Eric Meacock's Story
Recollections of my years on the Board of Governors.
Departed Perth WA on Qantas flight to Rome Italy 2.30PM September 14th 1982 arrived 7.10am 15th, 5 hours wait in airport then a good but crowded flight to Barcelona Spain....took a taxi to Hotel Presidente, problem with fare sorted out with the help of the hotel doorman. One of the mesh straps on my suitcase stolen on this flight, it was strange to see the armed soldiers, mostly with sub-machine guns at airports in Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Rome particularly.
Met Ken in lobby, having showered and enjoyed a 2 hour sleep, and later we all got together for dinner. Board meeting next day was solid going, long agenda the next day too with some pretty ticklish situations arising. Ken and I bought shoes and arranged for a leather jacket each, price pretty good. Board meeting continued to be solid going with a long time spent on discussing the three main assignments. With final decisions on them looking quite satisfactory although still some problems with the post conference tour, we will get about by hire car if necessary. Ken, Gaston and I went to collect our leather coats late in the afternoon we went on to a leather goods place which had gone into liquidation prices were fantastic.
The Board meeting continued on 18th with presentation to G Meunier from Board members of carved emu egg I had obtained prior to leaving Australia. President Ken Strom advised of his pending retirement and resignation from ISP position which it was agreed would take place at the Boards Budget meeting in Philadelphia USA. The increasing number of ISP members assembling in Barcelona has meant many touching re-unions for them and for the Board members and the discovery of many intimate and interesting restaurants, such as Los Caracoles depicted above. The reception in the evening was a success Ken, Alan, Barbara, two Tiawan reps and myself ended up with pétsa and beer in a little restuarant at midnight.
The ISP meeting on 19th went well with quite a lot of discussion in the morning on the dues question which was eventually passed. Participation by Spanish members was disappointing however 5 Postmasters attended the morning session only and applied for membership. The Board members met for lunch without Ken and the best I could get for him from them was the title of Foundation President and attendance at the Annual General Assembly each year with a 'maybe' on future work for board, perhaps as adviser. A presentation of an original painting, selection for which I am to pass on to head office Carolyn's knowledge of her discussions with Ken on art, was decided upon. Nicole expected to be President, so she will get a try - others felt - Ken resigns, is then passive member, do we need to find a job for him? (I resolve to speed up my french studies and be able to play a more aggressive role on the board--The International Society is not a French Society, but plenty of danger it could become so.) The afternoon session of the assembly went well with presentation to the Society from Guerfallah and Tunisian members and the evening banquet topped off with special cheese, from Fages area of France, made from sheep milk, (Lait du mouton), and followed by a most entertaining visit to see a Flamingo Dance group.
A tour of Barcelona on 20th commenced first with a visit to the Post Office to see the operations side including letter sorting machine, delivery office (Our Herr Zoller took charge and provided all with a pass <grin>), the canteen which included a bar and a barber as part of the amenities. Most of the assembled ISP members were surprised at the difficulty of the group entering the main public area of the post office where armed soldiers were on duty and watching those entering very carefully. The tour then continued up the mountain for an overview of the city, lunch off the Ramblas,(a typical spanish meal - seafood & rice -very nice) followed by a visit to the magnificent cathedral and a spanish village and the museum including a stroll through some of the magnificent old buildings of this city of 3˝ million people and it appears nearly as many motor cars, and obviously plenty of 'fille's de joie' too! Dinner that evening was a great occasion with all assembled going to a famous local restaurant "Mi Burrito y yo" (My Donkey and I) Click on photographs to enlarge
The waiter was a scream and had all of us in fits of laughter, pretending to almost drop a bottle of water, dressing up in masks with large nose etc., at one stage dropping his trousers while doing a flamingo dance, putting a small coffin shaped box on the table next to Nicole which of course could not be resisted and when opened was a rude shock. The group finished the evening with disco type dancing ( Zoller on the piano) at the restaurant and finally all strolling down the Ramblas for a beer and then on to the hotel at 1am. 21st Ken and I set off in the hire car alone as Barbara had Spanish tummy and Alan stayed behind with her for the day. We had a great time on Monserrat, the mountain is really something and the museum interesting with some very good paintings on display. The funicular ride to the Hermitage and restuarant was fun and the views terrific. Ken and I had a lot of fun and fustration navigating the roads and then trying to find the Post Office in Monresa where the PM and his wife and daughter made us most welcome with high tea etc. A friendly policeman on point duty drew us two maps before we found the Casa Postales. Ken and I went back to Barcelona in the evening to collect Barbara and Alan, Ken finally driving to Cardona in the dark, the mountain road and hairpin bends were something else!!!! The Parador National Hotel, a castle on top of a mountain, was very grand and the view from our windows in the morning was unbelievable.
22nd travelled on to Ballaguer to meet the civic fathers and lunch with the group then all went their own ways. 7 of us, including the German and UK contingent proceeding on to Viella and Andorra, after many fond farewells mostly with the French group. The scenery was the most magnificent I have ever seen, the high mountain passes and the long lovely valleys. After overnight at Viella, several scotch whiskeys and frank discussions with Alan on ISP, Ken having driven all day retiring early stating that he had wanted to drive today but would not continue to do all the driving. 23rd a misty morning as we travelled through the Vale of Ulan and into Andorra, climbing the twisting, turning road up and down the mountains in the heavy mist was something to experience, once over the mountains in beautiful sunshine it was delightful, we made a refreshment stop at a roadside establishment (wine cost 10 cents a glass, picture postcards 15 cents) and then on to a great lunch, four courses with wine, cost $6 each, before arriving in Andorra to find the Hotel Andorra Centre, a new tourist type hotel but quite comfortable and lots of duty free shopping over a couple of days before leaving on 24th when we drove again through the very picturesque mountain scenery more or less feeling our way along the roads with Alan doing the driving, hard into the corners and with out using the gears as much as expected, although perhaps better than I would have done starting out on the wrong side of the road as I did the only time I got behind the wheel. The country south of Vich was very different, more tropical and heavily wooded but an enjoyable drive to Sant Hilari for our last night as a group. Click to enlarge Alan Burton,Eric Meacock,Hr Zoller,Otto &Gerda Kupka,Barbara Taylor, Ken Strom
25th The German group went on their way home and we drove to Barcelona spending an hour at a restuarant on the beach at Arenys de Mar before going on in to the airport to farewell Ken on his flight home. Barbara, Alan and I had some fun then in city traffic, returning the hire car and finding a hotel for the night, all was well eventually and we strolled along The Ramblas, with thousands of others sightseers, to find a nice little restaurant (see above) where at 10pm we had our first substantial meal since breakfast. 26th 'The Festival of the Mother of Barcelona' today with bands and parade, which we watched including dancing in the streets in front of the cathedral, folk dancing in circles all joining hands with their coats and bags etc all piled in a heap in the centre of the circle. 27th the festival continued today and we enjoyed watching and seeing the dragon parade and fireworks etc in the evening, finishing with dinner again in the Ramblas and saying goodbye as I was on the early Air Italia flight to Rome next morning. I had two days of sight seeing around Rome, taking a tour and walking myself to see the fountains and museums etc before joining the Qantas flight home after a long wait at the Rome airport for a seat allocation, obtained an aile seat next to two Australian nuns returning home from 2 month pilgrimage who were very good company...arriving home in Perth at 10-45pm having landed at Athens and Bombay, where the new airport terminal was a disappointment, already showing signs of disrepair and duty free shops with touts and typical indian manners.
Eric Meacock Asia/Australasia Region