“You Think It’s Ugly, I Think It’s Lovely” -The Glittering Mile
Ever heard of the woman who drove from Sydney to Perth in a taxi, and then refused to pay the fare? Meet Bea Miles. She was a lover of Shakespeare and promiscuity, and an atypical brand of the Interbellum Generation.
Born in 1902, Bea had a violent start. Thankfully, she came to bear a lump sum after her grandma’s passing, enabling her to escape her fathers grasp. She took to art school, but soon fled as there was “not enough Australian stuff”. After that she found herself in a variety of places including storm pipes in Elizabeth Bay, Cross street corners reciting poetry and inevitably the Hospital for the Insane in Gladesville.
Never fear, that experience did little to nullify her disruptive nature. Being outspoken on politics, and confining social structures were two of her defining features, along with Shakespearian verses that rolled off her tongue. Whilst a love of literature came naturally, marriage never did. She ended her long-term relationship with Brian Harper when she was 38 because he wanted to tie the knot, and she despised the institution.
Her identifier were a green tennis shade and a scruffy great coat. These features were rather important, given her weekly appointment at the police station. Miles was constantly harassed by police and she claimed to have been “falsely convicted 195 times, fairly 100 times”. But the streets she loved were very much her own, and her life was by design.
At the end of her life she declared “I have no allergies that I know of, one complex, no delusions, two inhibitions, no neuroses, three phobias, no superstitions and no frustrations”. Waltzing Matilda played at her funeral.