We stayed at Dad’s every second weekend. Around 5 o’clock on Friday, he would drive to Mum’s to collect us. We’d already be packed and waiting and watching tv or reading or something. On the way back to his place, we’d stop at the Papatoetoe library, which actually wasn’t on the way back but further past Mum’s about the same distance again, but given that was only a bit less than two kilometers, it made sense.
I would find the books I wanted, then watch the goldfish or put books in order that other people had left around messily, until Dad and my brother had finished choosing books too.
Then we’d drive back to his place, sometimes as a treat we would go past Kassina fish and chip shop and get greasies for dinner, or sometimes Chinese. If we got Chinese we would always get egg foo yong and some fried rice and whatever else he and my brother wanted. As long as we got the egg foo yong I was happy. If it were fish and chips I would have a fish and a potato fritter and chips of course. The two takeaways, Kassina and the Chinese place, are right next to one another in my memory, and about a hundred metres apart in reality, or the reality according to google streetview today. Sometimes we would go to one then change our mind and decide to order from the other. Often there would be as much time spent looking for a park out front, on the main street, as it would have taken for us to walk there from the library. At the Chinese place there were big video game machines to play, which I would play on without putting in any coins, so really I was just looking at the start screen graphics. At Kassina there was nothing but the laminated printed menus to look at, or the very nice hand-painted main menu above the counter. Then we would wait outside on the street. If Mum or Hira ever got takeaways, it would be from the other fish and chip place, a block behind the main road.
When the order was ready, we’d get back to the car and off home, and there was no way, no way I was allowed to open the package until we got there even though omigosh the chips smelled soooo good. In the kitchen the hot newspaper would be unravelled and three plates brought out and tomato sauce from the fridge and all the contents divided up. If we were not too hungry, there’d be a few bits left the next day to pick at from the fridge - cold left-over fish and chips were treasure. After dinner I would read.
As well as the library books I’d got out, which were read in bed or on the couch or out on the deck while Dad mowed the lawn in the sun, I would sit at the dining table and read through the colourful multi-paged circulars printed on very thin paper, advertising current specials at the supermarket. I would methodically decide, row by row, page by page, which items I would buy, if I were to do the shop that week.