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Posts tagged ‘eighties’

Someone stole my bold

On Thursday, the weather was so balmy we opened the doors and windows and ate lunch on the balcony. It’s been a while since that was possible without being swept away by a tsunami of rain. The temperature has climbed at least four degrees in the last ten days.

But enough about the weather. At the rate I go on about it, you’d think I was Irish or something.

The sunshine was that saucy (last mention, honest), it tempted Husband and I out on our mountain bikes. Again, I’ve written essays on cycling, so I’ll almost leave it there. Except to say this was the first time in over a week we’ve been out biking, since we were visiting the Outlaws in South Island. If that comes as a surprise, well, I’m canny like that.

It’s calving season on the farm, which means there was a disturbing amount of mucous. According to local legend (Craig), one of their pregnant heifers suffered such a build-up of gas that she fired her newborn right across the field. I suppose you might call it an explosive delivery. If the calf wasn’t dead at blast-off, it certainly was by the time it hit the neighbouring paddock.

Since I am chronically afflicted with Pteromerhanoboviphobia (fear of airborne cows) I spent the entire week cowering in the living room. Husband’s family pretty much treat me as one of the livestock, albeit a pedigree. It suits everyone: I get fed and watered, and have even trained the Outlaws to the extent that everyone is horrified when I fix myself a drink.

Mother In Law: Niamhie, did you make that?

Me: *martyred sigh!* Yes.

Mother In Law: CRAIG! Poor Niamhie had to get her own drink.

Craig: Ker-rist.

Don’t ask me how I arranged that; I only wish I knew. [Note: this phenomenon applies only to Husband’s immediate family, not Husband himself.]

It wasn’t an entirely one-sided arrangement. Every now and then I did the dishes, in order to feel useful and moan about how dishwashing fluid dries out my hands. Also, I exercised the farm dogs, albeit inadvertently when they came to round me up at the end of the day. And I am great entertainment value in the evening.

At least the surfeit of sloth gave me time to catch up on some quality TV.

On Oprah, I discovered that apparently, someone has stolen my bold. The pyschologist was regrettably vague about who or when, although it was probably a man (cue earnest shot to earnest woman in audience nodding earnestly). She also failed to specify whether I could retrieve the Bold if I staged a daring counter-raid, or whether it would be a waste of time because shortly after the theft my Bold was traded on the Black Market. Then again, it was difficult to make her out with all the hair patting and gesticulating.

I can’t say I’m happy about the situation because, despite not being entirely sure what it is, my Bold sounds like a useful asset. I’m considering robbing someone else’s Bold. Maybe Husband’s, because he appears to have double or even triple rations of Bold. Even though he heatedly denies it, chances are he was the one who stole my Bold in the first place.

Once you get over how profoundly disturbing shows like The Swan and Wife Swap are, they make compelling telly. On Swan, women who are mentally compromised and/or have deep-rooted issues apply for a makeover, because they believe their earlobes or abnormally large ankles are what is holding them back in life. In a fairly typical overview, Kelly explains how she has always hated her teeth: “Kids made fun of me in school. They called me- they- <sob!> called me ‘Rabbit Teeth’. I kind of nibbled my food. I just know <pause to wipe eyes> if I didn’t have these teeth, everything would be better.”

When I say ‘makeover’, two participants are whisked off to a hotel where they have cosmetic and/or reconstructive surgery, followed by an extreme diet and exercise for three months. Neither woman is allowed see themselves until the grand unveiling in front of a full-length mirror.

“Are you ready?” asks the presenter, gripping Kelly’s hands fiercely. “Are you ready to meet the brand new you?”

The curtains over the mirror swish back, and Kelly’s all:-

“Oh my God! Oh my Gaw-haw-hawd! Is that- I can’t believe it’s really ME! I’m SO BEAUTIFUL! Waah! Waah! Waah!” <fluttering hands>

“You’re a new person!”

“I am! A new person!”

In this case, Kelly was fitted with a full set of glow-in-the-dark veneers. Despite the fake choppers being freakishly large and causing a significant overbite, Kelly appeared to be ecstatic. She proceeded to the Swan Pageant because her competitor was disqualified for smuggling a mirror into the hotel in her anus.

Wife Swap features two families where the matriarchs abandon their families to be temporarily installed with another. Wiccan chicken-worshippers are placed with born-again Christian families, and composting yoghurt-weavers with families who mainline MacDonald’s. That sort of stuff.

I don’t know what the duration of stay is, but the whole exercise is staggeringly irresponsible. I’ve only seen the show a couple of times, but it has never featured anyone I would trust to water my plants. No family members have been killed in the production of this show, but it can only be a matter of time.

In ‘Don’t Forget The Lyrics!’, contestants have to guess the lyrics of a given song. In a nail-biting buttock-clencher, Nicole had to guess the next ten words to Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’.

