels but I was really reluctant to let go of them.

Growing up on a farm and having a bike go hand-in-hand. You can ride around to your heart’s content and there’s a lot of area that can be covered on most farms, including the one I grew up on. It also made getting from A to B a lot faster. We had a bit of scrub-land that had tracks through it which were perfect for riding bikes through. This meant we could ride right through the property to the next road and it afforded a lot of freedom that my son growing up in the city just doesn’t have.

After rains we could ride through puddles, in fact a puddle wouldn’t be missed. The splash of mud and water was quite exhilarating and I’m sure that mum just loved washing our mud-soaked clothes. Actually I don’t remember too many complaints from her, probably because we were out of her hair and I only say that because time away from your kids is just as precious as time with them.

Even when we visited friends who lived in a large town one hour away we’d spend ages riding around the town, again something that my son might never get to do. Although when I visited my sister who lives in a smallish country town I let my son go around the block on his scooter with his cousin. They were under strict instructions not to cross any roads etc etc and when they hadn’t come back in the time I expected them to I went searching for them. Of course they were fine.

These days I live in a city and am too scared to ride my bike amongst all the traffic. My son, however, has learned how to ride a bike with as many mishaps as I did. I bought a cheap bike a couple of years ago to go riding with him but the bike sits there collecting dust and cobwebs outside because of my scardeycatness. The one day I did go out for a ride I nearly got collected by a car in a local street – a back street.

It wasn’t too long after the bike in the fence incident that I let dad take the trainer wheels off and had a go at riding without them. Of course he had to run along behind me, therefore I’d replaced the trainer wheels with my dad. Only one day I was riding away and when I stopped and turned around dad was standing back where I’d started. I finally realised that I didn’t need my trainer wheels or my dad to ride the bike. And you know what they say, once you’ve learned how to ride a bike you never forget.

Oh, and the image at the top was probably my first bike. I just don’t really remember it.

As well as for the memories, this post is for Scribbit’s Write-Away contest.

Three months old

This was when JJ was three months old at my birthday barbeque. I can’t believe I organised a barbeque for my birthday when JJ was so little. I haven’t had a barbeque for ages and I’m seven years into this motherhood thing.

The fog after having a newborn had lifted for me one month earlier and I felt half human again. I’d lost all my baby weight and actually looked fairly good. He’d also started sleeping at night and, finally, during the day which helped enormously. I was hugely focused on getting him to sleep in those early months and it paid large dividends. I could take him to parties and put him to bed and not be worried about him waking up and never going back to sleep. If I couldn’t have done that then I would have had NO social life.

I do remember at this barbeque feeling really lacking socially. I’d been out of practise and had forgotten how to do small talk. Small talk is not one of my strong points anyway but I felt quite socially awkward and it wasn’t very nice.

It took a while, and a few more social outings, to regain some of that back. I wonder if I was alone in this or have any mothers who read this felt the same thing when they became mums for the first time?

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Cardigans are my favourite

For a long time I’ve loved cardigans. They’re great to wear because of their ease of getting on and off. I’m sure there’s other reasons I love cardigans but I can’t think of any right now.

I used to be known as Jen Cardigan ……. because that was all I wore. This name even got lengthened to Jen Off The Shoulder Cardigan …… (the dots are my last name).

Cardigan

Cardigan detail

I bought this cardigan because who couldn’t resist this type of detail? I used to have a similar cardigan but it wore out and had to be thrown out. I spent more on this cardigan than I spend on most of my clothes because I’d received a couple of vouchers for a second-hand clothing shop and bought some great stuff there, including this.

In fact, one day, I thought I’d go to this shop to use my voucher but spent at least one hour looking for it and still couldn’t find it. I rang the shop and as they don’t keep records of these things they couldn’t replace it but suggested I look in my handbag. I’d already looked in all my handbags to no avail, but I had another look – a proper one this time – and it turned up.

When I used to knit more prolifically than I do now I knitted some cardigans.

Green mohair cardigan

I bought this mohair wool when in Melbourne in around 1986 from a little shop in the city somewhere. I originally started knitting a jumper but realised that I wouldn’t have enough wool so unpicked what I’d done and found a cardigan pattern and this was the result. This was the cardigan responsible for the Off The Shoulder name mentioned above.

I wear it a lot in winter and JJ was born in winter so I wore it a lot for the first few months of his life. He was one of those babies who threw up a lot after feeds and despite wearing towels over my shoulders, his vomit invariably ended up on my clothes. I distinctly remember handwashing all my winter woolies that year.

Red fluffy cardigan

This is acrylic I bought when still going out with my ex-boyfriend about ten years ago. It took nearly that long to make but I eventually finished it a few years ago. It is really warm. I wore it the other night and had no need to put a coat over the top to keep me warm because this was warm enough.

Now I feel like getting out the knitting needles and knitting another cardigan. Perhaps I will!