Summer of 2019

We left Korea 5th June 2019.We flew out on KLM and landed in Amsterdam. I didn’t quite have the address of the hotel “EDEN” so some bus that we took did not drop us at the correct spot.Luckily, we found a young Muslim taxi lad who took us right there.He was really kind. We went to Elton John 8th June at the Ziggo Dome. I loved that Elton John stopped playing and just spoke kindly to the audience for 10 minutes, talking about his life and thanking all the fans for staying with him all these years. He was a true gentleman! The film Rocket Man had just come out but he didn’t really mention it. He spoke more about his children, his husband David,etc. And he talked about his AIDS foundation and how it helps a lot of people. Very wonderful show but fancy people just sitting there, drinking prosecco. All very civilized! Not like 1973! I loved that Ray Cooper came out in 1974 and there he was again 2019-and so was I.I remember being quite incensed that this “Ray Cooper” had joined the band. My 14 year old self couldn’t get past the notion that this Ray Cooper was not on the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. I was so into being black and white. Now in 2019, he was back again, not really looking much different!

We found a superb jazz club called Cafe Jazz Alto.I think we went there four times.Amsterdam is great but it is super super expensive.We also went out to the countryside and went inside a windmill.That was very fun.Major tourist attraction!

Then we flew KLM to Birmingham. We then took a train to Stratford upon Avon and got a taxi to the B and B called The White Sails. It was lovely! Quite amazing how we are able to figure all this out. And it was so nice taking the train, seeing the countryside as you drive towards Stratford upon Avon. The Shakespeare site were great there.

The acting at the RSC was just “ok”.In fact, I’d say it is much better at Bard on the Beach,Vancouver.

One girl though was incredible.She was in a wheelchair and she bombed around that set like it was no one’s business. And she was a superb actress.She just flew in that wheelchair.I’d say she was just as much of an athlete as an actress.

Then on June 12th or so we received a facebook messenger from Morven saying Granny M was failing.We flew home as planned Friday June 17th.Dave got over to Granny Saturday June 18th.We had a little birthday “highland fling” piper come for my Mum’s 80th.That was funny. So off Dave went and then he took the Island express up Monday morning 17th June. I had just gotten a rental car from Toyota.Granny died around 1030am that morning. So that was very sad and unexpected.

Then Olivia began developing high blood pressure so they took the baby three weeks early.Thank goodness everyone was ok. Little Zelda is now 4 weeks old and as cute as ever.

Frances got married August 24th on my Dad’s birthday.Her new husband is Peter so she is Frances Topliss. I was very worried watching her at the aisle because she was weaving back and forth.I thought she was going to faint. She was very nervous and giggly.But she got through it. the party after was great at her house.

We had previously been to Toronto to see Kirsten in a circus show and then we saw “Dear Evan Hanson”plus “Come from Away” both exceptional productions.

I’m quite happy to have left SFS. It was just too much for me. I was bored teaching middle school drama. It was mandatory drama and that was just weird.

I prefer more process theatre and it is just too much rah-rah for me. Great staff, amazing shows, but the tech actually upstages the actors.They are just kids, very talented ,but too much high tech stuff: the makeup,costumes,lights,sets, sound, all way over the top.If it were just one/two shows a year, yes that would be fine.But there were 7 productions and I think that is excessive. I loved working with Edie Moon though.She is a very special person on this earth and I will always remember her kindness and her great talent. It was just too American for me.

Now that we are home: well we bought our new car today, a RAV 4 XLE.Fancy, fancy.

And today is our 41st wedding anniversary. I guess that’s quite a few years!

I will be flying to Calgary with my Mum on Friday to see wee Zelda again. I miss her so much!

Dave is painting our house a beautiful colour! Well that’s the summer of 2019.

 

 

 

A long time ago in 1977…..

Well I’ve never written about this story so here goes.

Dave and I were dating for about a year. He owned a yellow Econo-line van, that he bought from John Rive. Anyway somehow Dave and I got hooked up with Stephen Hubert, a wonderful guitarist from Hawaii. I believe Pete Gunstone saw him walking down the street, the Hoskin hill, and anyway, we picked him up. Turns out Stephen Hubert was associated with Gary Taylor, from Gary’s Rock Room. Ray Pettinger, the owner of Casino Records was involved.

