Memorial Meeting for Betty Blunden

Andy: I'm Andy. Betty was my mother. What we're going to do is we'll have a number of people that I've spoken to already who have volunteered to prepare something to say in advance, and I'll ask each of those people to come up and say something first. There’s only four or five of us, after which the floor is open, as they say, and please feel free just to indicate, and if you just want to say a few words, or if you want to say something more, that’s just fine.

I want to talk about Betty as a mother and for want of people over the age of one hundred here, to say a few words from the historical record of Betty as a daughter as well.

Betty was born in Brunswick, but moved into this amazing extended colony that was situated in Cherry Road in Balwyn when she was very little, and from reading the record that Betty has left us of life at Cherry Road, with mother and father, with Os and Libby, or Le — I don’t know how many names her mother had, it was legion. What I find about this house, is that this was a house which was saturated with unconditional love, that Os loved his wife unconditionally all her life and that love exuded into the immediate family, the neighbours, friends of family and everywhere. And this is, I think, part of the conditions under which Betty grew up.

It was also a very religious house. Os was a lay preacher and in Betty’s words, she said: “Mother and Father ran the family as a benevolent dictatorship. What we could or could not do was clearly spelled out.” And Betty added that “For the most part I kept out of trouble. I was very amenable”.

Now, I have to say that 163 Balwyn Road [where Betty and Ralph brought up their children 1941-63] was not a benevolent dictatorship.

It’s quite an amazing thing really, the kind of upbringing that Betty and Ralph gave us — I have to say the two together because there was no distinction for me as a child. I don’t remember a rule or a regulation in my life. Betty gave up trying to get me to eat my vegetables ... others have tried since and are slowly making headway, after 50 years, ... but beyond that I don’t remember a single rule. I think that after I left home, they tried to prevent me making an ill-advised marriage, and when I tried to get my passport to catch a cattle-boat to Kuwait, which was the fashion at the time, they interfered with that as well, but ... that’s about it. ...

And yet it was not a house where the boundaries were unknown, where there was no guidance or where Pete and I grew up not knowing the difference between right and wrong. On the contrary! We both grew up, I think, with the clearest understanding of what was right and wrong, what we believed in, with a sort of self-confidence and self-esteem which has carried us both very ably through the rest of our lives.

But it was a “do-as-I-do-not-as-I-say” kind of up-bringing. Entirely led by example, by Betty particularly I think, her own immensely and deeply ethical approach to life, that we absorbed naturally, through living with them.

I think we're allowed to share some Betty anecdotes, [laughter] so I'll give you a couple that you may not know about. In, I think it was the fifth grade primary school, I saw Betty at lunchtime for some reason, and accidentally let slip that I had had the strap that day, because the teacher gave a spelling test every day, of ten words, and however many mistakes you made, you got that many straps. [gasps] Now anyone who knows Betty can use their imagination to see Betty’s reaction to this. [uproar] I do wonder how much of this memory is reconstructed, but my memory is that it was a bright sunny day, after lunch we were back in class, and the blinds were down, to protect us from the North sun, and the headmaster knocked on the door and asked “Mr. so and so”, whatever his name was, “could you step outside”, where ensued .. I have this image of like shadow silhouette boxing going on outside against the blinds. [prolonged laughter] The strap was never ever given again in that class by that teacher or any other.

Another little thing. Marissa was here a minute ago playing dogs. Now this runs in the family, because one time I had the idea that — now this is the stubbornest boy who ever refused to eat his vegetables — that I wanted to be a dog and Betty had to put a lead around my neck [continued laughter] and take me out walking, and this would be bad enough, but when we got to the bus-stop and the bus pulled up, I absolutely insisted that Betty smack me to get me on to the bus. [laughter makes words inaudible] ... I now understand how painful this was to Betty.

This was just a couple out of the box, because there are so many of Betty’s anecdotes which I know are so well-known.

