After dad shot through to Australia, mum decided to move to Wellington town, closer to her work. She found a family who wanted to move to the Hutt Valley and arranged a swap of our Epuni state house with theirs, which was up a big hill at Strathmore Park.
Our new house, was down below the road in Sidlaw street, on a short dead-end lane. Right next door, I got to know a friendly girl named Berys, whose last name was different from her parents, which I never figured out. At their house they had posh blinds called ‘Venetians’, and a real piano which made me think they must be really rich. Further along at the end of the lane in a two storied state house with lots of bedrooms for their lots of kids, lived a family named ‘Levins’, and I became friends with their girl Jackie.
Down the hill behind our house lived a family whose father worked at the courthouse. Mum said he was called, ‘the bailiff’ and his job was to chase and catch all the people who had been bad.
His kids liked to hang over our joint back boundary fence to chinwag with me and my sister. During one get together, one of the kids began skiting to us about their new toy, waving it over the fence back and forth under my nose to tease me. Without thinking, quick as a wink, with no idea why, I snatched that toy from their grip and as their shocked faces watched, ran as quickly as I could to disappear into the huge basement under our house. Once in there, I crawled in the clay dirt as far back and deep among the piles as I could, to bury it really good.
When tea-time came around, it was dark, and the bailiff man came knocking. Keeping out of sight, quaking in my boots, I could hear him telling mum the story. When she called out to ask me, did I have their toy, I told my first really big lie, calling back, ‘no’. Terrified I would be found out, the next day after school, I wriggled further under into an even tinier space to get it out of reach. I avoided those kids after that feeling really mean but owning up to mum would of got me killed.