Tonight’s post is dedicated to the late Olivia Newton-John.
I can’t begin to describe the impact she’s had on my life, in particular my childhood, those formative years. Even though I knew she was battling sickness, when I heard the news of her passing this morning, I was still shocked and saddened.
I keep the radio on as I work, and they were playing her songs throughout the day, and had even created a little audio montage of her various interviews, performances and acting.
It wasn’t until I heard her character in Grease singing, that it really hit me.
Grease and my childhood, came hand in hand. She was the first person, and possibly the only person whose character had the same name as me… this was a big deal for an 8-year-old! And she was part-Aussie, having grown up in my hometown no less! No one else had my name, so for her to be playing a character with my name, in such a big movie, with such catchy songs and a truly addictive, truthful and raw teenage setting, I couldn’t NOT love it.
I lived and breathed Grease. I got the VHS, and then proceeded to watch the movie every day during my 2 week holidays. To this day I can still quote whole chunks of scenes.
The music of Grease was the soundtrack to my birthdays from about the age of about 8 to 11 or 12, and it ended in a fully fledged Grease dancing competition, every time! We practiced the songs at school and we acted out being Sandy and Danny on a regular basis.
I have the vividest memory of having the blinds drawn in my room when I was about 8, and putting on my Grease soundtrack cassette tape (yes, cassette tape!) singing along to Hopelessly Devoted to You and pretending to be ‘Sandy,’ in Grease.
As I grew up, I learnt more about her music, her character and her life. I watched her battle with cancer, saw her rise from strength to strength, and take charge in what would be her lasting legacy, The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, and the Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.
Every time I’ve heard a snippet from Grease today, my heart has broken a bit more. It sounds weird to say, but it’s like those memories with her in them in my childhood have died, or gone, even though they can’t… my memories will always be mine. But now she’s gone and the rest of us are left behind, singing her songs and watching her movie, living her legacy and remembering the zest and passion and fighting spirit that was Olivia.
My sister alerted me to the movie on TV tonight, and I caught the scene just in time. Of course, it was Sandy singing Hopelessly Devoted to You. My eyes welled in tears at her voice, her memory, my memories, and all the interwoven emotions.
As my birthday approaches yet again, I can’t help but think so much more at all of those early memories.
Olivia, you are a true Aussie sensation, legend, and your spirit will live on in so many. No one could have played ‘Sandy’ better than you, and I thank you for that. 😢💖
I’ve only been looking forward to this since I heard they were bringing the movie version to stage in Sydney.
Then I was only looking forward to it, since they announced they would be doing Melbourne shows.
Then tickets were released! We booked them, and the countdown was on… it was going to be baby girl’s birthday present.
We were looking forward to it!
Then… well, you know, world narrative at the moment… 🙄
Bloody covid happened.
EVERYTHING was cancelled. And so the wait commenced and the question was valid, would we still get to go?
Shows that had been rescheduled a second time, a third time, were still getting cancelled. Horror stories of multiple reschedules and cancellations ensued, and since only last week the show had NOT gone on in light of cast and crew being absent due to ‘covid-related’ reasons, I was still unsure, up until the very last minute, whether it would actually go on.
But, I grew excited as we got near the theatre today and saw all the little Elsas and Annas in costume, so excited like baby girl to see their favourite characters up on stage.
Hell, as you can see, I WAS EXCITED! I really wanted this for baby girl. I wanted this for us. So much crap has been passed around the past two years, I just wanted something to go right.
And so fortunately for us, it did.
We had the most amazing time. I went all emotional Mum and was teary SO much, especially at the start where the announcer said before the show “…and a special welcome to those in the audience seeing their very first musical. We hope this is the beginning of a beautiful journey with you and the theatre.”
The show and performances were spectacular as expected. I’ve seen snippets of the overseas stage show, and I have to say us Aussies pretty well smashed the Frozen interpretation. 💪💪 Sure they stuck to the main plot and elements, but there were little additions, adjustments, that made it so well-rounded, inclusive and unique, that I was left with tears in my eyes at the end (again, I know!)
Feeling so very grateful for our beautiful day. 💖🙏
For tonight’s gratitude post, I’m re-posting a Christmas poem I wrote many years ago.