So, I'm really so very attached to how Betty appropriated from her father that unconditional love. You all know. I mean Joe Bradley, was saying, the environment he came into with Dorothy, in this world, was saturated with anti-Americanism, and yet he was accepted unconditionally. [laughter. Someone calls out “He was saying that to me” Joe: “Good references!"] and yet that total acceptance was combined with very, very strong views about what was right and wrong, what was wrong in the world. And if something in the world didn’t happen right, and it was by any stretch of the imagination within Betty’s power to put it right, then she'd put it right.

So that’s what I want to say, but I want to ask the Secretary of the Making Balwyn Bearable Society, [prolonged laughter and shouting ... ] ... another thing out of Betty’s history

Dorothy Bradley: “I don’t think I was the Secretary, and to be honest I don’t think my memories are as vivid as Glen Tomasetti’s, but, back in the late ‘50s, when Joe and I first met the Blundens, there was this sort of little group which was the MBB Society, it was Glen Tomasetti, the Blundens and us, and MBB stood for Making Balwyn Bearable, [laughter] I don’t think it was so unbearable. Anyway, it was some good times, and I'm a bit hazy about it, lots of dancing and jazz, and then later on, and at the time Betty was home of course, working from home and caring for Rick, and Peter was still at school [Joe: “Wearing short pants!” — laughter] it’s a long time, and then Betty and Ralph started their own firm and they'd moved to that lovely house in Parkville and we moved to Carlton, so we were neighbours again.

I didn’t often go to the Studio, but I remember the a few occasions when I did. The advertising world seemed so glamorous and I remember that lovely feeling of Carl — Carl you were part of that, weren’t you? — that feeling of camaraderie, and ... very nice! I'm envious. [laughter] And we used to stay at Eildon, quite often, and that was wonderful. Betty and Ralph were wonderful hosts, and Betty was the first person I remember who actually knew about and talked about with knowledge and enthusiasm, the local flora and fauna. And really think that before that I didn’t think there were different sorts of gum trees [let alone birds!] I just thought there were gum trees!

And later in our friendship I remember a lovely day we spent. I had a new-found interest in bird-life, so Betty took me to the Botanical Gardens, with her bird-book, and lots of annotations of when she'd seen birds, we used to bring birds, sometimes dead ones, to her I think, is that right? corpses, little corpses [mirth] and she was pleased, she used to say [words inaudible due to laughter] anyway that was very nice.

But I think I only really got to know Betty properly in the later years because we used to meet for lunch or I'd visit her in her second Parkville house, with her beloved Dan, her dog, and I've got a feeling Betty preferred to see her friends singly, and although she talked about other people a lot, other friends with great warmth and concern — I knew Damien’s name for instance without having known Damien — I knew some people, some of her friends, not others, and you've said a lot of that in what’s written there [in the Testimonial]. She had an enormous capacity for friendship, with all sorts of people, and all sorts of kindnesses along the way.

I feel her later years were probably very happy ones, that she loved her little house in Camberwell, her little garden. It was very pleasant to be in any of Betty’s houses because of her possessions, her paintings, which were very important to her, and I thought it was lovely that she had that family history interest. And Betty’s photo albums, the whole presentation of the history, and her photo albums were just stunning, they were lovely and I don’t think I've ever enjoyed looking at anyone else’s photo albums the same way. So I feel I know a lot of people without really knowing them through the albums [calls of “the same”, “me too"].

I'll just say that one of the loveliest things that happened for Betty in the last years was her beautiful granddaughter Marissa [calls of “absolutely”, “great!"] and all those lovely photos of her.

I said to Joe, shall I say this at the end, and he said yes. When remembering Betty, I often think when people are no longer here I remember their voices, the sound of their voices, and I shall always remember Betty, when she answered the phone, it was Betty saying [in Betty’s voice] “It’s Betty!” [laughs and clapping] I'll always remember that.

