I always wanted to live in a terrace house. When I was a little girl – in the forties and early fifties – I used to come into the city to get ballet lessons. My mother said “Never get off the train at Macdonaldtown, Newtown or Central, always go right through to the city because it’s not safe.”
I’d go through Macdonaldtown and look up to the little terraces.
I moved to London to join the Royal Ballet and returned home several years later to join the Australian Ballet. When I retired, my husband John wanted to buy a house in Balmain
My father who was a builder said, “Oh no, those houses fall down”. He talked us out of it, so we moved to the Northern Beaches. We lived on the Northern Beaches for twenty years, and that’s where the kids grew up.
When my youngest, Tiffany joined the Australian Ballet, we talked about how she would have to be getting taxis back and forth after the shows, so I said to (my husband) John, “Why don’t we go up and have a look?” We went up and found ourselves in Tudor Street. I thought, “Oh, this is the street for me”. And then we went to “The Shakey”, and then we walked around here. We rented a house on Foveaux for six months. We came down this street, I looked at the back wall and I thought “I’m gonna buy this house”, though John wasn’t that keen. It was the first day of opening, we made an offer and she accepted. It was 1994.
When we first moved in, there were a lot of rentals (in our street). But now we’ve got babies, kids, business people, and artists. The houses are being rebuilt and re-done, so it’s looking much brighter than it used to look in the nineties.
There’s a real sense of community in our street: we have a Christmas Party just down near “The Kirk”. It goes on until eight or nine o’clock at night. We have “The Housies” coming down. They always manage to fit in. We give them a glass of beer. If we had bought somewhere else, it might not have been the same.
You still see people on the street you’ve been seeing for a hundred years. They all smile at each other. There was a guy I see – we were down at the bus going to the shops – and he was coming towards me. I was passing the nail place on the corner, and there was a ten dollar note on the ground. The girl came out of the shop and picked it up, and I said, “That belongs to him. I saw him drop it. Just run up and give it to him”. I saw him the next day and he thanked me. He said he’d gone and bought his groceries with it. He’s from up in Northcott.
For the fiftieth birthday of the Australian Ballet, I went to Melbourne with Tiffany, and John stayed at home. He was sitting on the lounge, and he heard something going on outside. There was a naked man masturbating in the backyard. Five cop cars came, and they blocked the whole street off. They went to the backyard and said, “Put your hands on your head”. The lady police officer asked John if he wanted to make a statement. He said, “No, he’s not well in the head”. And then she said, “He was very well endowed, wasn’t he?” Years later we had another incident with the police and I mentioned to the police officer about what had happened. “Oh, I know him”, he said, “He’s up on Anzac Parade at the moment”. He told me they arrest him for indecent assault, and take him in for the night. He still does it, apparently.
There was also a time at three o’clock in the morning, a rainy night, and I heard footsteps on the roof. There was a man with a shaven head, dressed all in black, holding onto the bars on the window. “What in the fuck are you doing?”, I said. Then he moved around to the other window, and his feet came through. We called the police.
The next morning we heard horses hooves coming up the street. It was the mounted police. They’d come for me to make a statement. They tied the horses to the front verandah. Later that day, I went to the bottle shop and saw him coming up to me. He was putting something in the rubbish bin, and I noticed he had a tattoo on his arm, like the emblem for the Prince of Wales. The police didn’t know what that looked like, so I told them I had a cushion with the same pattern. They borrowed my cushion and took it to all of the tattoo parlours to see if they recognised it.
There’s three of us all in a row (in our street) who’ve lost their husbands. I don’t think I’m lonely, I live close to my daughter and son-in-law and grand-daughter, but I get sad. That’s different to being lonely. Maybe if I still lived near Narrabeen, I’d be lonely, because I’d have nobody there. I’m very used to my own company. John and I had a great relationship where, even when we were young, he’d go off on two weeks holidays by himself. He liked the beach and I didn’t. We had a great rapport.