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Life's Turning-Points

Life's Turning-Points

Old Apr 14th 2023, 2:49 am
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Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Cars are such an easy topic. They were, at the time when I "came of age" in the 1960s - an era that now with the passing of almost six decades seems to me to harken back to the Early Iron Age - a talisman to all of us who were fortunate enough to be in a position to own or drive one.

When I qualified for my driver's license in (late) 1963, my dad had a 1956 Plymouth Savoy, a snazzy black-and-white four door sedan he loved as much as any family member and lavished time and money on. That car was washed every Saturday morning and decked out with every conceivable gadget available at the time. I still have the luminescent plastic statue of the Virgin Mary that adorned his dash boards for so many cars - my mom's St Joseph statuette, which I grabbed when she gave up driving and passed on her Ford Fiesta to my sister in law, was lost in one of my many moves (or it may turn up one day in the flotsam of stored boxes in our garage).

Anyway, came the day when my uncle, a parish priest in country New Brunswick, was selling his 1960 Plymouth Belvedere to buy a newer car, and of course my Old Man was keen to buy it. His till then cherished 1956 Savoy went up for sale, but languished in the local car dealer's yard for months until someone made an offer of CDN $400 for it and drove it out of our lives. Sadly, a few months later the new owner smashed it up in a road accident and I was later told he sold it for scrap. To this day I wish I had bought it as it's now a classic car, but back then I didn't have the money, and I already had my almost clapped-out Peugeot 403 which I was struggling financially to keep on the road, even at a time when gas (petrol) cost 50 cents a GALLON. So I passed on it. Bo me.

To this day I'm amazed at the importance we gave to our cars then. Living in a small town in eastern Canada, the distances I usually did on weekends in my 'Peuj' were not especially great, but it did get me out and about and gave me a great sense of freedom, this latter point being most important to an unworldly not quite 20 year old. Not to mention the advantages of one owning a car for school dates, tho' often as not I was the one inveigled to drive groups of students to and from the Saturday night dances, which severely cramped any romantic prospects I had then (and somehow never quite got to act on). Somehow word had got out in the town that I was "branded" to the eligible girls in the community, and their mothers had sternly warned them to not go anywhere near my car and a fair few commanded to not have anything to do with me, full stop. Not that I ever did anything out of place with the reclining seats in my 403, but as they say in the Catholic Church the thought equates the sin, and in that respect I was a "high risk"...

I never did have accidents I directly caused, somehow other drivers kept running into me, which meant their insurers were liable and I always had y repairs paid for, albeit at times after much effort and a fair few letters of complaint to the local insurance agents. I was a newspaper reporter back then and the local Mounties knew me, so to one of two of the highway patrolmen I was a mark and often set up for as many as two or three stops on my way home after the late evening news desk shirts, even if no charges were ever laid on me.

Fast forward six decades and I now no longer drive. Eyesight problems grounded me in 2012 and now I'm content to sit in the passenger seat and let my SO handle the driving. It's much more relaxing for me and I enjoy seeing the countryside as we roll along the Australian country roads.

Australians seem to love their cars as much as we did back then in Canada. As you would know, Gordon, the distances Aussies often travel from place to place in this vast country are far greater than almost anywhere else in the world. By comparison, driving from Sydney to Perth covers enough distance to take you from the western shores of England to well beyond Moscow, but ao many Australians think nothing of leaping into the SUV or hooking up a caravan to the family wagon and driving across the country. With petrol at AUD $2.00 (often even more in the more remote rural areas) per liter, this is, to me, amazing.

All this said, enough about cars and driving, at least for now. I will go forth and read your "Back in the Day", to see if I can contribute anything of interest to it. Many thanks for the suggestion.
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Old Apr 15th 2023, 2:47 pm
  #242  
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Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50
... All this said, enough about cars and driving, at least for now. I will go forth and read your "Back in the Day", to see if I can contribute anything of interest to it. Many thanks for the suggestion.
I hear you, JD, and I've just this minute posted another of my "Back in the Day" tales. It actually does involve a car - forgive me! - and reports the time I had the chance to take it on a makeshift ferry from Turkey to Rhodes, back in the 1960s. It's a very short post, but I think you'll like it.
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Old Apr 16th 2023, 1:23 am
  #243  
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Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Ah, Rhodes. The one and only time in my life, that I've ever been in jail. This in 1971, when the country was in the grip of a military government, and very much a police state in all ways.

