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Sojourn in Brisbane in July 2014

July 30, 2014

Sojourn in Brisbane in July 2014

Friendship isn’t a big thing – its a million little things – unknown author.

I love escaping Melbourne’s winter for the warmth of Brisbane and renewing an old friendship of 26 years in a delightful old vintage Queenslander house.

Anna's Home-made Bread
You wake to the delightful sounds of the morning calls of the magpies floating in the light airy space.

Joanna's Salad
Despite a cold desert wind most of my days were full of sunshine, good food, good conversation, good books, good music and long walks.

C.G. Jung – Falling in Love At First Sight

July 25, 2014
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Originally posted on Photographs, film, literature & qoutes from the bygone era:

“When animus and anima meet, the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction. The outcome need not always be negative, since the two are equally likely to fall in love (a special instance of love at first sight).” ― C.G. Jung

C.G. Jung explaining love at first sight in an interview

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F. Scott Fitzgerald to his 11-year-old daughter, Scottie, who was away at camp

July 25, 2014
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Originally posted on Photographs, film, literature & qoutes from the bygone era:

La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge
Towson, Maryland

August 8, 1933

Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs “Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of…

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Love, desire and riches

July 21, 2014

Love, desire and riches

Love, desire and riches

Penfolds Luxury Collection Dinner at Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto

April 30, 2012

Alison wearing Jean Paul Gaultier skirt, Antonio Marras one shouldered silk knit with Shane Douglas

Last Thursday I was delighted to find that I was amongst the chosen few assembled at Intercontinental the Rialto, Penfolds Luxury Collection Dinner in the Bluestone Wine Lounge.

The Bluestone Wine LoungeAs we arrived we were greeted by the gregarious General Manager Joerg Boeckeler, the gracious Director of Sales and Marketing Shane Douglas and consultant Special Events Coordinator the very elegant and exotic Elena O’brien, styled a la Grace Kelly.

We sipped Penfolds Reserve Bin 10A Chardonnay 2010, one of the rare Penfolds wines that is 100% South Australian sourced from super premium sites in the Adelaide Hills. This was accompanied by delicious cold hors d’oeuvres

Laughing Kookaburra

After an enjoyable half hour of chit chat with various people including the engaging publisher of the Luxury Travel and Style Magazine James Air and Sotheby’s stylish publicist Sarah Easson we were seated at a grand and very long timber banquet table, beautifully presented with autumn leaves and fine silver ware. Our host Jorg added a wonderfully eccentric element to the table decoration with the inclusion of a bespectacled stuffed laughing kookaburra!

Stephanie Dutton Penfold wine maker and wonderful ambassadress for the Penfolds Brand was a vivacious raconteur who displayed her great depth of knowledge with her introduction to each course and accompanying wine. Michael Lindell, the architect seated next to me, did very incisive quick sketches of some of the assembled guests including the Laughing Kookaburra.

Mt Laura slow cooked lamb loinAhh! – the wines. Of the reds I loved the St Henri Shiraz accompanied by Mt Laura slow cooked lamb loin with celeriac and asparagus. I think of the whites my absolute favourite was the Cellar Reserve Viogner 2011 that accompanied the splendid Berry Clafoutis desert.

As I took in the wine, the food and the ambiance I had a Proustian moment and was transported back in time to an earlier European masked ball – a totally delicious experience.

French Masked Ball


Sheila Scotter – The Inimitable Queen of Style

April 22, 2012

Sheila Scotter AM, MBE

Rare is the felicity of the times, when you can think what you like and speak what you think.

— Tacitus,
The History, I.i

I first met Sheila Scotter when I was the cultural attaché at the French Consulate in Melbourne in 1988/89 looking after France’s $25 million cultural gift to the Australian Bi-Centenary. As part of these Bi-Centenary celebrations there were many official openings at the Melbourne Art Centre to which we would invite Sheila Scotter.

Alison WatersBeing a hat lover I would always admire Sheila’s evening hats as I often wore an evening bandeau. She told me about her bespoke milliner Marea Bright of Collins Street who would make these exotic evening hats for her with little diamantes that would sparkle when the lights went down at the opera or the theater. As she explained “I would be noticed by everyone, even in the dark” Sheila Scotter was certainly hard to miss.

Sheila’s deportment and elegant style was, funnily enough, not of the establishment English style. She was often referred to as ‘the silver duchess’ and that would have fitted well with her well modulated voice and imperious air, but she was far more like a fastidious, formidable, French aristocrat mixing in the salons of the Faubourg Saint-Germaine, in Paris. She knew all about etiquette, style, and ritual but apparently little about empathy.

Sheila Scotter Funeral - Photo via The AgeMarcel Proust the great French writer would have loved Sheila as a character in perhaps À la recherché du temps perdu Remembrance of Things Past and in fact Sheila Scotter was a symbol of the grandeur of the past and the world of genteel luxury, beautiful apartments, chauffeured driven cars, fresh flowers daily and fine dining – she herself was a good cook. But Sheila Scotter worked professionally for most of her long life. In fact she had a very strong work ethic that must have come from her family’s English military and Church background. I think the two great influences of the thirties in England and Europe when Sheila Scotter was a young adult were probably Proust and Freud. A student of Freud in the 21st century would have detected very quickly the discrepancy between the legend and the real women.

