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  • Tina Brand

Stories: Kiddie capers


This photo makes me laugh. Yup, caught standing on the chairs, getting into the prawn crackers on the party table and looking like butter wouldn't melt in our mouths.

My mother often reminded me of how naughty I was as a child. I plucked every bloom she waited for in the garden for my own fairy wonderlands and as ingredients for my cooking set.

I smeared her lipstick all over the bathroom mirrors, and I would grab her party slippers and clomp around the house, abandoning them when something else struck my curiosity. Of course then she could never find them afterwards.


Birthday parties were a big part of our lives in Borneo. We went to everyone's, and everyone came to ours. There was always heaps of food- from fairy bread and sausage rolls to satay sticks and jelly.


The little guy with his head on the table beside me looks like he's truly had his fill. I think the rest of us monkeys were only getting started.


I loved my birthdays. Aunty Daisy would drive over in her Mini, and take me shopping for a new pair of red shoes. We kids all loved Aunty Daisy, but I adored her fiercely for the magical act of taking me shopping for the red shoes.



One birthday, a bachelor uncle who didn't know what little girls liked to play with, bought me a beautiful, shiny black train. I was chuffed to the max. Not one of my little girl pals had a train, and this one had shiny gold wheels, and beautiful carriages.


Mum would make me a fancy cake in some special shape. It was either a butter cake or a chocolate one, but she'd fashion them into Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall, a grand piano, a wishing well, an open book, or a doll in a big frilled skirt. She'd carve up her cakes into the required building blocks and set them on a doilied wood board. Then she would make bowls of different coloured icing out of butter and icing sugar. I'd be presented with an amazing confection of my dreams, and as friends gathered round the table filled plates of scotch eggs, cucumber sandwiches and jam tarts, everyone would sing happy birthday.





Afterwards, there would be games of pass the parcel, musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. My sisters were in charge of organizing the games.

All the kids went home with a goodie bag, but everyone also got a doggie bag of birthday feast leftovers -yum!



Living right on the equator, it rained almost every day, but I can never remember a birthday that was rained out. Instead, we children played in the garden until it was dark. Then the dads would drop in after work, have a couple of drinks with the left over curry puffs and birthday cake, before taking sleepy children and wives home.


I was a cheeky little child, but I grew into a convent trained goody two-shoes who never got into any trouble afterwards.