"Cheese has always been good to me."
Jim Friteuse

Monday, August 27, 2012


Everard Hinchcliffe was born in New Haven, Connecticut on 17th June 1931 and was once the most notorious impersonator of one of American television’s foremost composers, Dominic Fontiere, who was responsible for the music for such memorable programmes as The Outer Limits, Branded and The Fugitive as well as the soundtracks for the films Hang ‘Em High, Brannigan and The Stuntman

Everard Hinchcliffe impersonating Dominic Frontiere in 1975

In 1975 Hinchcliffe started appearing in public claiming to be the composer. For six months he charged wealthy Americans a fortune for what he called An Evening With Dominic, making half a million dollars in all, of which he failed to report any of it to the Internal Revenue Service.  

Not content with just impersonating Dominic Frontiere, Hinchcliffe branched out and passed himself off at various charity functions as (in alphabetical order) Aaron Copland, Bernard Hermann, Miklos Rozsa, Max Steiner and Dimitri Tiomkin, all of which paid him considerable sums of money thinking they were getting the genuine article. 

By 1976 he was beginning to overstretch himself but greed got the better of him and he made a terrible error of judgement that would cost him his freedom. During that year's annual Film & Television Composers Symposium in Los Angeles he discovered to his horror that he had not only double-booked himself as both Dominic Frontiere and Elmer Bernstein but Elmer Bernstein himself was actually in the audience.

The game was up for Hinchcliffe and he was arrested by Officer George Krupke of the LAPD later that evening.

Throughout the short trial Hinchcliffe pleaded guilty to several charges of fraud and impersonating a Hollywood film composer. He was sentenced to a year and one day in prison and fined $15,000 by the LAPD for failing to impersonate John Barry at their Children's Christmas Party after Henry Mancini cancelled at short notice.

It was during his time in prison that Hinchcliffe developed an interest in cheese and its associated dairy products and he was determined to go straight after his release from prison in 1977. He used the half million dollars he had made from An Evening With Dominic to make a new life for himself in New Zealand and also to set up his own dairy company, which he called, unsurprisingly, Frontiere.

It was a huge success from the start as no-one in New Zealand had even thought to set up a dairy company, relying instead on milk maids from different farms delivering dairy products such as milk, cheese, orange juice and digestive biscuits direct from the cows’ udders to people’s houses.

Within a year Frontiere was the only dairy company in the whole of New Zealand, employing more than a five thousand staff, of which at least a quarter were involved in research and development. 

Six years later, two major events occurred that would change the fortunes of Frontiere and which would make the company and its shareholders richer than they would ever have imagined.

The first was giving evidence in the separate trials of Emil Sidebottom and Jan Vandergraaf. This, in itself, was not enough to change the company’s fortunes. It was what it led to that made the company what it is today. During the trial evidence was given against Vandergraaf by the last man he had interviewed before he was arrested.

Everard Hinchcliffe was present in the courtroom that day, as was his head of Research & Development, the highly experienced dairy farmer, Liam Schiffrin. At the end of the day’s events Schiffrin took his boss to one side and said, “I’ve got something that you really need to see.”

They drove back to Frontiere’s headquarters and Schiffrin led Hinchcliffe into his office, where he turned on the television, fished out a video tape from the drawer underneath it and rammed it into the VCR.

They watched a grainy video of a long-forgotten television show called New Zealand’s Got Talent.

“It took me a long time to get this and it cost me a lot of money, but being the head of R&D I felt that it was a necessary purchase.”

“Goddammit, Liam,” snapped Hinchcliffe, “what the hell am I watching? The music is terrible. Who composed this shit?”

“Never mind the music boss. I’ve been trying to track down someone since I started working for you and I believe I’ve just found him. You see that eleven year old kid there. That is Jim Friteuse. That is the guy who gave evidence today.”

“I don’t care how you do it, Liam,” said Hinchcliffe, “but I want to see him in my office tomorrow morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Liam Schiffrin as he quickly left the room.

Hinchcliffe was extremely fortunate to have Schiffrin as his head of Research & Development, especially for the task of ensuring that Jim was in his office at 9am. He had selected Schiffrin because he knew that before he became a highly experienced dairy farmer he was the chief enforcer for a notorious family of mobsters, known only as The Possum Gang, that terrorised New Zealand’s South Island for a period of ten years without ever being caught or identified by the authorities. 