I’ve actually been meaning to re-share it, as I do each year come Christmas time, but tonight in failing to think of anything novel to write about, I thought, why not?
It’s something I really do love, and I really am quite proud of. It’s my Aussie Christmas poem, and as much as it encapsulates a very specific and dear part of my life, I wonder if I need to do an Aussie Christmas second edition, or part 2, etc etc… because there are so many ways to celebrate this most festive time of year, and so many things that can make the day as special as it is.
So, here it is…
“What (Aussie) Christmas means to me, my love”
Sunny days and leafy trees
sprawled out in the yard on lounge chairs
squeals of laughter from the park children
the squeak of Mum and Dad’s backyard swing.
Prawn platters, Fruit pavlova
three courses and constant food in between
Ham is not the star – everything is
and it all goes down well with a glass (or few) of champers.
Flowy dresses and bows in tresses
the kids run barefoot on the grass
we can show some leg and we don’t care
Summer, holidays, carefree, go together.
Annoying things too, like crawling ants and invading-space flies
tightly-wound presents with ribbon, all screwed up
but this is the miniscule list I hold
for this oh-so-Merry day.
Balmy nights, revved up cars
light until past 9pm
cannot sleep, but not just for Santa
for waiting ain’t easy when it’s pushing 20 at midnight.
Eating drinking memory making
What do you talk about with those you love?
Why everything! And now let’s make some plans
about how we’ll take on the world together.
Hot sand replaces stinging ice
sunnies sit meandering instead of wrapped-around scarves
we still rug up on Christmas Eve
to our loved ones for warmth, but not heat.
Carols may sing of snow,
Santa may be in his jolly suit,
cards will show reindeer, eggnog, fireplaces
and the pine trees are not native at this time of year.
But those are idealistic visions
of a Faraway Place
a dream where one day I will be, and see, and touch
and live in reality.
My memories here are of sun, of outdoor fun,
sitting outside and making memories with loved ones
In fact, we are all so, so excited about it. We stood on it several times, even when it started to rain, and when it was first ready baby girl literally ran circles around it, you know, testing it out, breaking it in.
And it was totally legal today even in lockdown, since contractors have been allowed to work on pre-existing homes…
A beautiful place for us to share with family and friends.
Geez. Hurry up lockdown so we can actually have them over. 🤔😁
It was Sunday night dinner-time, we were doing our usual youtube merry-go-round, and it was my time to pick a song.
I was over the same old, same old. We played the same songs repeatedly.
Hubbie would play The Weeknd, or the freaking Roses song. Oh if you haven’t heard it, look up Roses by SAINt JHN remix.
I ain’t putting it on here. I hear it too much already. It’s a great song, but you know when someone repeats something so much, they absolutely kill it for you?
That’s what Hubbie does.
The other song he had only rediscovered this morning was Don’t Let Me Down by Chainsmokers and Daya. It’s only a few years old, but he had forgotten about it, only to remember it all over again and play it again, repeatedly throughout the day. And again, check out the song on youtube… but this song gets bloody stuck in your head to the point that you’re like ARGH! Get it out!
Baby girl sways strongly between the two of us. She will put on a song Hubbie loves, or I love… or she’ll go and put on Dance Monkey which she was obsessed with ’til recently, or some Frozen music medley, which can sometimes go on for 20 minutes, so we force a cap of 4-5 minutes.
Me on the other hand, well you all know I am massively into music royalty at the moment, i.e. Queen. And I punctuate that currently with Madonna and Prince. But like I said, we’ve been listening to the same old, for too long, and I wanted my turn to be something different, something we hadn’t heard in a while.
Something slow. I was in a heartfelt song mood.
It then hit me.
“What’s that SIA song?” I asked Hubbie, the biggest SIA fan I know. “Where she sings “I’m tired, can we just sleep tonight…?”
He continued the song, catching the words before he said confidently “Soon we’ll be found” and started clicking away on youtube.
He brought up a 2008 performance on Letterman. Yes, David Letterman. I was stunned that a year before we had gotten married, this Aussie chick was heading over to the U.S and making her big American debut.
You go girl.
It’s a great performance. She sings it better than she does the recorded version, and watching her hands perform is as mesmerising as listening to her voice.
