The wedding of an Australian General Hospital sister, approx. 1941. The church is the Basilique Notre Dame d’Héliopolis, Cairo. I’ve written a little about the church here, and included a photo of the whole structure.
The nurse probably worked at the hospital in Kantara (also El Qantarah and several other spellings), Egypt, close to the Suez Canal. My father may have known her since he was a patient in this hospital, but he didn’t record her name.
A wedding in the middle of a war zone. A triumph of hope over reality.
19th Jan – A 19 year-old girl, just returned from 6 months abroad, told me her best moment was arriving in Istanbul at night and going into Hagia Sofia. I thought of the unlikelihood of me knowing what this was, except I’ve studied art history.
20th Jan – A metallic violet Police ute drifted past me; number plate: RAPID 3. Its black and white checked stripe followed the lines of the ute, the back end of the stripe dissipating in the wind speed.
21st Jan – A very British architect interviewed on radio said you have to tickle the boxes. For 3 seconds I imagined how I would tickle a box, before I understood he’d said tick all like tick’ll.
22nd Jan – I was standing alone on the beach at 8.30 pm, the light almost gone. An adolescent boy rolled onto the sand in an electric wheelchair. For a few moments it was just him and me and the vast ocean. He did a u-turn and went back to the park behind the beach.
23rd Jan – A distant relative rang after 9 years of silence and within seconds was asking me for help with French pronunciation.
14th Jan – I tried to tear up some poorly framed photos I’d had printed for 10 cents each. How disappointed I was to feel the photos resist my cranky hands. The Kodak XtraLife II paper has a top layer of plastic that won’t be torn. To destroy it, I had to go in search of a pair of scissors and then cut, cut, cut. Where’s the satisfaction in that? Tearing up a photo, especially of an unpleasant face, is one of the great pleasures in life.
15th Jan – Watched Gone with the Wind for the first time in 30 odd years. In the hospital scene, some long dark shadows cast onto a wall didn’t move exactly as their owners did. The shadows seemed to have been filmed and attached afterwards.
16th Jan – My husband uses an old wardrobe in the shed for tool storage, and the possum uses it as a hideaway:
Jan 17 – I received a letter from Germany in an envelope made from a paled scan of a letter I’d written myself.
Jan 18 – My lady butcher’s hands are red, like she’s had them deep inside an animal’s flesh. But they are that colour even when clean. I said, ‘Your hands have been working hard,’ and she said ‘Yes, I have ugly hands.’
Every day I see or hear at least one thing that makes me look, or listen, twice, because it’s not something I was expecting. Here are the unusual things I’ve seen so far this year, this leap year, when there will be 366 days. A bonus unusual thing.
1st Jan: The housing tenants across the street welcomed the new year with coprolalia.
2nd Jan: A thin dirty woman in a mini-skirt, ankle socks slipping into her clogs, was walking past the video store, hugging the glass wall. She stopped to pick up a dead half-cigarette, pulled out a lighter, lit the cigarette and smoked it.
3rd Jan: Neighbour no. 1 phoned and neighbour no. 2 emailed to tell us that neighbour no. 3 is a police informer with a gun.
4th Jan: My son’s new employer, a jeans shop owner, wants him to wear their $300 jeans. They’re made with special bacteria and can’t be washed. The bacteria eats the dirt.
5th Jan: A pretty twentyish blonde girl serving me at the car repair place bent over to write down my details. I saw ‘Joshie’ tattooed in beautiful black copperplate across her left breast.
Fertile Ground: In a long crack in a short concrete wall, a Johnny-jump-up grows, unwatered and ignored until now. Years ago they grew in a pot plant near the little wall, a very poor specimen which I abandoned. Hope reigns.