Andy: Thank you Dorothy. [clapping]

Betty tells me that she acquired her encyclopedic knowledge of the local flora and fauna, because isolated with Ricky and the three children to look after she developed a way that she could take Ricky in the pram and the children and go for an hour’s walk, and with a book she got, walked around identifying the different plants, and this was a way of staying sane. So when I was a little bit older, I got the same treatment, she would be saying “that’s a so-and-so, that’s a so-and-so ...” In one ear and out the other! [prolonged laughter]

Joe Bradley: I called her behind her back, Mrs. Know-all [laughter]. It didn’t matter what you were talking about, about, politics, about art, about architecture, anything, so you had to call her Mrs. Know-all! [laughter]

Andy: Carl.

Carl Andrew: I've have a little aide-memoire here, and I'll refer to it. We may not all realise that Claire and I are second generation friends of Betty’s because Ralph and Betty and our parents, Frank and Kenny, were friends from, certainly the mid-30s, and I think it was ‘35 or ‘36 I expect, that they became friends, and saw a lot of each other, and they were happy days apparently, in the 30s, lots of entertaining and lots of parties in each others’ houses. They were in their 20s of course and they lived a pretty good life there.

I think Frank and Betty particularly, became friends through their shared professional interests, as commercial artists. They were both instrumental in forming the ACIAA, the Australia Commercial and Industrial Artists Association, which was in fact a union to look after the interests of people in that field, but also to advance professional awareness and so on.

Of course, they also shared very active involvement in the Communist Party from, I suppose, the mid-30s through the 40s at different points. Betty’s political activisms stopped in the 40s, but I think there’s no doubt at all that her political, social and ethical views were always given, for her, context and significance through her, I think permanent, commitment to the socialist dream.

The arrival of Rick of course greatly reduced Ralph and Betty’s social contacts, and I think their social life, having been an active and fun sort of social life, actually almost came to an end, and they had for obvious reasons to do nothing much but look after Rick, and work, and get through. And so their contact with our parents at that point diminished.

In 1960, I graduated from Art School and Ralph and Betty, having set up Ralph Blunden Pty. Ltd. a year or two earlier, as a small advertising agency, immediately offered me a job. They looked at my folio, and said “Yeh, come and join us!”, which was probably in many ways one of the greatest bits of good luck I ever had in my entire life [laughter] among many.

Well, my three-and-a-half years with them were truly wonderful years. They paid me well. I was able to save an astronomical amount of money in three and a half years to get to Europe in fulfilment of my dream, and I enjoyed every day there.

In the Studio in Lonsdale Street, Betty and I had our desks butted up against each other, facing each other, so we spent all of every day looking at each other. [laughter] five days a week for three and a half years, and to top that up, we had lunch together every day from Monday to Friday.

We used to go down to a little bistro in Lonsdale Street and have a dozen oysters and a cup of coffee [laughter] — they were cheap in those days.

Well, that close contact continued. I really want to say what a really wonderful art director Betty was. They employed the brilliant Patrick Russell, who they brought back from London at that time, just after I started there, they enticed Patrick back with some obscene sort of salary offer. He came back and joined them and of course Margaret Power was there, Tony Irving, and others, and then in terms of free-lance work, I remember, it must have been a very brief cross-over, but I remember Helmut Newton coming into the Studio and being given work there, Henry Talbot of course, amongst all these people who were constantly in and out of the Studio doing free-lance work [Bruce Petty!] and Betty was just giving work to the best people everywhere. She made a real contribution I think to the quality of advertising, in an innovative way at that time.

In ‘63 I went off to Greece and Betty was my very first visitor from home. She came over the following year, we met in Athens, and I can see her vividly now, sitting on her balcony at the elegant Grand Bretagne Hotel on Imoniou Square, just enjoying breakfast — I had breakfast with her those mornings when we were there, and then we spent the whole day walking around Athens. But she just loved that view. She had a great taste for fine living and style [laughter] and good accommodation, [laughter] she really enjoyed good accommodation [prolonged laughter] and in those halcyon days she could afford it. She travelled in great style and she just loved sitting on that balcony with that breath-taking view of the Acropolis. And then she joined me in Lindos.

