The Brillman’s had been rare visitors to our house. It was at their place that we seemed to find ourselves on Sunday evenings. Eight of us would squeeze into a TV room the size of a large bathroom. The Brillmans had two children who were of little interest to my brother and I. We didn’t remember their names, having to be rehearsed each visit on the sullen drive between Morningside and Camp Hill.
The TV was the magnet. My parents had decided that there would be no distractions in our house until our studies were finished. Despite the ten years of deprivation and the resultant experience of being unable to join in any of the popular theme songs sung in the playground, we never complained. There was always the holiday respite, where we became fixtures in the living room of our playmates over the back fence. As a result the Brillman’s on a Sunday night was bearable if not scintillating.
Mavis Brillman was not unattractive. Her husband Neil, on the other hand, was a man with a nose to rival Jimmy ‘snozzle’ Durante. Our own family was noted for its honkers or ‘roman nose’ as we chose to romanticise it, but Mr Brillman’s was of Pinocchio proportions. Perhaps Mrs Brillman had a fetish for honkers and took a fancy to my father’s to add to her collection of Italian beaks. Perhaps she subscribed to the theory of the nose as an indicator of size in other aspects of a man – his personality, his income, his …… well I was too young to imagine any connections at all. Perhaps she just took a fancy to my father.
We never found out.
The carving knife outburst was followed by lengthy hushed conversations between my parents interspersed with tears and angry outbursts accusing my father of things I didn’t understand and in a code I couldn’t decipher. Noses were never mentioned.
“How could you?” What about my feelings?” “What, in god’s name did you think was going to happen?”
There seemed no likely resolution to their pain or ours when, out of the blue my mother made the phone call. It turned out to be a brilliant tactical move. Consciously or unconsciously she managed to resolve each of the party’s positions. First she accused ‘the other woman’ of concocting the whole thing. In my mother’s version Mrs B had invented the story to humiliate her big nosed husband for some serious flaw in his personality or a major misdemeanour hinting that it was he who had strayed and Mrs B was using this story to punish him.
Father was off the hook since, in this version, he was the falsely accused. My mother, having convinced herself of Mrs B’s total lack of integrity could redirect her anger away from My father and towards her ‘not unattractive’ competitor. Mrs B could back down and withdraw her accusation against her husband’s smaller nosed work colleague and humbly forgive her husband for something he had never done. My father chose to say no more. Wisely.
And as to the ultimate fate of Mr B, who may have been the only innocent party in the whole fiasco, I can tell you no more.
We never enjoyed another Sunday night TV movie until, three years later, our year 12 studies completed, my father relented and TV came to our house.
It was soon after this that my father announced that he’d decided to move on from the stress and pressure of the travelling sales representative’s life and gently slipped off to join the PMG as a postman. For the last ten years of his working life he pedalled his red postie’s bike around the suburbs of Stones Corner chatting to his customers – a group of lovely ‘older’ ladies on his daily run.