Girl close your eyes
Let that rhythm get into you
Don’t try to fight it
There ain’t nothing that you can do
Relax your mind
Lay back and groove with mine
You got to feel that beat
And we can ride the boogie-

____ ____ ____ ____ ____
____ ____ ____ ____ ____

There you go folks, what are the last 10 words?

$600,000 at stake, and Nicole tanked.

The Outlaws have viewed me with a new respect since I leaped to my feet, gripped my crotch, and nailed the lines in a dazzling performance:-

Share that beat of looove!
I wanna rock with you-OW!

Of course, they were not to know that I have stored in my memory banks a library of seventies and eighties lyrics, including the entirety of Boney M’s canon. Couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast this morning, but

Caribbean Queen!
Now we’re sharin the same dreeam!
And our hearts they beat as one
No more love on the run

The Man From Snowy River

Since I touched on the subject of my childhood in the last post, I thought I would further explore the theme. Back in the days, Limerick had a cinema down Bedford Row and it was a dingy affair. The red armchairs had bald, sticky patches. A dusty velvet curtain featured an amazing ‘SWISH!’ effect. Instead of trailers, asymmetric bubbles oozed across a bile-yellow background, spawning and splitting in slo-mo until the audience was considered comatose enough to watch the main feature.

[NB: some of this recollection may be influenced by nostalgia and/or bitterness.]

At the time, I didn’t know any of this, because I’d never been to the movies. Just another neglect adding up to the conglomeration of deprivation that was my childhood. My parents are lucky they evaded social services for so many years, what with how they forced me to clean my room every month and only allowed me chips once a week and beat me. Ok, that last bit isn’t true, but the rest totally is. If I weren’t a fiction author, I would write an autobiography and call it ‘A Child Called “Hey You Do The Dishes”: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness’ and make a bloody fortune, I can tell you.

Before he met mum, my father worked on the Snowy Mountains Scheme in Australia. My parents never had a big interest in films, but when they heard ‘The Man From Snowy River’ was coming to Limerick, they decided this occasion merited a Family Outing.

Thus started the great countdown to The Man From Snowy River. We had Man From Snowy River theme dinners, and crossed off days on a Man From Snowy River calendar. It was like the build-up to the Olympics – obviously not on the same cost or magnitude scale, but certainly up there on the emotional and logistics levels.  Planning kicked off weeks before opening night, when dad got a large street map of Limerick and inserted flags denoting potential parking places in the city centre.

The event was set to go down in family legend, so that, twenty years in the future when someone said, ‘What do you remember of your childhood?’ we would say, ‘Well, not a lot, although oh yes. There was. That time I saw The Man From Snowy River. *sigh!* It was the best day of my life.’ There was to be ice-cream and Maltesers, and maybe Coke if we were especially good. I’d never eaten ice-cream, and had never even HEARD of Maltesers.

[SCENE: a brown living room. A MOTHER reads in an overstuffed armchair. In the far corner, THREE CHILDREN play with a stick and a cardboard box. The FATHER enters, wearing a paisley shirt with ridiculously pointed collar]

FATHER: I think there’s someone at the door, dear.

MOTHER: Who might that be? Ooh, maybe it’s-



DAUGHTER: I can’t WAIT to see The Man From Snowy River! It’s going to be the highlight of my tragically deprived little life!

On the big day, I woke up at 05:00 and couldn’t eat with all the excitement (although I was also saving room for the ice-cream and Maltesers). Throughout the day the tension built until it was emitting its own frequency by the time we left in the car. Even the driving rain was not sufficient to dampen our enthusiasm.

On the way into town, the three kids in the back sang our Man From Snowy River song:-

The Man From Snowy River <clap!>
He might be called Trevor <clap!>
Or Bill or Ted or Roger
So far he is a mystery
But we, but we, are going to see
Him in all his cinematic glory

When we reached Henry Street, we beheld an awful sight. Our little voices fell silent one by one. A queue extended from the gaping mouth of The Grand, around the block, across the street and up past the Garda Station.

We went home.

There was no ice-cream or Maltesers.

It would be YEARS before I finally experienced cinematic magic. My mother wouldn’t allow me to watch Top Gun due to rumours of a raunchy love scene involving Suggestion of Tongue. Her logic would have better withstood the test of time if she had forbidden me to see Top Gun because Tom Cruise’s tooth-heavy smile was sinister and disturbing even then.

Eventually I saw Man From Snowy River on telly. TELLY! The bit where The Man from Snowy River rides his horse down a cliff would have been so much better on the big screen before I had heard of special effects and knew the director was tilting the camera to make it look steeper

Tragic Argyle

Husband stays connected

I used to hate cycling. (NB: in this context, ‘hate’ is too mild a word, but I am not aware of a single alternative that fully conveys my deep-rooted, fundamental, bone-chilling, teeth-grinding loathing. There can be no more perfect confluence of distilled misery than of being a teenager in Ireland in the late eighties. Add cycling to the mix, and we’re talking about a diabolical form of torture. Cycling to school was an exercise in thriving/surviving against impossible odds, what with drunk truck drivers and waterlogged potholes that extended to the centre of the earth, and the wretched awareness that my arse was the biggest in the known universe, and the mobile audience who stared at it incredulously. Not forgetting the tragic grey Argyle I used to think was cool, but was actually so unfashionable that when I wear it NOW it would almost qualify as trendy. And the plastic Dunnes Stores bags secured to my feet with elastic bands.)

