Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The painter, the sister and and the daughters

I have mentioned in my blog before that we used to live next door to the late painter Albert Tucker's sister. Like in an older ad on tv, she welcomed us with baked scones when we moved in. The two nice boys moving in next door. They look very clean and decent.

She was a great neighbour, although there were times when she called out over the fence, we ignored her and crept around silently, but it was not often. As she was the other half of our semi detached in East Malvern, she wasn't easy to ignore and we did grow fond of her.

Our neighbour's father was a politician in the first Victorian Parliament. I can't remember the details now.

One night she invited us in for a sherry and canapes. We learnt how to make mock chicken. Forget how now but something to do with tomatoes. She was clutching a photo of her Adelaide daughter and son in law. We had already met her daughter who lived in Melbourne. She started to show us the photo and then pulled back. She repeated this. Then she said with great gravity, 'Um, there is something I need to tell you before you see the photo'.

Our minds raced.

'His name is Rajiv and he is Indian'. Our ho hum reaction must have been a little disappointing to her.

While she was in the kitchen preparing tea and cake, we looked at the really weird pictures on the walls. Why would this very normal middle class woman have such odd pictures on her walls? Of course they were works by Albert Tucker. They were grim pictures.

The Indian born son-in-law called one evening to take our neighbour out for dinner when he was in Melbourne for a few days. We peeked out the curtains, sure enough he was Indian, although not very dark. Probably a Seihk

I used to buy the Age daily back then and she bought the Sun. Once I had finished reading it, I would tuck into the fence pailings and she would retrieve it. She did the same with the Sun. The day arrived when she did not collect the Age or put out the Sun. We called her daughter who broke in and she had had a stroke. Of course we visited her in hospital. It was indignity for her. All that hair on her face, no make up and speech very slurred. She recovered to a point. She would not be seen on a walking frame. The shopping jeep was an ideal walker. But probably about a year later, again the paper did not appear jammed in the fence palings. Again we phoned the daughter, but it was the end this time.

We went to the funeral of course. The intellectual daughter from Adelaide attended and did the full histronics thing. Unlike the Melbourne daughter, she wasn't particuarly nice to us; quite dismissive really.

Some old queen conducted the funeral, and surprise surprise, not long later, he conducted my brother's wedding. Maybe it was the other way around.

The Melbourne daughter was very nice and grateful for what little we had done. She and her husband had a picture framing business in Eltham. They had two sons, I seem to remember. I the bet they are important people in the world of art now, like their great grandfather. Maybe not. Should not have such expectatations.

A fellow blogger posted a tale of the loss of a pet dog and it reminded me of pets we have lost. One was the cat Thomas. Our neighbour had taken a photo of Thomas sunbaking in her back yard and a while after her death, her daughter gave us the photo framed with a note on the back. I suuppose the daughter would be oldish now. Just for curiousity, I put her name into google. Yes, she did come up. More interestingly, there were links to her sister, the Adelaide university lecturer, niece of Albert Tucker with the Indian born husband.

I was pushed for time and did not fully follow through at the time.

Here is what I quickly gathered. She is a WHISTLEBLOWER and a member of the club. She accused authorities of stiching her up with a charge from the RSPCA regarding the death of her dog because a what she might divulge. She has an early child reading school/business, one in Adelaide, one in Melbourne, and is also on the speaking circuit. She is a rabid feminist. I really can't be bothered finding out much more. I am not that interested. More interested to know what the Melbourne daughter is now doing.


  1. The Adelaide daughter did the full histrionic' - yes this happens at every funeral where a child has to travel far. It's because they never saw the dead parent very much and it's a wail of guilt.
    I love your newspaper swapping ritual. The niceties of neighbourliness. In my block everybody mows the nature strip of the lady who is 89.

    and I loved Albert Tucker's grim (his war experiences?) paintings from the moment in high school I first saw one, and I aped him to great effect (and marks) ever after.

  2. I expect you are correct about not seeing her for a long time. Her mother was an embarrassment to her really.

    Never really got Tucker's works. There was one on the wall called Tucker's Sister. Wonder what happened to that.


Democracy is all very well, but why give it to the people? - Audrey Forbes-Hamilton.