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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Intriguing Tale: my early love life [Part 3]

[continued from Part 2]

On other Saturday nights, I danced with my town girlfriend whenever there were dances on in town, and now you see the wicked web of deceit that I was weaving. Or being woven around me by fate, I preferred to think. What harm could there be in it? Why should they ever need to know about each other?

Quite often, I was allowed to stay overnight with my sister Jan and her husband Ken at their house in Gladstone when a school dance was on. This was great as Jan not only did the best bacon and eggs breakfast in the country and possibly the whole world, but it meant that I could walk Robyn home after the dance; a distance of some three kilometres. When Jan moved to Barney Point this was even better because they lived just a couple of hundred metres from Robyn’s, which cut down the time for the lonely return journey after seeing Robyn safely home. 

Well, the object of the walk home was really the kissing and cuddling for up to twenty minutes, as far away from the street light as possible near her place. But that was about it if you are hoping for steamy descriptions of our romance before the sandflies from the mudflats or the mosquitoes from practically everywhere else started to take an active part in proceedings. Or, when the lounge-room light came on in her parents' house, bearing the subtle message that any interactions of any description should be terminated within a minute or two. I didn't know her parents at all, but based on my experience of girlfriendly parents in Calliope, it was always best to try to get to know their modes of thinking, lest they should suddenly turn boyfriend unfriendly. Knowledge may not really be power in these cases, but lack of it could certainly reduce your girlfriend options. 

On a scale of zero for totally platonic to a hundred for an absolute free-for-all carnality under the lamplight, we wouldn’t have made it past about 15, or 20 at the most. Sorry. This was 1962 after all. Things were different then, for good reasons, or maybe bad ones. We might have a heart-to-heart about that sometime, but I suspect it explains the fighting rather than the fornication when there was an excess of testosterone about. Fighting was way less dangerous in the long term. 

Meanwhile, teenage girls who had Done The Wrong Thing may as well have had 'I Have Done The Wrong Thing' tattooed on their foreheads if it got about that they had - or, for that matter, if through rumour or innuendo they were suspected of it. As I said, it was 1962, and if you know anything at all about the Swinging Sixties, you'd know it was well into the Sixties before anything started to swing. Especially in Calliope; I'm not sure the term really applied for another decade or so, if it ever did.

Sometimes, my parents were extra generous with me and allowed me to stay in town with a friend for the whole weekend when a High School dance was on. This was really a big thing for them to do as it meant a total release from my farm duties from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon, and I did appreciate it. 

While in town my pals and I did townie stuff like riding bikes up the main street, going to the pictures [cartoon, Movietone News, serial such as Captain Africa – what IS it with white men and masks in Darkest Africa? – followed by the supporting film and then the main feature, like the Guns of Navarone], swimming at Auckland Creek or the Baths, or meeting our girlfriends at the Orion or Californian Milk Bars. Can you imagine how much more fun that is than milking cows? I thought it was fantastic. To have two entire days where you could wake after sunrise and there wasn’t milking twice a day was a luxury beyond compare. 

I think the increased burden fell to my sisters at times, as well as my mother, for which I thank them formally now, as I’m sure I never did it when thanks might have been more appreciated.

As an aside to my aside about things we did in town apart from going to the Dance, one of my worst nightmares often was when my pals came out to the farm for the weekend. The first thing they would say was ‘Let’s go to the dairy!’ They wanted to do all the things that made my life a misery – milk cows, ride horses round and round paddocks with no purpose other than to ride the horse, walk to the furthest boundary of the property.… why why why would anyone want to do those things? 

The best way to divert them was to get a couple of the .22 rifles, go up the paddock a bit, explain about not pointing them at anyone under any circumstances, put up some old tins with a natural amphitheatre behind them and have a shooting contest. I didn’t mind that, but there was a limit to our ammo, and it would soon be back to the tedium of saddling up horses and for them to try to break their necks riding them like idiots. 

Don't worry. I never let them abuse the horses. I couldn't abide cruelty to animals, even if it was cruelty that came from ignorance and not malice - particularly if they treated horses like machines.

But back to the story.

My double love life continued for well into a year. Then one Friday at high school came the words I never expected to hear.

‘Guess what?’ said Robyn, ‘I’m staying with Christine Foster tomorrow night. I can come to the Calliope dance!’

[continue to Part 4] [Back to Index]


  1. Oh noes!

    Can't wait to hear what happens next.

  2. I know! I know! I can hardly wait myself to see what happens.... :)

  3. Intriguing! I posted a terribly witty comment :) here yesterday (and saw it go up) but it this is a bit if a test.

  4. Can you repost the witty comment? Maybe you need to be sure you are signed in as the correct 'Comment as' person below the Comment Box. I just wish anyone could comment, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

  5. No..I can't be spontaneously brilliant twice! I think I just didn't press the 'post comment' button the second time, as I was hurrying out..

    Never mind -the story is the thing!


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