Memories are made of mist

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March 2, 2013 by Doug Coutts

Nestor meridonalis (i)

Because today is the birthday of Debra Marshall, the former WWE wrestler who would appear in the ring with her former husband Stone Cold Steve Austin, we’ve given all our WWNews staff the day off. Rather than just have an empty page, we’ve invited celebrity columnist and ace reporter Beethoven Smith to share a few thoughts:

I remember growing up in Gore, which in many ways was like growing up in gore. Living in Southland is a two-edged sword, or at least a cricket bat with nails poking out the business end.

We all carried them, us kids. We had to, for protection. Not against other kids or their parents, but against the local cop. He was one of those clichéd country cops, the sort who would rather give you a clip round the ear or sink his boot to the third lace-hole than refer you to youth-aid, or say hello back.

His brother was the local grocer, who shared the same propensity for mindless violence. Usually he saved it for the vegetables but when the McWhirter kids weren’t in range he’d lash out at anyone. It wouldn’t take much to set him off: usually asking him not to lick the aniseed balls as he counted them out – 4 for a penny if I recall correctly – would result in a clip round the ear or a sinking of his boot to the fourth lace-hole. He favoured winkle-pickers.

We weren’t like the city kids, those smarmy little snots from Clinton or Winton or Mataura. We had more fingers and toes for a start. And more years in the fifth form, as it was in those days. But we still had a lot of fun, and we’d make our own. Trolleys, flying foxes, hidden underground torture chambers – we did it all.

Friendships forged back then, like handcuffs from horse shoes, have stood the test of time. When I look back, as I do pretty much every fortnight, I find the memories are as fresh as they ever were and often slightly fresher. We had a saying back then: “What happened that night, no one had better find out.” And we had another one: “One day we’ll look back on this and make some money from it.”

That’s the great thing about nostalgia. It fills a space.

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