She travelled a lot as you know, and Andy being in London always gave a focus to her travels. She could fit in some other things along the way, visit June in Malta, or Geneva or somewhere, and Andy and visit other places. She got great pleasure out of that, and she was a very, very good traveller [yes!]. I mean, she did her homework, she would prepare. If she wanted to go to a particular country, she'd get all the books, read up, yes read up in a big way about it. And then on her travels she'd collect those maps, antique maps of the places she'd visited, they were nice momentos for her when she returned home.

I came back in ‘67 and immediately went back to working with her, this time in Ampol House in Grattan Street, and again we sat with desks facing one another for the next several years. I was living in Keppell Street, in Lene Stephens’ house, which I rented, and one afternoon, there was a knock at the door and I opened it, and there was Betty, tears pouring down her face, and absolutely distraught, and she said “Ralph has left me”, and she came in and stayed a little while but she was distraught and went off, but, you may not know that Manuel, as a great, loyal friend, immediately moved in with her for two weeks, in Royal Parade, to provide company and support for her at that critical time.

At Fitzgibbon Street, she established a new life. It was a house suited to her scale, as a single person, it was intimate, it was warm, it was charming. She had designed it herself, with an architect, and it was the perfect house for her. And through it, she made a whole lot of new friends. She had this famous stream of boarders, who came, and became dear friends, Mara, Virginia, Jacqui MacNaughton, Geoff, and others.

From 1975, I'd lived away from Melbourne, but Claire has spent enormous amounts of time with Betty, worked with her at Masius, ["and at Thompson-Ansell-Blunden"] and at Thompson-Ansell-Blunden, and was a great prop and support for her, particularly when Betty moved to East Camberwell.

Betty and I shared almost every interest in common, with two interesting exceptions: music meant less than nothing to her, she didn’t have a clue, she wouldn’t have known whether you were playing opera or a folksong or ... [laughter] it actually didn’t mean anything, and honestly, quite honestly, food meant absolutely nothing to her whatsoever. [laughter, many people calling out, impossible to hear it all. Dorothy: “May I say something — she sewed beautifully” — uproar] Food has always meant a great deal to me, need I say! [prolonged laughter] Mmmm. I've had the great good fortune to live with people who've always cooked absolutely superbly, [prolonged laughter] but I do honestly believe that if any of us had served to Betty a bowl of gruel that Oliver Twist himself had rejected, she would have said: “It’s simply divine Darling!” , [prolonged laughter] but it’s been a great pleasure and very rewarding to me that so many of my friends became her friends and quite obviously she had a very great gift for friendship and for all of us from that point of view, that with her death, an era has ended. [clapping]

Andy: Carl touched on something that was somewhat of a quandary for us in organising today, because I've never been to a memorial gathering of any kind where we haven’t had the guest of honour’s favourite music to play. [prolonged laughter and shouting] I know what Betty’s favourite music is [shouting over the laughter] it’s ragtime. “da-dah de dah da-da”... so we had a couple of bars of Winnifred Attwell ... [prolonged singing and laughter] you're all filling in the gap wonderfully.

So next I would like to have the Victorian Secretary of the League of Surrogate Daughters [laughter]

Virginia Simmons: Thanks Andy. A couple of things, I'm going to change the tone in a minute, and be quite serious, but there’s a couple of things I must correct. She did cook, and that’s why we've got fairy bread today with the paté! [laughter and shouting] ... we can remember that Betty used to make fairy bread, and there’s heaps of it have with the paté. And being a host, during the week after we'd decided on no music, I thought, it’s a bit poor, it’s my place, I'd better do something about it, and the only thing that I could come up with, which on second thoughts I know that she did like very, very much, was Pete Seeger’s song, Little Boxes on the Hillside. And if I had been able to get that I would have [shouting, “No, no!"] I can remember her playing that over and over again.

