Sunday, November 23, 2014

Class of '89 gives youthful display at reunion

OH, what a night. The nostalgic feel of that 1970s pop song seems to sum up the upbeat mood at one of the city's popular nightspots when  dozens of Redlanders shrugged off any depression about advancing into middle age and boogied into the early hours.
Now in their early 40s, the former Cleveland High School students showed they still had the verve of youth as they converged on Elysium Lakeside for an important reunion.

MARKING the 25th anniversary of the 1989 year 12 graduation, about 60 people joined the throng, with the numbers gradually dwindling to a dozen or so stayers who partied on until closing time, 2.30am.
The organiser, Francene Neundorf, was there, of course, until the last farewell wave and sentimental smile, and says she crawled into bed at her Carbrook home at 3.30.
Francene revels in the happy mood when her old schoolmates get together; she has become quite passionate about their reunions, having previously organised 10-year and 20-year get-togethers.
The Grandview Hotel was the venue for the first and Victoria Point Sharks Club, the second.

FRANCENE says she knew the tendency of  the revellers to “kick on” late, so the closing time was important when she chose a venue for the third reunion.
She started promoting the October 25 event in the Classifieds Public Notices several months ago, and also uses social media to keep in touch with the group.
“The numbers dwindled a bit as some have dispersed around the world but  it was a great night,” she says.
“We danced and talked at lot. If you didn't talk to them at school, you would have had a chat on the night.
“CEOs and politicians? No, we weren't that good but we had a police officer, builders, an IT specialist, a journalist, an author, engineers, an accountant.
“There were four or five teachers, some people who left school in year 10 and a couple who used to smoke cigarettes behind the toilet block.
“Many still live in the area and some who now live in other areas were able to stay the night with their families who are still here.

IN the tradition of the romantic theme of the pop song, some teenage sweethearts of the class of '89 married and are still together, Francene says.
“Those that come along are positive in their lives,” she says.
The prospect of high school reunions seems to evoke mixed reactions – that is, former students may be either wildly enthusiastic or scornfully distasteful, but Francene has no doubts.
She says she enjoys organising such events “just to see old faces and catch up with the old days”.
“I just enjoy seeing people get together and enjoy themselves,” she says.

This column has appeared in the Redland City Bulletin.

Thousands to stay 'calm' during city's festivity

Image: 2008 Classie Corner report on Christine Burke.
HE'S peeking out of advertising brochures and grinning on the TV screens. That ubiquitous old man has shaken off his Melbourne Cup hangover, brushed his beard and togged up for Christmas 2014.
Kids are getting excited and parents twitchy. Santa's on his way. The jolly ambassador of retail is again riding high over deep religious culture.
Of all the Christmas experiences, however, one can underscore all the sentiments and beliefs, and bring a tear to the eye of even the most opportunistic, profit-oriented retailer.

UNITING with thousands in a good old singalong and hearing dedicated musicians express their Christmas spirit at a civic celebration such as Redland City Council's carols night is indeed a memorable experience.
A crowd estimated between 10,000 and 12,000 attended the 2013 Redland event, so Capalaba Regional Park in Pittwin Rd will be an amazing scene on Saturday, December 6, for Christmas by Starlight 2014.
Behind the warm and fuzzy feeling at such events, armies of specialists deal with all the details. Last year a home-grown contractor, Calm Event Management (CEM), worked with the council to ensure the night's success, and the firm has the mission again this year.

CALM proprietors are Victoria Point couple Christine and Patrick Burke, who have been mainstays of the Redland music scene for many years.
Both have careers as performers and are also known through their ownership of music store and school The Sound Shed, at Capalaba.
Christine says CEM grew from the couple's event management under The Sound Shed banner and now manages events up and down  the east coast between Townsville and Melbourne.
The enterprise is getting a burst of Christine's energy. She says she now has more time to spend on Calm events, with her daughter Kathryn studying science at the University of Queensland and son Sean preparing to start a music degree.

AS part of the repositioning, the Burkes have advertised the Capalaba store for sale. Reflecting on their 15 years on the site, Christine says, “I would like to think we have had an impact on the community and touched a lot of lives.
“Students we taught at seven or eight years old are now young adults and walk up to say 'G'day'. I think that's a good legacy.”
The council's “all-age, family-friendly event” will open at 4pm with free children’s activities and a visit from Santa. Community groups and licensed commercial operators will run food, drink and merchandise stalls.

A SPECIAL children’s show at 5.45pm will start the music program including Luke Kennedy, Naomi Price, Alexa Curtis;  Jal Joshua, Kiara Rodrigues, Leah Lever, Adeline Williams and Ali Crane, accompanied by Redland Sinfonia Orchestra and the City Choir. The event will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display.

This column has appeared in the Redland City Bulletin.

Love blossoms as tiny dog helps ailing owner

Image: The first-aid symbol, courtesy wikipedia. 

CANINE tails can wag over a relatively tiny increment of the data that emerges from the never-ending analyses of internet usage.
Today, our best friends can receive a special pat with the announcement that dog-related stories have consistently rated in the top five subjects in the online version of this column over the past eight years.
The website,, is  just a speck in a virtual universe but nevertheless illustrates the amazing relationships between human and canine.
This, indeed, is Love (capital deserved).

ONE tail that can wag faster than some others is that of Ruby, a Chihuahua-silky terrier cross, which lives at Capalaba with Lynette Pickett and her partner, Mick.
Mick bought Ruby for Lynette as a birthday gift, and she now describes the tiny two-kilogram dog as “my little mate” and her saviour.
Lynette says she had an athletic and active life before her health deteriorated. An Australia Post courier, she felt unwell for “quite a long time” and symptoms worsened. Her nausea became so bad during work hours she had to stop her car to vomit.
Three years ago she had brain surgery. “I have two aneurysms (bulges in the blood vessels) and three stints,” she says. “My life has changed considerably.”

