“How was the practice, Max?” It was Dad calling out from somewhere in the house. Kitchen,
“Cool! Learnt four new songs.” Maxine heard Dad leave from wherever he was and come to
her room. He was interested. “Yeah? What were the songs like?”
“Oh, one was called ‘Thrash it!’; another was called ‘Crushed!’; another was called ‘Hungry
and Loving it!’ and the last one was called ‘The Dungeon!’ and they all have to
have exclamation marks after them. And the lead singer has a fire extinguisher
with him and sprays it around during the instrumental parts. It’s part of his
act. Looks really cool.”
“Sounds interesting,” said Dad unconvincingly. Dad had an interest in music and was
always trying to categorise the new sounds he heard. He said that Munga!’s
sound was not that original and sounded like thrash metal from around 1988.
Therefore, he called them a thrash metal band. Maxine knew that was wrong but
she couldn’t quite verbalise why that was wrong.
April, who had just come in the bedroom they shared together, cackled loudly at what
Maxine was describing. She still hadn’t stopped laughing about Munga!’s name
with the exclamation mark after it. She was only ten but knew enough to know
that exclamation marks after names were cause for great laughter. Now she was
coming to terms with a series of song titles that also had exclamation marks
after them. What amusement! She had obviously come by for a gossip session. A
“And what were these songs about?” asked Dad fully aware that April would love to hear.
“Well, the ‘Dungeon!’ one was an instrumental with loads of screaming and the other ones
had loads of screaming too and I heard the titles mentioned in the chorus part
but the rest I couldn’t really hear. It was cool though. I played really well
cos I added in a few sixteenth notes on the kick drum and it sounded really
“Did they notice?”
“Well, Dooby and Noise didn’t, but John smiled when I did it.”
“Was the girl there?” Maxine knew that this was going to turn into a typical Dad type
interrogation and she thought about giving him her special “look” – as if to
say “Dad … that’s enough”—but then she thought better of it.
“Well, she turned up a bit later.” Not quite the truth but it would do for now.
“And when’s the next practice?”
“Tomorrow and everyday this week.”
Dad seemed satisfied that everything was okay and left the room. Maxine knew he was trying
his best to look after her but sometimes he did sound like a policeman.
“So what was Dooby like today?” said April. Maxine noted the mischievous glint in her
sister’s eye. She was amazed at her younger sister’s desire or need to hear
details about people, how they behaved and who said what to whom. Anyway,
Maxine needed someone to share the truth with. Parents weren’t the same. They
tended to judge everything. And her school friends didn’t seem to understand
her passionate desire to play drums, move rapidly, and hit things. But April
was perfect to talk to. She could listen and keep secrets, and she was
just plain funny—for a ten-year-old.
So Maxine told April all the gruesome details – about the flat, the smells, the colours,
the mess and the odd behaviour of Munga! – especially Dooby.
“And he didn’t even talk to you for the whole afternoon! What a rude, stuck up….” April
paused looking for the right word, “poohead!”
“Yeah, that’s the right word for him,” said Maxine, trying not to crack up. “But I
like John, though. He seems like a nice guy – but really quiet.”
“You mean the Pin Cushion?”
“He so droopy and stoopy, though. It’s like someone isn’t holding up his strings tight
Maxine had to smile at that description of John. It was perfect. She sat there, silent for
a while, contemplating the image of John. April was lying across her bed
fiddling with a tassel on the blanket, deep in thought.
“What about that Chaz girl? Tell me about her again,” asked April after some time.
“Well she was pretty cold the first day me and Dad went up there but today she was really
April grunted disapprovingly. “Sounds like Marcy in my class. Friendly one day then
really mean the next. You’ll have to watch her. Dangerous … Bet she’s two
faced!” Maxine wondered if she was the only twelve-year-old who got advice like
this from her younger sister.