Careful where you sit on New Year's Eve, warns Wendyl Nissen.
The mysterious disappearance of the satellite dishes began at about midday on New Year's Eve.
As we watched from the safety of our caravan awning all our neighbours came outside one by one, grabbed their dishes and, with wary looks over their shoulders at us, disappeared inside.
"What's going on?" asked my husband. "Are they afraid they'll get nicked?"
"It's because of last year," I told my husband.
"What about last year?"
We don't usually do New Year's Eve, especially at the caravan. It tends to get a bit raucous down there with people drinking and being merry and generally doing what every other red-blooded Kiwi does on December 31. We stay in the ghost town Auckland becomes over the holidays, cook something nice, have a few bottles of bubbly and fall asleep by 10pm. We think it's romantic. But not last year.
The kids had other ideas. The caravan had lost her allure, so we thought we'd keep her company. What we didn't realise was that we were stepping into uncharted territory.
When a neighbour offered us a drink at midday we said: "Why not?" When another get-together was planned at 3pm we said: "Sounds like fun." By 6pm we were well under par, surrounded by seasoned New Year's Eve revellers who knew the word "pace".
Which is when we found ourselves outside another neighbour's caravan with about eight others doing our best not to fall down the bank. That's when it happened.
My husband sat in a satellite dish, thinking it was some sort of cool new retro camp seat. A grey metal seat with a bit of metal sticking up between your legs. Neither of us had any idea he had done it. We didn't actually find out about the dish/seat confusion until the next day when our daughter came down to the caravan.
"Your parents had a good night," said our neighbour as she walked up the bank.
"Oh that's nice," she replied cautiously, having endured years of comments about her parents from perfect strangers. "One of them even sat on my satellite dish."
"How interesting," she said, before relaying the conversation to us with delight.
We had seen the neighbour outside the morning after fiddling around with the dish, which is nothing new at the camp. People spend hours fiddling with their dishes to get the best signal they can so they can sit inside and watch television on a camping holiday.
"You'd better go and apologise," I told my husband once I had finished laughing.
No harm was done and the satellite dish lived to transmit another day.
But this year I could have saved the neighbours the trouble of putting the dishes away in preparation for my husband's hooliganism, because this year my husband was going to be stone-cold sober.
We have 13-year-old girls staying with us at the camp and they were keen to join in the fun and games. If you can have fun and games, that is, when a 54-year-old man makes the rounds every half hour with a torch saying: "Just checking up on you, girls."
The idea was to keep them safe and away from alcohol and my husband quickly volunteered. The only problem was, while he was out being Dad's Army, I was left to be entertained by my good neighbours, rather thoroughly.
Apparently, I was found not sitting on a satellite dish but clutching a microphone in my hand with a look of determination on my face.
"Stop!" said my husband.
"Don't!" said my daughter.
If they had found me five minutes later they would have been in time to see and hear my karaoke rendition of Here you come again, by Dolly Parton.By Wendyl Nissen Email Wendyl