Friday, January 26, 2007


Madonna may have transformed herself from American trash, to English treasure (complete with pseudo-clipped accent), but she did not invent reinvention.

Mrs D was dying, of breast cancer. The doctors originally gave her a matter of weeks to live, but they hadn't counted on her determination to tidy up a complicated life, and she lived on for months. Our last phone call conversation was emotionally muted - I was in New York at the time, and stunned when she said death was probably only a day away. She already sounded far away; a distance far greater than that between Auckland and New York. "Oh well," she said. "I suppose I'll just have to reinvent myself, again."

Many of the Parnell Old Girls have a less than sterling pedigree, although even to the tutored eye (and ear), it is hard to tell the thoroughbreds from the donkeys. Some of them changed once they married a wealthy man; others changed so they could marry a wealthy man. One of my aunt's dearest friends is a frightful snot; the ultimate moneyed matron who probably hasn't left Remuera's cloistered confines in a decade.

Her days are filled with the Bridge Club, bossing around the boy who cleans her salt-water swimming pool, and deciding which caterer to use for her next dinner party. She's the sort who thinks herself terribly egalitarian because she is on a first-name basis with the waiters at her favourite restaurant, but would probably trigger her silent-alarm if she saw one of them walking down her street.

The fakes are often so much more convincing than the real thing. It would be fun to remind her that she was once a Western Springs solo-mum on the DPB.

Mrs S emailed me that the funeral was just as Mrs D would have wanted (are funerals ever how the deceased would have wanted, really? I'm sure the ideal funeral would be any but one's own). Apparently, the champagne flowed freely. And then, everyone moved on. Within six months, Mr D was dating a string of interchangeable Russian blondes.

I suppose you can’t expect anyone to miss you when you're gone, if you were never really there in the first place.

1 comment:

stef said...

Oh crap have the Russians made their way down to Auckland? Bad enough seeing vast numbers of them trotting around Seoul looking all thin and beautiful that I could safely escape them back in NZ. Well at least in NZ I won't get asked 'are you Russian?'