Calling: missed.

In the mid-80s my Dad was a real estate agent with the leading independent agency on Sydney’s exclusive North Shore. He was a very good real estate agent and for reaching particular sales targets or some such his employer – a power couple of expensive suits (both of them), big hair (her not him), shoulder pads (hard to tell) and fancy cars – gave him a trip to China for him and my brother. There is a photo somewhere of my Dad, in full toupee regalia, standing on The Great Wall with a “For Sale” sign for the company. You so know I’m not making that up.

Feeling bad for me, the dynamic duo packed me and their daughter off to a week-long deportment class at June Dally-Watkins. Even at the age of 13 I so knew I’d been given a bum steer. For five long days I learnt how to set a table, how to sit with crossed ankles (crossed legs – so UNCOUTH!), how to make small talk, how to apply make-up and most importantly, how to walk a cat walk. A crucial life skill in any modern woman’s handbook. Secretly, I loved it hard.

(Just an aside: I was the only one in the whole class who was perfectly in proportion. Yes, they took our bust, waist and hip measurements under the guise of ‘health’. Also, when I stood with my legs the required distance apart the top of my thighs did not meet. Naturally at that time I thought I was HUGE so these two clear indicators of fine character made me love JDW even more.)

Then it came time for graduation – a fancy dinner where we got to showcase all those new skills of knowing which fork to use with which course, how to put a face on and how to make small talk at a table of strangers. The grand finale was when each of us walked.the.catwalk.

I’ll leave that with you for a moment.

Yes. So we each had to walk the catwalk as the MC introduced who we were, where we came from and what we wanted to be when we grew up. The boss’s daughter and I had been naughty and made all that sort of shit up. So there I was, walking the catwalk in a fire hazard of a shiny over-sized white shirt with a wide STUDDED belt slung over the hips, LEATHER pants and a hairdo that had fallen out in the car on the way to the event which had me in tears on Dad’s spectacular CAR PHONE to mum. If I recall it was some sort of braid down the middle with curled hair on either side. That such a pelt of travesty had been allowed to be created on my head is beyond me. File that under Case Study: Father out of his depth. I remember hoping people would focus on my remarkably blended, many shades of blue eyeshadow showcase rather than the crisis unfolding on the top of my head.

As I strutted my stuff down that wretched cat walk I heard the MC breezily introducing me, my age, where I lived and that I wanted to be – pause – a brain surgeon when I grew up.



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  • trash

    You are a mother, that means you get to mess around with the brains of vulnerable people ALL THE TIME without all that study hassle.

    • OMG – how did I miss that – you’re totally on the money! A head doctor of the highest order.

  • M

    Ha! love it! I did a WHOLE YEAR of deportment classes. Cat walk, makeup, small talk. Topped the class and got a book called “You are Beautiful”. My favourite line from the book (and there are many corkers) is “A Size 6 dress is more appealing than an ice-cream sundae”. True.

    I didn’t, however, declare I wanted to be a brain surgeon. I think I wanted to be an Egyptologist…
    M recently posted..Things I Find Fun


      A size 6 dress is more appealing than an ice-cream sundae? That’s some messed up shit right there.

  • OH my word. So many things for me to comment on in ONE SINGLE POST. Thank you for sharing, all of it. I too had hair that “fell” before I got anywhere. No amount if hot twister curlers could do it for me.

    It’s no wonder we are friends, I knew you had a little DDW in you. I shall discuss this with you on Over the Back Fence.
    BabyMacBeth recently posted..Tim Coulson’s Nursery

    • Awesome. I knew you would totally understand, empathise and appreciate this episode in my life.

  • I too did a deportment course! But mine was a cheap imitation of JDW. One of her former teachers gone rouge or something. It was in a back room of Grace Bros at Warringah mall. My grandmother sent me as a knee-jerk reaction to my wanting to join the army. I had to go out and buy a skirt and heels just to attend. I remember listing my best attribute as “chainsaw maintenance”. Ha!

    I wholeheartedly wish this post had accompanying pictures….
    The Accidental Housewife recently posted..Co-sleeping. Experiences may vary.

      A JDW teacher gone AWOL!
      A back room of GBs at the MALL!


  • We have far too much in common.
    Cate Bolt recently posted..Judge Not… Lest Ye Be a Complete Asshole

  • I have only just found this blog and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am. I think if I ever needed a brain surgeon, it would be nice to know they were well groomed and well presented. It’s those extra little things that make one stand out in one’s field, don’t you think?
    Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right recently posted..What do The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and One Direction have in common?

  • How far, exactly, must ones feet be?
    blackbird recently posted..irresistible

    • I think it’s 5 inches? Let’s remember it was some time ago – basically your feet/ankles have to be perfectly under your hips – when they are your thighs should not touch.

  • Linda

    alas i am also a counterfeit version of a JDW girl.

    our teacher reeked of brandy, always wore her wig slightly off centre, and had a vile temper…which kinda explains my lack of decorum and my chipped nail polish.

    • I had no idea there was such an underground counterfeit trade in JDW. An outrage!

  • My sister attended June Dally Watkins Business Finishing School for 1 year in 1992 (I think). I can remember going in during my holidays from Orange Agricultural College to see my sister and Miss June suggesting that perhaps I would like to go there for a year after finishing Uni. I said “No thanks, I don’t think I need it ….”! and surprise, surprise .. I have survived without it!
    Nessaknit recently posted..Open Your Diaries to Sunday, 19 February 2012

  • Kill

    You know I won a week there as a Showgirl prize. After uni. All was already lost for me. The worst part was the stupid stools they made us sit on, to work on our posture. Being a serial hunchback, it nearly killed me to sit bolt upright all day for a week.

    • Serial Hunchback. *snort*

      And YES – those bloody stools!!!! They were hideous. And painful. The sitting up straight with the legs crossed at the ankle. Excruciating.

      And how could I forget – the importance of The Court Shoe.

  • Don’t take this the wrong way but I think you would be an awesome real estate agent. A JDW girl? You never cease to amaze 🙂
    Amelia recently posted..Listening to…

    • Funnily enough I have often thought the same thing.

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  • Sam-o

    I too am a June Dally Watkins survivor. You just brought it all back!! I had RED eyeshadow & I thought I rocked. Nope. Still have photos to prove just how wrong I was. I forget what I said I wanted to be but it was the night of the dinner at the Many pacific, that my friend Maureen and I outed two married teachers having an affair. The looks on their faces when we saw them in the bar was priceless.

  • Lea, rhymes with h&b

    I do not believe there is not one picture.
    I must see this SPECTACULAR hairstyle! xx