Smoking on the beach in wet denim flares
...courtesy of the magazines stored in my study....
The year was 1976 and twenty year olds Mark and Trish were in love. With double denim, smoking, getting wet and .... each other.
Trish laughed freely at Mark's jokes - it took her attention away from his Ford Cortina-sized thighs and water buffalo hair. Mark thrilled at his obvious sense of humour and the opportunity it gave him to sneak a quick peek down her cleavage.
In 1977, they backpacked around Europe together, electing to smoke Dunhill in the hopes that being from a country famous only for Dame Edna, Barry Crocker and Skippy might make them seem a bit more sophisticated. Walks on the beach were a distant memory as they didn't want to slice their toes on the icy grey cobble of Brighton.
Back in Australia for the lazy days of summer they bought newer, darker denim jeans and went back to the beach.
Why hadn't Mark thought to bring a hook, some bait and line, Trish wondered.
Why did Trish always fart on the picnic hamper, Mark despaired.
Never mind, they had Vok Creme de Menthe to see them through the awkward silences over the card table at the caravan park, the obligatory snog in the beanbag at the Thomas's house for New Year's Eve and a fun mouthwash alternative to reduce the effect of ash-tray breath.
But ABBA's domination of the music charts had finally ended and Mark and Trish's coffers were empty after shelling out forty bucks a fortnight on the mortgage for their mission brown brick veneer with cork tiling and exposed ceiling beams.
On the back of the Womens' Weekly Hoges was trying to persuade them to switch to the cheaper and bigger Winnie Blues. He might also have been hinting at at least giving 'batting for the other side' a burl or, at the very least, try some fancy dress, but Mark wasn't keen.
Trish put the sparkle back into their relationship by making breakfast extra-special.
..... But on the weekends Mark ruined every single picnic by gutzing down the Flake bar before they'd even arrived at the park and by generating too much BO in his polyester bodyshirt and woollen vest.
'It should be me who is sulking, not him,' Trish fumed, wishing that he'd also stop wittering about the cool new style for lampshades and could bloody well shove that candle up somewhere far darker than the neck of the now-empty Rose bottle.
Mark knew that he was in a slump, so he bought a three-piece tweed suit with leather elbow patches, some stacked cuban heels, grew a large and luxuriant porn star mo and used only gold-plated desk accessories. This effort might have been successful if he wasn't a cable layer for Telecom.
The early eighties saw them still together but rigid, bitter and able to afford joyless European holidays. Unfortunately with each other.
Trish's hair was now like her demeanour: frosted, and Mark would throw a fainting fit if she ever tried starting a sentence with, 'We need to talk. About those jeans tucked into your socks and being honest about WHO knitted you that abominable deer cardigan jumper!'
By 1988, Mark was in the arms of mysterious knitter, Sheryl from Elna and Trish found her solace not in alcohol or cigarettes but her new comforts: phenylanaline and aspartame and boob-flattening lycra.
There's a lesson in this cautionary tale for all of us. Somewhere.....