The Oldie

Dad’s saviour – a naked lady in a pub


I was born in Edinburgh in 1955, joining an older brother and sister, my mum and my dad in a typical upstairs-downstairs tenement block.

Dad, a bobby on the beat (and a mason), discovered there was a need for police in New Zealand, with promise of your own quarteracr­e and good pay.

Dad jumped at it and hopped on the first ship, with a view to setting up home with Mum and us kids to follow. So far, so good.

As the ship had a layover in Melbourne, he met the local police and, after a secret handshake, was offered an even better deal to join the Melbourne force.

He promptly sent a telegram to Mum, asking whether he should carry on to NZ or stay and set up in Melbourne.

A week later, no reply. The ship was leaving for NZ the next day. As any good Scot would do, he popped in to a Melbourne pub for a wee dram to contemplat­e his dilemma.

The pub is Young and Jackson’s, opposite Flinders Street Station.

Nursing his whisky, he looked up and couldn’t help but notice a full-frontal painting of a fetching young female staring back at him ( pictured, below, with me). ‘ Chloé’ is written in fine lettering under the picture, painted by Jules Joseph Lefebvre in 1875. Rather than toss a coin, he decided to ask Chloé, ‘Should I stay here and set up the house or stick to the original plan?’ Chloé replied, ‘You’d better get on that boat – your wife and family are expecting you, you silly drunken bugger.’ So he did, and set up a lovely threebedro­om home on a quarteracr­e in a suburb of Auckland.

Meanwhile, back in Scotland, Mum received the telegram and, not knowing Australia from Japan, said, ‘Well, you might as well stay there if it’s closer.’

So it was a close call. Every time I visit Melbourne, I call into that pub and raise a Scotch to Chloé, as do my grateful, now grown children. Crikey, I was nearly an Aussie!

By Robbie Blair, Auckland, New Zealand, who receives £50

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