Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Nanna Nap

I think a lot of my life could be spun into some kind of hilarious fish out of water sitcom. When I lived in Scotland I loved Icehouse and liked art and literature in a town where most people read nudie mags and drank Buckfast. And when I got my head around that, it was off to Penguin where I had two TV channels, didn't know what a pash was and liked the KLF when everyone else liked Guns N Roses. My Mum and Dad found the transition even more awkward - learning what bring a plate really meant, being unable to be understood in cafes, and learning what the hell a rumpus room actually was, it all took time. They don't even tip here, where as in Scotland, it's expected by even the most belligerent of taxi drivers. Had someone filmed their every move in the early 80s, we could have been quite easily the Donahers before the Donahers even existed.

However, there is one Australian tradition that really must be respected and which we've entirely embraced even as "furreners" - the Nanna Nap. In Australia there is definitely a specific reasoning behind the Nanna Nap that sets it historically apart from, say, the Scottish afternoon nap which usually (and stereotypically) sleeps off a hangover. I can't speak enough from experience about the "siesta", which I think people just have because it's expected. No, the Nanna Nap is uniquely Australian, even if the concept of going to bed in the afternoon isn't. You see, you only have a nanna nap if you are bored, cold or the football on TV is hopeless (which is pretty much par for the course with Collingwood). There are some people who say you have a nanna nap to recover energy but this is just wrong - the real reason to have a true Nanna Nap is that you've pretty much written off the day. A stricter definition - if it's 2pm and you put on some pyjamas in the afternoon when you have your nap and you have no plans for the day, it's a Nanna Nap. Anything else is just resting.

Now, when I lived in Penguin, I was never really able to have a Nanna Nap, because of the Nuns. For some reason, the Nuns at my school latched on to our family to come and visit and hang out with us. I have no idea why, I guess I was a much more likeable kid than I am these days, I had a much more tolerant attitude to human beings. So I was probably quite happy that the Nuns came and visited - but my Dad, when I think about it, was probably annoyed since he couldn't have a Nanna nap because he was too busy making tea and discussing theology with a couple of bored nuns on a Sunday (that'll teach him to take me to church). There's an old Billy Connolly sketch about the priest always coming round and thinking the world is full of broken televisions, because whenever he was out visiting families the TV was off when all he wanted to do was watch Charlies Angels. Maybe the Nuns were as keen to see a bit of Sunday footy at the SCG with Warwick Capper or some Gillette Cup cricket with Rod Tucker as we were, and my Dad lurked sulking around the kettle staring at the clock desperate to get some sleep, but instead, we had to wheel out the Sunday special - the Sale Of The Century board game.

The Sale Of the Century board game from the 80s, with Tony Barber on the cover, was pretty much the Nintendo Wii of it's day. It was perfect because Monopoly was too bitchy, Trivial Pursuit too long winded and too likely to make someone look like a dumbarse, and it was too much trouble to set up the ATARI. And, brilliantly, it was just clunky and stupid enough to eventually get boring and get people to leave when you were sick of them. I like to think enthusiastic parents used it to try and keep the family together on sleepy Sundays, such was it's dominance and high sales. The main selling point was it came with buzzers (how 90s!) and a lighting system that would pause dramatically before telling you who had pushed their buzzer first. This would always lead to someone claiming their buzzer never worked and a fight, but nothing as dramatic as the fight of contestant vs banker in Monopoly (which was always awful and broke up marriages). As far as I could remember, every single family in Penguin had Barber in the cupboard for emergencies, next to ABBAs greatest hits and a slightly deflated Sherrin football. It was certainly our weapon of choice for getting rid of pesky visitors or entertaining bored kids we had to babysit, in addition to our other secret weapon, me, who was great at trivia and would whip the Nuns stupid until they felt silly and went home. Problem solved as far as we could see. Dad got to have his nap, Mum got to phone her sister, and I got to go out the back yard and be Warwick Capper (or Athas Hrysoulakis).

There's definitely a thesis to be written on how whether Tony Barber single handedly stopped the Nanna Nap in the 80s, and how Glenn Ridge caused it to come back with his terrible hosting and inferior version of the board game, but I really could use a nap...

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