I'm proud to be the Secretary of the Legion of Surrogate Daughters, there are a lot of us, [shout] there’s another one, yes, Mara couldn’t be here today, I'm one and I'm absolutely eternally grateful for it, and I'll come to that. But I am one for ritual, so I'm going to do a reading. Because it’s a secular occasion, I think readings are nice, and this is a secular reading.

Death is nothing at all, it does not count;
I've only slipped away into the next room;
Nothing has happened,
Everything remains exactly as it was.

I am I and you are you;
And the old life that we lived
    so fondly together is untouched;
Whatever we were to each other,
     that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name;
Speak to me in that easy way
     which you always used;
Put no difference in your tone ... I'm trying hard not to ... ;
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
     at the little jokes that we enjoyed together;
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household word
     that it always was;
Let it be spoken without affect,
     without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

It is the same as it always was,
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.

What is this death but negligible accident?
I am waiting for you;
     for an interval somewhere,
     somewhere very near,
     just around the corner.

All is well;
Nothing is past;
Nothing is changed..

One brief moment,
     all will be as it was before.

That’s from What is Death?, by Canon Henry Scott Holland, a cleric who lived from 1847 to 1918 and I wondered, when he wrote it, what his parishioners might have thought of it.

Now, I will be serious because I valued Betty’s friendship so much that it’s hard to be anything but serious.

She was an absolutely wonderful friend to me. When I first met Betty and Ralph, I was an utterly unprepossessing University student, utterly, and I was having quite of lot of difficulty with my own life and with my own family and I bowled into their house ... my only connection with them was that I was with Hendrick, Hendrick was a friend of Andy’s, so any friend of a friend of Andy’s had to be a friend of theirs ... and I think it’s the theme that’s come out so much about the unquestioning acceptance of everybody she met.

It was an absolute given, and for me too, as a total stranger, anything you thought or did was absolutely OK with them; it was never questioned, and that was an utterly new experience for me, because I was always used to having the finger pointed and disapproving looks coming from all sides.

And I was utterly amazed that this, what seemed to me, worldly and sophisticated couple would give me anything more than a passing courtesy, and they did.

They were extremely generous, and they were forever issuing us invitations to the wonderful dinner parties — of course cooked by Mrs. Bush [chuckles] except if we had fairy bread, and sometimes we did [laughter] and inviting us for weekends to Eildon, where they were marvellous hosts, and they might have us and other people there as well, but somehow they put everyone up and everybody was welcomed.

When Ralph and Betty split up, I thought it was amazing how she nurtured and cherished all her friendships.

We came back to Australia after the obligatory overseas pilgrimage that everyone did in those years, and it was possible to pick up exactly where you'd left off with Betty.

The first ever piece of art work that I owned, was a gift from Betty, and this was at a time when her resources were actually somewhat depleted, and I still have it and I value it.

When Hendrick and I split up, that’s when I knew that I would treasure Betty’s friendship forever, she was really a once in a lifetime friend. I wrote to her, saying that I was coming back to live in Melbourne, from rural South Australia — which was just “I'm coming back to Melbourne, I'll see you when I get there”, and what seemed like five minutes later, I got a telegram saying: “Darling! ["Daaarling!!” laughter] Sorry to hear your news. When you come back to Melbourne, please come and stay with me”.

Now, I can’t tell you how much of a load that lifted from my shoulders, not only to live with Betty, who was such a good friend, but to stay in her very lovely home in Fitzgibbon Street, which was so warm and friendly and pleasant.

I stayed with her, as a lot of these surrogate daughters did, just for two or three weeks or a couple of months, .. I think it was nearly a year until I found my feet, and, who was it who said earlier today that visitors are like fish, they go off after three days! [laughter] this came up earlier today, but after twelve months that was a long time, but I never ever felt that I was stretching the friendship, that I was overstaying my welcome, she was always just the same.

Also, she opened up her home to all of my friends, which sometimes she may have wished further, she'd just sit and chat with me about my life and life in general, and of course I got to know her very well as a result; we did things together, and for each other.