Anyway….somehow Dave and I ended up in a CP Air pilot’s home in West Vancouver. It was a Sunday afternoon in 1977. We were invited by Shannon Aldridge. His young daughter, Naomi, was a Munchkin on stage with me in 1976. Turns out this Shannon guy was a pimp, a drug dealer, just an awful person. And yet, he seemed quite charming at the time. I think he invited us to the Sunday afternoon session.He wanted Ray Pettinger to hear us sing. Again I think the connection was with Gary Taylor and Stephen Hubert.

http://www.stevieguitar.com/

So there we were, two teenagers in this very fancy home in West Vancouver.The CP air pilot (cannot remember his name) was running around, answering the door.People were coming in and out the back door.I remember there was a teacher or a hairdresser named Richards Zaks. I think his wife’s name was Angela. They were there.I was playing a gorgeous white grand piano and singing in a mike.Dave was playing guitar. A Frenchman was hooking up German MK tiny speakers in the house.

I looked out the bay window and saw several men scurrying around the pilot’s property.

“Uh, excuse me sir, but there are several men climbing up your front window”. Uh, excuse sir, there appears to be several men on your property….

“Yeah, yeah, shut up kid, keep singing.” Then I would hear people sayin g”oh, yeah, it’s pretty good stuff”. I assumed they were talking about my singing. Yeah, right! I was so, so naive.

BOOM! The door is kicked in. “RCMP DRUG SQUAD.

EVERYBODY UP AGAINST THE WALL!”

Screaming, freaking out, guns, etc. I went up against the wall. So did Dave. I wasn’t scared. I thought it was a joke. Turns out it wasn’t a joke. It was real.

So Dave and I were hauled off in a paddy wagon to the RCMP West Van Cop Shop. Or it might have just been the WEST VAN cop shop.

I had no idea what was going on. We were led into the WEST VAN cop shop. I was thrown into an interview room and locked up for 12 hours.

Dave was thrown into a cell with Shannon Aldridge. the cops said to Dave:

“Have you had any prior arrests?”

Dave: “No, only juvenile crimes.”

Shannon:”Yeah, manslaughter, but I got off”

At this point Dave is feeling really, really nervous about being in a cell with a guy who killed someone.Shannon also asked Dave to go back to his condo and collect a ton of cash because he figured the cops would go to his house, raid it, and keep the money.

What a bunch of criminals!! Thank God I don’t have anything to do with these people. But it sure taught me that I did not want to be in the music industry at that time. So dangerous.

Anyway, after insulting us both, calling me a slut, calling Dave some very bad names, the police let us go. I think they dropped us off back at the West Van mansion because Dave’s very expensive Guild guitar was in the house and also his yellow Van was there.

We both went “back” into the house and what a mess.The cops threw pizza on the walls, and slit the furniture with knives, pulling all the stuffing out of the couches.The cocaine apparently was hidden under the Japanese maple trees.

My memory isn’t as sharp as it should be, but I think that’s what happened. Dave retrieved his guitar and we headed out to his van.He was so nervous and upset that he drove into a ditch. I can’t remember how we pulled it out of the ditch but we did.Dave tells me that a neighbour came out and pulled us out of the ditch. No doubt we told him the entire story. Still can’t remember the name of the CP Air pilot!

Then Dave drove me home to  my house on Langworthy Street.It was now very late on a Sunday night and I had to go to school the next day. I’m guessing this happened Dave says we got home at 6am. They had kept us in jail all night. My parents must have been worried about me but I don’t remember. Maybe they finally let me mcall my Dad and I told him where I was.I do remember sitting in that damn interview room for 12 hours and my only entertainment was looking up names in the phone book.

Maybe it was sometime in the summer of 1977, maybe sometime in June. What a horrible experience for a 16 year old kid. Those cops were terrible to us. We were 100% completely innocent and yet we were thrown in with a bunch of criminals. The cops couldn’t have cared less about us. I don’t think they could get away with it now.

