Cafe Culture: Do or Die!

By Penny Cook

Sibylesque Bill Gates Quote

There’s a problem with Café Culture. Great service ends at the point of payment. Adelaide is not known for a service culture in cafés. Typically, you order and pay at the counter before you eat. So why would they care? You’ve paid already. Tables are often messy and the service so, so … slow.

I’ve been caught out in Melbourne where table service seems to be the norm. I’ve unintentionally walked away without paying. Just so you know, when I’ve realised my mistake I’ve happily and apologetically returned to pay because that’s the right thing to do.

Sibylesque Annie OAKLEY Gun 2

But in some cafés in Adelaide and in all restaurants, there is table service, which is great. Once again, great service ends at the point of payment. I would think, possibly naively, that if I am paying the dosh for the nosh, the recipients wouldn’t care how they got it, given that in all circumstances they are going to make a profit on what they have served up.

Increasingly, and with the introduction of pay wave, a lot of us aren’t carrying a wad of cash these days. So when I go out for a meal with friends, it frustrates the hell out of me to be given the task of the customer doing the math and splitting the bill and collecting payment, only to make it easier for the restaurant. When I’m told ‘we don’t split the bill’, I’m tempted to respond ‘would you like my money for what I ate and drank or not? I’m not responsible for the other adults in my party, only me.’ What is the legal requirement here? Can eating establishments insist on collective payment and if so, what lengths can they go to recover the money if I insist on being charged and paying individually?

This can be easily overcome, as it is in the US, where service equates to tips, by the restaurant having a system where they number each person at the table and assign the order to the person, so when it comes to payment, all they have to do is calculate the bill for each patron. Simple. That way they ensure accurate billing and payment and happy customers, who are likely to tip more and return.

Is this rocket science? I think not.


Penny CookPenny Cook has been an early childhood educator for over 30 years. She loves to travel  – anywhere. Penny is a mother and ‘Nan Pen’, who is continuously fascinated and amazed by her two young grandchildren.  She has always wanted to live in  a tree house by the beach …’s never too late!! 


Photo source: Social Archives



They fly forgotten as a dream

by Maren Rawlings

 sibylesque e e cummings quote

On my walk, if I come round the corner quietly I find the path through the park is occupied by a flock of galahs and tufted (native) pigeons. The galahs greet me raucously and fly into the pines but the pigeons stubbornly walk ahead of me in single file with short busy steps like matrons making for the bed linen department in Boxing Day sale. Finally the one at the back takes to the wing with a high, soft fluted cry and lands at the front of the formation as they turn off the path and then stop to look at me with a disapproving air.

filmstrip beehive hair do

My mind goes back to a teacher in secondary school with a grey high French roll just like a pigeon tuft. Her legs, under her ample “pouter” torso, were thin and bird like and she moved with the same strutting business. On her way from Assembly to classes she would sing with the honesty of a deeply religious woman. Her mind, however, was not tidy, so that we would come from reedy renditions of “Brightest and best of the suns of the morning, Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid…” to hear her intoning “Time like an ever rolling stream, Bears all its sons away, They fly forgotten as a dream, Dies at the opening day”. Phew, thank goodness we were daughters, we laughed, ignoring her spinster state, a fault no doubt, of someone’s son.

filmstrip pigeon

My sister-in-law, a lorikeet, can not only sing, but she can play the piano at the same time (even standing up), so when she disappears to “practise” there is no possibility of recalling her from the realms of angels.

Music, it is said, originated probably with the imitation of bird calls. There is evidence that perception of the octave might be shared among species, but the number of distinct notes between that tonal recurrence is a matter of culture or taste. Music of itself is not judged to be positive or negative, although particular assortments of notes may not be pleasing (especially when my husband sings). It can be a subversive and highly satisfying mode of expression.

filmstrip beehive hair do

The first song I taught my granddaughter, “Cry baby bunting, Daddy’s gone a-hunting, Gone to catch a rabbit skin to put the baby bunting in”, was my childish response to having to procure and prepare meals for my ethically vegetarian son-in-law. I knew he had the higher moral ground!

Give the galahs and other birds a serve of their own


Maren RawlingsMaren Rawlings is a fabulously diverse educator and music devotee. She has taught at city and country schools including a 22-year stint at MLC, Melbourne. She has lectured in psychology at RMIT University and Melbourne Uni, written Psychology textbooks and, in 2011, graduated PhD in “Humour at Work” at Swinburne University where she currently tutors.

Maren is President of the Star Chorale, a community choir and this year they sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Zelman Orchestra.


Photo Source: Unsourced


Getting On: Some thoughts on women and ageing

Sibylesque How old quote

Sibyls' Books Red Mural

REVIEW by Lorna Ebringer

Picture 3Getting on: Some thoughts of women and aging

Liz Byrski

Pub Momentum Books 2012

The baby boomers are ageing! Expect to hear a lot about this topic as we all struggle to come to terms with this fact. Some of us are so put out by the accumulation of ailments that one friend has limited discussion about our failing bodies to 10 minutes before we are required to move to other topics.

Liz Bryski’s book “Getting on, Some thoughts on Women and Ageing” was first published as an ebook in 2012 and is now available in paperback. (Pub Momentum Books) Part memoir and part a reflection, she discusses the problems that women face as they grow old. Despite the fact that older women are central to society, working, writing, volunteering, caring for disabled children and for their parents and living busy and productive lives she finds that society renders them invisible, we are not seen in the media, in advertising, in shopping centres. We are ignored. Whole industries have grown up to help women avoid being erased by trying to make us look younger than we are. If we believe the spin we can dye our hair, have a facelift, diet those extra kilo’s away, in short, have a make over. A lot of energy and money can be spent and, of course, it does not halt time.

