These school holidays were different. Instead of travelling home, from New Plymouth, by bus, I flew on a DC3. It was 1952 and the early days of NAC. My very first flight. What a thrill. I felt myself to be a pioneering aviatrix and took a personal pride in our safe landing at Milson.
Little did I know that within a few moments of landing I would be brought down to earth by a remark that would cripple my sense of well-being for many years to come. My parents had welcomed me enthusiastically. We were walking to the car park, when my unthinking father, from slightly behind, announced in a loud voice “Penny's legs are very hairy.”
I had never been aware of it. My legs were my legs and they worked perfectly well for me. The hairs were there alright but I was unaware of them being of any concern. Suddenly I realised that in the eyes of my father, and therefore of anyone with eyes to see, hairy legs were unsightly.
For many years, my conscientious efforts to keep my legs covered required considerable forethought. Stockings at all times, or long trousers. There was a time when I discovered Cyclax depilatory wax in a small pot. Such an effort, an all day long operation, heating and reheating that little pot to cover an extensive area of leg.
It wasn't until I was in my thirties that leg waxing became a service provided by beauticians. Oh joy. Ever since that day, I have presented my legs every six weeks, then come out so smooth that I can't stop rubbing my legs together. I am stockingless, wear shorts and even happily swim. At last, released from the image of a hairy-legged weta, I am a bud unfurled.
Recently I arrived for my appointment and expressed surprise at seeing the vicar from our church in the waiting room. “Oh no,” said the receptionist, “We wax more young men in here than eighty-year-old women.”