The youngest sibling craves attention while older siblings are rightly convinced that they are always over-indulged; hence, my ‘little’ brother Andrew… or ‘The Bear’ as he is known to friends and radio audiences… has become our entertainer! This bear now dances for all family gatherings… and with his keen eye and humorous take on life… he always amuses and never lets us down. This is the speech he delivered with love for my recent 60th celebration… and yes, he does deserve attention for it. Enjoy!
Andrew’s Speech for Fiona – by Andrew Reynolds, 24 June 2017
When Fiona asked me to say something at her 60th birthday my first reaction was of course…… NO!
Last year, at Rob’s 60th I said a few words which were both entertaining and keenly insightful therefore felt there was no good reason to ruin my record…..but, upon reflection I was really left with no alternative…..
That’s not how it works?
This is not the natural order?
So where do I start when it comes to my MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, OLDER sister when celebrating this milestone? Let’s begin with the question?
Do you know Fiona Steel????
Now most of you may expect the person making this inquiry could be a member of the constabulary…. Or perhaps a barman???
On this occasion it was actually a primary teacher at a school in Terrey Hills. The teacher was discussing art with my daughter, getting the children excited about a creative expert visiting the school and Georgia asked if it was Fiona? The teacher’s reply, “Do You Know Fiona Steel” offered a small degree of fame for Georgia, being the niece of this education department celebrity, the other was Fiona imprinting her love and appreciation of art onto both my daughters something continues to drive their interests today.
Art is very important to Fiona. She creates it. She encourages it. She makes money from it. No, much to Rob’s disappointment she has not sold any multi-million dollar masterpieces…… although art does tend to increase exponentially in value after the artist has…. you know, gone to the great wine cellar in the sky???? So as a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, younger sibling there’s a few pieces I’ve tabbed for my collection just in case…..
Anyway, Fiona made a business of driving around to regional centres visiting schools like an artistic Jimmy Sharman and his famous travelling boxing tents. Hitting children and teachers alike with her creativity, pummeling them with her artistic techniques and head-butting them with her understanding of post modernist doctrines……
It is one thing to have a passion in your life but it’s truly admirable to turn it into your job. And this is not an uncommon theme with Fiona.
Many of you would know she is also a travel expert? Fiona turned her passion for spending Rob’s money overseas into another career opportunity, leading unsuspecting clients….. or, paying customers on jaunts around exotic foreign cities. Imagine Fiona taking on the responsibility of guiding tourists, looking after their safety and ensuring they return home in one piece?
I mean this is the woman who once finished a shower and dressed before realising she hadn’t rinsed the conditioner from her hair. Fiona has been known when confronted by hungry children….. her own…… to wave in the vicinity of the kitchen, encouraging them to “knock themselves out”. Like a modern-day Marie Antoinette.
So I’m sure the majority of her touring party could have returned…… but I guarantee they would have had a great time…….
……as long as they loved art galleries……… and bars….. Or art galleries with bars?
Fiona laughs because there are no art galleries without bars………..in her experience.
More recently my sister returned to the classroom to educate foreign university students and help them adapt to Australian life. Fiona’s Facebook updates regularly show her introducing them to her favourite haunts around Sydney.
It must be something for those youngsters to return home and tell stories in their native tongue of the wonder that is Australia. They may not grasp our language entirely but I’m certain they’ll pronounce “pub”, “you shout” and “art gallery” like an Aussie. Video: typical educational outing
Now, I could spend all afternoon making jokes at Fiona’s expense ….. And I intend too but I also have some nice things to say.
If a child is a reflection of their parent then Fiona ….and Rob of course… have brought up three very fine young people. Nick, Prue and Max are kind, generous and intelligent. They’re also creative and have been known to drink a bit………
They are wonderful, warm and very open to meeting new people. Traits they most certainly inherited from their mother who is just at home with old friends as she is with someone she has never met. I’ve always been amazed by Fiona’s ability to put one at ease and enjoy their company irrespective of familiarity. It’s a trait I once attributed merely to alcohol and its liberal application but Fiona is like this all the time ….. although the morning after the liberal application of alcohol perhaps not so much.
Her ability to engage with the unfamiliar is legendary. It would surprise no one if she arrived at the wrong party this very day, spent two hours meeting people and enjoying herself before realising the mistake, moving to the correct location and bringing with her at least half of those she just met?
Where does this come from? Did she inherit it or was it just a result of a lifetime of poor navigational skills?
I can really only speak for myself here as I’m only one quarter of the Reynolds sibling survey……. an extremely infrequent event I can assure you….. but Fiona is the beautiful social butterfly to our much duller Bogong moths.
Finally, I would offer you this portrait of my sister:
She enjoys a good time with friends, colleagues, strangers.
She does enjoy a glass of red or two.
Like her mother before her she adores her children and grandchildren.
She has a sturdy lighthouse in Rob to guide her through her raging seas.
She has transformed from a young country girl to a teacher, a wife, a mother, now grandmother and an artist.Like a beautiful iridescent blue Ulysses Butterfly Fiona brings a flourish of colour wherever she goes, brightens every landscape and enlightens every heart she touches.
Happy Birthday Sis.