MY DAD WOKE me early to go down town and buy streamers. It was 1989 and our team was in the grand final for the second year running. I was eight. The year before we’d been in the grand final against the Bulldogs and had been beaten 24-12. It was a hard loss for a seven year old. This year we were in the grand final against the Raiders. I didn’t think we could lose, since in our house the Raiders were made fun of for looking like Milo tins. This was my mum’s contribution to the footy, deciding what pantry items the teams’ jerseys most looked like. We were a traditional household in this way.
My dad and I started decorating as soon as we got home from the newsagent’s. I held the pre-torn pieces of sticky tape on the ends of my splayed fingers, while he wound crepe paper around the veranda posts and swigged from his beer bottle. There were four posts at the front of our house and we moved from left to right, turning them into black and orange barbers’ poles as we went. People beeped their car horns as they drove past and somehow it was possible for my dad to tell whether they were supportive or non-supportive beeps. For the supportive ones, he raised his bottle and swigged as if he were toasting the victory to come. Otherwise, he took a longer swig, wiped his lips with his forearm or the back of his hand and said something like, ‘We’ll see just how many big-shot horn blowers are left at full-time.’
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