This was due to the fact that they actually lived on North Island, where they ran legitimate businesses and were pillars of the community. The head of the family, Ronald Grainer, actually held the office of Lord Mayor of Nikkinakkinori for five consecutive terms, where he dealt severely with any type of criminal activity. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime was his slogan whenever he ran for office. 

Campaign poster for Ronald Grainer's 1972 mayoral election

Schiffrin was Ronald Grainer’s right hand man, the strong arm of the organisation. His job was to deal swiftly with dissenters in the ranks and anyone outside the family who was considered a potential sqealer. The kidnapping and eventual elimination of these people was his particular speciality.

After ten years of life on the wrong side of the law the Grainer family decided that they had made enough money from various bank robberies and protection rackets to be able to comfortably retire on North Island. Liam Schiffrin bought himself a dairy farm with the proceeds of his ill-gotten gains and made a name for himself as a dairy farmer par excellence, although the skill of his previous life never deserted him, as Jim was soon to discover.

Jan Vandergraaf’s trial had been going on for three weeks when Jim stepped out of the courtroom and into the twilight of a balmy September evening. He was still smarting from being made to look a fool by Vandergraaf and he hoped that he would be sent down for a long time. The addition of a further charge – giving someone a really nasty paper cut – was bound to seal his fate. 

As he walked across the street to the dimly lit car park he was faintly aware that someone was following him, but he cast that thought aside as merely paranoia in light of the high-profile trial he was giving evidence at. It was only when he reached the car park that his fears became reality. As he reached into his pocket for his car keys everything suddenly went dark. Liam Schiffrin had forced a black bag over Jim’s head and he felt the muzzle of a gun pressing into the small of his back.

Jim was understandably terrified and did as he was told. He was bundled into the back seat of a car, which then drove out of the car park at speed.

“What’s happening?” Jim asked. His mouth felt dry as a wave of nausea started to affect his senses.

“Shut up, sport,” said a voice next. “Don’t speak until you’re spoken to.”

He was in the car, hooded and terrified, for what seemed like hours, but was in fact only about five minutes. As the car lurched to a halt Jim was roughly manhandled out of the vehicle, up some steps, through a set of double doors, along a corridor, into a lift that played really bad muzak, along another corridor, through another set of double doors, down a set of steps, over an indoor golf course, through a holo-deck, into another corridor, up a set of steps and finally into carpeted office where he was roughly pushed down into a comfy chair.

The black hood was lifted off him and he sat, blinking nervously, until his eyes became accustomed to his surroundings. He was in the biggest, plushest office he had ever seen. There was a Picasso on the wall to the left of him and a Chagal on the wall to his right. It was what was directly in front of him, though, that caused him to gasp for air. He couldn’t believe his eyes Stood directly in front of his was The Big Cheese himself – Everard Hinchcliffe.

“Sorry about all the cloak and dagger stuff, Jim,” said Hinchcliffe. “Liam here can get carried away sometimes.”

“Yeah, sorry mate,” said Schiffrin.

“No worries, mate,” replied Jim.

“I have a proposal for you, Jim,” said Hinchcliffe. “I want you to come and work for me as my Chief Cheese Sniffer.”

Jim was taken aback. Everard Hinchcliffe had just offered him a job!

“Well, yeah, alright,” said Jim. “When do you want me to start?”

“Tomorrow. We can start your self-defence and weapons training first thing in the morning. The sooner you’re ready, the better.

“Err . . . the what?” asked Jim. “Self-defence and weapons training? What have they got to do with cheese?”

“I know, Jim, it’s crazy, isn’t it – but it’s the perfect cover. Nobody would ever suspect that a hugely successful dairy produce company could be the headquarters of the New Zealand Secret Service!”

“Oh my . . .” spluttered Jim.

“Welcome to the world of espionage,”  Hinchcliffe explained with a grin and a firm handshake.


Thursday, August 23, 2012


While Jim was trying to start a career in for himself in cheese, Claire was busy studying history at Nikkinakkinori university. She was, by all accounts, a bit of a girly swot, but she nevertheless produced some fine work. What follows is an early essay of hers charting the development of New Zealand, of which the original copy is held behind bullet-proof glass in the Bracegirdle Memorial Gallery of the National Museum of Cheese in Orangatanga.

