Party people, February flew by and I barely wrote an update. I’ve decided to remedy this by telling you nearly everything that happened this month.

The month started near the end of Pat and Richard’s two-month visit. They flew out on Saturday the 4th; unfortunately, we hadn’t known until it was too late that this was what they’d booked, meaning that we weren’t even in Auckland to bid them farewell. I drove down to my parents’ place on Wednesday the 1st, stopping with my canine co-pilot to lie in the sun by Lake Taupo.

Typically, I hadn’t bothered to finish making my and Tristan’s costumes for the Sevens, even though we’d decided upon them ages ago, so on the 2nd I knew that I had to knuckle down (after all, the Sevens were being held on the 3rd). My mother, God bless her, asked Kate, her secretary, if she would bring her sewing machine to work and put her mad costume-making skills to the test on my behalf. Kate, the trooper, did so and she and I spent a happy morning in my parents’ dining room, getting stuff done. Kate sewed silvery netting stuff all over my pink el-cheapo dress and turned it into a good version of Glinda’s outfit (which I accessorised with wings, a crown and a wand, as you’ll see in the photo below), and I used a crochet hook and added some raffia to make Tristan’s scarecrow clothing look suitably rustic. Tristan was the Gap scarecrow: his shirt and shorts were both from that shop. However, I’m not sure whether they’re likely to feature in any glossy ad campaigns.

Tristan flew in on the evening of Thursday the 2nd, and he, Andrew and I drove to Wellington on Friday morning. Andrew had found us an awesome house to rent for the weekend: the owners were super-stylish and a big fan of mid-century wooden furniture. I wanted nearly everything in their house. Weirdly, the woman who lived there and I seemed to own all the same books, AND she made us banana bread and left it as a welcome present (and that’s almost the only thing I’ve baked in recent years). Perhaps the woman of the house is my Wellington doppelganger?

Anyway, Dorday and Grant arrived from their hotel (they’d flown in from Sydney the evening before), and we all got into our costumes and headed into town. The weather was perfect – lovely and hot and sunny – and we were quite delighted with our outfits. Dorday, in particular, was a trooper and painted her entire face green. But the real star of our entourage for the weekend was Andrew, in his silver lycra jumpsuit. He’d even hit the gym and watched his diet in the previous few weeks, shedding ten kilos to ensure that he could get away with the skin-tight look. That’s a serious commitment to dressing up, kids.

We ran into Davey, Dion and Dave on our way to the stadium. They were dressed as Popes, and there have never been three men less pope-like in the history of the world. Davey is a Sevens enthusiast of several years’ standing, so he’s a good man to know when it comes to this event. He’s the only person who would dream of using a cooked chicken to smuggle vodka into the stadium.

The rest of the day passed at the stadium with a lot of dancing, drinking and rugby-watching. We met some hilarious people, and the costumes were incredible. Vickie – our Dorothy – turned up at 6ish, although we found a stunt double on our way in.

Here’s what we all looked like (although these shots were taken on Saturday morning and it was much cooler, which is why I’ve added questionable short white leggings to my outfit). Here are the girls:

My costume was a huge hit with every small girl in Wellington – the sight of a grown-up wearing pink, sparkly stuff seemed to gladden their hearts.

Vickie’s costume was a huge hit with every red-blooded male in Wellington, for obvious reasons.

And here are the boys:

The casting was inspired – Grant, in particular, was born to dress up as a lion. All in all I think that we put in a good dressing-up effort, and a guy at the stadium agreed: on Saturday, we were spotted in a ‘roam the stands and look for good costumes’ thing that the organisers did during the half-time breaks of matches – we won a cool $500 for our troubles. Sweet!

Friday night finished with some crazy drinking and dancing at a dodgy bar with a dodgy band, which was great fun. However, on Saturday we all remembered that we’re in our mid-late 30s and aren’t really equipped to handle a whole day and night of drinking anymore; we were all feeling a little tender. But we soldiered on and partied our way through Saturday, albeit with slightly less enthusiasm for the beer and the cider.

One exciting thing happened during the final afternoon; an event that has finally enabled us to find a decent nickname for Tristan. There was a big crowd of people sitting a few rows behind us – they were dressed as toy soldiers and their outfits were pretty cool. Unfortunately, they weren’t as cool as their outfits: in the middle of the afternoon, a couple of their party decided that it would be hilarious to throw beer over everybody sitting in front of them. Now, anybody who has ever been to a sporting event knows that this is really socially unacceptable behaviour, almost guaranteed to start a fight. But we stayed reasonably calm and limited ourselves to turning around and telling them to sod off, and reminding them that, were they to keep doing it, we’d reserve the right to go a bit berko and maybe call the security guys and get them biffed out of the stadium.

