The Sallies men move through the house like reverent ghosts. ‘We can’t take that,’ they say. ‘It’s ripped. Yep, we can take that.’ Their feet pad the pale carpet, perhaps wary of lurking grief. I try to piece together the left over ephemera into a life, a woman: a splayed grass skirt; a chipped Alsatian ashtray; seven champagne coupes wrapped in newspaper; a box of wooden Tourist Hotel Corporation of New Zealand coat hangers; two black umbrellas; a Stereophonic radiogram, Chas and Dave’s Ain’t No Pleasing You forever on the turntable; a girlish white wedding album stripped of its photographs, spidery black captions beneath plastic: “Had joined a family of three beautiful women, but he chose the original.” She had thought herself beautiful! She thought herself original! The torn corner of a ten-dollar note floats to the ground. [Read more…] about The House that Linette Built (or, Inside the House of my Father’s Birth Mother)
The music thumped through me as if Freddie, Bryan, Roger and John were playing on a tiny stage deep inside my chest, rather than on the huge stage 100 meters ahead of our spot on the grass bank. Dad’s hand – dry and warm like pages left out in the sun – squeezed mine; he tapped his chest and laughed. His smile may have out-watted even mine. We were here. Together.
The band launched into the baseline of “Under Pressure” and the crowd went mad, hands in the air, screaming: Pressure! Pressure down on me! Pressure down on you! I leapt to my feet – I couldn’t help it! – then sat down again, embarrassed. I was nine. I’d never been to a concert before. Dad laughed his head off.
“C’mon you,” he said, and dragged me back up.