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photobooth17:11:1998

17 November 1998, Spencer Street Station, Melbourne

These photos were taken on the way to Melbourne airport. I flew to New Zealand for a cycling tour of the northern tip of the North Island. Whilst there, I also visited multiple relatives.

I was already beginning to feel some of the effects of the neurological condition Myalgic Encephalomyelitis from which I suffer. Tiring easily, headaches and muscle pain, are some of the symptoms. The problems were mild at this time, so I was still able to carry on a normal life.

This strip is part of the series Photobooth 41 Year Project. You can see all the posts that document the series by clicking here.

When I was living in Leicester and my cousin Krissie was living in London, for fun, I started writing her name as Xie. I used the X the same way it is used for the “Chris” syllable, as found in the spelling Xmas.*  It is her Rock-Girl Superstar name, which fits her perfectly, because to me she is a superstar.

Xie is as optimistic and generous as her mum and has an amazing sense of humour. She loves dogs, walking, fun and being mischievous…and cigarettes. Xie adores cigarettes. (I occasionally share one or two with her, just to stop her feeling like a pariah, you understand.) She is also a fabulous mother to her 9-year-old son, Ryan, who is the baby in the pics, and a supportive and loving wife to her hubby, Tony, also pictured.

To spend time with Xie is to be entertained, to laugh and be uplifted. She is one of my most favourite people in the world, but of course from what I have just written, you didn’t already know that!

The only down side in this cousinly love affair is, that apart from a blissful 2 years in the UK, we have never lived in the same country. Even then, when we finally managed to be on the same island, we were not in the same region. We made as much time as possible to see each other, always including her sister Rachel, when we could, and had some fine adventures exploring the countryside around Leicester and cool shops and cafés in London.

These pics were taken over a relatively short period, mostly in the UK, and are in chronological order.

* As I don’t know anyone who pronounces the “t” in “Chris’mas”.

NB For those of you with an etymological bent, the spelling Xmas should be pronounced the same way you’d say Christmas. The X comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, translated as “Christ“. Xp was also a commonly used form to shorten the manual labour of producing hand written manuscripts. Wikipedia has a great article on the 1000 year-long history of this abbreviation.

Aunty Cecilie

Part of my passion for travelling came about at least in part through the fact that my mum’s sister, Cecilie, had moved to New Zealand soon after I was born. She and her husband Gregor made regular visits to Melbourne with my cousin Kristine and later with her younger sister Rachel. I was always incredibly excited that they were coming and immensely envious of their “jet-set” lifestyle, for we never flew anywhere. The free toys my cousins received in-flight were better than anything they might have brought us for presents, their stories of what happened during a flight more riveting than any others and airports were the most exotic of locations, even if you were not the one who got to go on a plane.

During one of their visits to Australia, when I was approaching the age of 15, I remember moaning on to my uncle about the fact we never went to visit them in Hamilton. He was totally unsympathetic. Why should I feel that I needed to wait until my parents had the money to bring the whole family along? He said I should come on my own. Initially I thought he was mad or joking, as I protested that my pocket-money, even if diligently saved wouldn’t be sufficient to get me there until the next century, which was then 23 years away. “Well get a job” he said,”You save up enough for the airfare and we will look after the rest”.

So I did. Three months before I turned 15 I got a weekend job at The Bake-Inn Hot Bread Kitchen in Bentleigh and just days after my 16th birthday, I took all the money I had saved, bought a ticket and flew to New Zealand. Mum and Dad gave me enough to top up my spending money to $100.00 for a one month tour of the North Island with the rellies. I still have my best souvenir, a stuffed toy kiwi made out of possum skin, that was named Rewi by Krissie.

I have lost count of how many times I have since visited Cecilie in New Zealand, my Uncle Gregor now, sadly, deceased. She always encourages me to return and is a very generous and inexhaustible host, always taking me on an adventure to places I’ve not visited previously. We once also met up in the UK to be tourists together and a very happy pair we made, too.

Like my mother and both my grandparents on her side, Cecilie has been a professional musician all her life, having trained as a pianist from her earliest years. She has a wonderfully optimistic outlook which is helped along by another very important passion in her life, which she shares with me and my mum. She is a madly dedicated, dog lover. Having recently bid farewell to one of her much-loved rescue-pooches, Mia, she last week welcomed Ellie the kelpie-cross into her life. It is my dedicated intention to get her and her new baby into a photobooth one day, my Snowy-Dawg having suffered the experience only recently. One has to admit it is not a dog’s favourite of pass-times.

This is an undated Polaroid booth pic taken several years ago, presumably in Hamilton, New Zealand.

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