Things were fine for a while, but during the final they kicked off again: NZ scored three tries in the first half, and the same two guys threw beer all over us every time. And gentle reader, it all kicked off. Tristan – yes, TRISTAN! left his seat and went storming over the rows behind him, intent on grabbing the beer out of the hand of the main offender (and yes, possibly intending to freak the guy out and make him think that he was going to get punched). Tristan had only drunk a couple of beers that afternoon, so this wasn’t drunken tomfoolery on his part; he was ENRAGED.

So one of the guy’s mates tried to restrain Tristan, and Andrew – also pretty much sober – stepped up to intervene. A guy tried to grab him, and I told the guy that, as Andrew is a cop, this might not be a smart move. At this point one of the toy soldiers – a woman – started shrieking that she was also a cop. There was a lot of yelling and bedlam going on. Somebody shoved Tristan and he nearly went head-first down several rows of seats.

Vickie challenged the toy soldier cop and asked for her badge number, and toy soldier cop responded by asking Andrew for his, at which point they traded numbers and it became apparent (to them, anyway), that she’d only graduated last year, whereas he had many years of coppishness under his belt. She then asked where he was from, and he told her, and then she got really apologetic (quite a change from her full-on, aggro stance a minute or two earlier), so it was quite weird – we speculated later that she might know somebody in Andrew’s station. There were more choice words spoken, of course: I told the toy soldier cop that she was a disgrace and that she needed to get her feral friends under control before they caused a brawl. I also pointed out that her friends had been acting badly all afternoon and that she’d done nothing to resolve it, so perhaps she could consider being the grown-up and getting things under control (luckily I’d only had two drinks all day, so this didn’t come out as a drunken burble). It seems that she took my advice, anyway: as soon as the final whistle went, the toy soldiers filed out.

And Tristan’s new nickname is Knuckles, bestowed on him by Grant. Another brilliant call about this episode came from my niece Katie’s boyfriend Nigel, just last week: he referred to it as ‘Tristicuffs’, which is inspired.

All in all, the Sevens were a blast, although I think I’m probably a bit too old for that shenanigans. Thank God that this tournament wasn’t taking place in Wellington when I lived there in my late teens and early 20s, though. I would have ended up pregnant, arrested, or in detox.

We left Wellington on Sunday, but not before we visited Cam (the guy with whom I’m setting up a charity) and his wife and daughter, and went to our friends Sam and Tania’s daughter’s christening lunch. Davey turned up late, looking a little jaded, and swore that his Sevens appearances are also over, but I have my doubts about that.

We chilled out in my parents’ house on Monday the 6th, which was also my 37th birthday. And can I just pause here to say how odd I find it that I am the grand, grown-up age of 37? It’s so strange. Whenever I say this kind of thing people tend to hear ‘OH MY GOD I’M GETTING OLD AND FREAKING OUT OMG!’, but that really isn’t what I mean – I couldn’t give two hoots about getting older (after all, who would choose the alternative?) I just find it almost impossible to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t merely a year or two ago that I was living in a grotty student flat and wearing skirts so short that you could see what I had for breakfast. I mean, I’m still friends with nearly all of the same people, and I still feel the same a lot of the time. It’s just amazing. Perhaps the ‘I’m a grown-up’ thing kicks in if you have kids of your own?

Annoyingly, I totally forgot to take a photo on my birthday – it’s the first time I’ve flunked my ‘year of photos’ project so far this year.

Anyway, the rest of February has been filled with visits: my parents came up for a few days with plans to go to a Roxette concert (that ended up being cancelled); Geoff and Jane and lovely Edith stopped by for a night; and Katie and Nigel stayed for a couple of nights last week, and learned how to lose at gin rummy. When we haven’t had guests in the house, I’ve been writing stuff – primarily a strategic plan for this charity I’m setting up. After several weeks of work, I finished my draft on Friday. Now I’m waiting for feedback from various people (who seem intent on spending as long on reading it as I spent on writing it, damn it!)

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3 thoughts on “Sevens, 37 and catching up

  1. Those are some real fabulous costumes! It looks like that was a lot of fun!

    A Roxette concert? That sounds like it will be blast. The charity you’re planning on setting up sounds like it will be for a very good cause. I wish you nothing but the best in putting it together, and I hope that it turns out to be a success. 🙂

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