Parallel Universe

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Cheryl Nicol
In Print

Earthquakes in New Zealand have always been a reminder of its Geological idiosyncrasies, and occasionally when the earth moved, so did our little house on Christchurch's sandy suburban fringe.

My father - declared a near-genius by my mother - was a mechanical engineer, collector and inventor of such useful items as industrial tile cutters, lawnmower sharpeners, a hovering conveyance platform, a collapsible boat and an ingenious multi-chicken decapitator - to name but a few.

My mother, on the other hand, was a complicated woman with Jekyll and- Hyde tendencies, a creative bent and certain knowledge that civilisation was irrevocably doomed. There was much talk of ending up in the nut house. Living on a shoestring required creative recycling and reimagining. Disappointingly for my mother, her Ten Toothsome Ways with Gourmet Offal were not a success. We didn't appreciate how lucky we were, she said.Trying to lip-read Mr Ed through a shopfront window wasn't my idea of lucky. Owning a television wasn't hers, but she was prepared to reconsider when New Zealand got colour.

Fortunately my father couldn't wait for something that might never happen; instead, we became the proud owners of a black-and-white nineteen inch legless Idiot Box. No more sing-songs around the piano, reading a book after dinner or lengthy debates on the merits of cod liver oil as a laxative. The world and one corner of our lounge had just become a brighter place.