But then again, why were we sitting in a mansion in West Van, owned by a huge drug dealer?It was an 11million dollar drug bust.The cocaine was hidden under the maple trees. We simply were asked to go there by Shannon Aldridge, a friend of Stephen Hubert’s. My God, we were so naive. I tell you, any thoughts of the music business went straight out of my mind after that experience!!

It was in the paper later that week and the reporters said “two unknown teenagers were let go”.That was Dave and I. My piano teacher’s husband called me “The Cocaine Kid”.I guess I must have explained it all to Mrs Levesque, although why I would tell her, is beyond me.

Years later, in 1982, I was at The Sting, with all the Bank girls. We were hopping and bopping to music, when I saw a very good looking but strange looking guy sitting at the bar. I walked up to him and said “Have you been in jail?”

What a weird thing for me to say! Anyway, yes, he had just gotten out of prison that night and he was there with a buddy of his, a former CP air pilot who was busted for a very big cocaine seizure, back in 1977, in West Van. Oh really? T he good looking fellow was named “Danny O Sullivan” and he definitely reformed and went on to be a great barber in Victoria.

I said, “Well excuse me, Mr. Whatever, but thanks to you, I was thrown into jail at age 17 and treated terribly by the West Van cops. I was locked up for 12 hours, not allowed to go to the bathroom, not allowed to have water, it was horrible!

“Oh, yeah, sorry about that,”  he said to me. He didn’t care one bit about me.He was just happy to be out of jail I guess!

OMG I could not believe that pilot was right in front of me. They were both put into William Head prison and tonight of all nights, this guy was let out of jail. What were the chances?  He never spoke to me again that night, and I can’t even remember his name!!

But over the years I said hi to Danny O’Sullivan, as I really liked him. I guess he just got into trouble at a young age. I remember his haunting blue eyes. How on earth did I know he had just gotten out of jail and why on earth would I walk up to a perfect stranger and ask him that? I must have been crazy.

So that’s my scary, crazy West Vancouver drug story.

 

 

 

 

SHENZHEN ANTICS

Teaching in Shenzhen was insane. Too much partying but what a fantastic staff.

THE SCHOOL

Shen Wai International  School

WELL…The school was a crazy idea from the get go.I used to call it the great Science Experiment. What happens when you take 1500 non English speaking poser, faker, foreign but really 100% Chinese students, with fake foreign passports, and put them in  a purpose based fancy building school with all the bells and whistles, with 300 ex pat teacher from all around the world? What happens? A lot of BS that’s what happens!

My story is this: We went to SEARCH London. Technically it is Kirsten’s fault. We were meant to meet her in London, but by January, she had left. Now we had really left our job prospects to the bitter end.

Of course we should have been at the Bangkok Fair , but the only job that came our way was Shen Wai. I clearly remember Josh ( at TISA) telling me on the bus.

“Go to the Bangkok Fair!”

Literally, we had no job prospects. It was desperate. We should have stayed at TISA where we had a wonderful paying job.Why we left, I will never know. Yes, we got to see ASIA, we worked with a fantastic staff, but Shen Wai was a fricking disaster. I did not want to leave TISA. I did NOT want to leave that wonderful, beautiful apartment.

I would love to go back there.I truly loved Azerbaijan. Anyway, you can’t go “back” you can only go forwards.

We were walking down the aisle at SEARCH London and happened to see our TISA gang.

Then I looked to the right and said…..

“Oh look”, I said to Dave, there’s Matt’s school, Shen Wai. Let’s go speak with them”.

Belinda Holland, the PYP Principal, said ” I’ve been waiting for you two”. Too good to be true.

Back channel

Many great things happened on  that trip :

going to Ronnie Scotts and going to the Brixton site where the David Bowie shrine was: I will never forget that.He had died that week. Oh my, I was so sad. I love David Bowie!!

