Walking from Melbourne to London, with ukelele in hand

In 1930, two young women (Gladys Turvey and Madge Salter) walked from Melbourne to Sydney hoping to find a free passage back to London. They had only 3 shillings and 11 pence, and a ukulele. Some adventure, said the Register Post of Adelaide on 18 December. They got to Sydney OK, but I haven’t yet learned if they got their free trip back home to London.

Gladys and Madge

 The Barrier Miner (16 December) said that the women hitch-hiked most of the way, doing day work on farms for a meal and a bed. The Register said they arrived in Sydney with 3/11 and uke, the Barrier said that they left Melbourne with 3/11 and a uke. So, if both papers are telling the truth, the women must have done sufficient work for their needs.

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Published in: on October 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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Learning to fly easier than learning the ‘ukelele’

The Adelaide Mail reported on 4 January 1930 that ukelele playing is more complicated than flying an aircraft. Flying Officer J. A. Mollison said so.

So, from the article we might apply the following as much to learning the ukulele as the flying officer did to learning to fly:

  1. It provides a means of entertaining one’s friends (just like learning to fly)
  2. It provides an opportunity to wear something out of the ordinary (ditto)
  3. It requires some level of physical fitness
  4. Those learning to play ukelele can be divided into 3 classes:
    1. the intelligent, requiring  5 to 7 hours of dual instruction
    2. the average, requiring 7 to 10 hours dual instruction
    3. the stupid (could they say that back in 1930?), requiring 10 hours to infinity of dual instruction
  5. It is not expensive to buy or maintain a light ukulele (about the same as purchasing and running a good car.)
  6. One gets to move around swiftly (neighbours and family will see to that)
  7. The first lesson (which takes place on the ground) includes an explanation of the controls,  and some risk of being heartbroken at not being able to get the ukelele to do what is required of it.
  8. You will soon find that you are making definite progress
  9. After what seems an interminably long period of time, you will have sufficient skill to play solo. 
  10. There is a social side too — ukelele clubs are invariably a hotbed of scandal (really, folks, here I’m only replacing the words ‘aircraft’ and ‘aerodrome’ with ‘ukelele’ and ‘ukelele club’).
  11. But, when all is said and done, ukelele playing is now disappointingly safe — but there is no need to let everyone know this.  Any ukelele player worth their salt will still tell hair-raising stories of how the bridge fell off during a tricky manoeuver.
  12. Finally, to play ukelele is the long sought-after panacea — and appeals equally to the ‘neurotic spinster’ (I’m quoting here) or the bored father of a large family (can such a creature exist?).

So there you are. Learning to play ukelele is similar to, but a bit more tricky than, learning to fly. It has similar advantages and challenges. I don’t believe a word of it.

Published in: on October 8, 2011 at 6:28 am  Comments (3)  
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