Mum Drove Getaway



I went to a family reunion once in 1982. You might wonder about what sort of lack of cohesion there existed in my family that we needed to have a reunion. Most families, after all, are never so disjointed that they need a reunion. Like the cast of Gilligans Island or the Brady Bunch. Now they needed reunions, but us?
We had the reunion because somebody realised how many of us there were and most of us had no clue about the extent of exactly who we were related to. The winters in my home town were legendary and there were few distractions from the task of populating the planet.
At this reunion in 1982 the organisers, who I assume I was related to, hired or took by force the show grounds at a town called Crows Nest. It was an outdoor event and no non-family members were invited. In excess of 2000 people turned up, all related by blood in one way or other to me and my mother and my brothers and sisters. They weren't blood relatives of my father - that was for another reunion which would probably never be held on account of bad blood over real estate, money, domestic violence, and various internal squabbles all loosely based on various teachings in the good book. Not "On Our Selection". I'm talking the first boy band: Mathew-Mark-Luke-and-John.
The family reunion I went to in 1982 at Crows Nest is where I discovered that my family on my mother's side had a kind of predilection for endurance sport. I had won the boys section of my school cross country race a couple years earlier and as it turned out the winner of the girls section that same year was one of my cousins. We met up at the reunion and shared gasps of disbelief. I should have known we were related because she had the same surname as my mother's maiden name: Blinco. Blinco always reminded me of that TV show "Sgt Bilko" starring Phil Silvers. Fogarty always reminded me of two things: CCR and first mates on Victorian-era sailing ships.
The 1982 reunion came at a sea-change moment in my life. It was then that I'd decided I had to start posting my poems and short stories on the University notice board next to the cafeteria so I could sit and watch people's reactions to them and it was also then that a dude I knew, now a world-worn journalist, came around to my tiny flat to appeal to me to keep writing stories even though I had just in fact quit university.
"You got to keep writing," he told me in all earnestness.
"I know," I said, simply. "Thanks…"
So I kept writing and have never stopped. It's a central part of how I make a living and always has been except for brief stops and starts in pointless clerical jobs and non-writing jobs over the years.
The reunion was a misnomer for me particularly because I'd never met most of the people who were present and who I was related to. A reunion implies re-connection, uniting again. To me the whole day was a blank slate of unfamiliar faces, upper arm fat, home baking and slightly out-of-date family cars.
There were no formalities to the day, not that I remember. It was like a music festival with no music. We all sort of camped out for the day around the perimeter of this enormous field drinking hot tea from thermos flasks and eating sandwiches while nothing went on out in the middle.
After a few hours my mother turned to me and my brothers and sisters and said: "Shall we?"
So we left.
Before we left though I felt it necessary to steal two chairs that had been dotted around the place for us to feel welcomed by.
My mother didn't want to know about the theft. "Well just look the other way while I put them in the boot," I said.
And she did.
Then she drove Getaway.

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