The end of the line

Fraggle, the Haddons’ pet magpie, was a formidable bird that swore like a trooper and had a discerning taste in men. Gay ones she left alone. The rest she terrorised mercilessly and woe betide an ankle carelessly left exposed. Dad was doomed the minute he crossed her path. She took to him at once; I can still hear the squawks as he danced across the paddock, hopping from foot to foot, with Fraggle in hot pursuit.

I remember, too, the fierce blueness of the sky, the sunburnt grass, the shimmering heat of that first summer we went horse riding at Sharley and Laly Haddons’ place, at Pakiri Beach in Northland. I was in my 20s. The sand was as white as bleached bones, the waves spitting gobs of froth. A trail of hoofprints criss-crossed the dunes. 


(Image: Fiona Shields)