Owl Service

Owl Service
for Francis Mabel Cotton 1917-2008

When I first met Francis Cotton I was wild kind of university student,who had miraculously made friends with her incredibly elegant daughter - Julia Cotton. Julia was dancing with ADT in Adelaide where I was bumbling through a Science Degree. Of my dishevelled idea to change to speech pathology, she said, " Sort out your finances first." It may well have been the only advice I have ever taken, and still sometimes, I can hear Frances in my head, telling me to get my finances in order.

I was to find out that this was probably the sternest prospect of Frances ever presented. It was not that she was not habitually practical. She might have presented herself as a bit whimsical, she had a rigour of capability. She was a perfect balletomane - and it is very much to her creative credit that she supported and nurtured Julia's very fine career in Ballet and the performing arts. Of all the creative professions I sometimes think that to nurture a dancer may be the hardest task, requiring the nearly paradoxical distillation and innoculation of the senstivity to emotion, grace and the physicality and stamina of movement. To convince a child to train for the future and live, absolutely, in the moment, to appreciate the classics and -re-invent style for themselves, is something Frances did naturally.

But for me mostly Frances was a quick wit, a fund of good humour. Hers was the kind of lively curiousity that never wore out or faded, she did an MA in her 80's . On the prospect of he (re) entry into the workforce to pay her HECS fees she was gleefully amused. Her Ph.D may well appear one day, as might her Victorian novel "The Locket". She lived to be 90 and left life with the swift efficiency of a woman who was independent, generous and so very happy to enjoy herself and others.


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