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JAMES MELDRUM IS A FASCINATING MAN! VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA.

Journal by itellya

My wife is always complaining that I spend so much time dealing with dead people so here's a live, and lively one for a change. I was waiting for Chris Fatouris to finish a song so I could buy the CD of songs he has written. A few months ago, I had bought this world -class singer/guitarist's other CD and Mornington is fortunate to have him at its famed Main St market.

I noticed a man in a captain's cap listening intently, so I commented, "Good, isn't he?" The reply echoed my opinion and as we chatted, I must have mentioned Graeme Bell of Melbourne jazz fame. His assessment that Chris was an excellent singer and an excellent guitarist carried so much more weight when I found out that he had played clarinet with Graeme Bell and most of the other greats of the Melbourne jazz scene, including Frank Trainor. He was obviously overseas in about 1960 when Judith Mavis Cock started singing with Frank's All Stars before becoming the lead singer for The Seekers.

"What's so facinating about playing in jazz bands?" you might be asking. But wait, there's more; no, not steak knives, silly! This same man was a well-known artist who associated with Arthur Boyd (subject of one of my journals), Sidney Nolan and even Picasso, about whom he told me an erectile disfunction story. As well as showing me some of his paintings, he demonstrated his skills as a ventriloquist and a magician. His stories about the Mexican bandito types in Mexico, the madamoiselle in Paris and the Mafia in Carlton were sprinked with faultless quotations in Spanish, French and Italian (with translations for silly me.)

These bursts into foreign languages completely dispelled any suspicions that this elderly man was romancing. But I really didn't entertain any doubts because of the raid- fire succession of stories. Anyone who has tried creative writing knows the agonies of determining plot, sequencing and so on and anyone who has been forced to make a speech without notes knows how difficult it is to remember what they had rehearsed. Some people might think that my journals are just made up but I can assure you that if I were making them up, the task would be 1000 times more difficult than reporting facts absorbed into my memory or noted previously.

He was a gymnast and was most impressed when I told him of the Gault girls at Gladstone Park Primary School who were the only ones able to reproduce the fully-extended horizontal hang from a pole. He gained free passage on his travels by joining the crew of a steamer, served as a diplomat which nearly saw his end in front of a firing squad in Egypt during the Suez crisis.

I believe him but it would be difficult to verify the above. However, he told me a bit about his family. His son, Paul Meldrum, played for Carlton. His father was an architect and employed a nanny for his children. His brother was Lord Mayor of Melbourne and snaffled his architect father's estate while the fascinating man was overseas. Oops, I think I might have given you a clue with the footballer's name. I thought I'd tease you a bit by not putting the fascinating man's name in the title. Okay, the surname is Meldrum but it's not Max, even though he was a famous artist, and it's not Mollie.

He's writing a book called "From One Damn Thing to Another" which sums up the above fairly well. I think it should come with an audio version so that the "flavour" I experienced can be shared. What a wonderful TV series could be made from this book if a multi-talented actor could be found for the role of James Meldrum .

The following can be checked on trove and art/architecture websites. James was an artist, winning an important prize at the age of 17, and featuring in exhibitions with many notable artists. James told me his other son was overseas; he might be the famed jazz clarinetist in Britain. James Meldrum's brother was Richard who followed the father's occupation as architect; the firm is still prominent. Richard's term as Mayor was marked by a return to tradition and the banning of cars in some parts of the city. James and Richard were the sons of Percival Meldrum, who designed many well-known buildings.

THIS TEXT ACCOMPANIES THE ATTACHED JAMES MELDRUM PAINTING ON THE WEBSITE "FEATURED ARTIST: JAMES MELDRUM".
NAME: James Meldrum
OVERVIEW: James Meldrums paintings were first shown in London, then at Kozminsky galleries in Melbourne 1953. His large, colourful, surrealistic canvases depicting non functional furniture have appeared in many exhibitions and won him the 1971 Sulman Prize. He held about 30 solo exhibitions 1951 2006 including in London, Sydney and Melbourne. Widely traveled, his commissions included a number of mural commissions for architectural firms in Melbourne and Brisbane.


N.B. Durham Place (Rosebud Fishing Village ) was named after Emily Durham, the grandmother of Judith Mavis Cock whose daughter married Bill Cock, a D.F.C. winner. Judith spent her summer holidays there until 1949 before Bill moved to Tasmania. Unfortunately the timber house in the middle of the block on the west side of Durham Place has been demolished. When she started singing with Frank Trainor's band Judith used her mother's maiden name.

Surnames: BELL BOYD COCK DURHAM FATOURIS GAULT MELDRUM NOLAN PICASSO TRAINOR
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by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2012-02-08 05:21:44

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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Comments

by janilye on 2012-02-08 06:03:09

He does sound like a facinating man, itellya as a matter of fact your story is filled with many facinating people. I am curious about one thing.
Did this all happen whilst you were in the queue and how many were behind you waiting to get served. :)

by itellya on 2012-02-08 06:39:31

I was waiting for the song to finish but I think he had sung another ten songs before I got around to buying the CD. Amazingly, despite the fact that Main St footpaths are packed on nice Wednesdays, there are rarely queues at any stalls. Chris was doing a pretty brisk trade though and one woman said that she was sorry that she'd already booked another performer for her daughter's engagement.

by itellya on 2012-02-18 11:13:03

A JAMES MELDRUM PAINTING HAS BEEN ATTACHED.

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