Describe (using illustrations) the development of New Zealand from the first settlers through to 1953.
New Zealand was originally settled by waves of Peloponnesians, probably fleeing from the Peloponnesian wars, sometime between 431 – 404BC.
Peloponnesians sailing towards New Zealand

A separate Peloponnesian settlement known as Maoris on the tiny  Chatham Islands in the east of New Zealand grew bored of eating fruit and nuts and sailed west, where they settled in Great Britain and produced the tribe known as Moris.
A Mauri

A modern day descendant of the Moris
As a result of their rather unusual dance routines the Moris were ruthlessly hunted almost to extinction by the Plantagenets, a large family of murderous cut-throats who are now chiefly remembered for inventing the pudding bowl haircut. A few of the Moris survived and their descendants can still be found today - mainly in the south of England - dancing with bells and sticks in village squares close to public houses.

A Plantagenet
A pudding bowl haircut
The principal source of food for the original settlers in New Zealand was the Halumi, a large sentient cheese with three legs, which was distantly related to the Scottish haggis. The Halumi were quickly pushed to extinction, as all the native hunters needed to do was to chase them round a hill until they reached the top where the restriction of having three legs stopped them from going any further. They were bludgeoned to death and eaten in such huge numbers that their extinction was fairly swift.
A recreation of what is thought to be an ancient Halumi
New Zealand has no native land mammals apart from some rare bats. Later Hobbits largely subsisted by cultivating the kumara, a type of potato that tasted like gorgonzola, which they had brought with them from Peloponnesia.

The first Europeans to reach New Zealand were two Dutch explorers, identical twins Cain and Abel Tasman, who anchored their ship at the northern end of South Island in December 1642. From there they sailed northward to Orangatanga where they sketched sections of the two main islands' west coasts, before Cain killed his brother over an argument about whether his hair looked better with a side or centre parting.
A fine example of indigenous jewellery circa 1642 showing the twins Cain and Abel Tasman

A much better reconnaissance was undertaken by the captain’s cook on His Majesty's Ship Endeavour, who surveyed the shores of both islands in 1769. Before carrying out this survey the cook, assisted only by a stripper he had never met before, had to fight off a band of mercenaries intent on stealing all the ship's cannonballs who had boarded the ship during a surprise birthday party for the captain.
The captain's cook on HMS Endeavour

From the 1790s the waters around New Zealand were visited regularly by British, French and Japanese whaling ships, whose crews sometimes came into conflict with each other over the wholesale slaughter of the Common Reed Frog. The arrival of traders who invented the missionary position in the 1800s added to local disputes. 

The first European infant in the territory was born in 1815 after a successful conception using the missionary position. The initiation of a programme of the large-scale use of the missionary position in place of the more popular doggie fashion, favoured by the locals, was begun in 1839 and, coupled with an increase in French letters on the islands, finally prompted the British government to take action.
A Victorian couple photographed just moments after having sex with each other

New Zealand became a British colony in 1840 following the signing of the Treaty of Urenui with the indigenous chieftains. Being Victorians, the British authorities were motivated by a desire to stop any forms of unusual or depraved sexual practices, of which other European powers (France especially) conducted on a fairly regular basis. 

The chieftains themselves were motivated by the promises of protection of their existing sexual position and inevitably this led to a number of grey areas within the policy that was laid down in the rather amusingly long-winded title of the British government's white paper, The Policy Of Imperial Sexual Preferences: Fifty Shades Of Grey Areas Concerning The Libidos of the Indigenous New Zealand Population .
Considerable European settlement followed in the North Island, principally from England, establishing provinces in Wongawonga, Orangatanga and Nikkinakkinori.

