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Valerie Was a Wingnut

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Annie Ryall

Valerie was a wingnut. Her brother Spacer had a screw loose and, although her parents Mortise and Tenon were a stable unit, they were somewhat uptight and rigid. They expected their children to achieve great things – a Grand Design project being the ultimate Nirvana or, at the very least, a bespoke Scandinavian chair. Tenon’s uncle had been a cable girder on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and never ceased to boast about it, much to the embarrassment of the children. Valerie couldn’t think of anything worse than being part of a Grand Design project - too much masochism and martyrdom for her – give her a Metricon any day. Of course she would never reveal her modest ambitions to her parents.

Thus it is when parental expectations are unattainable, children either attempt desperately to measure up (and inevitably fail), or rebel. Valerie definitely took the latter path and pretty much defied all her parents’ rules. She would go out partying in an anti-clockwise direction or worse still get hopelessly cross-threaded and have to spend a night in the toolbox. Her father, Tenon, bailing her out the next day and lecturing her on the rules of good carpentry all the way home.

“Cross threading, anti-clockwise – what is it with you younger generation? If we did that when we were your age we’d have got a good hammering when we got home.  You don’t know how lucky you are …” On and on till his voice sounded like an orbital sander on steroids. They’d arrive home only to find Mortice and Spacer at loggerheads. The conversation would go something like this:

Mortise:  I’ve told you not to hang around with that gang of hot dipped galvanised hex heads… they’re a bad influence and you’ll never get anywhere.

Spacer:  They’re not hex heads… they’re my friends!

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