I also experienced — it sounds like I've had a shocking life, but I've actually had a very good life — I experienced in this period, a short but very debilitating period of unemployment, and she set to work on my behalf. Within a short space of time I was working with her friends John and Esta Handfield, both now deceased, and I think it was probably under duress, [laughter] we all know that Betty had a way of getting her way! “I know”, she said one day, “we'll get Mavis Chamberlain to help you!, to help you with your job applications” because she was such a good copywriter. [laughter] Now Mavis didn’t know me from a bar of soap, and the next time she came down from Sydney to Melbourne, she got lassoed into Betty’s place to help this friend of Betty’s write job applications. And Mavis was indeed a very good copywriter, also a very nice person, and with the coaching of Betty and Mavis, within a short space of time I got a job and I was indeed marketable!

And, on reflection, it was only ten years later than that that I was in the most senior position in my field. And I think I've got both of them to thank for that. It happens to a lot of people that that period of unemployment goes on and on until they lose their confidence so completely that they're gone forever. So, who knows, if I hadn’t met Betty, my life could well have been a great deal different.

I've tried in those later years, to pass on Mavis’s advice and the spirit of Betty to the young people that I've met, and I hope that that’s worked for them.

I also wanted to mention that as a result of Betty I met a lot of other people who have also been very important to me, and who I can’t imagine life without — Manny, Joe and Dorothy, Donald Green, and of course, Lene and lots of other people who I don’t see as often but who are thankfully here today.

I do want to put on the record something else. Some of you may not be aware of this, but unexpectedly Betty became friends with my father, because they had the Methodist Church in common, and as a young man my father had known Os Barnett, and had a great deal of respect for him. Dad was a photographer, and when Betty found this out she was very keen to get some of those small back-and-white photographs, taken in the 1930s, enlarged for the photographic album.

And so my father, who was then in his seventies, was out in his darkroom doing these enlargements for Betty — and they're in the album, and I'd like to think that I have that little part in the album as well — and that was before the technology that we now know — the colour photo of Betty in the hallway took three minutes to print, whereas it used to take my father a whole day to do a batch.

So as a result of that initial inroad in my family — I've really thought about this as I was thinking about today — it was through Betty that I reconciled with my parents in the end, because Betty knew Dad, and all of that started to come together, and Betty taught me very well that it was possible to have a different relationship with an older person, and forge something new with both my mother and my father. And that was of course a very valuable gift as well.

So that brings me back to the theme of the Legion of Surrogate Daughters. I just want to say that Betty was very important to me. I know she was important to a lot of you, and I think the feeling that runs through all the little presentations today is that Betty was very, very important in her own special way, to each person who came in contact with her.

So just before I finish I want to thank my friend Marie who’s been helping today, she’s my colleague and she’s been helping to put the things together, and I also like to say how much I've valued, in the last few days since Betty died, talking with Vonney and Manny and Pete and Andy just how we might today, each in our different ways, show our love and respect for Betty.

Thank you. [clapping]

Andy: It’s Betty’s day, but I want to make just one exception to mention one of the several people who couldn’t be here today, which is Valerie Irwin. I don’t know how many of you know Valerie, but unfortunately she’s been taken with pneumonia and is very ill and won’t be able to be here. Valerie found out about Betty when Ricky was about four. As a professional physiotherapist and ahead of her time, she came into Betty’s life and helped Betty through this great tragedy in Betty’s life, till the day when Kew Cottages phoned, in fact when Betty was staying with Valerie, with the news that Rick had died. There are many people to whom I would like to make a tribute, but it was Valerie who was a friend in need for Betty, as Betty was for many others.

Next. As you would know, the Legion of Surrogate Daughters had a special sub-branch for young gay men.