Belinda hired us. Yes we got to work with Matt Franklin, who we dearly love. We met Heather, Emmet,  Marit, Quintin, Majella, Shane, Kiwi Shane, Jan, Rose,  D-real, Lana, Laois, Emil, Ryan, Ashraf, Aneta, Kylie, Becky, Nick, it just goes on and on….. all those wonderful people. But I still think we should have stayed at TISA!!

 

SHEN WAI:means “foreign” school.

I KNEW it WAS TOO good to be true. Belinda and Ally promised me the PYP Drama co-ordinator position. I just knew it was fake, By March I had found out I was scheduled to teach Pre K /K music and I pushed back saying absolutely NO!

Well I ended up teaching K/1 music, grade 4/5 music theater and yes they gave me the Secondary Choir. Ok it was fine. But it truly was hellish teaching those K/1’s-the fabulous ferrel factory.Those kids were so badly behaved. They couldn’t speak a lick of English and were raised by Aiyes (nannies). The parents couldn’t speak English. It was so effed up.Some characters:William Ding-dong, Ethan T,, Emma somebody: these kids were out of control.

Dave enjoyed teaching grade 5 but it was technically beyond his comfort zone. Yet he survived and was able to use all of his talents in rock band, set building etc.

He showed them all how to run a really good class and the parents adored him as did the kids. Rightly so!

The management was ludicrous beyond all understanding. Once Belinda left, the shit truly hit the fan.

Bradley was just a disaster from the get go. I had many a run -in with him because I simply could not abide his incompetence. His nickname was “ROPES” because he used to gather up all the skipping ropes at lunch.He had no training whatsoever and ran around like a rabid dog most days.

One time this happened: my classes ended at 2:30pm each day. I had arranged a doctor’s appointment in Shekhou at 330pm. It took 45 minutes by METRO to get there from our school. I told the team lead, Emily, Leigh the grade 4/5 music teacher and May, my music assistant, that I was going at 2:40pm. Everyone knew where I was.

I saw “Carmen” in the lift. I said “Oh hi Carmen!”, as I left the building. She immediately texted Bradley:”Charlotte is leaving the building early!”

Bradly came running up to my classroom,  to interrogate May. May, decided , in her Chinese way, to “lie”. She denied knowing where I was. Silly girl! Why didn’t she tell the truth? There was no point in lying-nothing was done wrong!

Then Bradley began interrogating her about “why” she was leaving the school early, like in February.

May became very upset and asked him to stop. He then said “Ok, this conversation never happened”.

Then another time in a meeting Bradley said “Oh sorry to be a douchebag”.He asked Emily to to take down her map which showed Taiwan as a separate country.

I reported him to Daniel. Hmmmm….I wonder how that went.Leigh said “Oh that’s how we talk in Aus or in NZ”. Oh, so that’s supposed to make it professional?No!My goodness that lady was strange.

Another time I had scheduled a separate meeting with Anna, the dingbat PYP replacement for Belinda.  Anna, invited Bradley into the meeting., even though I had specifically told her this was a one-on one meeting-two women, one meeting. End of.

I asked Bradley to leave, saying that I asked for a one-on-one meeting with Anna. I was specifically discussing the ridiculous decision to take away ASA credits away from my musical team. Why on earth would I enter a meeting two-on one?Did they think I was that naive?

The admin, in their dim-witted way, decided that my musical team would only get ONE ASA credit instead of the usual two. Talk about bait/switch. Absolute incompetence.They sprung this on us “after” the musical was completed. Deception,deception,deception.

Bradley looked shocked that I kicked him out of the meeting but honestly, he had no business there. Oh dear, he was such an incompetent child.

Well, then, there’s Daniel. A Canadian

He was a small minded,  no- visioned type leader: so cruel:so misogynistic.

Enough of him. Petty , petty man.

On the surface, when you are dealing with these people day to day you smile, nod, exchange pleasantries, but in actual fact…well, anyway, I’m glad to be away from him. Some people simply do not belong in education.

Ally Wu: what a conniver.  Empress Wu in China:

Empress Wu Zetian Killed Her Children In Order To Become China’s Only Female Ruler

There she is.  Drunk on power. Drunk on handbags. A manipulator of the highest degree.China, in all her glory.

