The first warm day. It was latest arrival of spring I can remember. I sat on the beach reading the weekend broadsheet while the boys tore up and down the sand. Then, following a story I had read them earlier about a windstorm blowing a beach away, they threw it. I was the victim. The idea was I had to use the paper as a shield or a tent against the gale of sand. It worked well for them. Next morning my pillow was full of sand.
Tracy joined us with the small one. The gale had subsided by then and they were ready for afternoon tea. Their mother produced fresh shortbread, still warm with the characteristic grainy texture provided by the use of a combination of rice and wheat flours. They sat and munched while the small one blinked tiny eyes at her first view of sea. What do they think?
Later, I walked back to the house with Tom through quiet ti tree-lined streets. It was unnaturally still. Dead. Not a car. Not a human. It was a ghost town. It must have been early in the last quarter of the football grand final. The entire country was gathered around television sets or radios. The only sounds were shrieks coming from a house here and there. The shrieks grew higher in pitch progressively; almost strangled. That meant a close score. Then nothing. Not a sound. We walked along. We reached the house and I turned on the radio. I had already guessed the result.
It was eerie. Collingwood's three nightmares are enshrined: mention 1966, 1970 or 1977 to a Magpie and they turn green. This result was the spirit of all three. The opponent was St Kilda, which won by a point in '66. In 1970, the Magpies threw away a half-time lead; they did the same on Saturday. 1977 was the last drawn grand final, Collingwood losing the replay. It's going to be a long, nerve-wracking week if you're a Magpie. I'm not. But I like the drama.