In mid-summer, new neighbours moved in. Before I met them I noticed they had attached quite an elaborate bird feeder to their deck. It swung out to sit in the branches of the willow tree that had spread across the fence from my yard. “A bird feeder, that’s a good sign,” I thought.
Spot was a stray: part sheep dog, part terrier. I don’t know how he got the name Spot — he was black with no markings — or how he came to live with us. Well he didn’t actually live with us. He lived in a kennel outside. “Please Dad,” I would plead. “Can he just stay in the back porch, just tonight because it’s raining?”
It was early spring, the end of the August school holidays. The sky was blue. No clouds anywhere. I was staring out the window wondering what I would do for the day. I knew I would clean my room, do dishes and peel the potatoes for tea. These things I did every day. But what else, I was beginning to be bored and couldn’t wait for school to start again. My thoughts were interrupted
When I lie on my couch two little girls look down at me; one in pink, one in blue. They are sitting on a velvet chair staring solemnly into the camera. They watch from a large wooden frame. On the back of the frame it says hand painted by portrait artist F. Parker, framed at the Imperial Art Studio, Grey Street, Gisborne, New Zealand in 1894.
I’m claustrophobic in small spaces like elevators. I don’t like my bedroom door closed or my office door. When it comes to public washroom stalls, I am just plain terrified. One second of delay in getting the door handle to turn and I start to sweat and plan an escape route. It all started when I was 13 and in love with a boy named Murray.
The world was waiting for Y2K. Depending on who you listened to, we were either facing a massive computer failure or the catastrophic end to the world. But I wasn’t too concerned. Because my world, as I knew it, had already ended.
We were on the cusp of the Sixties. New Zealand teenagers were joining the rock and roll craze that had taken over the United States and the United Kingdom. Parents who had survived the Second World War were faced with another war – the war against the youth culture with its loud and inappropriate music and outrageous clothing. Teenage dance halls were sprouting up across the country. But we didn’t dance in the Exclusive Brethren.
I hardly slept all night. The next day, I was starting my first real summer job – a salesgirl at McKenzies department store. I’d just turned 15. I begged my parents to let me interview for this job. It was a big deal. In New Zealand, especially in the rural areas, Exclusive Brethren girls were expected to work as a mother’s helper to a brethren woman, or on a brethren farm helping the farmer’s wife prepare meals for the farm labourers.
This is my first post. I hope you will come back and visit many times. This blog has two parts. Words and writing is a place to find tips and ideas to help with writing and editing, especially business writing. It is an extension of my professional life as a freelance writer. Growing up Exclusive Brethren is where I post stories from my childhood and other life stories.