It wasn't a long stay, but in all ways one I vowed to never again repeat for the rest of my life. So it made me into a law-abiding citizen, which is... good? Judging by the sad state of today's world, I'm not sure about that, but for now, let's say yes.

A long story here, and one I'll work on 'condensing' into a not too lengthy post. In the near future.
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Old Apr 21st 2023, 4:03 pm
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Linda's and my Great Adventure in the 1960s - hitching around the Middle East on a shoestring-budget - was a major, major Life's Turning Point if ever there was one. For me, mainly. Linda was an Alpha Female, used to winning, in her school days and beyond. I was a shy country-boy - a Sigma Male, if that. However, we were travelling in places where - generally speaking - men controlled the whole of society outside their homes. And of course it was my car... So Linda had to suppress her Alpha tendencies, and I had to come out of my shell. The experience gave me enormous confidence - to the point where (I think, looking back) it morphed into arrogance, over time.

That explains the situation I described in post #230 of this thread. My appointment as the Cayman Chamber of Commerce's first Manager began in 1986, and it very quickly found itself in a public war with the politicians. That was a first in Cayman: nobody had ever publicly "taken on" the Establishment before. But I persuaded my Directors that if the Chamber were ever to amount to anything, it would have to protect our Islands from the horror of a proposal to tax personal incomes. The proposed tax of 10% was not much in the overall scheme of things, no; but what kind of offshore tax-haven would impose an income-tax on its own population? It would have wiped Cayman off the map in short order, and sent the Islands back into the obscurity they had enjoyed before they took much of Nassau's trade back in the '70s.

All of our Trade Associations toed the Government's line, and only a peaceable minority of local businesses belonged to the Chamber after 21 years of supine existence. That left the Islands' employees as the only conceivable recruits available. (They were unrepresented by any organisation, since labour unions had never been allowed. And still aren't.) So we recruited them, and they won the war for us. The furore was such that there has never been another attempt to tax incomes in Cayman. It would be too much to claim that it was a Turning Point for Cayman, but it would certainly have been one if we had lost.
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Old Apr 30th 2023, 2:29 am
  #245  
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Default Re: Life's Turning-Points

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50
Ah, Rhodes. The one and only time in my life, that I've ever been in jail. This in 1971, when the country was in the grip of a military government, and very much a police state in all ways.

It wasn't a long stay, but in all ways one I vowed to never again repeat for the rest of my life. So it made me into a law-abiding citizen, which is... good? Judging by the sad state of today's world, I'm not sure about that, but for now, let's say yes.

A long story here, and one I'll work on 'condensing' into a not too lengthy post. In the near future.
Hey, come on, man! Quit stalling! I'm dying to hear about your imprisonment, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Give us a break! Plee-e-e-ze?
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Old May 6th 2023, 4:13 pm
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Oh, and just by the way... Let's not forget the most common Life's Turning Point of all for most of us... the birth of our first child! Well, maybe the second and third too, for those who went that far, but it's the first one that changes the direction of a couple's life together. I'm not thinking so much of the financial angle as the - well, the social angle, I suppose. Or do I mean societal? The changing from a young couple learning how to cope with the world together, to suddenly - and it really is suddenly! - taking on a passenger who contributes nothing of value to the coping process.

Linda and I were in our mid-30s when we took on the job. Ross was in his mid-20s when he fell head over heels (there's no other way to describe it) with his new girlfriend's one-year-old daughter. I don't say it was love at first sight - and it probably wasn't - but when I first encountered his little family I was astonished at their closeness. She was two, by then, and coping (there's that word again!) with the awkward fact that the adults of her world spoke at least three languages - Norwegian with her mother, Spanish with her new father and the locals in Latin America, and English with her new grandfather when he visited. Back in Norway, her Mum and Dad broke up as a couple, sadly, but she lives in a forest hytte of his, and speaks Norwegian with him, and excellent English with her grandfather in the Caribbean for an hour or so most weeks. (I should probably add that there is a birth-father somewhere, but not in the picture at all.)