Tragically, the native population was decimated in 1820 by unfamiliar diseases - measles, whooping cough, influenza and, later, unexplainable rashes - which forced them all to sail away in ships to the Grey Havens. This was, of course, beneficial to Great Britain as, unlike on previous occasions, it now had a perfectly reasonable excuse not to honour any of its promises.
Administered at first as a part of the Australian colony of New South Wales, New Zealand became a colony in its own right in 1841.
It was around this time that the rich and unique language of New Zealand began to develop. It was a fairly short process of evolution from English to Kiwi - the vowels in certain words were simply switched around to form new and different sounding words. For example the word 'chips' became 'chups' and the word 'peas' became 'piss'. This, however did cause a certain degree of confusion amongst the local population of Skegness in England when the first of a chain of New Zealand Fish & Chip Shops opened there in 1953. 
The Fish & Chip Shop in question
Although Claire would finish her degree, obtaining a first in Historical Studies, she never did go into teaching the subject, as there was something waiting just around the corner that would change her life forever.

That something was television!

Monday, August 20, 2012


As man and wife, Jim and Claire lived an idyllic life in the countryside just outside Nikkinakkinori. Jim worked behind the cheese counter at Gimli’s Grocery Stores and Claire was carrying on her studies in New Zealand history at the nearby university. 

They would spend their spare time organising the once traditional, but now largely forgotten, National Annual Dung Scraping Contest. This involved a number of teams from every corner of the country whose sole purpose was to be the first to scrape the dung from the tails of ten sheep.

At that time in New Zealand, whole towns (sometimes up to fifteen people) would take part in this activity. It was the government’s way of bringing different communities together and was done for two reasons. First and foremost was a fun day out for everyone but, more importantly, it was seen as an ideal opportunity to enforce the government’s own policy of reducing the interbreeding of family members. Each team member would be given a plastic comb, a scouring pad and a bucket of soapy water and at the end of the event the sheep’s tails would be inspected by the adjudicator (or Dung-Meister, as he liked to be called) for cleanliness and overall neatness. Where all-male teams were involved, the sheep’s anuses would also be inspected for any signs of tampering.

After twenty years of seeing the same faces, Jim was beginning to show signs of restlessness and it was around this period that fate played a hand in his life. 

Owing to a general lack of interest in reading, the local library was forced to close its doors to the public and the books it had amassed over its one hundred year history were to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Jim could not believe his luck when his bid of 2NZD won him the library’s entire contents. Jim’s car was in the garage for repairs and he had been forced to ride into town on his bicycle, but once again luck was with him, and he was able to get all six books into the wicker basket attached to the front of his bicycle.

He was in jubilant spirits when he headed off home to tell Claire to ditch the correspondence course she was taking in Cordon Bleu Cookery and to start building bookshelves instead. In later years, it was a decision he was to bitterly regret, although the correspondence course she took on Opening Packets And Arranging The Contents Tastefully On A Plate did sometimes come in handy at dinner parties.

Jim’s new library included How To Avoid Really Big Ships by Peter Bland, Dutch Rural Postmen And Their Cancellation Numbers by Phillip Gordon, A Field Identification Guide to the Stray Shopping Baskets of North West Asia, by Michael Lawrence, Tattooed Women And Spoon Boxes Of Dhurkadhurkastan by Marshall Napier and How Green Were The Nazis? by Franz-Josef Bruggemeier. 

It was, however, the sixth and final book in his new collection that would have a profound influence on him and which would set him on course for his future career. It was a first edition copy of Jan Vandergraaf's now classic Cheese Growing For Beginners.

In this seminal work, Jan Vandergraaf states that, contrary to popular belief, cheese actually grows on trees and does not, as most people think, come from cows. He goes on to say that:

The cheese tree is a very large tree that grows cheese on it. Cheese Farmers pick the cheeses from the trees and sell them. The Latin name for these trees, Darium Chassius, simply means Dairy Cheese (Chassi was the ancient roman term for cheese). The trees grow to their prime at a phenomenal rate – from the first shoots breaking the surface to the first pieces of cheese being grown takes just four months.
The trees however are very expensive, costing up to 7 million New Zealand Dollars (£12.50 in English money) which is why most people haven’t heard of them.

Jim spent hours poring over the detailed descriptions and illustrations of different cheese trees and the financial benefits of cheese crop rotation. It did not take him long to realise that Jan Vandergraaf was a genius and that anyone who was fortunate enough to be part of the process of cheese growing would make a fortune.

