STAGE PRESENCE: Margaret McLay has done many things in her life, including being heavily involved in Lind Lane Theatre.
STAGE PRESENCE: Margaret McLay has done many things in her life, including being heavily involved in Lind Lane Theatre. Patrick Woods

Humans of the Coast: Margaret waits for her own encore

MARGARET McLay is getting tired of being cooped up.

An oxygen machine that compensates for her emphysema keeps her on a short leash.

Until a portable oxygen machine arrives, her outings are generally restricted to short trips to the shops or doctor and she spends most of her time in the Nambour unit she has called home for the past 40 years.

"I'd love to get out of my house. It's like jail," Margaret said.

The emphysema is not new but kicked in after she was laid up for a while following a fall earlier this year.

She was once quite busy around town.

Heavily involved in Lind Lane Theatre, she directed about a dozen productions and acted in a couple as well.

"I've always loved the theatre. Mum was a speech teacher in Mackay for years and years."

Margaret, now in her 70s, also sang and has often been asked why she did not make a career out of performing.

"I think it was harder to get into the business in those days," she said.

She worked as a secretary, and moved from Mackay to Brisbane because that was where the best jobs were.

She took up smoking because her neighbours did.

"I bought my first cigarettes, Rothmans, and I had a puff and was violently ill but not to be deterred, I kept going until I could smoke without the ill effects, apart from the ill effects that I've got now."

Smoking laws did not exist and Margaret would smoke at her desk, burning through up to four packs a day.

Her secretarial days came to an end when she fell pregnant and moved to Nambour to be closer to her sister.

"I used to hate her as a child. She was always very good and I was very bad, but I came here to meet her and fell in love with her," she revealed.

Margaret supported herself and her son by working in a restaurant and doing in-home care.

Venturing to the Lind was her social outlet and she spent so much time there that her dog once took himself there to wait for her.

She found directing scary but addictive.

"As a director, a lot of it comes out of your own imagination and on opening night, you are so nervous because you could have got it wrong.

"You're doing everything to make it right but you really don't know whether you've hit it with the audience or not."

She remains a life member of the Lind but is only interested in seeing the odd show.

She dreams of what she will do once a portable oxygen machines arrives.

"I've got to do something."