So. Ross's arrival in England changed Linda's and my lives, and his hooking up with the Norwegian mother and her toddler changed his. Without Ross we wouldn't have come to Cayman, and without the toddler he would not be living in Norway. Both those things count as turning points, don't they!
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Old May 15th 2023, 4:44 am
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Just to fill in the blanks a bit, here, about that overwhelming turning-point of Linda's and mine... Ross was born in England because we smuggled him in in Linda's womb two months ahead of his actual arrival. Not that we particularly wanted him to be English (although it has been very handy for him), but we (I, mainly) had urgent plans to live the rest of our lives in a Kombi van in the islands of Greece and wherever else took our fancy. I bought the Kombi and had it fitted out in Reading. Linda had the baby in High Wycombe (he has been a Wycombe Wanderers fan ever since), and we hit the road when he was six weeks old. As Muhammud Ali famously said when he failed the intelligence-test for the draft, "I said I was The Greatest; I never said I was the smartest."

We got as far as southern Spain before things turned south - so to speak - and after a six-month break in Fuengirola we made it as far as Corfu. Then we gave it up as a bad job. Turning Points galore, there, eh? Linda and Ross flew back to Oz where he met his maternal grandmother and that side of the family; my Mum flew over from Oz and she & I camped our way back to London. Then, reunited, we three sat around in Bath for a year discussing our options. I ran up and down to London for job interviews, and found one in Cayman. A new chapter opened.
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Old May 18th 2023, 1:53 pm
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One tends to think of Turning Points as major events, but of course our lives contain hundreds of little ones. Some positive, some negative, some neutral. My wife's death four years ago didn't change my life all that much. During 52 years of marriage we carved out comfortable separate lives, in large part. Most people in this situation will understand what I'm talking about.

In my house today, just about everything is where it's always been - in the lounge, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, even on the porch and carport. During the Corona lockdown my lodger and I got rid of stuff at a series of yard-sales, but I can hardly tell where they used to be. Linda's clothes went to a charity overseas, but the closet is again full of clothes. Our gardener is changing houses, and his spare gear is there now. Ross's room is full of his junk; no change there!

All the pictures and photos are in the same places. Even the granddaughters' height-chart is still on the wall. It's a bit tatty, and both girls tower above it now anyway, but Linda and I kept it there just for fun. For 99% of the house's contents, there has been no turning point attributable to her absence. It's not sentiment; there's just no reason to change. When I go, Ross will either sell the house or rent it; it will be his decision then. Good luck, boy!

There's nobody in the next room to chat with now, of course, but WhatsApp and Skype bring overseas friends and family close enough. Those communication devices do constitute a major turning point, I will admit.

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Old May 23rd 2023, 2:23 pm
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I forgot to include in my last post the plethora of items that remind me of my son's younger days. As if I needed anything...! There are all the standard photographs of an only child, from the days before images were stored on portable phones. And there are a few uncommon ones... Above my recliner where I spend most of my life these days, is a wonderful enlarged (about 15 inches by 10, at a guess) head-on photo of a turtle under the water. Ross took that when he was thirteen, new to scuba-diving and underwater photography. There's another one that Linda and I thought worthy of enlargement: a swarm of tiny fish in front of a port-hole in a sunken ship, taken from the ocean floor looking upwards.

During school holidays he used to help out at one of the dive operators, hauling the tanks around - no pay, but free diving! On the day he turned 18 he qualified as a PADI Instructor, and did that professionally for a while here, before the travel bug bit him. He dives whenever he's in Cayman, but it's way too cold for him in Norway.
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Old May 23rd 2023, 7:10 pm
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I'm so excited for Christmas. I've started my Santa list. I can smell the gingerbread already.


