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Dick's Toolbox (cont.)
..in German), they would have just have been gifted a bottle of Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg spätlese trocken from Karthäuserhof in the Mosel. Perhaps I should have asked for ‘chariot rétractable’ just to be linguistically correct?
This baby’s first words competition which for some reason I, incorrectly, thought came from the movie “Withnail and I’ has not been won over the past ten years or so it has been running, though there is an unrelated drinking game associated with the film. The game consists of keeping up, drink for drink, with each alcoholic substance consumed by Withnail over the course of the film. According to Wikipedia this is roughly nine and a half glasses of red wine, half a pint of cider, one shot of lighter fluid (vinegar or overproof rum are common substitutes), two and a half shots of gin, six glasses of sherry, thirteen measures of Scotch whisky and half a pint of ale. My advice is not to try, given that it could be fatal, and it is definitely not suitable for young children.
The only quote that I can actually approximate from the movie is “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now” which I may have quoted once in a while myself.
Which brings one to thinking about one’s own grandparents of which I had the standard four though my maternal grandfather faded quickly as he died when I was about four. I know what Pop looked like from the photographs but to me all that remains is grey flannel trousers smelling of farm, a vaguely whisky-breathed presence, and the sound of his favourite red leather armchair as he eased his not inconsiderable bulk into it. The cushions exhaled like a walrus coming up from the depths as his bulk compressed everything by more than two-thirds. He died in a diagnostic confusion, some saying that he drank because he had cancer of the stomach, others that the drinking alone was enough to kill him. I believe that White Heather Scotch was the farming man’s pleasure consumed immoderately along with roll-your-own cigarettes. However as the whisky was often supplied by the Stock and Station Agent it might have been Dalgety’s Red Hackle blend. Whether the Rutherfords stooped so low, given that it sounds like sheep dip I don’t know as at one stage they owned their own hotel in Christchurch - Warners - which was at least six stories high. At some stage it was converted in a backpackers hostel and collapsed meekly in the earthquake and is now a blank space.
His wife, and obviously our grandmother, went under a number of aliases given that her first name was Mildred. Generally she was called Billy though my brother and I called her Daye for no reason that we know of. She had the round shape of all country women of the time - jovially Margaret Rutherford-like with a bosom that blossomed out and down like large wobbly barrage balloons tethered inside her blouse. She had something of the Fairy Godmother from Disney’s Snow White about her.
Somehow always a grandmother even though she would have been less than 50 when we appeared, given that our mother was an only child had started early in the child-raising game. Mind you Daye had met her husband because she also liked the horses – they had in fact been introduced at the Wellington races. I remember going off with her at some miniature age to the Riccarton Races in Christchurch, she with her maroon leather, heart shaped member’s badge. I remember that I picked the winner of one race (Cheyenne because I liked cowboys and Indians) and we would have made a killing except that Daye didn’t put any money on it. Since then my equine infallibility has been marred by picking the last, or second to last horse, on the infrequent times I have a flutter.
Daye was the ideal grandmother as she lived in a flat downstairs where one could run away from home the fantastic distance of 20 metres in times of family stress for a cup of tea and a short bread biscuit.
There were two other grandparents but they lived far away in Auckland and whom we saw once a year which was the same frequency, which we saw our father. They will stay in the background for another day.
I hope that I can be as loved and as well remembered as they all are.
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