The Year I Went Pear-Shaped
was little he’d always buy me lolly mixes or slip me a couple of dollars when no one was looking and say, ‘go on Love, buy yourself a wee treat’. Now that he and Aunty Viv had moved to the Gold Coast, just up the road from Mum and Joseph, he spent his days playing lawn bowls and building coffee tables. In the last couple of years, he’d started selling the tables in a local furniture shop. He’d had to, there was no room left in their house for any more of them and Aunty Viv had kept complaining that, ‘no one on earth drinks that much damned coffee Bryan, can’t you learn to make something else?’ But now that the tables were selling for $700 each and the shop was moving at least one a week, she wasn’t complaining anymore. The extra money paid for her weekly manicure and pedicure with plenty left over for the odd new dress or pair of shoes.
    “...but the less I know about my sister’s sex life, the better,” I heard Mum say as I tuned back in.
    “Well, I for one am glad Viv’s getting a bit of it Mum, it gives me hope that I might have sex again sometime in the next forty years.”
    “Look, you’ll meet Mr Right one day Darl, I know it, but it wouldn’t hurt things if you dropped a couple of kilos would it? I mean, lets not be politically correct about it shall we, the truth is to catch a man you’ve got to be attractive and, face facts Honey, slim girls are more attractive. I’m your mother, if I can’t tell you this, who can?”
    God, where are the razor blades when you need them.
    “Yes Mum, I know. I’ll try this blood group thing. You never know, maybe it’ll work this time.”
    “There’s a good girl! I’ll put the book about it in the mail. In the meantime, get yourself to the butcher’s and throw out all your bread and high carb food in your kitchen, ok?”
    “Yes Mum.”
    “Ok, now how’s everything else, any news? Interviewing anyone interesting soon?”
    “Well, I’m meeting up for coffee with this guy off a daytime soap in the next couple of days, do you ever watch Love on the Wards?”
    “I’ve caught it a couple of times I think but honestly Darl, I don’t get time to watch daytime TV, not when there are abandoned animals to find new homes for. I do like Harry’s Practise though. Actually, we’ve just taken in this gorgeous Burmese cat, aww you should see her! So beautiful. Poor wee thing had been dumped at the tip. It’s scandalous, I’d like just five minutes alone with some of these people, I really would,” she huffed.
    I smiled at the thought of my Mum, all high heels and designer scarves, venting her wrath on the some animal-abandoning thug.
    “So how many pets are you looking after at the moment then?”
    “Well, there’s three cats, two dogs and a goat but I think we’ve found a home for one of the cats and the goat.”
    “God, it’s lucky you’ve got a big back yard Mum!”
    “Yes, but I love it Darl, you know that.
    “I know you do Mum and you’re doing a great job.”
    “Thank you Angel, anyway, I’d best run, I just wanted to see how you were doing. Now, let me know when you get the book, I want to know how you go with it. I’ve got a good feeling about this diet Darl! I know you can do it.”
    “Yep, will do Mum, thanks, talk to you again later.” It suddenly struck me as ironic that on the one hand Mum was on a one-woman mission to save animals everywhere yet on the other hand she was encouraging me to eat as many of them as I could. The madness of dieting.
    “Ok, love you Darling!”
    And she hung up, no doubt hurrying off to de-flea one of the residents.
     

Chapter 11: Gordo the Gardener
    I could hear my own heart pulsing loudly in my ears, my hands were so clammy that every few minutes I had to soak up the sweat with a paper napkin from one of silver boxes sitting at the counter. I didn’t dare touch the latte going cold in front of me for fear the caffeine would make my heart race even more and Gordon would arrive to the sight of me

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