One of my oldest friends has been forefront in my mind these past few weeks, just things going on in her life. When you’ve known someone for over 47 years being concerned about them takes on a whole new sense of love and care. I think that it’s literally 47 years of investment in a friendship? You realise what a privilege and treasure it is to have known someone who’s not family for the majority of your life journey thus far. I found myself wondering how have we remained such good friends after such a period of time as it didn’t just happen?
The picture is of my five oldest friends in the world and four of us were turning 50 that year. Two of them, Julie and Rhea, I have known for just over 47 years and the other two, Tania and Tanya for 43 years. We all met through school in the tiny little village that we grew up in, population circa 200 people.
Life in the early 70’s was a lot different than it is now, simpler, not so frantic. You bonded over common interests and communicated by talking! There were no locked doors, car or house, and you walked in and out of one another’s home like it was your own. Your parents never seemed to worry about where you were and inevitably someone always fed you. Growing up we were pretty inseparable. Oddly enough, our parents were not socially close. Our friendships grew through the love of life..literally! We were always happy, always laughing, always singing, always dancing. always swimming, always eating, it was that simple.
Life when we met didn’t involve boyfriends we were too young and frankly we didn’t think about it. We loved to ride our bikes, plan what our lives would be like and now and then get starry eyed over one our teachers, Mr Loveridge lol. We worshiped ABBA, loved flared jeans and sang. It would be fair to say that music was a huge part of our lives.
I think for me, the bonds grew closer because my father died when I was ten. All of a sudden you’re dealing with something that affects everything that you know as a family unit and everyone in that unit dealt with it differently. We didn’t have school counselors or the like in those days, so you relied on your friends and family to get through.
We dedicated our time to our little group of friends. We realised that if we were going to be world famous, we needed a name. So much like ABBA we used our initials. The only difference being that the initials of our first names weren’t conducive to that methodology, being DJTTR!!! Not a vowel between us! So we used out surnames as we had a vowel there and came up with CHERP. We loved every moment of being a group. This picture is us at 11 preparing for a show in the Palmerston North Opera House!!
Quite something in those days lol. As a sidebar, that was when I first saw ballroom dancing. They were in the same show (Celeste and Warren), that was the day I fell in love with ballroom (probably the dresses if I was to be perfectly honestly 🙂 🙂 🙂 Actually Celeste is another chapter in a future blog lol, but we also, are still friends today x
Anyway, in 1976 the TV advertised that there was a new talent show called BOOMA and they were auditioning. Andy Shaw of Here’s Andy was the compere. Well that was like a calling card to me, so I wrote the letter to South Pacific Television and we got an audition. All we had to do, was tell our parents lol!!! One of the Mums, Patsy became our manager and before you knew it we loaded ourselves in to her Morris Oxford and were off to Avalon in Wellington for our Audition (with a pit stop in Waikanae to raid her parents tree tomatoe tree lol, that’s what we called Tamarillos in those days lol). Bingo, they loved us!!!!
Now we needed costumes and to actually rehearse!! Best times of our lives. We filmed the heat, which we won, in Avalon. We stayed in the Waterloo hotel in Wellington, it was very flash in those days. It had a huge circular staircase that took you to each floor. On the ground level centred in the circle formed by the staircase was a beautiful glass table. We took absolute delight in aiming our spit balls for the centre of the table from the top floor lololol.
We then flew down to Christchurch to film the semi-final and we stayed at the Russley Hotel, they told us that the Queen stayed there when she was in Christchurch. We felt ever so important. The flight from Palmerston on the NAC jet, was for some of us the first time on a plane, we were beside ourselves!!! Kids today virtually fly from birth, but in those days you hardly knew anyone who had been on a plane where we grew up. I may have mentioned earlier that we loved to swim (funnily enough you’ll hardly ever see me get in the water today??) Anyway there was pool in the centre of the complex and we simply wouldn’t get out. The main dining room was around that pool, and as was the way in those days, people dressed to dine out, it was quite the treat and a formal thing (especially in a hotel that hosted the Queen!). However being the country hicks that we were, we just splashed about in that pool half naked in front of the evening diners,,,well until we got kicked out!
We got third in that semi and never got to the South Pacific Hotel in Auckland for the final 🙁 But it was without doubt an amazing experience for five kids from the country in the Manawatu.
As the years passed Tanya and her family moved to the Gold Coast (no one had heard of it in those days lol, it seemed like the other side of the world!). We all celebrated our birthdays together, all turned 16 at the Wimpy bar on Broadway and then snuck up to Frankies pool bar where the naughty kids hung out lol. Rhea’s mum and my Nana had moved into Palmerston North by then, so we had somewhere to stay in the big city. So come Friday night, I would sneak out of my Nana’s window and head to the Astoria Ballroom nightclub on Regent st. Oh the fabulousness of it all rushes back to me!!! Donna Summer blasting out with the big glitter balls in the centre of the floor. We would hang around the front doors looking cool in our Starsky and Hutch cardigans and denim overalls, practicing our chinese and french drawbacks lololol (that’s what you called ‘sexy smoking’ in those days).
Life went on and we turned 21, celebrating with a joint photo. Dear god Deirdre Barlow has a lot to answer for, what was I thinking with those glasses lololol 🙂 We have always kept in touch, some more than others. Julie and I probably more frequently than the others, and we were also in London together.
We don’t often catch up as a group but when we do it’s like no time has passed at all and we’re just the same kids biking along old country roads, singing and eating. I am so grateful to have had the most fabulous childhood. We certainly had nothing as kids, but we had each other and frankly, we didn’t need anything else.