Molly, our elderly neighbour has just popped over. She lives a few houses down the river and is one of the few residents left who can remember the days when Undercliffe was a bold Chifleyite housing solution to the overcrowded slum terraces of Surry Hills and Erskineville. To Molly’s great amusement her grandchildren have re-occupied said housing, now renovated within an inch of it’s life and being flogged for 1.5 million bucks. “It’s a lot of nonsense” she trenchantly observes
We’ve just had some new Tibetan prayer flags strung across the front verandah, gifted from a friend in Byron who apparently had them blessed by some lesser Buddhist living deity. They kind of look O.K and act as a sort of flyscreen – which is why they’re there. Molly was intrigued.
“What are these flags love?” She asked.
“They’re Tibetan prayer flags, Molly.” I replied.
“Oh I don’t believe in all that stuff” she offered, “but to each his own. Arthur’s (Arthur is the birth name of my partner, Lance, whom hardly anyone has called Arthur for 40 years) grandmother (whose house this once was) wouldn’t have liked them. She didn’t hold with that sort of stuff. Her husband, Bob, used to have to come down to our place for a beer.” Worried that Molly might be about to launch into one of her lengthy – though always informative – expositions on the dark secrets of Lance’s lineage, I brightly inquired as to what I could do for her.
“I thought I caught something on the wireless about Jack Howard’s (Molly refers to John Howard as Jack) daughter, Muriel, getting married to that Prince…… whatiisname. Did you hear that love?”
“It’s Melanie, Molly. Muriel’s Wedding was…..a different one. And Melanie married some chubby looking bloke with glasses who definitely isn’t a Prince. The one marrying the Prince is someone called Mary Donaldson.”
“There were Donaldson’s who used to have a market garden up in Earlwood,” she recalled.
“I don’t think it’s the same Donaldson,” I said, “she comes from Hobart.”
“Hobart!” She said as if it were Ulan Bator, “not the same one probably.”
“I wouldn’t marry a Prince, ” Molly declared, “it’s a lot of nonsense. My Bert (long since passed on ) did me. He was a Returned Man, ” she continued, “not like Jack Howard.” Molly is an ALP voter though I suspect she’s still actually voting for Chifley.
“You know”, she said mysteriously as she departed , “they have a lot of those flags in Hobart.”
I’m still trying to work it out………