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A Universal Sadness deep inside my soul

I was walking in Jamieson Park in Narrabeen when the words for A Universal Sadness Deep Inside My Soul came to me.  It was 1973.  I had just escaped from Spain with my son, Alex and was working at Fleets Tennis Shop in the city.  It was a poem to start off with but later on the music came to me and it became a song.

All three verses were written about things which I had actually seen.

I used to go and play in the Badge tennis competition at White City on Saturday afternoons and on the way back was when I used to see all the mostly men in a very bedraggled state, sitting on the steps of empty houses in Paddington, already well underway in the drinks department.

At lunch time I would sometimes walk up to Hyde Park and that was where the old man who wheeled his barrow up and down the streets of town would hang out during the lunch hour. I can still see him in my mind’s eye – his long tattered coat, his rounded shoulders, as he shuffled along pushing his barrow filled with his worldly possessions.

Kings Cross was full of American Soldiers on leave from the Vietnam War in that era, so business was brisk for prostitutes.  They used to stand in their doorways or walk up and down dressed in miniskirts and revealing tops, perched atop very high heels.  Some of them were very young and I could see they were affected by drugs.

                                        

A UNIVERSAL SADNESS DEEP INSIDE MY SOUL

I feel a universal sadness deep inside my soul

For hopes and dreams they must have had

As they sit there in the cold

Their sad and lonely faces

Attached to ragged forms

On steps of empty houses

Drinking booze all night long

 

Chorus

The families they must once have had

And lost along the way

The friends they’ve had all now long gone

And living far away

 

The man who wheels the barrow

Around the streets of town

With all his world tied atop

He goes up the street and down

At night he sleeps in the park

On a bench made of stone

Warmed by the metho in his gut

He’s far away from home

 

Chorus

The family he must once have had

All lost along the way

The friends he’s had all now long gone

And living far away

 

And there’s the working woman

In Kings Cross they’re about

On the streets and in the bars

All night they stand around

They’re young faces show despair

From the death in life they lead

On smack and hash and coke

When it’s love is all they need

 

Chorus again twice

 

 

 

MARKUS’S MAGNIFICENT VEGETABLE BAKE

 

INGREDIENTS FOR VEGETABLE BAKE A LA MARKUS

This dish can be served with meat, fish or chicken or as a vegetarian option or vegan if you leave out the parmesan

PREPARATION:-  1/2 HOUR

COOKING IN OVEN  ½ HOUR

 

TOMATO SAUCE

550 grams baby Roma tomatoes

2 teaspoons Tomato paste

chilli

20 fresh basil leaves

1 cup of chicken stock

½ teaspoon of mixed Italian herbs

1 cup of White wine

 

PASTA

1 ½  cups of barilla pasta

 

VEGETABLES

3 zucchinis chopped into  1 inch pieces.

2 cups of green frozen soya beans

2 cups of peas

 

PREPARATION

  1. Cook pasta
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large frypan. Fry zucchini until partially cooked/just starting to turn brown.  NOT SOGGY.
  3. Cook tomatoes, basil, garlic, chilli and tomato paste in another pan in one tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle with salt
  5. Get one large oven dish and put pasta and zucchinis in it.
  6. Put tomatoes in zucchini frypan with let over olive oil on high heat
  7. Add white wine, herbs and chicken stock and cook to reduce stock until sauce is thickened.
  8. Add peas and soya beans to oven dish and tip tomato mixture over it.
  9. Mix in 80 to 100 grams of parmesan cheese and flatten on top
  • Cover evenly with 150 to 180 grams of parmesan and dob with olive oil.

Cook in oven for ½ an our at 180 degrees.

This vegetable dish keeps well for a couple of days.  To eat the next day add some more parmesan and put in the oven for 20 minutes at 160 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

OH NO – NOT CHOCOLATE!

The saying “Old age is not for the faint-hearted” attributed to Mae West, is a well-known expression which I can relate to very well.  It seems that as one ages bit by bit all the things that one loves get taken away.

My first loss was very early in the piece.  Chocolate!  I had teenage acne. The skin specialist told me that one piece of chocolate, i.e. one small square, which we were doled out each Saturday night after dinner, would give me enough pimples to last for a year.  I have never eaten another piece of chocolate since.

