Tony’s adventurous life started when he was given a red tricycle. His best friend was Sandy the Cocker Spaniel. Jan and Ben were at school and Sandy couldn’t keep up with all his energy. Mid morning, Betty got a call from the principal. Tony had cycled 1 km across main roads and through the town to go to school. He was three.
Ben was the “scientist.” He unscrewed anything that had screws; when he couldn’t find something to undo, he would put the screw driver in power sockets, or put tea towels on the stove to watch them burn. He was four when he pulled the handbrake at the top of their steep driveway and smashed the car into the house. He didn’t talk much, but when he did, it was meaningful. Betty took him in his pram to the butcher, Mr Mooday. Doug had complained about the meat they had for dinner the night before. Ben greeted him and then said in a loud voice, “Mr Mooday, do you know what my dad said? He said he was going to wrap those chops around your bloody neck.”
Tony, the little entrepreneur, made his dollars from delivering newspapers and getting deposits from collecting glass soda bottles on the beach. He also made a quick but humiliating 20c from Jan. She played dress ups and he was her little sister. He just kept his mind on the money. The clothes came off quickly when he saw Doug and Betty trying to hide their smiles.
He was tightly wound up. His words wouldn’t come out fast enough so he spoke a kind of gibberish for a while. Walking was another boring past time. He ran everywhere and was always barefooted.
School was a drag apart from the “trips” he went on with his teachers and Maths was only interesting when he had some substance assistance.
It seemed that the only common thing we shared in our childhood was our love for pranks. Tony’s were just slightly more aggressive. He threatened to get his teachers after school with, “We know where you live.” Once he and his friends found a life size toy gun; they drove down the main road in their car and found a Mormon man on his bicycle. Tony pointed the gun out of the moving car window and said really slowly, “I’m going to shoot you.” The gun made a loud bang and the guy fell off his bike, thinking he had been shot.
When Ben dared Tony to push him off the roof of the house, he did. While Betty was dealing with Ben’s broken arm, Doug went after Tony. He chased him around the house and garden and eventually gave up.
The more we talked, the more we realised that if we had met at any other time in our lives, we would NOT have been interested in each other. Tony was wild and woolly. He had experienced most of what life had to offer by the time he was 14. He left school to work with Doug in his tea business. Then it was life in fast cars with model girlfriends. He started to earn more money in a week than the average NZ family earned in a month.
His family had no religion to speak of. Tony’s was hedonism. He lived for anything that brought him pleasure. No holding back.