OPINION: It was big news, and it travelled like text wildfire through cyberspace to his best buddies.
'All blck game 2nte @ our plce,' Hubby thumbed gleefully on Saturday to Cam and Ed, his BFFs as passionate about All Blacks rugby as he is. 'We gt sum1 special cming.'
The excitement had all started several hours earlier, when a neighbour had popped over to ask if she and her husband could watch the Bledisloe Cup rugby test at our place. 'And can we be cheeky and bring two more?' she asked.
'Actually, your husband might be interested in meeting them, seeing as one of them is Richie McCaw's uncle.'
Hubby, up to his knees in mud at Little Weenie's penultimate winter soccer match, responded to my breathless phonecall with uncanny calm. "Oh yeah," he said placidly, "Richie McCaw's uncle. OK. Make sure we have cold beers in the fridge, will you?"
When I expressed surprise at his muted reaction to the television technician, Victor, at our place, who was resetting our big-screen knobs, he reacted rather more keenly. Making a grab for the phone, he dialled Sky's number.
"There's absolutely no way Richie McCaw's uncle is watching the game tonight on this television with no High Definition. I'm ordering it for you now and it's only $10 a month," Victor explained with gusto, covering the receiver with one hand. "Just remember this thought: Hosting an All Black captain's uncle at your place . . . priceless."
Quiet Middle Child and a visiting nephew were intrigued. "The All Black captain's uncle?" the latter affirmed incredulously. Yep, I said. "So he'll have actually touched Richie McCaw at some stage in his life?" the former asked. I'd be surprised if he hadn't, I said. They retired to listen to music and contemplate the news.
An hour later, once reality had sunk in, Hubby rang back on his way home. "We're going to need chips and dip and maybe some of that nice hummus, and I reckon you should get some mixers in case they don't drink alcohol.
"Let's face it, we can't have Richie McCaw's uncle hungry or thirsty during an All Blacks test at our place. Frankly, making him comfortable is the least we can do. It's a matter of honour.
"Then, once you've done the dips, have a big cleanout and make sure the television is the centre of attention in the lounge. He's got to have a seat close to the screen that's not drafty or obscured by a house plant or too far from the bathroom, but within reaching distance of the coffee table and snacks.
"And hurry up, will you? We only have seven hours."
Thirty minutes later, Ed rang. "I just heard . . . Richie McCaw's uncle, eh," he said a little disbelievingly. "I suppose I can come over, just in case you need someone to keep the conversation going or to top up his glass. I might bring the family, as well, if that's all right.
"The wife wants to meet Richie McCaw's uncle. She's a bit of a name-dropper, you know."
I giggled nervously. "You're interrupting my chores so bugger off," I said diplomatically. "Richie McCaw's uncle arrives in six hours and 26 minutes. I'm hanging up."
Making a mad hoovering dash around the house and cleaning the toilets, I washed the kitchen floor, folded the washing and rearranged the lounge to fit two extra chairs. When Hubby finally arrived home, he surveyed my progress.
"Nup," he said. "You're going to have to move that sofa closer to the television. Richie McCaw's uncle can't watch a rugby test and not be able to see Richie McCaw. I'm off to clean the deck - I know it's going to be dark when they get here, but just in case he wants some fresh air and goes out there."
Two hours later, friends with small children turned up for tea. Afterwards, I surveyed the liberal scattering of sausage roll pastry on the lounge carpet. "Grab the vacuum cleaner, for heaven's sake," I hissed to Hubby. "Richie McCaw's uncle's going to be here in exactly 90 minutes, and I'm not having him sitting in a cesspit of scraps. And get the fire going. Richie McCaw's uncle might feel the cold."
After a minor trauma involving a platform shoe, a hungry cat and a cheese-and-onion dip, we hurriedly cleaned up the kitchen, stuffing dirty dishes into the dishdraw with little consideration. I found some serviceable wine glasses we'd received as wedding presents and never used, and put them on the bench for show.
"What if Richie McCaw's uncle doesn't like chips and dip?" Little Weenie inquired. We looked at each other horrified. "I didn't think of that," Hubby whispered. "What the hell are we going to do?"
"Don't worry," I said, desperation lacing my voice. "We've got some saveloys and tomato sauce in the fridge and some frozen samosas in the freezer that have been there since Christmas 2007. If the worst happens, we can send the kids to the Four Square for frozen chips and brandy snaps. I know it's raining, but they'll run up there if necessary". Calm descended at my cunning new plan.
Eddie and family arrived. "Where's Richie McCaw's uncle?" his lovely wife asked the minute she walked in the door, shoving a packet of chicken frankfurters in my hands. "And how, exactly, do you know him?" I opened my mouth to explain, only to hear Little Weenie's sleep-over friend yell from the direction of the bathroom: "Kathryn, the toilet's not flushing . . . it's nearly overflowing."
I sprinted full-tit into the lavatory, located the plunger and, after a few heaves, the toilet flushed perfectly. "Perhaps we should suggest Richie McCaw's uncle uses the other one," she suggested nervously.
At 9.30pm, Hubby glanced nervously at the clock. "Do you think we need another quick vacuum," I asked, looking at a squashed grape on the dining room floor.
"No," Hubby replied. "I think we've done just about all we can do. Let's just enjoy the game."
Fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rang. We opened the door, and there he was. Richie McCaw's uncle.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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