The Roast


The Roast

Mary Morrison was Mom’s right hand, reliable, amiable and ‘absolutely vital’ in the smooth organization of the front of house and finances for all the pantos: all the things that were not Mom’s strengths.  Mary would trundle the pram with first one baby and then the next to all rehearsals, meetings and prop workshops.  There was always a bevy of little girls in the cast eager to baby sit.

The Roast

The Morrison’s lived just outside of town, on a large plot of land.  Their place was not like ours on the Globe and Phoenix Mine with spreading lawns bordered by flower beds and jacaranda trees, a Wendy House and a paddling pool at the bottom of the garden.

Their house was in the bush amongst the masasa trees and boulders.  Mr. Morrison was a mechanic.  They didn’t have much of a garden.  Around the house were old cars and car tires.  Spare parts sat in and outside the lean-to garage.  It would have been a great place to play hide and seek but Mom seldom took us there.

However, Mom and Mary would often meet at Mary’s house to discuss the business side of the pantos or plan a joint Cub and Brownie event.  Mary was Akela and Mom Brown Owl.  They were soul mates and discussed matters over endless cups of tea.

They’d forget time.  “Here are the figures,” Mary would say, laying the balance sheet in front of Mom.  But Mom really wanted to have black (ultraviolet) lighting for skeletons in one show or another.  Every show had to at least break even.  There were so many worthy causes ‘crying out for funds’. From the very beginning, they decided never to thank people with expensive bouquets or gifts at the grand finale.  It could so easily get out of hand.

Noticing the sun setting, they’d leap up.  Their homes had to be in order and dinner made before their husbands came home. The husbands shared a dim view of their Scouting, Guiding and ‘play-acting’: family life sacrificed for these obsessive causes.  They tried to confine their activities to before the ‘menfolk’ came home.  Mom had a lot more flexibility.  Dad’s homecoming was erratic, usually later than sooner.

After many years and many shows, Mom called Mr. Morrison to the stage at the grand finale.  She presented him with a roast chicken wrapped in cellophane with a big red bow.  “Dinner is on the house!” Mom announced.


  • Betty

    Reply Reply August 7, 2010

    This is priceless! I grew up in a similar situation, the haves and the have-nots. It was wonderful of Mary to give it her all, even though she had little in worldly goods. It was wonderful of your Mum to be best friends and to look beyond social standing. I am most fascinated by the Akela and Brown Owl groups of scouts….we had numbers for our troops and you had names. How was scouting for you? It was my whole life; however, we did not have the wildlife camping that you surely did! I also know that one should be home when your husband arrives, with dinner ready! I think it was a wonderful gift of a turkey rather than flowers….flowers fade but turkey provides several joyous meals! Mr Morrison couldn’t complain about that! The costumes in the photo are elaborate and beautiful! Bravo!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply August 9, 2010

      Yes, in a very color and class sensitive society my Mom was color blind and class oblivious. She had an extraordinary capacity to see only the best in people. She gave people the opportunity to realise their dreams be it center stage or creativity behind the scenes: the receptionist as an accomplished artist or a fitter and turner as a creative set designer.

      Akela is the name of the Captain of the junior section of the Boy Scout movement called Cubs. Brown Owl is the female counterpart of Brownies, the junior section of Girl Guides (the sister movement started by Baden Powell’s wife, Olave, called Girl Scouts in America.)

      Yes, my mother made the outdoor camping experience really central to the experience she offered our troops (black and white) and I’ll be writing about that. I wasn’t the best happy camper, but I was there!

      The Roast she gave him as she made the presentation was a pun and all in good fun. Perhaps I overstressed the chaos of their yard. Mr. Morrison was very enterprising and by the time she eventually broke the presentation rule he had probably established his own very successful business by then. I can’t quite remember.

      Yes, the mothers really did get their sewing machines out and make marvellous gowns etc from Bahardur’s Habadashery with its huge stock of exotic Indian fabrics “at a special price” just for the show and it showed.

      Betty you are my best reader. Thanks for responding.


      Having dinner on the table wasnt really a problem for her as we had a wonderful cookboy. Being home was the huge issue.

      The roast

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