The Sentimental Shopper by Emily Smart

The Tammy Girls c 1986

The Tammy Girls c 1986

Half Term Hell

It’s half term here in New Zealand and we’ve just completed week one of the ‘holidays.’ I use the term holidays advisedly as I have been running around like a blue bottomed fly for the last seven days. Forget the lie-ins, not making packed lunches and being able to lounge around in your jarmies ‘til 3 o’clock in the afternoon. No sirree. Apparently, the kids still wake up early, they still need to eat and they want entertaining outside of the home.

I found myself at the local supermarket, super-early last week, having avoided a midnight dash the night before to buy cereal, bread and milk. I had the time it takes for the other half to get ready for work to get the groceries, so I was on a mission to make sure I could get to the shops and back without 3 really helpful little shoppers.

My Countdown Heaven (17)

Shopping at 7am in Countdown is a different experience. Firstly, there’s no-one there, which is fantastic. Secondly, the people that are there fall into three categories: night-workers buying beer, shelf stackers, and mums (like me) who have forgotten that they have children to feed. I found myself tut-tutting at a lumberjack-shirted bloke buying a six-pack of beer, until I looked down into my trolley and saw a cheap Shiraz I must have absent-mindedly popped in ‘for later’.

As I wheeled up and down the aisles, I found myself listening to a familiar tune over the PA. Well, blow me, it was only Nick Kershaw singing ‘Wouldn’t it be good’. I was immediately transported back to 1984. I was 14, had a flat-top hair style (with dodgy highlights), I was wearing stone washed denim and dancing badly at ‘Jack’s Disco’ in Foxton village hall on a Thursday night.

Cool and the Gang

There was a gang of us that used to go, and God did we think we were the dog’s danglies?! We used to send Andrew Wallman (Wallman Cheeky – his nickname due to his big ruddy cheeks, upstairs, not down, I might add) to The Flying Nag to get us cider. And this was way before cider was trendy; then it was the sort of brew that bearded skanky blokes in dirty overcoats who hung around at the bus terminal in town drank.  For some reason Andrew used to get served, even though it was bloody obvious to a man with a Labrador and a white cane that he was nowhere near the legal drinking age. The cider came in a carton and we sat on a bench on the rec, passing it around and getting  tiddly on the smell of cheap booze. If we were feeling really cool, we puffed away on menthol cigarettes, which to this day, I still believe make you sterile!!

Back in the disco, we would throw ourselves around to Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and all the other brilliant eighties’ pop stars. After a quick ‘Oops upside your head’ complete with actions, ‘Spirit in the sky’ – with a set dance every teenager throughout the land knew, and my best mate Deana chucking me in the air to ‘Wake me up before you go-go’, invariably the evening would end with the slow dance. I usually nipped out for a fag at this point, ‘cos no-one asked me to dance, but I occasionally found myself clinging on to Adrian (aka Mossy) my beau at the time, dancing round in circles to ‘Who’s gonna drive you home’. At which point all of us Tammy Girls (as we were known – probably best not to ask), would have a Polo or two and head to the car park to find Deana’s dad, waiting patiently to, yes you’ve guessed it, drive us home.

Back to the Present

Bang and I’m back in the fish finger aisle, having had a huge flashback to my youth whilst singing ‘I’ve got it bad, you don’t know how bad I’ve got it’ out of tune with the lovely Nik around Countdown Grey Lynn.

When I look back, I can’t quite believe how life has turned out. The gorgeous Nik Kershaw ended up marrying a friend of mine from secondary school called Sarah Laidlaw. She always was uber-cool and fecking funny. Seriously, what are the chances of that? We are now friends on Facebook, though I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to ask for a signed photo of her old man! My slow dancing buddy Adrian and I are connected too by Zuckerberg’s social media revolution, and he seems just as lovely as he was when we were kids. Wallman Cheeky, one of the nicest boys you could ever meet is probably out there somewhere, telling his kids about the dangers of under-age drinking. And as for the Tammy Girls, well, we may be 12,000 miles apart but we are all still the bestest of friends.

So thank you Countdown and Nik for the memories; I just hope you’re getting the royalties mate!

The Tammy Girls full line up: Deana, Me, Flash, Stell, Big Al and Kim

The Tammy Girls full line up: Deana, Me, Flash, Stell, Big Al and Kim

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