Following a suggestion in 2019 from one of our writers, members of the Bayside U3A Writers Group take turns to select a word for writers to incorporate in prose or poetry monthly contributions. It is not compulsory to use the ‘Word of the Month’ in written work, but many members praise the monthly word as offering good motivation for writing poems and stories. It is also enjoyable to read and critique fellow writers’ works using the same word.
During the 2020 Covid 19 lockdown, Bayside U3A decided to increase the frequency and content of their excellent newsletter by publishing fortnightly editions. We were delighted to contribute to the Bayside U3A newsletter every two weeks by submitting members’ poems and short stories using the ‘Word of the Month’.
In 2021, we decided to start publishing ‘Word of the Month’ submissions on this website from time to time.
updated 16 May 2022
by Jan Storey
I’ve been walking amongst the dead lately. Raking over the scant traces of their lives, trying to piece together fragments of evidence to build a picture of them, like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with many parts missing.
Under the bare earth where I stand are the bones of two infant boys, their lives prematurely ended as a result of dysentery. Their 42-year-old mother lies with them, victim of a cerebral haemorrhage. Seven years after she died, their father joined them, fatally exhausted by some thirty years of labouring in underground mines.
One hundred and sixty years have passed since the first child was interred in this naked ground. I stare at the bare earth and wonder if there are any remnants of the clothes they were wearing or perhaps a sliver of gold encircling a bony ring finger. There is nothing above ground to identify their presence deep within the yellow clay. They were too poor to fund something lasting. So, I have to rely on cemetery records to locate their resting place.
I walk to a nearby gravel patch shaded by a tree. It is a peaceful place, the sole sound emanating from small birds flitting between the shrubs. Here seven people lie beneath my feet: four children under the age of six, their father and two grandparents.
The two families are linked by marriage and I carry their combined genes. Perhaps that’s why I feel unexpectedly strange, discombobulated you might say, as I pause at their burial sites to wonder about their everyday lives. Would they welcome my fossicking in their lives or the personalities my writings ascribe to them? Did they ever imagine their descendants’ lives would be so very different from their own?
I find myself pondering whether my descendants living 160 years hence will search for evidence of my life as I have for my ancestors. If they do, where will they look for traces? In my case there will be no grave site to visit. Perhaps they will scour social media archives if such things exist or walk the Bayside streets where once I lived and worked.
On the other hand, I may be just one of their many long-forgotten ancestors whose lives hold no interest for them.
published 1st September 2022
by Vicki Endrody
Effortless, timeless icon of style, that’s Audrey Hepburn! And here’s her advice on how to look nice:
Life is a party … so … dress like it! Chanel shared her views and added this chit:
Every woman needs a little black dress; add some pearls with an up-do and you’re sure to impress.
Givenchy’s muse, Audrey showed us poise and such grace nibbling pastries for breakfast at that Tiffany place. Eliza Dolittle also had class so no one batted an eyelid at ‘Come on … move your arse!’
Audrey wasn’t just an actress, she had substance and was smart; as Ambassador for children she really played her part, saying:
Nothing is impossible, and with wit and wisdom explained, because the word itself says ‘I’m possible’; her sincerity wasn’t feigned.
Colette looked for such qualities on the hunt for her new star, but this special person eluded her, though she searched both near and far. Finally meeting Audrey she giggled gleefully, ‘At last my leading lady is found … You are my Gigi!’
Elegance, Audrey rightly once said, is the only beauty that never fades. And elegance, my fair lady, is what you gave us in spades!
© Vicki Endrody 2021
published 10 April 2021
by Sandra Stirling
Jean slowly rode the motorbike along Flinders Lane, careful to dodge the men and women pushing long racks of clothing along the footpath and even on the roadway. Trucks, big and small, wound slowly past the grand buildings and warehouses where vast areas of space stocked every imaginable line of clothing for men, women and even children.