It was later that year that fate played another part in Jim’s life when he noticed the following advertisement in the employment section of the Kiwi Gazette

The advertisement that caught Jim's eye

After discussing his intentions with Claire, who was, at the time, constructing a German Schrank for the lounge, Jim telephoned the number on the advertisement and spoke to Jan Vandergraaf himself, who invited him for an immediate interview.

Jan Vandergraaf was raised by a devout agnostic single mother in the Netherlands, and attended an international agnostic school in Eindhoven. During his time at the school he rejected the dairy industry’s interpretation of how cheese was made, and developed his own theory and an interest in horticulture along the way. 

At the age of 19, he was given a four-month suspended sentence for the theft of several cheese boards. He withdrew from school, and became apprenticed to a Swiss hotelier, during which time he wrote Cheese Growing For Beginners, working on the manuscript late at night after the hotel's guests had retired. It was accepted by a publisher in early 1967, and printed in March 1968, but in November 1968 he was arrested for fraud, after falsifying hotel records and credit references in order to take out loans for $130,000, which he used to set up a Cheese Orchard in Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. 

An artist's impression of one of the cheese boards that may have been stolen by Vandergraaf

Sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment, he served only one year of this sentence before being released. His first book, Cheese Growing For Beginners had been published by the time of his trial, and its sales allowed him to repay his debts and leave the hotel business. When Jim met him for his interview Vandergraaf had already begun work on his second book, Cheeses From Outer Space.

On first impression Vandergraaf seemed fairly normal. He was extremely handsome and Jim could not help noticing his pronounced resemblance to the late Errol Flynn. He was in his late forties and was dressed in an expensive, grey, Saville Row suit with a light blue tie that complimented the crisp white shirt behind it. He welcomed Jim with a warm smile and a friendly handshake, before explaining what his company Trees of Cheese was all about. He spoke at length about the different seasons when cheese trees had to be planted – Edam in the spring, Cheddar at the end of the summer, Stilton at he start of winter, and so on. 

Jan Vandergraaf

Jim listened with interest and nodded at appropriate intervals. 

When he had finished speaking Vandergraaf asked Jim why he wanted to work for the company. Jim’s answer was short, simple and to the point. “I like cheese,” he said. Vandergraaf’s face glowed when Jim uttered those now famous words. “Welcome to the company,” he said, reaching over his large ornate desk to take hold of Jim’s hand and shake it vigorously. “I’ll start you off as the Orchard Manager on 30,000 dollars a year. How does that sound to you?” 

Jim was flabbergasted – he had never been in possession of 300 dollars in his life, let alone 30,000. His instincts, he thought at the time, had been proved right – he was going to make a fortune!

Like all things that seem too good to be true, this was too good to be true. There was, it transpired, no Cheese Orchard and cheese did not grow on trees. 

The policeman that arrested Vandergraaf as Jim was having his hand vigorously shaken explained that Vandergraaf had been under investigation by the fraud squad for several months. All his so-called research into Cheese Trees had been a complete fabrication and the ancient documents that had supported the claims in his book Cheese Growing For Beginners had been elaborate forgeries.

The police had begun to suspect that Vandergraaf’s work was fraudulent when they hired an expert on medieval pamphlets from the University of Durham in England. One pamphlet in particular was to be Vandergraaf’s undoing. It showed a woodcut of medieval peasants harvesting cheese for the lord of the manor. The original ‘experts’ who had examined the pamphlets and declared them genuine works of the Middle Ages were all primary school history teachers born and bred in New Zealand. 

As the country was not discovered until 1642 and therefore anything before that date was regarded as pre-history, history itself did not begin in New Zealand until that date. This then made the Middle Ages for New Zealanders somewhere between 1805 and 1895. 

The expert from the University of Durham concluded that if the peasants in the woodcut had indeed hailed from medieval New Zealand they would most certainly not have been dressed in English medieval clothing from the 14th Century, but would in fact have been dressed in the attire of either a fop or a dandy.

The pamphlet in question featured in Cheese Growing For Beginners was in fact the work of Emil Sidebottom, an unemployed glazier, cat lover and part-time transvestite. He was arrested shortly after Vandergraaf and was sentenced to six months community service in Australia. It was a sentence from which he would never fully recover.

Emil Sidebottom's Medieval forgery
Vandergraaf himself was charged with fraud, grand theft auto, demanding money with menaces, kidnapping, wearing women’s clothes, jaywalking and watching Young Doctors when he didn’t have to. He vigorously denied this last charge, claiming that the only thing worse than Australian television was New Zealand television. 