She is uncovered, so this is truly back in the day. No hair to hide behind, no short blonde do that covers her eyes and nose just so. She is characteristic SIA, which is one of the reasons why we love her, and she is giddy with happiness when she finishes her performance, jumping up and down in joy which can only be interpreted as “I did it! I performed on Letterman!”
It is so wonderful to watch.
The performance begins after 1:10. The song is moving and takes you on a journey, and it fit my mood perfectly tonight.
My favourite line? “Let’s not fight, I’m tired can’t we just sleep, tonight?”
Well it’s not the original. Rather it’s Saving Mr. Banks, the story of how Walt Disney courted the writer of the original Mary Poppins book, P.L. Travers, into allowing him to make her original tale into a Disney classic.
The story behind the story… how could it beat the one we have grown up with and come to love?
Well it is a completely different story. One that is heart-wrenching, as it is uplifting. (Actually, that oddly has similar elements to the story it’s based on if you look hard enough).
And though Mary Poppins brings the word unique to a whole new level, the character of P.L. Travers played by Emma Thompson, is a whole other hilariously difficult character on her own.
Watching stories unfold in the comfort of my home, from my couch, at my will, has to be the greatest ‘me time’ and restorer of creativity wells there is. ♥
Did you know that P.L. Travers is not the real name of the Mary Poppins writer? She was indeed, Helen Goff, and part Aussie, no less. 🙂
I wish we were in Sydney tonight in the crowd of thousands, watching artist after group after band perform on stage to raise money for the bushfire catastrophe that has gripped Australia and the rest of the world over the last couple of months.
Did I say artists? I meant legends.
We only caught the last couple of hours of the show on tv, but were there in time to watch Adam Lambert and Queen take to the stage.
Anyone following my blogs knows what I think about Queen.
It was truly something special. My thoughts kept going from “how amazing is Adam Lambert” to –
“How can he stand up to Freddie Mercury?”
“Of course he can’t, he’s his own person.”
“But Freddie was the best.”
“But look how far Adam has come to be performing with Queen!”
To and fro, my thoughts, and my words to Hubbie next to me on the couch.
Then they put Freddie on screen doing his legendary operatic solo bit where the crowd copies him, and seeing him lighting up the darkness of the arena with his yellow outfit, so large and life-like, I swear it was like he was there.
But then baby girl came into the room, and I was a little on edge.
As way of explanation… we haven’t quite spoken about death with her. She knows that if you do something stupid (like run out onto a busy road, get caught in a fire, or don’t put sunscreen on) you can die.
Things like that I bluntly drill into her. Shock effect to make her listen.
But real-life death, death of those around us? As far as she gets it from what I can tell, there are people ‘here’ on earth, and then there are people who are not… the in-between from here to there I think she doesn’t comprehend, and as for ‘there,’ the concept is all a bit cartoon-like for her, like Ursula the sea witch being stabbed to death in The Little Mermaid, or Mother Gothel falling out the tower in Rapunzel.
It’s all a bit exaggerated and other-worldly.
Add to that my first experienceunderstanding death when I was about her age… and the thought of making her as sad and scared as I had been, was devastating to even consider.
So when this rock star princess of ours entered the room to “We Will Rock You,” took one look at Adam and asked “where’s Freddie?” I knew it was the perfect opportunity to break into a discussiom about death with her, and it might even just work, because Freddie, wasn’t part of our extended family.
But then again… with the amount we played Queen around the house, he might as well have had his own bedroom downstairs.
“He’s not here tonight honey…” I shot a confused look at Hubbie, who just shrugged. He’d previously said that talking about the death of a celebrity was the perfect segue into real-life.
But now he was looking as reluctant as I was.
“… he’s not singing anymore,” I ended. I waited for her to ask, but the question didn’t come. She stared at the screen for a few moments, before turning to our cat on the couch.
“Mister F, who do you like better? Freddie Mercury or this guy?”
“Mama, who do you like better, Freddie Mercury or this guy?”
Off she went to the other room to ask Hubbie who had just walked off, and I heard his answer as short, simple and brief as mine: “Freddie.”
“Baby girl, who do you prefer?” I asked as she came back in.
He almost is like a part of our family…. so that conversation will have to wait, for another day.
But for tonight at least… Adam and Queen brought him back to life.