LYNETTE says the arrival of Ruby in her life 18 months ago marked a turning point, giving her an interest and an incentive to keep up the battle against her health problems.
“I was quite sporty before all this and I got quite 'down' in recent years,” she says. “Walking is good for mental health and it's the only thing I can do now.”
Walking with Ruby on Ney Road on September 25, Lynette blacked out and fell to the pavement.
When she regained consciousness, a group of people was around her. One bystander looked up the 'last number' from the call records  on Lynette's phone. The number was Mick's, and he was there within five minutes.

LYNETTE placed a Classified notice thanking “everyone involved” in helping her and taking care of Ruby.
She can remember few specific details of the incident but wanted the people to know she appreciated and was grateful for their care.
Lynette says she previously had a black-out at a shopping centre. “The ambulance crew told me that two men who went to help me had almost come to blows while I was unconscious.
“One fellow tried to roll me into the recovery position and the other thought that was the wrong thing to do. They apparently had a very heated argument.”

THE message may be that the population needs to know standard first aid. Perhaps the high schools should make a bigger contribution to lifting the bar on this.

This column has appeared in the Redland City Bulletin.

Brightness appears in recesses on darkside

VIOLENT fury presents a terrifying face – eyes that could fit into a horror script and a mouth that sprays saliva with threatening noises.
Put them on top of an adrenaline-charged body and the handbrake that stops a mind from running out of control can flip off.
What comes next is often told in court when documenting the circumstances of injury.

A MAN in his 50s tells of a frightening experience several years ago at the bus stop outside Redland Hospital. A couple standing near the hospital boundary caught the man's eye.
The woman was heavily pregnant; her companion had his arm around her shoulders, appearing to comfort her.
Thinking she was about to have her baby and that he might alert the emergency staff, the witness called, “Are you okay?”

THEN the companion, a tall and fit-looking young man, turned and charged, with fists raised and screaming like an angry bull, “You mind your own f...... business.”
The  'helper' raised his hands in a surrender pose and walked backwards, saying “I was only trying to help”, but the man didn't stop.
The woman screamed, “Don't ... don't,” as the man's fists shook in front of a white face, wide eyes and gaping mouth.
Just then two hospital security men walked into the assailant's field of vision. He dropped his hands and turned away.

THE fury in that face will haunt the man (me) for life. On a later visit to the hospital, I told one of the security officers I would now think carefully before offering help to any strangers apparently in need.
He replied that the chances of a nasty incident were still pretty rare and it was wrong either to deny help because of such fear or to make presumptions based on quick observations.
The officer said that on one occasion three tough bikies had delivered a carton of beer after he lent them a wheel brace. That showed you can't judge a book by its cover.

READERS of the Classifieds often see expressions of gratitude from the hearts of those who have been helped by strangers.
The Thanks column is evidence that a society with a big chunk of negatives such as aggression and violence also has a very bright side.
For many generations, such columns have allowed people to state their heartfelt sentiments to someone they don't know but who cared.
At other times, the notices honour the individuals by publicly identifying them.
Lynette Pickett, of Capalaba, recently placed a notice thanking people who helped her. Her story will feature in the next edition of this column.

This column has appeared in the Redland City Bulletin.

Old man winter retreats to cave

HOORAY – that cranky old man called winter has finally backed off into his air-conditioned cave after delivering some terrible shivers.
Now, as we enjoy a beautiful spring, we may wonder how the old man, desperately needing relief from the building heat, ensures his air conditioner works when it's needed.

THE chances are that in the Redlands at least, he calls in someone he knows and trusts, such as Lemine Pty Ltd, a family business that has operated in the area for 33 years.
The proprietors, Neville and Robyn Wright, featured in this column in 2007, after they welcomed the birth of their first two grandchildren.
Their lives have become considerably busier, as the new generation now numbers eight and Lemine's client list also continues to grow.
Robyn says she and Neville are very proud of the business they created. The childhood sweethearts grew up in Belmont and moved across the council border to Birkdale to build their family in the Redlands.

NEVILLE did his apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker with a Brisbane air-conditioning company about 50 years ago but now  focuses on designing and quoting for residential and commercial systems.
After thousands of installations and maintenance calls during more than three decades, Robyn says Lemine employs only qualified technicians and subcontracts associated work to trusted tradespeople.
The firm services “all brands” but supplies mainly Panasonic systems, “ideal for the salt air conditions in the Redlands”.
Of  the many Redlanders who use the Lemine services, the bay islanders must be among the most appreciative.

ROBYN says she and Nev have always  tried to ensure the islanders get the best possible service.
She says Lemine makes regular trips to service Club Macleay and has clients on all the  islands.
While the Lemine vehicles are often seen on the barges, the Wrights are also among the passengers to North Stradbroke Island as their daughter and son-in-law, Leanne and Damien Stewart, manage the Anchorage Resort.
Robyn says the firm has  an exceptionally busy winter with Redlanders taking the opportunity during the chill to have their systems serviced.
She says proper maintenance does save money through early detection of faults and prolonging the life of a system and spring is still the best time.

A MAJOR problem for air conditioning in Redland City is the 'foreign gecko', Robyn says.
Lemine is finding a growing incidence of costly damage to printed circuit boards after geckos get into air conditioners over winter.

This column has appeared in the Redland City Bulletin.