The Good Life
There’s a different attitude to spending when you move to the country, but it doesn’t mean no more buying.
Sometimes when I was an Auckland person, with a job in the city, I would wander around at lunchtime and look at the shops for something to buy. I usually ended up buying a small cake.
When I was a young person, I got a job at what was then called the Post Office, in the Regional Engineer’s Department, which was something to do with telephone wires – I never quite figured it out – and as part of the deal, they gave you a chequebook. I used to totter down to Smith & Caughey’s at lunchtime, in my stilettos, to the make-up counters to buy red lipstick and black eyeliner and to the hosiery department to buy fishnet stockings, which I’d take home and rip holes in so that I could take my chequebook out on Saturday nights and pretend to be a rich punk rocker.
I was eventually hauled before the office manager to have a strip torn off me and my already stripped stockings for all of those cheques. Insufficient funds existed, apparently. He said: “We are not a bank.” I said: “Why did you give me a chequebook then?”
I have never been very good at getting on with managers, balancing chequebooks (if they still exist) or shopping.
I was born to live in the country.
I have given up on lipstick; the midges get stuck in it and that is not an enticing look – even if I was still pretending to be a punk rocker.
I have given up on high heels. I have Red
Bands for home and my new, beautiful R.M. Williams boots for town. These boots are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned and they are also the most expensive shoes I’ve ever owned.
I have holes in my Helen Cherry mohair jumper. Greg said: “Why don’t you buy a new jumper? You’re going feral.” I could sew the holes up, I said, showing them to Carolyn, who milks the sheep. “Why?” she said. “You live in the country now.”
She has a point. I do have another jumper, for town. The only significant difference between my two jumpers is that one does not have holes. Two jumpers seem an adequate number to me. You don’t want to go splashing it about in the country – you’d look like an Aucklander. Also, it is quite expensive living in the country because of all the things you really do have to buy.
Some of the things we have spent money on since moving to the country include: waratahs (these are fencing things, I think); a dark blue boiler suit for Greg to mow the lawns in (these are de rigueur for the country; everyone wears them, so if you didn’t know better, you might think the country was one big communist state where the dress code is prescribed); and kilos of apples for feeding the rams.
I have also bought a shiny red bicycle, with a basket on the front so I can ride into town and pretend that I’m the oldest hipster in Masterton. The Artist said: “How is your bicycle riding going?” I have managed to ride to the letter box and back. The Gardener, who is a true gent, said, valiantly on my behalf: “It’s for emergencies.”
I had not ridden a bicycle since I was 10. I feel 10 again while wobbling my way to the letter box.
For my birthday, I am hoping to get a swing, to hang from the big old oak on the driveway, and a chest freezer, to stick in the garage. I need a chest freezer because people in the country are very kind and are always giving us bits of dead animals. I need a swing because in the country you can pretend to be 10 again and nobody can see you doing it.
On ya bike: the oldest hipster in Masterton.