Manuel: [prolonged laughter and slow clapping] Front page, big type ... I think we were just below the Americans, but I'm not sure. [laughter. words inaudible]

I was thinking of Betty the other day as I was walking past the railway station where I live. Years ago, fifteen years ago, time flies, I had this really important meeting in town with one of the top people in the judiciary — you're not late for this guy — but I allowed an hour and a quarter to get from Toorak Station, five little weeny stations into the City, to catch up with this guy at 8:30. Hour and a quarter, fabulous. So I walked to the station, got there at 7:15, the 7:19 was due in 4 minutes, it didn’t get there; I waited for the 7:27, it didn’t get there. I panicked. Meanwhile, the expresses would go past, [laughter] at a great rate. I thought the 7:36 would do; it didn’t get there. At which point the stationmaster got on the blower and he said “The 7:19 train has been cancelled. Your 7:27 train into the City has been cancelled. Your 7:36 train into the City has been cancelled. Your next train into the City will be at 7:47. This is due to the incompetence of somebody. [laughter] At this point I cut. It was alright to be late at that point. But why do I raise that? It’s because of Betty. If she was running ... [prolonger laughter] if she was running the railway system, ... she was so professional, there is no way the system would allow the railways to be late. Firstly.

Secondly. If anyone stood in the way of the trains being on time, in her nicest, most sophisticated, intelligent, sweet, wonderful way, she would say: “We don’t want the trains to run late, do we?”

Thirdly, she was personally never late. Never. She'd come to my place, and I'd find out that she'd turned up half an hour early, sat in the car for fifteen minutes, went for a fifteen minute walk around the block, and quietly, might just arrive a minute before the due time.

And the other thing is: phenomenal respect for the comfort and rights of others. Enormous respect for people. There is no way she would let herself be late for people. Absolutely no way.

And speaking of fairy bread, and surrogate mothers, and wayward gay boys, I owe Betty a massive amount. And I'm glad to say here, I've never said it publicly before, and I'll say it now, she had her collection of gay boys and many of them are here now, and to her and to them there’s a special relationship, but, growing up, in the sixties, as a gay teenager was hell. I'm not stupid. I've got two degrees. But I failed Leaving because of persecution and the hell I was going through. Betty was the first adult, apart from Carl, to whom I also owe a lot, and Lene, ditto, the three of them who I met at roughly the same time, who helped me to cope with that, and to deal with it as a matter of normality rather than something strange. ... I owe her massively for that! And so do a lot of other people. For her — “unquestioning” has been used, and the other expressions that have been used ... I very much thank her for that.

Since then, and for years, Betty has been the yardstick for how I've expected people to treat me. If someone has treated me in a way that I've questioned, I've said to myself, would three people — Carl, Lene and Betty in particular — have treated me in that way? On the strength of my answer to that, I have rejected friendships, and I have also strengthened friendships as well, and that is a very, very powerful position to have put Betty in, and one that she deserved.

And lastly, the number of kindnesses that had apparently been made to her, she never forgot those, she never forgot a kindness. I know that, because thirty years after certain issue have happened to her, she has raised them, she has remembered them. She was a very, very special person.

I know that I, and everyone here, will never forget her. Thank you. [clapping]

Andy: A number of people have indicated that they'd just like to say a word, they may not have written out a speech. .. Ou, yes.

Ou: As you all already know what Betty was like, I just want to say that I'm grateful to be part of the family, [weeps] I learnt a lot from her, and she was very talented, and wonderful, and she was very sweet.

One thing that she impressed me with was that she always appreciated things, anything that was given to her, she always said it was wonderful. [laughter and clapping] and she really impressed me, that for her age — she was eighty — and she learnt to adapt to new dishes, spicy dishes, she didn’t complain [laughter], she was really cute. That made it easier for me to cook for her. That’s how I remember her.

And also she loved using lots of Australian vernacular. One expression which she used a lot was “Jolly good show!” [cries, laughter and laughter].

I just want to say Bye, bye Betty, and we all love her, and I really love her as my Mum. Farewell. [prolonged clapping]

Contributions from Joe Bradley, Paul Priday, Jacqui MacNaughton, Hendrick Forster followed, but were not recorded.