A Fairlie relaxing getaway
OPINION: Everyday Housewife Danyel Southwark shares her thoughts on the week past, as relayed by satirist Steve Braunias.
The story so far (13th instalment): ACT Party donor and Auckland mother of two Danyel Southwark has her life turned upside down when her husband loses all their money - but is thrown a lifeline when she defrauds a Chinese businessman ...
McKenzie said, "This isn't Tonga."
I said, "No. It's Timaru."
Olive cried. She said, "You said we were going to go on holiday in Tonga!"
I said, "Tonga, Timaru - what's the difference?"
It was raining. The italics of the sign - RICHARD PEARSE AIRPORT - looked smudged through the airplane windows.
The stewardess said, "We're looking at a high today of nine degrees."
I said, "It could be worse."
McKenzie cried. She said, "How?"
The stewardess said, "And a low of two."
While we waited for our bags, I explained to them that although I'd come into an unexpected sum of money, my promise to take them to Tonga for the school holidays had been rash. It was better to exercise thrift.
Olive said, "What's thrift? Isn't it something poor people do?"
McKenzie said, "How much was the fare to Tonga for the three of us?"
I said, "About $1500." She said, "And the fare here?"
I said, "About $1400."
We picked up our bags in silence. I drove the rental car through the old familiar empty country roads. Pleasant Point, Cave, Albury ... As ever, it felt deserted. When we approached Fairlie, my childhood and teenage years flashed before my eyes. It wasn't a very bright flash. Nothing much had happened back then.
The house where we grew up was on the outskirts of town. It was next to an empty section, and besides the golf course. It looked exactly the same, right down to the smoke coming from the chimney - but no one lived there anymore. We kept it empty since our parents died.
A man opened the front door. I nearly didn't recognise my own brother. I said, "What are you doing here, Tom?"
Tom works at the ministry of foreign affairs in Wellington. He said things weren't going well in the office and he needed to get away for a while.
"Sorry," he said.
"Not your fault," I said.
"Nonsense. Girls, this is your uncle." Olive said, "Are you poor, too?"
"Sorry," said Tom, when he walked into the kitchen.
"Most people say good morning," I said.
"Yes. Right. Sorry," he said.
He was 44 and a bachelor, and wasn't used to children but the girls liked him. They hadn't really met anyone from my family before. I'd tried to keep my Auckland life and my South Island life apart. It rained. We sat on the living room carpet in front of the woodburner after breakfast, and played Monopoly.
It rained. We sat on the living room floor in front of the woodburner after breakfast, and played Monopoly.
Tom won again. "Sorry," he said.
After the girls were in bed, I opened up a second bottle of wine. I told Tom about Guy losing our fortune. He talked about how his boss at the ministry blamed him for everything.
I said, "Who's your boss?"
He said, "You know. Murray."
I said, "Oh. Him. Sorry."
We turned on TV. 3rd Degree had a story about the woman who accused the Malaysian diplomat of sexual assault.
Tom said, "Murray won't like that." He opened up a third bottle.
There was a break in the rain, and we all walked into town.
Tom said to the girls, "See that hotel? We've got two in Fairlie and we call that one Bottom Pub."
I said, "Isn't that Top Pub?"
To celebrate the Rams - the local Mackenzie Rugby Club - making the semi-finals of the Hamersley Cup senior rugby competition this weekend, the Fairlie Bakehouse was making and selling special "ram pies". We ate them walking down the street. They were delicious.
Tom pointed at a hotel; the sign read, Top Pub.
"I don't want to go back to work," Tom said.
"Murray," I said.
"Murray," he said.
It rained. We stayed inside by the fire. Tom tried reading my copy of The Luminaries. McKenzie read Total Girl magazine. I read the police notebook in the Timaru Herald. Olive drew a picture of the four of us eating pies, and said, "Let's not go back to Auckland".
Diary of a Housewife, the creation of Steve Braunias, features the satirical musings of two contrasting Kiwi women, Aucklander Danyel Southwark and Wellingtonian Harriet Wakefield. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SteveBraunias
- The Timaru Herald