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Old May 28th 2023, 10:22 am
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Sometimes - just sometimes - Turning Points come totally out of the blue. I've told how my son (then aged 23 or 24) hitched a ride on a yacht from Cayman to Galveston, turned left towards Mexico, and worked his way around and up to Mexico City. There, he washed car-engines for a dollar an hour, and in his spare time wandered around the place, drinking in the atmosphere. One day, in one of the suburbs, a middle-aged woman in a car screeched to a halt beside him, handed him a business card and said "I'm an agent for a modelling company. I like the way you walk. Give me a call." So for the next year or so he modelled clothes on catwalks. The job stretched to bit parts in TV commercials for Doritos, Nescafe and a few lesser names. I asked him if he was in the top bracket, but he said no, maybe the second bracket.

In my bedroom here at home hangs Mexico's Coca Cola calendar for the year 2000, open at July where he is one of a group of four, laughing it up in swim-gear. Not quite a James Bond movie, but the best he could manage.
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Old Jun 5th 2023, 5:48 am
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Toronto in the winter of 65/66 was the coldest winter I've ever experienced in my life. My chin froze, while I was walking down Yonge Street. I can't say whether that winter was cold by the natives' standard, but it was memorably cold for me!
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Old Jun 8th 2023, 6:50 am
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Oh, and just to tie up the loose end about my son's career as a professional model... He returned to his natural inclinations after a while and joined a group of hippies on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. They (it) moved to Peru and he accompanied one of the girls in the group. She happened to be Norwegian, and happened to become pregnant, and happened to want to give birth in Norway, which is why I now have a Norwegian family. Sigh... What can you do? Turning Points galore in these few words!
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Old Jun 17th 2023, 4:19 am
  #254  
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In my thread over in the Barbie forum in the Australia section, I listed my migrant ancestors who moved from England and Ireland to Australia in the mid-1800s. What a huge, huge decision that must have been, back then! What a Turning Point! One of them was born on the ship during the voyage. What on earth persuaded the pregnant mother to take a risk like that? The mind boggles.

Linda and I arrived in England a bare two months ahead of our son's birth, but the medical profession had come a long way in the hundred years since the mid-1800s. And we came on a plane, not a crappy old sailing-boat. And we phoned our mothers to tell them we had arrived safely...
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Old Jun 22nd 2023, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
... My appointment as the Cayman Chamber of Commerce's first Manager began in 1986, and it very quickly found itself in a public war with the politicians. That was a first in Cayman: nobody had ever publicly "taken on" the Establishment before. But I persuaded my Directors that if the Chamber were ever to amount to anything, it would have to protect our Islands from the horror of a proposal to tax personal incomes. The proposed tax of 10% was not much in the overall scheme of things, no; but what kind of offshore tax-haven would impose an income-tax on its own population? It would have wiped Cayman off the map in short order, and sent the Islands back into the obscurity they had enjoyed before they took much of Nassau's trade back in the '70s.
Just to flesh this out a little, because Cayman was and is a British colony - with an appointed Governor who has the power to cancel any law passed by the locally elected politicians. Not that he ever used it much.

Chambers of Commerce exist to protect the interests of their members, and the first thing I had to do as the new Manager was to organise opposition to a proposed Labour Law that would give the local government total power over the private sector's workforce. No labour unions allowed, for instance. This was OK by the British Government of the time, but we decided to oppose it anyway. I began a monthly newsletter to our members, criticising the proposal as "a lurch towards socialism", and persuaded all the trade associations to support our position. BUT the politicians threatened to withhold their regular contribution of advertising money for the tourism businesses (the Hotel Association, etc) and that ended the support. We got a "Dear John" letter in the mail, and that was the end of the rebellion.

As an expat on an annual Work Permit, I was for the chopping block. However, the native Caymanians on the Chamber's Board of Directors had just enough political influence to keep me from deportation. My Permit was grudgingly renewed, which enabled the Chamber to battle the attempt to tax local incomes - as told in the Quote above.
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