in library foyer
newspaper shelves on
a long wall overlook
reading tables. On
table – toaster, bread,
spreads, tea, coffee
milk sugar teaspoons
knives, electric kettle.
Computers at other
end people tapping
printing out posts
for WordPress blogs.
along a wall under the
Middle aged man
leans back, head back
jaw dropped, arms limp,
SNORES LOUDLY !
Little brother says it is a
motorbike. He shows his mother,
pointing to the markings on its
sides, outlining the mouldings,
the markings of a motorbike.
On lengthening legs he flies
off down the drive at top speed.
His sisters’ little pink tricycle
is now a fearsome motorbike !
Brm Brm ! Brm Brm ! Brm Brm !
For little brother’s second birthday
Nana remembered Uncles joy with
his second birthday gift of a toy
lawn mower. She gave little
brother a lawn mower too.
As Mum grappled to detach its
parts from its box, assemble them,
little brother struggled to wrestle
it out of her hands. At last the
lawn mower was assembled, little
brother walked off, slowly and
steadily, just like Dad, mowing lawns.
Brm Brm ! Brm Brm ! Brm Brm !
Little brother has the Brm Brm !
gene on his Y chromosome.
Fast forward horizontal flying
starfish leap on to the giant
bean bag at the foot of the wall.
OOOPS ! BANG ! ROAR !
Crashed into the wall, nearly
through the wall to see Mum in
the next room trying to rest.
His sisters play different games
on the giant bean bag but little
brother wants to do big
high flying jumps on to it.
In time he will learn to judge
the distances, avoid the wall.
Little brother has the belly flop
gene on his Y chromosome.
A sociable time at Friday mornings’
junior assembly as the five and six
year olds sing songs, show their
best work, receive awards for
best of the week, report special
news to the children, to parents,
babies, toddlers sitting at the back.
One Friday morning Grandma brought
in Tessa, telling the teacher she
would collect her after school as her
new baby sister was born yesterday.
What special news ! giving Tessa
her award the teacher beamed,
said Tessa has important news !”
Tessa was indeed excited, reported
“Mummy had the baby on the
wash house floor !” The children
looked puzzled as their mothers
shrieked, laughed, finally recovered.
It does help for the teacher to get
the back story behind the news.
An ominous sign on our fence
“Flat To Let (Number three)”.
“Oh no !” said number four.
“Who are our new neighbours ?”
She had heard stories of previous
tenants’ upheavals on our quiet
little block on our private driveway.
Tales of cigarette butts all over
a flat’s garden strip, a large circle
of young males smoking who
knew what on the driveway
contemptuous of us around them.
Tales of smoke pouring out from
a plastic plate sizzling on a stove
element. I called the fire service
then the property manager who
ordered steam cleaned carpet and
curtains which meant moving
possessions out to the carport,
then back inside again.
These occurrences ceased after
visits from the police. We heard
the laddish tenant was detained
inside walls at Her Majesty’s will.
My calls to the property manager
made me most unpopular. Let’s
hope my reputation preserves
us from such further neighbours.
In our middle flat the young
couple were so excited to get
their own house on the nearby
military base still close to town
for her good job as he started
his military job after his training.
So exciting to pay a low rent,
to save for their own home,
a wedding, a honeymoon even.
They rejoiced over their new future.
Before they move they face a
large hurdle. Their carport
storage locker is jam packed
with car parts, mechanics’ tools,
oils, sprays, cleaners all flowing
out into the cabinet in the carport
and boxes beside it, topped by
two huge piles of spare tyres….
….all to be packed up aw well as
the usual household contents.
A century ago when deteriorating
eye sight stopped a worker earning
no one could help. A pittance had
to be earned in a job elsewhere.
Grandpa standing over the huge
printing presses had his face in
their fumes all day, went blind
with a pregnant wife and four
young children at home to feed,
clothe and house on no pay.
They moved to a tiny cottage where
Grandma took in tailoring work
when able, supported the family
till two years later when Grandpa’s
sight cleared a little. He took an
outdoor job as recommended
reading gas meters on a low
income until he retired.
Grandma kept supporting them
with tailoring work but Aunty
Frances’ tailoring skills ceased to
serve her as her sight failed. She
supported herself and her mother
growing violets for the city markets.
A cold hard world for the disabled.
Houses shops close clustered
around the little colonial port near
the bridge crossing the muddy
river flowing into the harbour.
Across the bridge sat the village
of the indigenous Maori who
crossed the bridge daily to
transact business at the port.
Grandfather was manager and
teller in the tiny bank, he lived
with Grandmother and their two
year old in the flat upstairs.
Grandmother went shopping
for the family’s food each day
causing Grandfather to set
a rigid household rule:
“Always wash your hands
after handling money !”
In that time of the cash carrying
society with money in pockets
and bags Maori also carried money
in their mouths even during the
smallpox outbreak in their village.
Manager teller Grandfather
rigorously frequently washed,
dried his hands every day.
The little colonial town’s quay
ran along the harbour shoreline
where small boats tied up to
mooring posts while sailing
ships anchored out in the channel.
Down the hill the main street
ran alongside the little stream
to the busy quayside where
goods and people were loaded,
unloaded, over dinghies, barges,
flat bottomed scows and
small coastal sailing ships.
On the nearby beach were canoes
drawn up after paddling down
from the harbour’s upper reaches.
Laden with indigenous Maori
and vegetables grown in their
market gardens. From their
stalls at the foot of the main
street they sold the vegetables to
the white strangers settled in this
mushrooming town’s new streets.
Trade is trade and must be done
whoever the races doing it.