Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 49

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Tuesday October 21, 2008 (diary, bio, Spain)

After all the rain last week we have returned to a dry spell, with glorious mornings. Mairead and I had a good evening at bridge last night and when I returned home Rick and Renee had left for Sydney. On November 2 they will fly on to England. Their caravan and car remain here on the farm. Hopefully they will return again next year. They are a very nice couple.  I recorded another one of my own compositions yesterday and put it online. It is called Paseo, a bossa nova in a 12-bar blues musical format.

Stories from Galicia 1
Caión in Galicia The paseo used to be one of Spain's nicest countrywide customs, and I assume it still is. Late afternoon or early evening (around 5-6 PM) all the young girls in the town or village make themselves pretty and stroll arm in arm in groups of two, three or more, up and down the main street. The young (and not so young) men, also cleaned up after work, sit outside on the Cafe and Bar terraces and inspect the lovely passers by.
Especially up to the 60s or even 70s, when Spain (unlike these days) was very strict and puritanical, this was a very good way of searching for a potential novia (girl friend) or wife.

At the local Fiesta Major (Birthday celebration of the town's protective Saint) too, there was a paseo like stroll by the girls before and in between every dance. The girls would stroll arm in arm in groups of two or three up and down the dance area, usually the town or village square. You could never ask a single girl out for a dance but had to come up with a dance partner for all two or three of them. Quite a good strategy which ensured that all girls, including the not so pretty ones, would be dancing.
Depending on the size of the village or town a Fiesta Major could last just a day or two or a full month (like in Santiago de Compostela for example).

Henk Rijks, 1961 My University ('Pimpernel') Club friend and fellow geological student Henk Rijks was fortunate to have his assigned fieldwork area right on the North coast of Galicia, where he based himself in the tiny lovely fishing village of Caión (sardines, sardines, sardines!!!). I and another geology student (Freddie Warnaars) had our field work areas 30-40 km inland, halfway between Carballo and Santiago .Not surprisingly therefore Freddie and I regularly spent the weekends with Henk in Caión, especially during its full week long Fiesta Major.

I will never forget my first Fiesta Major at Caión in 1960. In the morning of the first day the three of us (Henk, Freddie and I) took a stroll on Caión's main beach. It was totally deserted except for one girl, lying on her bath towel in the sun. We casually walked passed her and on to the end of the beach, then turned round.
As we approached, the girl, with beautiful long shiny black hair and dressed in a bright red one-piece swimsuit accentuating every sensual curve of her body, got up and casually, without looking left or right, walked to the water's edge and into the surf.   Wow !! What a sight, we were absolutely bowled over.

In the evening dancing commenced in the central market square while I was sitting in one of the bars having a quiet drink with some of the locals. Suddenly Henk and Freddie came in excitedly. They had found some girls who agreed to dance with them, but there were three of them, one with glasses on for which they needed to find a partner. In those days (much unlike now) all eye glasses were revoltingly ugly and any girl's absolute worst enemy. But never mind, I complied to do my duty as a good friend and be the third man for the ugly duckling.
We started dancing and for a while I kept looking around, taking no notice of my dance partner. But eventually I looked down at her and could not believe my eyes. She had taken off her glasses and I instantly recognised her, it was the girl from the beach this morning ! I immediately took charge of her glasses, not to be seen again for the rest of the night.

After the dance my friends strolled up to us, and, to my great satisfaction, saw their eyes pop out off their sockets. I had without a doubt landed the most beautiful girl of the evening. I am by no means a Don Juan, on the contrary, but this girl liked me too, much preferring me over the others, which was extra salt in my friends wounds.
We had an absolute wonderful evening together, dancing, talking. She wrote her name for me on an empty packet of Lucky Strike (cigarets) : Maria Luz Pet Morales. I kept that packet I believe for over 25 years and will never forget her name.

Wivica dancing with Freddie, 1961 Marie Luz invited me to come for lunch next day at their rented holiday house just 5 km East along the coastal road (at the letter A on the map) where she was staying with her family. Freddie, who had been dancing with Marie Luz's sister was invited too.
So we went the next day. Marie Luz and I walked along the beach all afternoon, I tried to kiss her once, but she pulled back. Enormously shy and always trying to be the gentleman (my mind is both my best friend and my worst enemy) I did not try again, which I realised later she enormously regretted (she had not wanted to appear too "forward").

Nevertheless we both looked all fired up when we returned from the beach and her Dad who saw what was about to happen immediately ordered the whole family to pack their bags. The holiday was over, cut short by several days, and within half an hour they had all disappeared. In those days gossip talk in any small town or village could destroy a girl's chances of a good match forever. No way that Marie Luz's Dad would allow his prized Roman Catholic daughter to have anything to do with a foreign heathen (assumably) Protestant boy.

The following year I was again in Caión for its Fiesta. Marie Luz had gone to study in France (she had indicated this wish to me the previous year), but I danced and talked with her sister. By this time I was seriously involved with my wife to be Antien. Marie Luz's father, a solicitor in Carballo took an interest in me, and with his eldest daughter safely away in France and me now attached to a Dutch novia he felt it safe to invite me for dinner at his home one evening. We had a great time together and talked a lot. I still remember one rhetorical question he put to me :
"Most Spanish households have at least two books in their home : The Holy Bible and Cervante's 'Don Quijote'." "Which one" he asked me "do you think they consider to be the most important?"

