This is me with my big sister Sarah.
Growing up we didn’t agree on much. However when you are growing up in a small town like Perth in the 70’s, the simple things (like boredom) tended to bring you together. These were the days of ‘make your own entertainment’. No electronic games for us, no videos, dvd’s or mobile phones. Ours was a world where imagination ruled supreme and believe me imagination was one area where my sister and I excelled.
Generally as the older sister Sarah called the shots when it came to the theme of our games. Sometimes this worked well but other times, like when she tied my legs together and told me to jump in the pool and be a baby mermaid, I got the distinct impression she was plotting my demise. Saturdays in our house were always days to look forward to. They had a set pattern which we loved. Mum would be baking, so the food on offer was always at its best on a Saturday. There were sometimes apple slices to be stolen as mum made apple pies or cupcakes, still warm from the oven, pressed into our hands in a bid to get us to leave her in peace. Dad was a talented painter and woodworker, so the smells of turpentine or wood shavings usually competed with the baking smells. Winter time when it was raining outside and the heater was on, creating a comfortable warm fug, were especially memorable.
In those days the shops shut at lunchtime on a Saturday and at 12 noon every Saturday there was a mid day movie on television. There were only 3 TV channels in Perth in those days and the only other time that movies were shown was later at night, past our bedtime, so we relished these Saturday movies. If lunch was portable, and we promised not to make a mess, Mum would let us have our lunch on a tray in the lounge room. If however it was a cooked lunch then my sister and I would bolt our food down, risking burning oesophagus’, so that we didn’t miss too much of the start of the movie.
The movies that I first remember watching were Elvis movies (no new releases on a Saturday). Sarah and I would watch the movie and then the afternoon game would usually be themed around the theme of the movie that day.
With the Elvis movies this invariably meant my sister and I raiding Mum’s shoe cupboard and mincing up and down the hallway in high heels.
Then (when they had exhausted the supply of Elvis films) the mid day movie selection changed to Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers.
My sister and I were in heaven! Here was old school Hollywood glamour and we ate it up.(Both of us begged for tap dancing lessons, which I must say did not live up to expectations, and after weeks of practicing shuffle ball-change we gave it up.) All of a sudden the Saturday games went to a whole new level. Once the closing credits rolled we would be off like a shot to try to turn our bedrooms into something that resembled a film set.
Slight technical problem here – firstly our rooms were very small, secondly they were very messy. All excess clutter would be piled into the hallway while we made our rooms look pretty. One time Sarah discovered a staple-gun amongst Dad’s tools and we stapled some old net curtains to our ceilings (so sorry Mum & Dad). This was usually when Mum’s patience ran out and we were ordered to remove the offending mess from the hallway and put it back in our rooms. Somehow beautifully draped net curtains didn’t look so good once all the junk was back in the room.
The other side effect of these movies was that we sadly thought this was what real life was like. When we were grown up this would be how we would live. Both hopeless romantics, without a stroke of realism between us,we somehow missed the point that these films were set in America in the 1930’s and we were living in Perth, Australia in the 1970’s. When it came time for me to start dating I thought it would be just like one of these films, where I would be swept off my feet in a cloud of romance by some handsome, sensitive, romantic, caring man. Sadly when I was expecting this….
The average Aussie Male on offer at the time was devoid of sensitivity (probably thought it was a disease he didn’t want to catch) and romance was a very foreign concept. Sadly what was on offer resembled something more like this…