Over the years, I have grown attached to my arse and adept at dodging potholes. Also, it is impossible to dislike cycling where we live. Husband bitches about the number of hills, but freewheeling down them is such fun, it more than compensates for slogging back up.

During the week, I made a Trademe purchase from a seller who lived in Waitakere.

“She’s just up the road,” I informed Husband. “I’ll pedal over on Saturday morning.”

I was surprised when he volunteered to accompany me, although it is perhaps less surprising when the alternative was cleaning the gutters. I tried to avoid distance-related discussion, and told him it was ‘all downhill’.

We shoved the bikes up to Scenic Drive – with a minor detour back to the house when we realised Husband had forgotten his helmet – and cycled north. Scenic Drive is a fair illustration of the word ‘undulating’. However, just before Scenic Drive intersects with Swanson Road/Waitakere Road, there is a kilometre long downhill. This was terrific fun, although a section of uneven tarmac reminded me how vulnerable a bicycle is.

We took an alternative route home, opting to traverse Christian Road and along the Pipeline Track to Mountain Road. We walked the Pipeline Track in summer and even then it was greasy; however, it is only a kilometre long and downhill.

Front brake accessorised with plant

Frauen liebten seinen Punk

First impressions might last, but time itself has done nothing to reduce the MR2’s status as The Most Impractical Car in the World. After a trip to Mitre 10, where we drove home with a gas bottle balanced on my knee and mop sticking out the passenger window, I agreed to a second car.

Before you ask, I’m not sure why we didn’t sell the MR2. However, Husband had a dazzling list of valid and entirely plausible reasons not to, which worked despite our having just blown the month’s entire grocery budget on two tyres for said MR2.

Vehicles (management and maintenance of) falls under Husband’s job description, so I left it up to him to trawl in search of a second car. Despite my unhealthy relationships with vehicles, I had no passionate preferences as to choice of conveyance – unless we got a Mini Cooper, which evidently wasn’t going to happen.

Husband strongly advocated a 4×4 manual diesel. He marketed the advantages as being economic on fuel; large enough to carry bicycles, mops and rubbish bins in the boot; or a dressing table or bookcase; or up to three additional passengers. Brilliantly, he pointed out that it would be an ideal vehicle for puppy transportation.

He didn’t stress how useful a 4×4 would be to tow his motorbike around – in fact, he hardly even mentioned it.

Husband short listed a number of Nissans and Toyotas and we went to view a couple, but they were selling for too much. We didn’t want to spend more than NZ$ 6000.

Husband had an eyeball on a Toyota Surf on Trademe that was listed for NZ$ 6200. He thought the owner might let it go for NZ$ 5900 +/- and arranged to see the car the day before the auction was due to close.

“We need some way of communicating,” said Husband as we drove to Mt Wellington.

“How about talking? Or is that too intense?”

“No, I mean when we’re viewing the car. Some means of, you know, communicating what the other thinks.”

“Like a code?”

“I suppose.”

“How about: ‘The Pigs Are Flying’?”

“That might be a bit tricky to get into a sentence.”

“The monkeys are spanking-”

“Ok- NO- How about I ask you whether you like the colour? And if you don’t want to go ahead, you say ‘I’m not sure’.”

“Oh come ON – that makes me out to be a total girlie! Can’t I say something like, ‘The car burns oil’? Or: ‘Is the engine supposed to make that noise’?”

How much of a surprise is it that we had nothing agreed by the time we met Nishant?

We took the car for a test drive. Afterwards, Husband opened the bonnet and surveyed the engine, kicked the tyres, fingered a rust spot, and crawled under the car and rolled around a while. Then we all stood by the boot making small talk.

“So Niamhie,” says My Beloved. “What d’you think- I mean, for example- d’you like the colour?”

“It’s fucking NAVY,” I said somewhat charmlessly. “What’s not to like?”

I mean, REALLY.

“Look, it depends how much Nishant wants for the car,” I said. Then I waited for Husband to haggle like a Sagittarian car dealer.

And waited.

I was about to remind Husband about the airborne pigs when Nishant said:-

“To be quite honest, I won’t take less than $5000 for it.”

And I didn’t have to check the pig status to say, “Weeeeeell, all right then, I suppose.”

So we have welcomed a 1993 Toyota Hilux Surf into our family – shortly to be joined by a puppy. Husband might have the edge on cunning, but I will always wear him down with sheer single-minded persistence

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