XMAS 1998




Cost Account Manager:-     C B A Gillis (Mrs)

Staff:-                                      I J Gillis (Painter/Gardener/Handyman/Driver),

                                                P J Gillis (Apprentice Layabout/Scholar)



It had been observed that for over 34 years Ian Gillis had been neglecting his proper handyman duties by spending time with another employer, Marconi Radar.  This was of concern to his principal Cost Account Manager due to the pathetic remuneration provided. Fortunately Marconi had formulated an “Age Re-balancing” policy with an appropriate financial incentive for those who took part in the Early Retirement Programme (ERP) (so the old bastard took the money and ran!).

Obviously concerned about the long empty hours ahead, in his retirement presentation this employee set out his objectives as follows:


See more of England and Europe, read more, ski more, motor-bike more, garden more, do more jewellery & silversmithing, edit all his Australian video camera tapes, categorise all his 35mm slides, see more of the other five children, sell house when youngest finishes school and buy a cottage in France, finally bankrupt his pension fund by living to a ripe old age.


It would appear that Marconi training in regularly failing to meet objectives has prevailed and while good progress has been made in some areas there have been significant shortfalls in others.  Indeed said employee complains that many things, which he used to be able to do while working, now remain undone since he is too busy.  Further details follow.





The earlier part of the year showed significant progress in the continuing programme for refurbishment of the domestic quarters following the depredations incurred during the rental period.  The lounge area carried on the sofa-compatible “Dusky Apricot and Blue” theme as successfully applied to the hall and landing during 1997 (see last years report).  However work stopped during the spring and summer period due to unauthorised absence (painter playing in the garden) and staff holidays.  As Autumn approached the painter was tempted indoors by warm cups of coffee served in the regulation cracked cup and the master bedroom was decorated in yet more Dusky Apricot, this time teamed with a daring Apricot White.

The Cost Account Manager has dedicated a bedroom as the official Craft Room but disappointing progress has been achieved in this area due to the ongoing audio-visual somnolescent monitoring programme (snoozing in front of the telly) so craft output has been sub-optimal. 



Some staff morale problems were identified as due to prolonged feline deprivation syndrome (lousy Aussie landlord prohibited pom’s pussy).  So on Peter Gillis’s birthday a staff trip was made to the local mog pound; Peter’s inspired choice was “Magic” the Cat, a single black female who turned out to have an irresistibly sweet and loving nature and has become an inseparable companion on all but those trips abroad.



Significant progress in the exploring of England was made during the attendance at ten rallies, some as far afield as Seahouses in the frozen North of Northumberland and Nantwich in Cheshire to the West.

The latter was the Elddis Owners’ Club AGM; in contrast to the Jayco equivalent, this is held as a rally in peak season. There were over 100 vans so it was a big affair.  The opportunity was taken to move on to Caernarfon in North Wales instead of returning straight home; Snowdonia provided interesting visits and demanding walks - all employees climbed Snowdon which made a satisfying family achievement in the old stager’s 60th year!



As Europe’s drivers had thus far escaped a Gillis caravan to curse, a 3000 mile round trip to Tuscany via France was planned.  After an easy three-stop journey through France and a stay on the Italian side of the Fréjus Tunnel at Asti, Tuscany was reached and all the touristy things around Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Lucca, San Gimignano, etc., were performed.  Italy with its scenery, culture and friendly people was memorable but the visit coincided with a heat wave and it was hot even by Aussie standards - 39/40 degrees C and humid with it - and the few Tuscan caravan sites were all heavily booked in the peak season which made roaming difficult. So a retreat to the beloved France was made via the Mont Blanc Tunnel and Chamonix.  However the heatwave followed, so some time was spent in the Fleurie (Beaujolais) area doing little but lying gasping in the shade sipping delightful wine (it's a hard life but someone's got to do it!).  Then a few days were spent at St Honoré-les-Bains in the Morvan region before the sprint back to chilly England after five weeks of heat.



A verbal Contract for a tenth anniversary re-honeymoon visit to Paris, made over a long and romantic lunch in a tiny restaurant in the Rue Monmartre in 1983, had been successfully renegotiated in Australia, since in 1993 Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef was warm and (relatively) near, whereas Paris in November was cold and distant.  But at the fifteenth anniversary there was no excuse, Peter could stay with his brother and Paris was only 2hrs away from Kent via the impressive 300kph Eurostar train service. So four nights were spent in an hôtel near the Place St Augustin (8e Arrondissement), each day visiting new things such as La Défense, Père Lachaise and the Musée D’Orsay, each visit punctuated by lovely French food. Even this was not the last French trip this year, a couple of weeks later a drive was taken over the Channel to Calais for a lovely lunch and the pre-Christmas booze shop.  One day the Land Rover is not going to make it up the hill out of Dover!



At long last 35-year old elder son Tim married petite, blonde, delightful Denise in a ceremony during a romantic holiday in Kenya.  Brother Simon acted as the Best Man. They had a celebratory dinner for the old farts in Ingatestone, Essex on their return, followed by a 300-person bop in a disco the next day.  They appeared to be very happy together.





The caravan did pretty well at being thrashed around the Appenine Alp mountain passes in Italy in the high 30's - the only problems were the HMP grease belying its name and melting and dripping out of the hubs, and also, as a result of being diverted into a side street to avoid roadworks, going too rapidly over a dormant policeperson (bump) in the road which resulted in a ton of caravan still trying to go into orbit as 2 tons of Land Rover were smashing it back down, resulting in some split alloy angle and burst pop rivets, all fortunately mendable by the resident handyman.  Then on returning from a later rally, on a flat section of the A14, a tyre failed catastrophically, with a large piece of tread flailing the wheel arch and caravan floor, severely damaging same.  This was fortunately covered by insurance and the ‘van is now back from the menders.



From the list of retirement objectives absolutely no jewellery work or slide cataloguing has been undertaken and the poor performance in the video editing field has been limited to the purchase of a suitable VCR.



On return from Tuscany a new person was in residence; Simon, the CAM's second eldest baby, had had a terminal row with Sarah, his de facto, and had come home to mum.  Their joint home was put on the market and is now being sold; but a new pretty face called Gill has now appeared on the scene - watch this space!

Daughter Sue came down from Bristol Uni and disappeared off to Spain, only to reappear when it didn’t work out.  She’s now in darkest Ipswich.




The first frosts, big log fires and warm fat black cats on the lap are foretastes of Christmas; for the first time for several years by a majority vote we decided to stay at home for a conventional turkey, pud and Xmas tree day.  Even the Queens speech will be at the right time!  The handyman/cook has created three kinds of green tomato chutney; ordinary Delia Smith-style, with pumpkin and quince and a Thai-flavoured version with shrimp paste and fish sauce (nicer than it sounds).  The Christmas pud is maturing on the shelf and cranberry and orange chutney and piccalilli have been made to liven up the turkey.  Over New Year the caravan will take us to the little Hertfordshire Village of Ashwell to see in the New Year with our Elddis Club friends (thank goodness it’s got a heater!). In the longer term accommodation has been booked for a skiing holiday at Valmorel in the French Alps and the drive down there in the Discovery will be in time to celebrate the old fart’s 60th birthday.  But it’s a bit further than Mt Buller or even Falls Creek in Victoria!




None in view at the moment!

(Little did he know – the Discovery cambelt was about to fail!   -Ed)


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