I WAS A CUTE KID. YOU CAN tell from the photo. Blond hair, blue eyes, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth. But, for a while there, I was a rotten brother. And my oldest sister reckons I teased her to the brink of insanity.
It was Mum’s fault, really. She used to make us do the dishes … which meant my sister and I had to be in the same ROOM together … which meant we had to stand NEAR each other.
Before you could say ‘sibling’, we would be quibbling – about who washed last night and who didn’t … about food found on scrubbed pots and soap-suds found on dried plates. We would flick each other’s legs with rolled-up tea-towels, and call each other the horrible-est names we could think of.
And then I used to whistle …
This was partly to show how cool I was. But we did a lot of whistling in our family – it was a tradition, of which we were proud. And I had actually taught myself to whistle by sucking in as well as blowing out!
Anyway, I would be whistling some catchy little number – and my sister would start whistling a totally different tune. Which would then cause us both, with puckered lips and full lungs, to try and out-whistle each other.
What followed was possibly the loudest human whistling ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere …
Now, at this point, one of two things would happen. Mum would tear some hair out, declare she was ashamed of her children, and threaten to inform Dad. But if Mum was out of earshot, my sister would finally lose control and call me the forbidden ‘B’ word. In fact, two forbidden ‘B’ words. She would call me a “B… B…!” Which was exactly what I wanted – because I could now go and tell on her!
There was double pleasure in this for me. Firstly, I got her into trouble … and with any luck, she had her mouth washed out with soap. Secondly, I got to say the forbidden ‘B’ words too – while reporting her crime to my parents. Yes!
JOHN COONEY, GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER & ‘BIG CHEESE’, RECALLS: “MY SISTER FORGAVE ME, AND LOVES ME DEARLY. BUT SHE’S NEVER APOLOGISED FOR THAT SWEARING …”