He was one of a kind. We met him at a business dinner neither of us was too keen to go to. But it was in the early days of the YTBTRH (Yet To Become The Retired Husband) setting up his business. He needed the contacts. As it so happened this guy was one of the best in the radio advertising business. Seated at our table with his wife, a nurse (bonus for me – we had something in common!) we got to chatting. And hit if off.
So started a life long friendship. An entrepreneur, ex-vaudeville performer, bass cello player, a man with a mind bursting full to overflowing with a million ideas on how to make a million dollars. Here’s just a couple we spent oodles of hours discussing, laughing till our sides were hurting with tears rolling down our cheeks:
Selling roo poo to tourists
Unfortunately I have no photographs to show you of this amazing product. This Million Dollar Idea # 22 was going to be a sure fire best seller. We debated the value of different animal excreta – wombats, sheep, koalas. But always came back to the humble ‘roo. They were compact, small and round. Not the kangaroos – the nuggets. Would be easy to collect, dry and store. We were going into business! First we needed a test sample. It was decided that the tester did not have to be original kangaroo product. We would use a local, handy substitute. Our toy poodle, Titch, won that prize. Said sample was collected and dried. The YTBTRH encased it in acrylic, let it set, polished and cut the block to size. And mounted in onto a very classy looking wooden trophy shield. The final product would have an engraved brass plate Genuine Australian Roo Poo. It looked – unique. We gifted it to John. Unfortunately the kangaroo poo business idea never evolved any further. Amazingly the acrylic encased sample turned white over the years. How does that happen ?! The interesting thing is that many years later someone WAS selling kangaroo poo in various guises to tourists. They stole our idea!
Whilst we’re focused on the nether regions, another brilliant idea John had was to produce a book and recordings of different kinds of farts. A sure fire top seller, he said. He had names for them all. And had started recordings. He had a sound studio set up in his home. Alas, this fart fest fell flat. The interesting thing is that many years later someone published a book on farts, sound effects included. Who is it out there stealing our ideas?! Truth be told, this one was John’s baby. We provided vigorous, intelligent and helpful noises of support and encouragement. Jut let me clarify that in case you got the wrong idea there. Our help did not extend to the provision of fart noise recordings.
Over the years there were a multitude of other Million Dollar Ideas. These are just two of the most memorable ones.
John (and his family) learnt to say the Finnish word Karjalanpiirakka . Finnish is a difficult language to learn. He did so because he learnt to love – and make – these delicacies he tasted for the first time when it was out turn for hosting Christmas one year.
In order to reap the best of Christmas traditions, we had an English un-Christmas in July with John and his family. Gifts were restricted to $2 each. One year we had a competition to see who could buy the most things and stay within budget. Gift wrap included. I won hands down. With change left over – *Secret – I recycled gift wrap* I bought kitchen ‘gadgets’. If memory serves me right there was at least a dozen things like a sink strainer, vegetable peeler, dish scrubber. I was very proud of that accomplishment.
But I digress. As close to Christmas Eve as we could, we had a Finnish Christmas in our home. And that was where John discovered his love for the humble Finnish pie that we turn into a gourmet feast every Christmas. Construction is an art in its own right. There is always a layer of egg butter, topped with smoked salmon, onion rings, caviar. Then come optional extras such as cornichons, pickled asparagus, cucumber, tomato.
John died ten years ago. But he lives on in our hearts. And memories light our faces with a smile. Every time I hear Für Elise he comes to mind. It was the only tune I ever heard him play when tickling the ivories.
Written for : Circle of Friends July 2016
© Raili Tanska
Photo credit – Toni Elsley
Sound link – http://www.freesound.org