Bolton Clarke At Home Support client and carer Jill describes herself as a ‘quidnunc’.
Jill, 84, recalls her doctor calling her that once. It means a gossipy person or someone with a curious mind.
“I prefer the latter definition,” she says.
Jill has a passion and aptitude for art, music and the written word. Her home, made from both mud brick and second-hand Hawthorne brick in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Lower Plenty, is shared with husband Daniel and her four cats Sumwun, Talmud, Mitzvah and Sabra.
Jill is the primary carer for Daniel, 83. Daniel has been a client of Bolton Clarke for the past year, receiving assistance with medication and general care. Jill also receives support as needed from Bolton Clarke nurses.
When asked what are her greatest achievements in life so far, she deliberates for a few moments before stating “the three or four art exhibitions I’ve had including computer art, as well as starting the cello so late and becoming a professional.”
Born in Chingford, London in 1934, Jill was a school-aged child at the outbreak of World War II. Her earliest memories are of being evacuated out of London, away from the air strikes to the safety of the countryside.
In 1948 the family was reunited. They lived in St Anne’s, Blackpool for a short while before emigrating to Melbourne, a three-week journey by boat. They stayed in a guest house in Healesville for a short time and then moved to Moorabbin.
Jill was 14 when she first arrived and flatly refused to go to school, arguing that she was scared and didn’t know anyone. Her parents agreed and so she enrolled in a shorthand and typing course at Stott’s College. She recalls the “roar of the typewriters” and explains that she completed an 18-month course in only six months. “I wasn’t very precise,” she admits. “I was a bit of a slapdash typist”. After the course, Jill went straight to work, firstly at Universal Films and then in a law firm and for an optician.
When she was 17, the family moved to Adelaide and Jill became interested in learning a musical instrument and took up cello. Her teacher commented that he had never seen anyone learn the instrument so easily. Within four years she was playing in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which she did for about four years.
Jill met Daniel, a medical student at the time, when she was 25 and the pair “hit it off from the beginning”. She vividly recalls wanting to live with Daniel but not wanting to get married. Ultimately, when she was expecting their first child in 1964, Jill yielded to the pressure but refused to wear a ‘proper’ wedding ring. Instead she “went to Woolworths and pinched a curtain ring. It was a statement to the gods”.
Daniel studied for his psychiatry degree in Sydney and England. It was in Sydney that Jill learnt to paint and draw, something she continues to do today. Daniel eventually opened his own psychiatry practice, where he practised for many years before retiring in 2000. He is also an accomplished cellist, poet and playwright.
Read more about Bolton Clarke’s ongoing work supporting wellbeing and independence in our 2018 Year in Review.