He also advised that I had to remove anything oily, fatty or sugary from my diet.  No fish and chips, golden syrup pudding, lemon meringue pie, etc not to mention butter spread extra thick.  It seemed that everything I liked was on the list of banned foods.

Cigarettes had to go next.  Anyone who has ready my book will know I had my first one when I was 11 behind the Nabaron Tennis Club with Frosty.  When I played on the tour, all the tennis tournaments were sponsored by cigarette companies and their reps used to give us free cigarettes.  We were supposed to give them out but of course we smoked ‘em.  My partner and I even smoked one between the 2nd and 3rd set in the Ladies’ change room at Wimbledon.  However, they were just not a healthy option especially after I suffered an asthma attack during a tennis match.  I did love them.  Especially with a glass of wine. But they had to go.

Tennis was next.  And it was a very sad day when I had to give up it up due to an ongoing back problem.  The last attack had lasted two years with nine out of ten pain every day.  The decision was a no-brainer but very difficult. Tennis was an integral part of my life.  I’d played since I was 7.  As a consequence, I went into mourning for several years.  It took me five years to give away my tennis skirts and ten years my rackets.

I also had to give up dancing which was very disappointing because I’d just started to learn how to dance the Flamenco.  Unfortunately, all that stamping on unsprung wooden floors proved treacherous for my back.  Jogging and squash also got the flick.

Then I got diagnosed with reflux with its inherent list of prohibited foods.  It seems that everything I like is a no no.  No wine, no caffeine, no carbonated drinks, no garlic, no spices, no herbs, no onions, hardly any fruit in fact anything with a PH under 5 – the list goes on.  Once again it seems that everything that I like is on the list.

Next fibromyalgia which has certainly put a hole in my social life et al.  You can read my post “Fibromyalgia – you are not alone” on my Website susanjoyalexander.com.

The I got bitten by a tick and developed the Mammalian Tick Allergy – Alpha-Gal which is prevalent on the Northern Beaches.  Red meat, pork and dairy are now banned from my diet.

So when you see the magnificent meals that Markus manages to turn out you will now appreciate what a tremendous handicap he working is under.

Now I’m stuck at home during lock-down and after an injection for trochanteric bursitis am not allowed to do any exercise for two weeks – even walking.  I am finding this hardest of all.   No walking in Jamieson Park or along the beach.

Woe is me!

 

 

WIMBLEDON CENTRE COURT

On the middle Saturday of the tournament, my brother, John and I are set down to play on the Centre Court against Margaret Court and Marty Reissen.   John is touring in the Davis Cup team managed by Harry Hopman and this is the first tournament we’ve played at the same tournament since Palermo.

 

Although we are the next match on, and have been duly instructed where to wait, I am the only one who is sitting on the hard, board seats in the small room behind the Centre Court.  The other more experienced players and my brother – who no doubt has been counselled by Harry Hopman, – remain in the comfort of the change rooms until the very last moment. Unfortunately this gives me too much time for my already shattered nerves to kick in especially as right above the doorway leading out to the Centre Court are the two crossed swords and underneath the lines from Rudyard Kipling’s poem:-

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same.”

Triumph I can handle easily, I reflect, as I sit there. It is Disaster that is my main concern.

I find it hard to believe that I am about to play on the hallowed Wimbledon turf, the scene of so many long and torrid battles, fought by past champions.  As a young girl, growing up, I’d dreamed of this moment, as I’d lain sprawled on my parents’ bed, sipping hot, sweet tea and listening to the crackly radio broadcasts from Wimbledon in the early hours of the morning.  Now I am here and it is about to happen.

When the others arrive and I stand up to go out on the court, I can’t feel my knees.  They’ve completely gone to jelly. Nor as hard as I try, can I get the butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation. They are running wild.  I make the mistake of looking up at the Centre Court stands, which are full to overflowing with people. They shimmer in the afternoon sun, appearing to rise out of the ground, almost perpendicularly.  I pray fervently, to the God of all tennis players, that I will play my best, not let my partner down, or worst of all make a fool of myself.  I step gingerly forward, wishing fervently that I was a turtle and could just disappear into my shell.

