I’m sitting at a table in Papamoa, which was then some way distant from the Mount and a hamlet all its own, and looking at a poster on the wall of a cheap flat. We’re visiting my uncle David and his partner, and the poster I strongly characterise with the 70s. It is a scene of a great ice field, with a white pegasus partially collapsing under the strength of tendrils breaking through the ice and dragging it down. They are few, but wrap themselves around its legs, and up onto its rider, who is a winged man reaching one arm to the sky, hopelessly, his head thrown back from his bare chest so that you cannot see his face, his curling locks falling onto his back and shoulder. He longs to escape, but cannot.

It is the most gay poster I remember, and has always made me think of Led Zeppelin.

Strangely, in one of those oddities of inheritance, my uncles older than my mother most physically resemble my grandfather, while those younger resemble my grandmother. David is a couple of years younger than my mother, and is of an age that places him at the boundary of the Baby Boomers and the Tweeners, a generation between the Boomers and GenX. Too young to have participated in the New Zealand summer of love, he nonetheless embraced the ethos of the age whole-heartedly, it deeply influencing his perspective on life to this day.

When reading Baby Boomers, I always find myself pegging them (firstly) against the split I’ve always seen between my mother (and her older brothers), who was old enough to escape into the dangers of the world, and those Tweeners who where too young and have always existed on the cusp of the social revolution. On its coat-tails if you will. The second split is between those who pretended to understand the revolution (or who outright did not, ‘the squares’), and those who helped maintain it.

David left home and somehow found himself in Tauranga training and working in Nursing, a clear exhibition of a deep caring streak in all my mothers siblings. I often wonder whether, had things been different for her, my mother herself would have taken up a similar vocation. And it was there that she joined him after escaping the East Coast in 1973.

He tells a tale of being appalled when an ancient car trundles down his street, lurches through his driveway, and promptly dies on his front lawn. Out of the car piles my mother, a close friend (male), and two children, come to stay. In yet another coincidence this same scene is repeated 25 years later when my younger brother hauls himself out of the Queensland Desert and to David’s home in Brisbane, sans children.

But there she was, in need of help, and what was he to do? My mother, famously reliant on help and the kindness of strangers, has lived in and around Tauranga ever since, while David eventually wrapped up his growing family and departed for Australia “to escape Muldoon” in the early 80s. Although, it is also true that my grandparents moved to Tauranga to be near the grandchildren not long after my mother arrived.

And so it was that I grew up in Mount Maunganui, in a nuclear family peripatetic within the boundaries of this one region.

F,FLP

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