Thursday, July 18, 2013

A stirring tale in pictures by Michael Rees (9)

This has got the feel of the Bayeaux Tapestry about it, but Michael tells me that his inspiration was actually the Royal Standard of Ur.


These were taken here at our place a week ago. It was pretty crisp.


My sisters and I have four first cousins. Our parents each had one sibling who married and had a boy and a girl. But like most of our parents, our Mum and Dad had cousins galore. Dad’s dad was the last of eleven.

Dad grew up in Launceston, and after his father Didds died (when I was a baby), our whole family would drive there two-and-a-half hours each way, in our small Fiat. This was about once a month - or so it seemed. Maybe it was more often, maybe less. We would visit Ibey and Dad would mow the lawn and collect the fruit from the trees, and generally be the handyman. Ibey didn't trust tradesmen so Dad was required to develop skills in many different disciplines.

One day recently I was asking Dad about the family tree, and he said off-handedly that Uncle Norm lived at Nº 9 such-and-such street Invermay - not very far from Ibey. I was flabbergsted - why had we never gone to visit when we were in town? Dad’s answer was there were just so many uncles, aunts and cousins its was simpler to visit none than to visit all.

Dad and Mum just set off for a few weeks visiting friends and family around NSW. Dad popped in just before they left to return my wheelbarrow and give me the latest printout of the definitive family tree, which he was sent by the official family genealogist John Cannon, the bushwalking columnist in the Mercury - a distant cousin of Dad’s.

Dad's parting words were that he was surprised to look through and see how many of his cousins have died. Dad is 77 this year.

Even though I only have 4 cousins and it is easier than it has ever been to keep in touch, I haven’t seen or spoken to any for at least ten years. And I suppose one day they and I and my sisters will also be part of an update to the family tree.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Exciting sideburns news

My 1970s footballer shirts got a write-up in big-city newspaper The Age the other day! I was working from home, noodling through some project or other, and I kept getting email alerts that shirts had sold online. By the end of the day I had sold about 20 (previously I had been selling maybe 1 or 2 per week). It was very hard to concentrate.

In the evening someone commented on my Rees Design Retail facebook page that they'd seen an article in the Herald Sun - cue a fruitless (and gooseless) wild goose chase, then I found it here in the Age Online. The next day I tracked down a printed copy, and it was even better as it reproduced one of my shirt designs, of Geoff Blethyn from Essendon.

The writer Peter Hanlon contacted Geoff, who was quite pleased to be remembered and gave his blessing to the design. Since then I have spoken to him and sent him a shirt - he's a very nice guy, humble about his achievements and interested in what I do. He also ran a company called Major Pants for 15 years, you’ve got to love that. Peter mentioned that I had done other designs, and it seems people have googled "1970s footy enigmas" and found my RedBubble shop that way.

The sales spike is fading now but it has lasted for a week, and given me a hell of a boost.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Winning stuff in the school hall

On Friday the school hosted an inter-school chess tournament. Chess Kids do a really great job - they bring the whole circus with them except desks and chairs. I got there at 8 to set up for 100 kids and about 20 parents and teachers.The tables were out but they were pretty yucky so I swabbed 25 tables which was a good warm-up for putting out 120 chairs.

It all went very well. I took the opportunity of nominating about twice the usual number of kids, since we didn't have to worry about transport or supervision (well, I supervised all day so it wasn't putting anyone else out at least). This meant we had plenty of first-timers but they all seemed to have fun and find their level OK.

Marcus was in the mix towards the end. After winning, then losing, he won the next 5 straight and ended up equal first (although he admitted to me later he would have been 3rd if they had done a countback). He got another medal to add to his massive clanking collection which always reminds me of Idi Amin. The school finished 4th which was enough for us to earn 5 spots at the State championships in November. This caught me by surprise and I clapped and let out a little "Wooh!!" in an otherwise tiredly silent hall. Marcus was somewhat embarrassed, so that all went very well.

A bit over 24 hours later, back in the same hall with the same tables and chairs, Elf and I found ourselves at the annual fundraising Quiz Night. I have commented on this before, and once again we had been treated to our tickets by our friend The Fewst who wished to have our brains on her side.

Now - just to jettison false modesty once and for all, it was pretty much about having ME on her side. It is now considered proven fact that I am a Quiz Freak and you do no not want one of them outside the tent as they say. So I was in the tent and furthermore given the job of team scribe which was a relief. In other years I have had to plead with the scribe to write down what I know with 200% certainty is right, while they are looking at me sidelong and saying "Yeah well I'm PRETTY SURE there are 52 states". This year I wrote down whatever I liked, pretty much. And no, I wasn't always right (isn't it weird how Tiger Woods' voice sounds like Lance Armstrong's?) but I was right enough that we WON.

And took home one bottle of wine and a really ugly wine cooler thing each. Oh well. It was a good cause etc. I can't think of a particular "wow" answer that I knew that no-one else did, but I was solid.