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Growing Old Disgracefully

She’s unconventional, the original prototype for irreverence and political incorrectness. If you offend easily, stop reading now and pick up a copy of the Women’s Weekly instead; you are about to enter the world of the sassy and saucy Lisa Plucknett.

by Judy Fredriksen

Having known Lisa for over 20 years, I disregarded the protocols of cultural sensitivities and instead, packed my laughing gear and broad mindedness for this escapade which would be disguised as an interview. 

Before I even sat down, Lisa greeted me by telling me how she was recently groped in Woolworths by an acquaintance who didn’t believe this nonagenarian was not wearing a bra. She then told me how, after being asked for her opinion on that modern bane – AI – she set the record straight with the inquirer: “Of course I know about AI, I was married to a dairy farmer for over 30 years. He did all his own artificial insemination!”

Of course humour, not ignorance, was intended, and make no mistake, as an accomplished poet buttressed by a sharp wit, Lisa possesses an impressive vocabulary that would have the most pompous minds of Oxford University diving for a dictionary. She says what she means, and means what she says. 

Lisa grew up in suburban Brisbane, her ordinary childhood filtered by extraordinary influences. While her friends were playing with dolls, Lisa was playing with words and learning to play the violin. 

“My father was a journalist. When he saw the Depression coming, he knew that people could not afford to buy newspapers, so he switched to working in the government. He worked in the Premier’s Department, writing speeches for the Premier. 

“I wrote my first poem when I was eight.” 

After writing her own version of the historical ballad, Horatius at the Bridge by Lord Thomas B Macaulay, Lisa’s teacher told her mother she was clever, but she was also precocious and needed to be reined in. These days, that’s called initiative!

“I started learning the violin when I was eight. My father believed in nudism, and while I was practising the violin, he was in the lounge, doing sit ups in the nude, with his feet hooked under his armchair. I could never understand why Dad wore clothes when my friends visited, but my mother said, ‘Well, not everybody has a father who likes to exercise in the nude.’ 

“I was just there, it was all normal to me.” 

Poetry and violin have been two constant themes throughout Lisa’s life. She went on to play first violin in two small orchestras in Brisbane and is a highly accomplished musician. 

Also blessed with her father’s talent with words, Lisa wanted to become a journalist. 

“I got sent to Girls Grammar, and because I wanted to do a journalism course, I desperately wanted to do typing and shorthand. And the head mistress – she was an academic snob –  said, ‘I will not let any girl who has got a high scholarship pass do a typing course and pound a typewriter; she has to do an academic course’. 

“So I did an academic course which was bloody useless. We could talk Latin and French, and what good did that do you? When I passed, I got a scholarship to Kelvin Grove (teacher’s college).

“Always, in those days, school teachers had to retire when they got married. So my vision of a lady school teacher was an old bag, with black whiskers growing out of her chin and a bun on the back of her head, so I didn’t fancy that at all. 

“Instead, I did a commercial course at night and then I got office and secretarial jobs.”

Although Lisa was disappointed about not becoming a journalist, she kept her mind stimulated by doing night courses in creative writing and Italian. She had a penchant for languages, adding German to her language skillset when she married a German. He worked for a Norwegian company, so Lisa added Norwegian swear words to her repertoire. 

Later in 1988, widowed and working as head of sales for a smallgoods company, Lisa came to Maleny for a conference. Like many others, she fell in love with the area and bought a property. 

Initially, she commuted to Brisbane for work, and during this time she met local dairy farmer, Kevin Plucknett. The two fell in love and married in 1991. When Lisa retired, her new occupation became chief calf feeder – a role she relished. 

Sadly Kevin passed away in 2022, but Lisa has never been one to remain idle. In the past decade, she has learnt to play the clarinet, piano accordion and ukulele. Like her father, she is an avid nudist, saying the practice is a good leveller – it’s hard to be pretentious when you’re wearing nothing but a Rolex watch. 

She gardens, plays cards and prolifically churns out quirky and humorous poems. In fact, her fifth poetry collection – Up the Garden Path – will be published later in 2024 and as usual, no topic is sacred. Her acerbic rhymes will dissect politics, religion, human foibles, hypocrisies and annoying animals, all with insightfulness and honesty. 

If you want a laugh, be sure to grab a book when it comes out. But if you don’t see any irony or humour in Lisa’s poems, you might just like to stick to knitting or sudoku. 

Thank you Lisa Plucknett for being one of Maleny’s extraordinary people!



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