at five I walked to and from school – across the road thru the alleyway up and down a gully nicked thru a fence and across the playground.
the gully was really a stormwater drain , the suburb was solid working class with govy houses and my mother had aspirations.
returning home sometimes took a while .
where have you been?
I had to stop at Evas and see the kittens.
well come and have a snack.
can I have one?
can I have a kitten ?
my mother said no all the time to that question until one day at the age of ten a kitten followed me home from the basketball courts and was busy cleaning itself on our porch before she could get the no word out.
knock knock on the door.
if it’s a friend of yours you are not going out again.
it is moana puarta .
I am twelve and had a crush on him .
he was our paper boy throwing ‘the evening post’ off his bike every evening and once a fortnight came to the back door to get the money.
I want to pay him.
well make sure you give him the right amount
and don’t forget the receipt.
early in the morning the bread van pulled up in the street and a loaf was placed in the letterbox. a thin sheet of greaseproof paper was wrapped around the middle of the loaf. my sandwiches for school were then made which was a slice of devon and a smear of tomato sauce or vegemite and lettuce.
in the evenings the milk was delivered – it came in glass bottles pint or half pint size with the cream sitting at the top which we squabbled over. my job was to place the empties and the correct change out at the letterbox. a boy ran up collected the empty bottles counted the change and raced back to the truck grabbed the full bottles back to our letterbox and on to the next neighbour.
on a weekly basis came a small vege truck that pulled up outside our house and taking a basket we climbed up a couple of steps into the back and selected our produce. the veges and fruit were weighed and placed directly into the basket and we handed over the money.
simple transactions , low in footprints.
the Rawleighs man visited every few months – he had a basket of salves and liniments and goodness knows what else –Mum allowed him into the kitchen where he talked about the latest product over a cup of tea.
on Guy Fawkes traditionally November 5th in NZ we made a guy out of old clothes which we stuffed with paper or sawdust , then we put him in a pram or wheelbarrow depending on our age and how big we were. late afternoon early evening we prowled around our the neighbourhood singing.
“a penny for a guy
a penny for a guy
if you don’t have a penny a ha’penny will do
if you don’t have a ha’penny
god bless you.”
and later that night someone would have a bonfire and we would throw Guy the straw man on and watch him burn.
we bought fireworks from our local milk bar – skyrockets, double bangers ,roman candles, catherine wheels, jumping jacks, all very cheap and dazzled us with their fizz colour and danger.
this day was about celebrating Guy Fawkes who along with his mates plotted to blow up Britain’s Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. the plot failed and Guy who then dobbed in his mates was hung drawn and quartered.
I no longer live in the kiwi heartland but the kiwi heartland still lives within me.
today my prayers are with my dear dear sister Kay as she undergoes radical surgery in Waikato Hospital. in times like these distance becomes a tyranny.