He was sentenced to 1000 years imprisonment in Brisbane. It was rumoured that while he was incarcerated he went insane, but not before he wrote his third and final book, In Search of Ancient Cheese Trees: My Pictorial Evidence for the Impossible.

Jim was released to make his sorrowful way home after the police had finished conducting their interviews and dusting for prints. “What now?” he thought. “Have my dreams of becoming La Grande Fromage been shattered beyond all hope?” But luck, it seemed, was Jim’s partner on that Yellow Brick Road of cheese. His first faltering steps on that journey had ended in failure, but waiting just around the bend was something that would set him firmly on the road to fabulous wealth and riches – at least until the children came along.

That something was called Frontiere.

Friday, August 17, 2012


From the age of ten Claire Bracegirdle faithfully kept secret diaries for each year up until 1982 - the year she met Jim Friteuse. 

What follows is Claire's entry (complete with her own beautifully detailed original drawings) for Saturday 2 October 1982.

I was feeling so excited as I walked over to the cheese counter and saw the beautiful boy called Jim that I tripped over my own feet and fell flat on my face.
I knew his name was Jim because he had a name tag with the word Jim on it, although I didn’t know who he was. If I had known that I may have pissed my pants.
Holy crap, I thought to myself, what is that spectacularly handsome boy going to think of me now? But then I felt myself being lifted off the floor by a pair of strong hands.
According to Mr Gimli, when Jim had seen me fall he had vaulted over the cheese counter and pushed an elderly customer out of the way in order to rescue my dignity.
Oh my, I thought to myself, he’s like my knight in shining armour.

“Hello,” he said to me in his beautifully cultured Kiwi accent, “my name is Jim Friteuse.” Under his lime green apron (that had the words GIMLI’S STORE printed on it in white letters that started exactly one inch below the second row of stitching and one inch from the left of the top bit of the apron - I forget what that bit is called), Jim was wearing a navy blue T-shirt, blue Levi jeans, white socks and a pair of black sneakers.
I didn’t know what colour his underpants were at that time but for the purposes of anyone buying the film rights for this diary, I found out later that they were black and they were briefs, not boxers.
He extended his hand and I shook it, blinking rapidly in the strip lighting above my head. Oh my . . . he really was quite . . . wow! As I took his hand I was aware of the delicious smell of camembert and it sent me into a spasm of love, lighting my inner goddess up and making me blush. I’m pretty sure that my heavy breathing and constant sounds of "Phwoar" must have been quite audible.

