I’m sure he wont have any problems with me putting it out there into the public domain, but when we were in primary school, my little brother Linc had behavioral issues. They were convinced he was hyperactive, so being the 70s he received more than his share of Phenergan. But looking back now, maybe it wasn’t completely his fault.

I am three years older. I don’t remember ever bashing or physically bullying him, however I pranked and took the piss out him, mercilessly.

One Wednesday during the school holidays our grandparents took us, along with my sister and mum, to the David Jones Dining Room in the city. We were born and raised at Bilgola and back then, DJ’s was about the flashest place we ever went. We knew we had to be on our absolute best behavior. We had to have showers, comb our hair, wear collared shirts and no sandals! I even had to wear my special Rockie Racoon dress sloppy-joe.


So we were sitting there, all dressed up, us kids bored out of our minds in the restaurant. Mum kept giving us “don’t you dare embarrass me” looks from the other end of the table with the adults, so we just sat.

I thought of something to do to keep us entertained. I unscrewed the cap from the pepper shaker and poured all the pepper and the mysterious bits of rice into my hand.

Me (ten years old, to my seven year old brother) – “Look Linc!”

When my brother, who was sitting next to me turned around, I blew the entire contents of the pepper shaker into his face.

He screamed and started gouging at his eyes. He sneezed, yelled, coughed, tried to breathe, his eyes and nose ran. He squirmed around in his chair.

Mum spun to us. I gave her a shrug, as if to say I don’t know what the hell he’s doing now.

She did one of those yells at him, which are not big on volume, but big on fear factor.


My brother managed to do a heavy-breathing, stagger to the bathroom.

I gave mum a thumbs up, to signify that my sister and I would keep him under control. It’d all be ok.

After a long time Linc made his way back to our table. He was wobbling a little, he kept rubbing his eyes that were as red as the number 3 pool ball, he was breathing with a wheeze and when he sneezed a small cloud of pepper flew up from his hair. However, he was fine and the old “condiment in the face” gag had certainly broken the monotony.

Mum continued to give him the old stink eye from the other end of the table.

When Linc sat down, he looked around for his glass of Coke. He knew he’d finished it, but was desperate for there to be that one final skerrick left in the bottom. Anything to ease some of the pepper burn. His mood lifted dramatically when he spotted his glass on the other side of the table, noticed the bottom ¾ of his bright green straw, was Coke-dark. He still had a sip left!

I handed him his glass without any shenanigans. I knew he needed it. I couldn’t help but feel partially responsible for his pepperisation.

My brother then sucked in ¾ of a green straw full of Worcestershire Sauce!

Apparently, his drink had been interfered with, when he was in the bathroom.

He collapsed to the DJ’s Dining Room fancy carpeted floor, gasping for air, retching and thrashing around. Making quite the scene.

I hooked a thumb in his direction and gave Mum a look that said, this guy! What are we going to do? It’s getting harder and harder to control him. Phenergan time?

Linc continued to writhe around on the floor and looked like he was possibly about to die.


Later that night, Linc (who still cannot eat oysters Kilpatrick to this day) was still wheezing and his eyes were still red, so I thought I’d make it up to him.

Me – “You’re always complaining you can’t beat me at anything because I’m older, well let’s have a comp to see who can last the entire night in the shoe cupboard.”

Linc – “That’s stupid!”

Me – “Well, the shoe cupboard’s tiny. You’d have a big chance of winning.”

My brother was interested. So we spent the next half hour working out the rules.

(1) You obviously cannot remove the shoes. So we had to sleep in a tiny, cramped box, wedged on top of Dunlop Volleys, brown school shoes, Ugh boots, thongs, gum boots, sandals and dress Desert Boots.

(2) You can’t leave the cupboard except to go to the dunny.

(3) The cupboard door had to be closed the whole time.

(4) We tossed a coin, my brother won and took the first go.

During the night I knew he hadn’t shoe-cupboard-suffocated because every hour or so, I’d hear a relieving Worcestershire Sauce and pepper cough. He did indeed last the whole night with the door closed, except when I had to open it once to throw in a sandal, which I found under our double bunks.

When he slowly extricated himself from the shoe cupboard the next morning, it looked like one of those bizarre contortionists we used to see on “That’s Incredible”. First one leg popped out, then an arm flopped out.

He looked like a skinny Quasimodo, but he was so excited that he’d made it through the entire night.


Me – “It’s ok,” I said with to him with a pat on the back. “I don’t have to spend the night in the cupboard.”

Linc – “Why not?” He looked concerned.

Me – “You win.”

I walked off.

Linc – “What?”

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