-Fun Lovin Criminals
I have fallen in love with a highway – Surf Highway 45 - the coast road that stretches from New Plymouth in the north all the way round to Hawera in the south. I’m not usually in the habit of falling in love with weird stuff like cars or laptops (it’s called objectophilia when you have bizarre sexual attraction to objects) but Surf Highway 45 sparked something in me. It’s like a trip back in time to small town New Zealand. There’s a unique innocence and kitschness to it. Surf Highway 45 is dotted along the way with small towns with names like Patea, Manaia and Opunake.
In Opunake, Hemi layed a mean hangi for the high school fundraiser and it hardly tasted smoky at all. The waves pounded us senseless at Opunake Beach and we lazed away days at the gorgeous Opunake Beach Campground.
We bought four pies, a custard square, an apricot slice, two coffees and a cold drink for around twenty bucks. We thought it was a mistake. “Did you get the coffees?”
“Did you get the slices?”
“What about the pies? Did you count the pies?”
“Yes!” The lovely sales woman was getting irritated so we left with our lunch feeling slightly guilty.
None of us could look each other in the eye as Helen showed us around the dusty hall with her revolver-shaped laser, pointing out pictures of country music idols in their “antique mirror” frames. Some pictures are signed. Some are not. The New Zealand artists are on the bottom and the overseas artists are up the top. The walls are also crowded with “farming memorabilia of New Zealand’s yesteryear and household items that bring back memories of the good ol’ days singing around the piano.” There’s a crazy mannequin leaning over the mezzanine floor with a gun pointing at you and an evil porcelain doll dressed in country gear. I was waiting for her to wake up and say “Hi, I’m Chuckette, wanna play?”
Even though we thought the doors might close at dusk and everyone inside would turn into vampires and eat us, everyone agreed that we had to give the Resident Band Club Evening a go. The door charge is $3 and if you want to reserve a seat at one of the tables (decorated with pictures of country stars) you can pay an extra $2 – we decided to try our luck. The doors open at 6.30pm so you can mix and mingle and the show starts at 7.30pm. From the moment we walked in the door, we were dubbed “The Visitors” – the visitors being myself, my husband and my dad.
We haven’t been eaten – they aren’t vampires – and they are great singers and musicians. I am a Wellington snob but that was the best night out I’ve had in ages – no alcohol – only cups of tea and lamingtons. After all – music is the universal language.