Thursday, 20 April 2006


As a side effect of living in both New Zealand and England growing up, I have memories that are as clear as a bell but have no cultural content to give them any geographic grounding. From my early childhood I can remember a clay-mation music video for a song called “Reet Petit”. The easy beat and tame lyrics tell me it is just a re-recording of a song from the 50s but I have no idea whether it was a global success (an early 80s Crazy Frog) or some kind of home grown Kiwi oddity. In about the same era I can recall another stop-motion animated music video for the Nina Simone song “My Baby Just Cares for Me” using anthropomorphic cats. It was a lot slicker than “Reet Petit” and from the parts I can remember, looked a bit like it was a primitive Aardman Animation but I have no idea where I saw it.

Even with corroboration I have a hard time placing my young memories correctly. I have a vivid recollection of Mum lifting me up so I could post a letter in a post box and as I let go of the letter a hand comes out of the mail slot and grabs me. The postman was just clearing the box and having his little joke but the memory is so thick that I can still feel the terror of being attacked by the post monster that was going to eat my hand. I’ve since been told that this happened in Scotland when I was about three but for some reason my brain has filed the whole thing under Te Awamutu, 1982.

This doesn’t make them any less trust worthy but it does lead to confusion when trying to relate shared experiences and getting blank looks from the other people because the memory you have occurred on an entirely different continent to the one you thought. Try explaining Live and Kicking to New Zealanders or What Now to Brits. It just doesn’t work.

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