We lose – but only just.  The good part is that as a brother and sister combination – only the third in the history of Wimbledon – we are the crowd favourites and are cheered loudly every time we win a point.  Mum will certainly be very proud and happy as it has always been her dream for John and me to play Mixed Doubles on the Centre Court at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON

Chapter 17 

Photo showing me modelling Fred Perry’s answer to Teddy Tinlings glamorous designs.

Excerpt from “A Spanish Love Affair” 

On the day of my first match at Wimbledon, in 1970 a chauffeur – in full livery complete with cap – arrives in a black, shiny Rolls Royce at the boarding house in Putney where I am staying.  The other,  not-so-fortunate players who haven’t made the draw,  plus our landlady – dressed in a crinoline brunch coat with her hair in rollers, covered by a paisley chiffon scarf – gather at the front door to and wave me good-bye. I hop in the front with the driver because I get carsick in the back, and am so excited that I don’t shut up the whole trip!     As we drive regally along, everyone keeps turning around, to see if they recognize me. “Am I someone famous?”

 

The sun, for once, is shining as we drive into the Club grounds past mile long queues of people waiting for tickets for the standing room area. Loud, spruiking scalpers are plying the crowd with tickets at exorbitant prices. The crowd parts as we drive through the gates then pass the Centre Court to the Players Change Room. Autograph seekers thrust their books at me as I get out.  I sign a few, and then race for the cover of the Ladies.  No doubt they are disappointed that I am not one of the top players!

I am due to play Margaret Court – the Number One Seed – in the singles in the First Round at 11am, and try to cool my nerves before the match.  I am most certainly relieved that, due to rain, we have been rescheduled to play on Court 17.  It would have been a nightmare to play her on the Centre Court, where we were originally drawn.

As I make my way through the crowds milling around the outside courts, adrenalin is surging through my body, making my knees go weak.  Unfortunately, I’ve managed to get very little practice on grass since I’ve been in England and find the transition from the very slow loam courts which I’ve been playing on, to the faster-than-lightning grass, difficult. The long, lush, English grass is also very different from the Australian lawn courts which bake themselves corn coloured during our long hot summers – by the end of which there is mostly dirt with only a few odd spikes of grass around the service line.

 

There is a large crowd crammed around the court which I am not used to and I become caught up in the occasion.  Margaret Court turns out to be every bit as formidable an opponent as I imagined she would be.  As well as being the Number 1 Seed in the tournament, she is the current Australian Champion.  It doesn’t help that grass is her favourite surface and really suits her serve/volley game to a tee.  I play in a hesitant manner, mistime the ball and don’t really settle down in the match at all.

It is not a pleasant experience.

I already had the “Nervous Nellies” before the match, having read a feature in the paper this morning, which compared the various arm lengths of the players in this year’s tournament.  I am especially intimidated by the fact that Margaret’s arm length is longer than two thirds of the Men’s Draw.  That doesn’t help my confidence and during the match when she comes into the net, it’s all I can think about.  My worst fears are confirmed.  It is just impossible to get the ball past her.  It feels like she is just all over the place without taking more than a step in any direction. The reality: with that massive arm stretch extended to the maximum… she is!

 

She also hits the ball with a lot more power and depth than I am used to, which I’ve heard is due to the fact that Frank Sedgman (who is coaching her) has had her doing weight training.  She wins easily but fortunately I manage to get a game in the second set for which I get a big cheer from the crowd.  6-love, 6-love would be very embarrassing even though she is the Number One Seed and we are on an outside court.

I expected to lose so I am not that disappointed. As I walk back to the change rooms by the other outside courts I notice that there are just so many good players. As only one hundred and twenty-eight players make the draw, I feel I’ve done well just to get into the tournament especially when I take into consideration that I am far from dedicated, have a dreadful second serve and am the female version of McEnroe.  I also have smoked all the cigarettes that the Rothmans and Malboro  (tournament sponsors at that time) representatives gave me to hand around to the spectators.   Besides Margaret has the advantage of an entourage, whereas I am here all by myself.

 

I console myself in the change room with a long hot shower followed by afternoon tea on the lawn in the sun outside the centre court. I eat the biggest, sweetest strawberries I’ve ever tasted, with lashings of cream washed down with a half-way decent cup of tea. I’ve never really liked strawberries all that much before, having always found them a bit sour, but these English ones are so sweet and luscious.  They are truly to die for!