She told the Chinese staff:”You cannot take ANY more sick days!”You must be better than those useless white teachers!” Those westerners are only here to get drunk and have a holiday. Well, she was not wrong there! But oh my, we had a great time.

Ally Wu, the Director of Shen Wai International School. Good Lord. May I never meet another like her, and yet she was a great character- in an espionage novel, she would have her own cocktail bar:Ally Wu nights!

Despite it all, we made great friends and some of the children were a joy to teach.It was an experience I will never forget! But would I got back to Shen Wai?Not in a million years!! I remember Adora,Angel, Arthur, Henry,  David, and his other little sidekick who I absolutely adored but can’t remember his name right now. He had a very sore voice.

Just the cutest little kids ever.There were some really badly behaved ones too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUESS WHO IS COMING TO DINNER?

 

 

Now here is a funny story.The year was 1985-I think. AIDS was all in the news but that is a side-bar.

My cousin Owen,   Aunt Alice’s son, was coming to dinner at 1656 Langworthy Street, my house. My Mom had obviously prepared a great dinner and Own said he was bringing a date.That “date” turned out to be “Sean”, a gay, male, black, hairdresser.

Owen and Sean were partners. Holy cannoli, this was a moment. Dad (my Dad) and Sean were “partnered” up in Trivial pursuit. Now you have to know my Dad: yeah he is kind of racist. I mean it is not his fault.

Years ago, when he was 15, his girlfriend was :raped” by a black guy, in Nova Scotia-or so the story goes. So he’s never been fond on the Negro. Ok, whatever.

But that night Dad was very happy with Sean. Sean and him went into Dad’s “gun room” and Dad showed Sean how he made bullets, and “tanned” his own leather, from deer he had shot.

Dad was so pleased that Sean loved his silky leather (and it really was beautiful) that Dad gav ehim a HUGe piece of it.

Sean came out to the diner table, proudly announcing he was gonna make loion cloths (thongs) for all the boys at Wreck Beach, with my Dad’s manly leather.

Cue the Village People:

 

 

Oh my goodness. The irony was delicious. My Dad’s macho leather, parading around Wreck Beach with all the gay boys on display. Fantastic.

Just as it should be!!

Well, in 1987 I was pregnant with Olivia and cousin Owen was dying of AIDS in a Vancouver hospital.Auntie Charlotte went to visit him. I was afraid because I was pregnant. It took my hero, Princess Diana, to break the stigma, and show the world that it was ok to visit an AIDS patient. So that’s my story.

Oskar Schindler’s Grave

WE WERE IN JERUSALEM AT THE TEMPLE.WE WERE WANDERING AROUND……. we saw King David’s tomb, the Dome of the Rock, the Wailing Wall. I put a prayer in the wailing wall for Frances. I guess it worked sort of. She has found someone to help her through it all. His name is Peter.

Anyway we were walking away from the tomb of King David and then found the signs for Oskar Schindler’s grave.There was a Bar Mitzvah planned there. Apparently a lot of Jews come to this site for their children’s Bar Mitzvah-very interesting. I think they said they are held on Thursdays .We looked down the path in the Franciscan Church graveyard and there it was:Oskar Schindler’s grave. I was so happy to have found it. What a story. Image result for oskar schindler's grave and image

As we left the grave site, Maher pulled up, a lone taxi!

“Hello my friend! Where do you want to go?” Don’t worry be happy!

I still laugh at how Dave and I just got in. We instinctively trusted this man. He was great!

There is no  way I would have jumped into his car in 2009.I just didn’t have the international “radar”. Funny though, Nicole, our Jewish, air b and b lady, wasn’t too excited about Maher and his cousin.She had to speak very carefully to him in Arabic, Hebrew, English, French-she drilled him before we got into his cousin’s car the next day.

That’s how we got to Bethlehem.Turns out Maher works for the Russian nuns in the Church where Prince Phillip’s Mother is buried. It’s near the Garden of Gethsemane.

Strange times. I am thrilled to be going back there!!

Prince William being shown Jerusalem by Father Archimandrite Roman, at the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene, June 28, 2018.