When Sue came home from Dental Nurse Training School for the holidays it was always great fun. Often, she would organise Francie, Leo and me into doing a home concert.
Sue had her Letters in Speech. Years ago, at a talent quest at the beach, she'd recited my favourite thing, which was a monologue about a circus trainer and his fleas.
"Ma-maa! Ma-maa! You've got my Itch!" was the bit I always waited for. Anyway, she won the talent quest, and buoyed on with success, entered the Beauty Pageant. We all waited for Sue to appear on stage in her swimming togs, and when she did, the audience still abuzz with the talent quest, cried out "Fleas! Fleas!"
So we'd give these concerts at home and sing songs.
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do;
I'm half crazy all for the love of you.
It won't be a stylish marriage, we can't afford a carriage,
But you'll look sweet, upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.
And we'd ride in tandem through the lounge and hide behind the couch as if it was the wing of a great theatre. Then I'd perform and Francie would perform and Leo would perform and Mum and Dad would applaud.
Then it would grow into a sing-a-long, with Tony and France on the piano accordions, and Sue and Rick singing their heads off.
Fare thee well! Fare thee well!
Farewell my fairy fay!
For I'm off to Louisiana for to see my Susy Anna,
Singing "Polly Wolly Doodle" all the day!
We'd often have sing-a-longs, and at parties the Goodmans were always the loudest and the last to leave. Rick, who was even more extroverted than Sue, would have a towel to mop the sweat - for the whole room would become the arena of performance.
Then Rick would play The Nikau Waltz and Tony would play Leybach's 5th Nocturne and France would play Judy, Judy, Judy and then back to -
Ha! Ha! Ha! Hee! Hee! Hee!
Little Brown Jug do I love thee!
- till someone said "It's time for bed" for tomorrow it was milking and milking can't wait or be put off or cancelled like the dental nurse.
Me at back
France, Leo, Tony, Rick
I always sat feeling pleased and enjoying the party, because you didn't have to be a raging extrovert to enjoy it. For Tony, Rick and France were in the local operettas and I wasn't, and they became handsome princes and a princess.
Now I had been to Wellington and seen the Kelburn Fountain at night. The water played, and its colours changed. It was red then blue then purple then green then yellow and white. I didn't like the yellow and white bit much, but the rest was like a spell. And when the fountain had finished its cycle it was time to go.
"But, Mum, can't we just watch it a bit more?"
And the fountain would go round again and play like it was heaven; each droplet a star, each movement a spin of a galaxy. I could watch it forever.
Back home, in the old macrocarpa by the gate that once said "This Gate Swings So Open It," I hung a procession of watering cans and hoses, and covered torches with coloured cellophane, for a solo performance one night with parents sitting in chairs in the paddock. But the contraption didn't work, for the hoses couldn't reach the taps, and the boy couldn't climb the tree with buckets of water to fill the watering cans and hold the coloured torches all at once.
A long, long time after, in Los Angeles, I found a fountain that hurled a billion tonnes of water all at once, and a million ranks of lights danced, and sound systems hurtled a thousand decibels of "Glory Alleluia". It was exactly what I meant.
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