Sheila Scotter Funeral - Photo via The AgeSheila had charisma and sex appeal. When she walked into a room all eyes would be on her and she knew how to make the most of her entrances and exits. She certainly was fastidious in everything she did, things were always ‘to be done properly’. Sheila had an innate sense of discipline probably the result of being sent to boarding school in England at the age of four while her parents were still in India. She could be kind and supportive and her close friends speak of her loyalty. She also could be jealous and bitchy and very, very demanding.

Sheila ScotterA perfectionist right to the very end Sheila planned every detail of her funeral for 200 of her closest friends and associates. The funeral was held on Friday 20th of April in St Silas High Anglican Church, Albert Park. Born in India, a daughter of the Raj, her coffin was covered in white roses, gladioli and lilies and was appropriately draped with the Australian flag as befits an AM and a MBE.

Alan Jones and Ros PackerVeteran Age writer Lawrence Money, with a reputation for an incisive tongue, gave a moving and personal eulogy and the fiercesome radio journalist Alan Jones showed a ‘soft and caring side’ to his character as he spoke about his ‘dear friend Sheila’ and her support for such causes as the opera, ballet and her many charities. Jones also recounted Sheila Scotters years as a journalist, particularly as Vogue editor and founder of Vogue Living. Close friend Sylvia Bradshaw gave us a look at the naughty and playful Sheila, the coquettish Sheila and her enthusiasm for titled gentlemen. Former model and Vogue journalist Diane Masters spoke of her first meeting with Sheila at Myer Emporium in 1949 “there she was in a dashing black cloak and Spanish sombrero, a red rose tucked beneath the brim”

The WakeSoprano Tiffany Speight with David McNicol at the piano sang expressively O silver Moon the aria from the Dvořák’s opera Russalka. (this aria had been a great favorite of the revered Australian soprano Dame Joan Hammond and Sheila Scotter had been an active member of the Dame Joan Hammond Award). For sensuous, heart-tugging beauty, you do no better than this beautiful music and these words. The aria conjures up a magical world that you can believe in while the music takes you there:

Rusalka, singing to the moon, whose beams now light up the whole landscape.
It is a beautiful summer’s night -

O moon in the velvet heavens,
your light shines far,
you roam throughout the whole world,
gazing into human dwellings.
O moon, stay a while,
tell me where my beloved is! …
O tell him, silver moon,
that my arms enfold him,
in the hope that for at least a moment
he will dream of me. …
Shine on him, wherever he may be,
and tell him of the one who awaits him here! …
If a human soul should dream of me,
may he still remember me on awakening;
o moon, do not fade away!

At the wake afterwards we sipped on Mumm Champagne and nibbled delicacies from Peter Rowland Catering, with of course linen napkins. We all reminisced about our ‘Sheila moments’. I think Sheila Scotter would have loved it.

John Hoerner - Douglas Butler - Jan McGuinness


Alter Ego – Charlotte Harcourt Private Detective 1920’s Melbourne

April 1, 2012

Hatmatters - Alter Ego - Photo by J Mitelman

I have always been a good detective – I actually have it on authority from a forensic psychologist. It’s important to learn early in life to discriminate between the wheat and the chaff. This is especially so when developing a hat collection – provenance is everything. But when it comes to solving mysteries and seeking out the villain – clearly if the hat fits wear it!

The plot is set in Melbourne in the 1920’s.  My character, Charlotte Harcourt, is a glamorous emancipated young woman of a fearless disposition. She owes her considerable wealth, education and enlightenment to her late father, a man of substance who had returned from the First World War with a greatly heightened sense of social responsibility.

Hatmatters - Delage DMS Roadster 1929Her grand house in East Melbourne identifies her as a woman of independent means. Her cream and brown Delage Roadster sits parked on the circular driveway as if ready for a fast getaway. Charlotte is a young woman on the move. Renovations are under way at her East Melbourne mansion under the direction of the renowned Melbourne architect Henry Norris, designer of the iconic Sherbrook Forest Burnham Beeches country estate of the Nicholas family.

Miss Harcourt has taken up temporary residence at a suite at The Windsor Hotel whilst these works are in progress. It is here at The Windsor that this story unfolds.

There was a loud knocking at the door. It was after midnight, who could it be?

It was a cold, dark, inhospitable night. Rain lashed the windows of her hotel room. Charlotte reached for her dressing gown and slippers. Gingerly she opened the hotel door. It was a man in uniform whom she vaguely recognized. It was the Hotel Windsor’s night porter. “Miss Harcourt he whispered there is someone very important that needs your help urgently. Could you please follow me”. The porter led her along the wide corridor to a door just down from her own hotel suite.

He knocked gently on the door of Room 139 and she was told to come in by a voice with an accent that was peculiarly English. Ushered into the room Charlotte was immediately assailed by the smell of cigarette smoke. The man smoking sat hunched in an armchair his back to the door. He didn’t turn round as she entered the room. “That will be all Porter” he said in his distinctly Yorkshire accent.

Hatmatters - DH LawrenceCharlotte moved to the centre of the room to be nearer the warmth of the fire burning in the grate. The man slumped in the chair was a smallish, slim, middle aged man with a pale face and a dark beard. The face seemed strangely familiar. She waited for him to speak.

At first he just stared at her. “I thought they were bringing me a private detective” he said. “I am a private detective, Miss Charlotte Harcourt at your service, and whom may you be”. In a softly spoken voice he said “I am the writer D. H Lawrence”. He waited a few moments before he spoke again. “Something very serious has happened Miss Harcourt, my wife has been abducted from this very hotel room by Italian anarchists and if I want to see my wife again I cannot go to the police”.

© 2012 The Waters Group ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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