Monday, April 16, 2012

The Honest Tailor

For the last few years I have been going to Mr Nicola Ricci, the tailor on Rathdowne street.

He is 86 years old and seems to enjoy remarkably good health for a man who smokes incessantly. He often leaves a lit cigarette smouldering on his work bench, but I haven't found any scorch marks on my clothes yet. The only change I have noticed over that past 7 years is that he now wears chemist glasses with the prescription sticker still on the lens.

I first met Mr Ricci after the great Vintage Dress Disaster of 2005. I had bought a beautiful blue party dress with ruched sleeves. I wanted to get rid of the sleeves, to make it more 'summer day dress' and less 'Molly Ringwald goes to a birthday party!'* My housemate Ian was very confident that he knew just what was needed.

I should have known when Ian picked up the kitchen scissors that it would not end well. IT WAS A TEXAS PARTY DRESS MASSACRE.

Enter Mr Ricci, tailor. He was very disappointed with me. Very disappointed indeed.

NR, Tailor: "Why you chop?? Hmmm?? Why you chop?? You, you must never chop! You buy, you bring to me."

LM: murmurs of chastised agreement

NR, Tailor: "But, I can fix."

And fix it he did!! This man knows what he's doing. He used to make costumes for opera and films stars in the 50s. He is friendly and exuberant. I love the fact that he is still working and obviously enjoys his work. I'm pretty sure it will be illegal for me to practise medicine when I am 86.

Mr Ricci always speaks his mind:

On a dress I wanted taken in: "Well, I could do that, but it would make your behind look TOO BIG!"
On trousers I wanted shortened: "I will do as you say. But my length looks better."
On another dress I needed taken in: "See, now you can see the breast! Before, too big, you looked like young boy!"
And he's right- his length IS better.

*For the record, if I got the dress today I would keep the ruched sleeves.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This Easter we went to Blairgowrie to stay at Thomas' beach house.

The day before we left I bought some watercolour paints and paintbrushes at one of the 2-dollar shops on Smith street. Bargain!! I have never really painted before, and as you can see, I am really very bad. I used to hate art so much in high school that I even volunteered to clean out the paint sinks instead of having to paint. But this time I found it incredibly relaxing and fun. Somewhat disturbingly, I just read an article suggesting that a new desire to paint is one of the first signs of frontotemporal dementia!

So, my mediocre depiction of our weekend features:
Jenn reading a book next to baby Niamh
Huw, Eva and Tara swimming in the deep rock pools
Nico floating in the surf on our inflatable pool toy
Dan and Thom making a fire
Jason chopping wood
Verity and I playing soccer
Tanya and Ao playing Kubb
Erin and Kath fishing
Rohan streaking
Pippen (the dog) chasing butterflies.
Chilli (dog) with a bright red belly from cellulitis
The tent blowing in the gusty wind.
Thunderstorms and sunshine.

The activities I didn't paint included:
a walk along the clifftops
playing Canasta by the fire
cooking delicious tandoori chicken over the fire
a night time run through the sand dunes
an easter egg hunt
napping on the deck

I also read quite a lot, finishing my latest book club book, 'The Sense of an Ending.' Next I read 'Room' by Emma Donoghue. It is loosely based on the Joseph Fritzl family-locked-in-a-dungeon case, written from the perspective of a five year old boy who was born in the 'Room' and spent all his life there. It has incredible momentum- once I'd started I actually could not stop. Then, on to 'Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain. The quintessential all-American adventure book?? I'll soon find out.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

On Not Getting Kidnapped

When we were little my Dad was obsessed with taking us for Sunday drives to get 'out of the house.' Apparently it never occurred to him that that a car journey is not an activity in itself for a child. I think that for a child- actually for most backseat passengers- car journeys are only tolerable in light of the destination. Dad was clearly working on some sort of car-advertisement model of the journey, perhaps somewhat stymied by our early-80s Mazda 626. And the persistent grizzles from the backseat.

The most memorable of these journeys was our trip to Springvale to learn Why We Would Not Get Kidnapped. When Pen was in year 8 one the of the girls in her class was kidnapped from her home. She was found one year later shot dead. In fact, she was the second girl to be kidnapped from our high school in two years. Understandably, the whole situation left us both a bit anxious.

So Mum and Dad's genius strategy was to take us on a family drive past the kidnapped girl's home. It was an enormous mansion with a tall ornate fence. To my ten year-old eyes it looked like a castle. The message was clear: why would anyone bother to kidnap us from our small, turret-less home in Burwood?!? I, for one, was suitably reassured.

Thanks, Mum and Dad!