In this regard I have the spirit of a true Spaniard. I am and will always remain a sentimental and endlessly dreaming romantic.   And occasionally (especially when thinking about Spain) the thougt goes through my mind :

"Where are you Marie Luz?   Did you have a good life?   Are you still healthy and happy?"

Stories from Galicia continues on October 23, 2009

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Wednesday October 22, 2008 (diary, bio, Spain, politics)

Caión in Galicia The story I told you yesterday is one of those small cameos which, although insignificant in the larger scheme of things, are so precious because they add an extra deeper dimension to one's life. At least that is how I experience it.

Looking closely at the photo of the map I took for the story yesterday, a small trivial mystery that (I now remember) had puzzled me at the time, suddenly, after almost 50 years, resolved itself.
After Marie Luz's family had packed up their belongings and left their rented holiday home, they did not walk down the main coastal road as I had expected (they had no car), but turned onto a track going inland instead.
"Where the hell are they going to?" I can remember thinking at the time. The map supplies the answer. They must have followed the 3km long dirt road from A (on the map, 5km east of Caión) South to the AC-552. Once there they would have taken the bus down to their home in Carballo. (The Freeway A655, shown in red on the map, did not exist in those days.)

A chat with the Gorsselse Boerendansers, 1961 When I visited my ex-brother in law Eric Garvelink in Holland this year he gave me an album with photos of our engagement party back in 1961. My brother Claus (then 18 years old) took all photos and Antien collated them into a number of albums for various family members. The photos I included yesterday of Henk and Freddie came from that album.
In due course I will prepare a Photo series of the event.

I am pleased to see that Malcolm Turnbull's continued pressure combined with some journalists who also took up the story have forced the Labour Government finally to review and correct their mediocre Rescue Package. Some of its elements were amateurishly put together, others are plainly politics driven rather than making any sense at all.   Prime Minister Rudd (in my view) presents himself each day more and more as to who and what he always has been, a boring unimaginative public servant, "The Don Bradman of Boredom", as our ex Treasurer, Peter Costello has aptly described him.

The Liberal Opposition is behaving very disciplined at the present, refraining totally from dirty personal attacks and focusing on important Government matters only. As a result the Labour Government is standing out in Parliament as the only side engaged in platitudes and mud slinging.
Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner is the only one standing head and shoulders above his colleagues, refraining from personal attacks and presenting himself as by far the most intelligent and capable man in Government at present. I watched him in another splendid performance at the SBS 'Insight' program last night. It would not surprise me to see him become an excellent Prime Minister one day.

Sir Donald Bradman (1908-2001) was a cricketer widely regarded, even outside Australia, as the best batsman ever. (As Richard Dawkins described him.)

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Thursday October 23, 2008 (diary)

Stokes Hill Wharf I went to Stokes Hill Wharf again yesterday for my grilled seafood "fix", good as usual. The large oil rig is still there, presumably being repaired or serviced. In town it was the 4th hottest day on record, 38°C (according to the ABC news). On three previous occasions it has reached 39°. This is near the coast only, farther inland it can go way into the 40s. Where I am at the Mango farm it may get up to 39° (as yesterday), but rarely any higher.

Today, Thursday I have a quiet day, experiment a bit with 'Georgia on my Mind'. Andrew has turned the sprinkler system for the mango trees off. So from now on only three hours (instead of 6) of watering the garden, at 7.30 AM, 12.30 and 5 PM each day, switching between five different areas.

I finish Roald Dahl's book 'Going Solo' in which he relates his experiences as a Hurricane fighter pilot in the Mediterranean during WW2. 45 years on (in '85 when he wrote his account) he is still disgusted with the Vichy French (and rightly so) for fiercely fighting the English in Syria and Palestine, causing much unnecessary bloodshed. It is a very matter of fact account, but when he (as the only surviving pilot from his squadron) after 3 years returns home into the arms of his mother (at the end of the book) I cry my eyes out for him. Boy, what a tough time for those young boys in those days.

In the evening Freda and I are having a great time at bridge. Many interesting hands come our way with which we have a lot of fun. Afterwards on my way home I grab a 'Quarter Pounder' (hamburger) and some fries from McDonalds just in time before they close. I was starving.

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Friday & Saturday October 24 & 25, 2008 (diary)

The Bougainville Jazz Band, 1978 Quite amazing, Google picks up just about everything I put down in my Blog. Chris Kelsey just found my online photo of the Bougainville Jazz Band. He was the instigator and leader of our band at the time, way back in 1977. He is a competent Trad Jazz clarinet player and has since played with the likes of Australia's legendary Graham Bell and with trombonist Kanga Bentley in the Kanga Bentley's Hot Foot 7.
He now lives on his farm South of Adelaide where he organises every year an Easter Monday Jazz Party with usually 300-400 people attending he tells me.

The Easter Monday Jazz Party
Chris Kelsey's Easter Monday Jazz Party

I have finally had my very first mango of this season. They are getting ripe and literally falling off the trees everywhere. There are hundreds of mango geese, galas, cockatoos and other birds in the most spectacular colours.   I am working on a new Topics Index at present, nearly finished. It lists a number of keywords for each Blog page. I also put another MP3 online, Georgia on my Mind.

Today (Saturday) I go for lunch to Stokes Hill Wharf, where I try a seafood laksa for a change (not from the Northside Char Grill), have not had one for a long time. It is OK but I did have better ones, for example at K-Tong in the Casuarina Shopping Centre (right opposite Bar Zushi).   I phone Jeroen, they have just returned from a brief holiday in Bali. We will try and get together before I leave for Queensland in a weeks time.

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