Author: Liz Bryski

Author: Liz Byrski

When we are noticed, it is as a problem. The “problem of our ageing population” is mentioned all the time in the media. We are regarded as a financial burden by the wealthiest generation in history. This is truly astonishing given the contribution we have made to society in our working lives over the past 40 or 50 years and the contribution we are still making in providing the volunteer work force in our charities and community support groups, in the care we are giving to our parents and grandchildren and often to our adult disabled children.

Sibylesque Boogie Woogie Man

Liz Bryski raises and addresses all the negative issues that old age brings with it but she is undeterred. Remembering the feisty older women in her life when she was a child and how much she admired them she is determined to enjoy the journey and reading her book encourages us all to do the same. So what are the positives? Now that we are free from full time work and caring for young children we have time to “make the most of every moment and every day, love more and better, learn more and read more” We can enjoy our friendships more and allow them to enhance our lives. As a result our lives become packed with interest and adventure. We are healthier than ever thanks to good medical care and the consciousness that we have to address fitness issues to live well, she swims, we dance, our friends walk, ride bikes, go to the gym and Tai Chi, we meet other people doing these things and we are luckier than our parents in this respect.

I hope that we will see further thoughtful discussions like this that allow us to look forward with optimism and courage.

You will find Liz Byrski’s article Why it is good to be old here.

Sibyl Approved

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Lorna Ebringer’s passions include trekking  in remote areas of Georgia, China and Japan, opera appreciation and rock ‘n roll dancing. Her previous posts were Notable Women: Christine de Pizan and When god had a wife.


Photo Source: Liz Bruyski’s website, Youcanbefunny blog………………………………….


The Portrait of the Mother by the Artist

by Kerry Cue

sibylesque Old Age Quote

Rembrandt's Mother Reading (c. 1629) when she was 60 years old

Rembrandt’s Mother Reading (c. 1629) . Cornelia was 60 years old.

In her book, How to Age (The school of Life, 2014) Anne Karpf writes about the imagery of old age as a ‘hideous ruin’. Sociologist Mike Featherstone called such imagery ‘a pornography of old age’. And don’t we know it. We are surrounded by such images daily including the shriveled and stooped portrails of old geezers and crones in comics, birthday cards, cartoons, advertisements, horror movies, sitcoms, TV crime series and more. And don’t forget the witches in literature from Macbeth to the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is the aim of Sibylesque to provide the postive balance to this negativity. You can find such imagery at The Sibyls Salute: Jennette Williams.

The artist, however, runs into a dilemma when painting their own mother. Should they be sympathetic or realistic? Even artists can portray their own elderly mothers as ‘hideous ruins’. This was especially cruel as often their mother sat for the portrait when the artist’s model failed to appear. The painting that made Whistler famous resulted when the model didn’t show. (Below). The end result, however, was sympathetic. I will not dwell on the cruel images except for this sketch one sketch by Durer. I feel he was being very harsh on his own mother.

Drurer’s mother at 63 years of age. She had by this time experienced 18 pregnancies.

Durer’s mother at 63 years of age. She had by this time experienced 18 pregnancies.

Durer was not always so unforgiving in his portrayals of his mother. Here is an earlier oil painting by Durer of his mother. As one friend pointed out, Durer’s mother has a look on her face that suggests she’s thinking ‘Go on. Get on with it.’

Durer's Portrait of His mother,1490. She was 39 years old.

Durer’s Portrait of His mother,1490. Barbara was     39 years old.

Aging is often portrayed in modern media as some kind of failure. This is the price paid for living in a youth culture, I guess. Old age, however, can be presented with love and empathy and the result is an image, as Karpf notes, of dignity and beauty. Here are the portraits of artist’s mothers with their ages included:

Paul Cezanne The Artist's Mother c. 1866  when his mother was  52 years old.

Paul Cezanne The Artist’s Mother c. 1866. Anne was       52 years old.

Whistlers Mother,  1871. Painted when she was  67 ld.years o

Whistler’s Mother, 1871. Painted when she was 67 years old.

This painting by Whistler was a tribute to his mother. Here is a photograph of Anna Matilda Whistler.

Anna Matilda Whistler, ld.1850. She was 50 years o

Anna Matilda Whistler, 1850. She was 50 years old.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec portrait of his mother,  Countess Adele Zoe de Toulouse Lautrec, 1883. She was  42 years old.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec portrait of his mother, Countess Adele Zoe de Toulouse Lautrec, 1883.   She was       42 years old.

Van Gogh  Portrait of the mother of the artist, 1888. Anna was 69 years old.

Van Gogh Portrait of the mother of the artist, 1888. Anna was 69 years old.

Picasso's mother, 1896. Maria was 41 years old.

Picasso’s mother,1896. Maria was 41 years old.

Juan Gris, mother,  1912. At least Picasso painted his mother before Cubism etc.

Juan Gris, mother, 1912.  At least Picasso painted his mother before Cubism etc.

Lucian Freud, The Painters Mother,1983 .  Lucie was 77 years old.

Lucian Freud, The Painters Mother,1983 . Lucie was 77 years old.

Photo source: If it’s hip, it’s here blog.