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Under the plum tree

MAIA: I come from a big family. In those days, and I’m going back now, probably until I was about 10 (and that will be 60 years ago now), in those days it was different to now.

As far as the alcohol went we had six o’clock closing then; the pubs closed at six o’clock. My father was a great man. We had a happy family life. He was a hard worker. He worked at the local freezing works. In that area there were many big families. The fathers worked and the mothers were at home with the children.

So, my father would be with his mates. They’re social people. They would call in and have a drink at the pub. They didn’t have much time to spend there, but then they would bring their drink home. It was in flagons, not in bottles. The two or three litre flagons.

Probably 10 would be the age where I was starting to notice the adult things that were happening, going from kids into that age. Dad would bring the flagons home and put them on the table, or he would pour a glass.

That was my first encounter with beer, or with alcohol. I would sit there with my arms on the table just watching the fizziness of the alcohol and the froth on top. I would say to dad, “Can I have a taste?” and he’d say, “No. No, this isn’t for children.” So, even now when I look at a glass of beer fizzing on the table, I remember him saying that to me.

We had a lot of celebrations at home, because I came from a very musical family. With the music, we used to have the neighbours and relations all come. My brothers had a band. Dad loved music. He was a musician. He played the fiddle and played the steel guitar. So, we all were very musical. I still play the guitar now.

We used to all gather under our plum tree on the land, on our farm. All the instruments would come out. But, we didn’t just enjoy the music. People brought their beer, and their alcohol.

So, the alcohol would be coming in left, right and centre. We used to really enjoy those times, thinking that alcohol was just … you see some people who saw alcohol as just in times of celebration and that was it. But there were those who would carry it on through their daily lives, because always at home it was always in the fridge and it was always in the cupboard.