The other day Carol Duncan played a song which I had never heard before, It was “State of the art” by Gotye”.
And the song is about one of those Hammond organs which they tended to flog a lot on television in the 70s and 80s.
The video, on the other hand, is a weird sci-fi cartoon where this computerised instrument takes over the family and turns them into robots.
Ever since I heard the song, it has become an earworm which won’t go away, I think because it touched a nerve.
You see, in the 70s and 80s, I knew this family, I’ll call them the Irrits, because that’s what they gave me, sorry, but I couldn’t stand them, and because one of them may Google themselves one day I’ll change their first names too.
And this is why, firstly I had nothing in common with them, The Irrits had four kids who I mostly found annoying.
I liked my own company, but suddenly, and often over Christmas holidays in the Aussie Summer, they would arrive at our holiday house and park their caravan down the back, I’m not really sure how a family of five fitted into a caravan, but they managed it.
They had all the luxuries at home though, they had a great car, and a house, which only got larger as they moved onwards and upwards, with a pool and a spa… and the six car garage… but then they did run a taxi service, so that’s fair.
They had the biggest black and white TV that anyone could afford, and a superb quadraphonic Hi-Fi system.
The lead Woman of this Family, Let’s call her Shazza, liked to boast that when she bought the Hi-Fi, that the Man in the shop said “You must really love your music” to which she replied “Oh yes, We love Country and Western” and the poor Man was nearly sick, “You mean you’re going to play Country and Western… on THIS!?”
Are you beginning to see some faults? bare with me.
Oh, there was that organ too, the amazing organ which could make all these incredible sounds, but of course the lead Man, let’s call him Bazza, Couldn’t play a thing.
The house, as fancy as it was, was crammed with the worst kitch at the time, a clock which looks like a cat whose eyeballs and tail would move, little animal figurines, string pictures on the walls, paintings of sunsets.
My Dad couldn’t see the forest for the trees, Dad loved Bazza, thought he was the dogs bollocks, But Mum saw right through the lot, and so did I.
You know how they got all that money?
They barely ate, that’s right, the three teenage boys were thin as a rake, and when they visited us, Mum would put on a banquet, food was loaded onto the table and it would all be sucked up as if by a hoover minutes later.
I remember once when I was a little kid, they looked through every drawer in my bedroom to find money, I was naive then, I thought they were looking for toys or something to play with, but I don’t blame them, I suppose if I was that hungry, I may have taken a risk myself.
We visited them once, and I was offered a drink of cordial, Shazza had diluted it so much that it may as well have been tap water, in fact I said it out loud “This cordial takes like water” well did I get scolded for that, By Mum… it was something she raised a lot when she was angry with me over the years… but eventually I said “Mum, it was the truth wasn’t it?” and she never picked at me over it again.
Once when They visited us, Their daughter, the youngest, really needed a drink, Shazza told me that if I give her a drink of cordial, not to make it too strong, did I listen? pigs to that, it was probably the best drink of cordial the poor girl had ever had.
Another time when we were sitting in their kitchen, their daughter very gingerly asked Her Mum if she could have some BBQ Shapes, a snack biscuit which is popular here in Australia, and often a kid would just take the whole box and eat them all in front of the TV, I know I did.
Shazza took a babies plastic bowl, opened the box, took THREE out and put them in the bowl, and sent the poor kid away with that. My jaw almost hit the floor.
Their clothes were all moth eaten, their shoes were from the local tip or the op shop.
Mum witnessed Shazza washing the dishes once, barely a dribble of Embassy detergent in luke warm water.
When we went on holidays to Queensland (From Melbourne) Mum would pack a hamper full of sandwiches and there’d be a thermos of hot water for tea, coffee or cup-a-soup, there was always an assortment of cool drinks and chips and lollies. we would stop around six in the evening at a reasonably priced motel, to bed down.
When they went, they took no food, despite having five people in the car, they would exist on a few cans of coke and I remember Shazza saying that they pulled over to where a bloke was selling fruit, they bought an entire box of passionfruit and ate those, nothing else for the whole journey… and they never stopped, a full 24hr drive, non-stop.
I don’t know how they existed like that, I know we didn’t have that much, although we had the extra house… We ate well and our clothing was always good… though I use that word lightly after a review of some of the photos from back then.
How do you step from the front door of a huge home wearing the thinnest, oldest and cheapest clothing?
I’m pleased to say that the rest of my family were lovely and I often enjoyed being with them, but the best thing about the Irrits was when they went home.