Parking her motorbike, Jean gathered her dresses carefully wrapped in cotton material from the sidecar and walked several hundred yards along the narrow footpath, passing the small kiosk selling drinks and sweets, and the haberdasher whose wares were on display in the tiny shop window. Entering the large building, she waited for one of the clanging lifts to descend. Jean entered and pushed the button for the fourth floor, watching the heavy cable through the cage door pull the lift to her destination.
‘Ah, Mrs Stanton, a pleasure, a pleasure,’ greeted the small foreign gentleman as Jean emerged from the lift. ‘Here, give to me this great parcel. It is heavy I am sure.’
Jean happily handed over the package. ‘Thank you, Mr Epstein,’ she smiled, releasing the parcel.
‘Come now, let us see what you have for us today, Mrs Stanton’.
Jean followed the little man across the faded linoleum floor to the large cutting room table, one of many in the centre of the huge warehouse area. Daylight shone through a small, wire-covered window, catching the dust motes that floated through the air, together with tiny threads of material produced by the flying scissors of the girls cutting the large swatches of materials at the other end of the room. There was a low hum of chatter and the sound of scissors clacking through the silks, linen and satins flowing across the large benches.
Undoing the package, Mr Epstein carefully examined the made-up dresses with their colourful matching collars and cuffs, some with tiny buttons, others with carefully hand-sewn trimmings around the pockets and collars. The styles were very smart, mid-calf length, equally at home in a business setting or a luncheon with friends during the day, and each reflecting Jean’s own sense of style and elegance. She was meticulous in ensuring that the final product was well finished, no hanging threads or loose buttons or carelessly inserted pleats, and made of the best quality materials, linen being an especial favourite of hers.
Carefully, Mr Epstein touched the dresses, moving each one aside and looking at another. There were six designs in all. Turning, he pushed his small round glasses to the top of his head and smiled at her. ‘Yes. Yes. Very satisfactory, Mrs Stanton. We will have no trouble in selling this range, I can assure you.’ He nodded reassuringly, captivated by Jean’s brown eyes and charming smile. And Mr Epstein was not a man easily captivated, as his staff would quickly and willingly attest!
Jean thanked the buyer, delighted to receive his order for the number and style of dresses required. Smiling briefly at the girls who looked up from their work as she passed, she was glad to return to the ground floor and the hustle and bustle of Flinders Lane.
© Sandra Stirling 2021
published 10 April 2021
by Sue Hardiman
School holidays always brought a trip to the city. Mum, my brother Peter and me – all dressed in our best clothes. Mum wore her best dress or suit – weather depending, coat in cool weather and always hat, gloves, handbag and looking elegant. Peter in school suit and best shoes. I wore a green twin-set and grey pleated skirt, beautiful suede shoes and a camel coat. In warmer weather I wore my best frock, a cardigan and flat leather shoes. When Dad visited the city he wore his well pressed Fletcher Jones slacks, shirt, cravat and sports coat, and he too looked elegant. Today he would be considered an eccentric.
We would catch the first Off-Peak train from Glen Iris and some 25 minutes later arrive at Flinders Street, head off to Mr Glynn at Capitol House for a haircut and the day was ours.
A trip to Myers, then Foys and the best part of the outing was Gibbys for lunch. Sandwiches like no one else made, a sundae for the kids and a beautifully presented pot of tea for Mum. Beautiful linen napery and always served by a lady in a Gibby’s uniform and the ladies were always elegant. On the way back to Flinders Street Station we would call in at Ball and Welch to buy 60 denier stockings for me to wear to school and any school attire Peter required. Then a rush to catch the last Off-Peak train back to Glen Iris. And over dinner we would tell Dad all about our adventure and show him our purchases.
In later years I rode my Vespa into the city, parked out the front of Myer and headed off down the various arcades. Mum would turn in her grave – nothing elegant about attire. I wore a pair of knee-high joggers, sneakers, a T-Shirt and fitted into the crowd – the only difference mine were washed and ironed. The male shoppers certainly did not look like they had stepped out of a Saville Row magazine – unpressed shorts, un-ironed T-Shirts, unwashed sneakers.
© Sue Hardiman
published 10 April 2021