Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Picking up a pizza

There was a social side to Turtle Video. My youngest sister, Deb, got involved as a dependable actress and, being good looking, she was popular with the boys. She and I shared a house in West Footscray for 3 years in the late 1970's and it was almost all good.

Most Friday and Saturday nights the whole gang of us would congregate at the Video Centre and it was understood that this was going to be an all-nighter. Which might, to someone reading in 2006 sound like a night of sex, drugs and Techno Music. We wished!

What it mostly amounted to was a bunch of the boys sitting in our taxpayer funded club eating a pizza and drinking brandavino (a vile brandy derivative at 2 bucks a bottle) and talking about all the things we'd like to do with a girl if only we could get one! What? You expected 2006 gender ideas from a bunch of testosterone charged adolescents in 1975? :-)

The Altona Video centre was a converted shop. Plate glass windows covered with curtains of a most revolting and typically 70's pattern. Later we moved to Williamstown into a house converted to our needs.

As previously admitted, I was a trifle older than they were; I had the drivers license and the car. Perhaps one reason they tolerated me! :-) Whatever. Possession of a drivers license in Victoria meant the right to purchase alcohol. Driving and drinking age are the same in my home state. We can argue the wisdom of that idea another time. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that I was the one, mostly, who purchased the alcohol.

When Turtle Video was based in Altona we had something of a problem with the skinheads. During daylight they were ok; we'd see them in the park beside the shopfront or in the supermarket up the street or at the railway station, nod in recognition and move on. We even persuaded one or two of them to appear in our productions!

But at night they were a serious problem. There we were with our keys to this mysterious 'video centre' and there they were with whatever they had. We were inside, they were outside and bored! They'd hammer on the windows and shout 'kill kill' which is scary the first few times you hear it. Images of lynch mobs in the Deep South!

If we got hungry we had a dilemma. The pizza shop was right next door and we could phone the order in but how to collect it? Open the front door? Doing that involved a two phase operation. Turn all the lights out, open the front curtains a crack and peer out. If we saw no skinheads we might take the chance and open the door enough to allow the poor bastard who had the short straw out. He'd dart maybe 20 feet to the right and into the pizza shop. A hurried exchange of money and pizza and he'd dart back; we'd let him back in and eat in peace.

If the skinheads were lurking we'd take a chance on the back entrance. More hazardous for the luckless one but safer for the rest of us. Quite the moral dilemma! More than once the suggestion was made, on our side, that we hack a hole in the wall so the pizza could pass unmolested!

One night Dave was the elected one to go fetch the pizza. He exited safely enough and collected the pizza. When he emerged we realised we'd been outsmarted. Across the road was a park with some very tall elms on the edge and the street lighting wasn't quite enough to illuminate the gaps. As he ran back to our door the skinheads emerged into the light and Dave hammered, desperately on the door, as they closed in on him. We opened the door barely wide enough to admit him and the pizza. I'd like to record that we really did think Dave was more important than the pizza! We slammed the door shut, shoulders against it, as someone slammed the bolt home against the skinheads!

Another night we had really pissed the skinheads off; that or they were feeling their oats and needed to intimidate someone. Whatever the reason, they were pounding their fists on the plate glass windows. We inside had an idea. We lined our redheads[^], which are extremely bright lamps, up against the window, curtains closed. Plugged em all in and quietly drew the curtains aside. We could see the skinheads against the street lighting; they couldn't see us! Throw the switch and they were blinded!

I'm not sure if it was the same night or not though it sure feels like it; that the skinheads tied a dead rabbit to the door handle.

No comments: