I was doing a bit of a tidy up today and I came across some pictures of one of the houses in which we grew up.
This was the second house mum and dad owned. It was the one before “the dream home”. It was also 1975.
It was your basic “L” shape, north-facing, with a reasonable backyard, incredibly rowdy neighbours on one side, and a family from Liverpool on the other, owners of a horse called Mandy.
Out the front was a bit of section that was crying out for planted perennials, perhaps a few silver birch trees and lots and lots of phormium tenax surrounded by bark.
The first thing my parents always did when they got a new house was dig a vegetable garden and plant unfeasible amounts of things we hated like silverbeet, lettuce and courgettes. Subsequently, dad would begin his vanity project, a brick, chimneyed, barbeque. It was like the family temple. The cement would be mixed up on the garage floor, much to mum’s horror.
Once the exterior had been planted by what looked like every type of flora available to humanity, dad would turn his attention to the interior.
For a guy who worked as a shearer for many years before he entered the police, dad seemed to also fancy himself as some kind of interior “redesigner”.
Bearing in mind that in those days, you could (on a Sunday night) down a few flagons of DB Brown and suddenly be struck with inspiration after watching Stars On Sunday to begin a full kitchen fit-out.
I remember getting up in the night once and dad was in the bathroom grouting and tiling around the bathtub.
Another time he fancied that we needed an arch to connect the dining room and lounge. Previously, there had been a pair of iconic sliding doors which could easily have been “left open” to provide that sense of flow.
The finished product was basically triumphal, and dad walked through, emperor-styles, hold a frosty tankard of beer, proudly examining every inch of his asbestos craftsmanship.
But the pièce de résistance was yet to come. The hallway seemed so boring, with its straight lines and front door, and rooms off the side such as the “toilet” and “bathroom”.
It wasn’t long before one hall wall was tiled. With large mirror tiles, the likes of which are seen in discotheques and actual bathrooms.
With a maidenhair fern potted in a brass urn, atop a slate pedestal in front, the whole thing become quite trippy and I wondered: what was coming next?
What came next was a major surprise.
There we kids were, sitting at the dining table one night, eating casserole, and in came dad, fresh from work.
That night was a game changer. Dad went over to the Bell ™ system record player, turned it on, and gently placed the record under the stylus. We were disappointed to hear yet another classical album being forced on us. We munched on our parsnips quietly until…
Yes, it turned out dad had ‘totally pranked’ us by in fact buying the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever and playing Walter Murphy’s A Fifth of Beethoven, which not only sampled Beethoven’s Fifth but was also an hilarious pun about liquor.
You couldn’t really get more seventies than that and we were soon playing pretend drums on our Belle Fiore dinner plates with our bone-handled knives and forks, in unison.
Over the fence, Mandy the horse neighed happily and our party neighbours spun another round of Joe Dolce’s Shaddup You Face.
Dad would duly phone noise control later, but it was all good; it was 1981 now and time to buy “the dream home” which is where the interior designs hit some kind of new high, or low.