He looked me straight in the eye, a ghost of a smile on his exquisitely sculptured mouth, and my subconscious implored me to say something – anything!
Damn, why couldn’t I say something in front of this Adonis.
Damn. Damn. Damn. Holy crap. Damn. Damn. Damn. Oh my. Damn. Damn. Damn.
I inhaled his faintly cheesy scent. He smelled of freshly sliced Edam and some expensive English cheddar. Oh my, it was intoxicatingly cheesy.
I inhaled deeply.
And then I realised who he was. I knew I had heard the name Friteuse before. This was the same Jim Friteuse that had won New Zealand’s Got Talent in 1977, the same year that I won my fifth Annual Wongawonga Dressage Competition with Trigger.
Sadly, Trigger is dead, replaced by Bullet.
A triple flashback would be good here, showing me looking really happy after winning the Dressage Competition and then a few years later with Trigger being carted off to the glue factory and me waving at him through tearful eyes and then me being given Bullet a day later and looking really happy again.
I looked at Jim through dreamy eyes. “Would you like to come to the local dance with me tonight?” he asked. I couldn’t believe it – the winner of the 1977 New Zealand’s Got Talent show was asking me out on a date!
Oh my!
“Yes!” I cooed, rather too quickly.
“You don’t have to make your mind up right now,” he announced.
“Yes!” I blurted again.
“I mean, you can let me know this arvo,” he drawled.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” I screamed.
“Oh right,” he murmered, “but I will warn you that I do have a dark side.”
“What? Like Darth Vader?” I asked, having just seen the film Star Wars.
“No, not like Darth Vader,” snapped Jim. “Darker than that.”
I had already decided that I wanted Jim, that I desired him and that he could be as dark as he wanted when he was with me. He could be darker than all the dark things in Dark Town on Dark Island on the continent of Darkness on the planet Dark as far as I was concerned.
“See you tonight, then,” he chirped. Then he went back to serving his customers, except for the elderly customer he had pushed out of the way to get to me, who had apparently been taken away in an ambulance with severe head injuries and had died on the way to hospital.
Nobody said the course of true love was going to be painless.
Jim picked me up that night at 7pm and he looked gorgeous. He was dressed in a sharp pair of black trousers, a red and blue check lumberjack shirt and black sneakers with grey socks. He had even had a shave so he must have liked me.
The dance was held in the town hall, a big grey building, made of grey bricks, with a big brown door that, when opened, led into a huge hall painted in a kind of neutral colour that had a mirrorball hanging from the ceiling. The place was packed – there must have been upwards of twenty-five people in there, mostly men who were stood at the bar at the end of the hall talking about seal culling, bear baiting, cock fighting and other such things. The seven or so women were all sat on wicker chairs that were set against the left wall of the room.
Music was blaring from a band called The Sheep Worriers who were on the stage to the left of the bar. Jim took me by the hand and led me onto the dance floor. He was an expert dancer and there was I with my two left feet. But all I could think of was me with the winner of the 1977 New Zealand’s Got Talent competition. I was in heaven.
He was so good at dancing. He knew all the moves of the Charleston, the new dance craze that had come over to New Zealand from America and by the end of the night beads of perspiration were forming on his rather beautiful brow. I wanted to lick them off him, such was my desire.

As the night came to a close Jim whispered in my ear, “Do you want to come back to my place?”
My inner goddess cried YES! And I also said it.
“Alright then,” he breathed, “let’s go.”
It was a short walk back to his flat above the grocery store. “Before I let you come any further,” he mumbled as we paused at the door, “I must warn you again that I do have a dark side.”
Oh my, I thought, I can’t wait.
“I know,” I whimpered. “Let’s just go in anyway. I’m a big girl now”
Actually I wasn’t really that big, so when I said “I’m a big girl now” it was just a figure of speech. I didn't mean that I was big boned, which was my mother's way of saying someone was fat. I just meant that I could make my own decisions.
Jim unlocked the door and we went inside. I sat down on the blue two-seater couch. “Are you ready to see my dark side now?” he sibilated.
“Yes, I’m ready for anything,” I gasped.
“Good,” he murmered and then disappeared into the kitchen.
I could hear the fridge door opening and plates being taken out of cupboards. I thought I heard something metallic being taken out of a drawer. The anticipation was so sexy and my desire for him was growing by the second. I could feel my panties getting damp. 
"Mind where you sit on that sofa," Jim called from the kitchen, "I spilled a glass of water on it earlier today and haven't had time to clear it up."
Oh my.
“Close your eyes, Claire,” I heard Jim call from the kitchen behind me. “Here I come!”
He walked out of the kitchen with two plates, upon which were, tastefully arranged, a number of biscuits and a wedge of Danish Blue cheese.
“Yes, that’s my guilty secret, my dark side Claire,” Jim moaned. “I like blue cheese. I know in New Zealand we're not ready for it yet, but I simply can’t help myself. I wouldn’t blame you if you left right now and never spoke to me again.”
“Oh, Jim,” I exclaimed, stroking his cheek. “I love blue cheese. I had some once when my parents took me to South Island for the day."
"Yes, they're so sophisticated on South Island," he remarked. "The last time I was there I actually found some Australian Bitey Cheese."
"Ooh, Jim," I panted, "you live so dangerously. I hope you didn't eat too much."
"Only the recommended amount."

"Good," I slavered," because I wouldn't want anything happening to you. I mean you're so . . . so . . . so . . . gorgeous!"
“You don’t mind, then?” Jim implored.
“No, silly, of course I don’t mind,” I sighed.
“Oh, Claire, I love you,” proclaimed Jim. “I want to be with you forever. Let’s get married and have lots of ungrateful children!”
Claire practising her married signature so she can she can sign cheques
“Oh yes,” I swooned. “But first, after we’ve eaten our cheese, let’s have lots of really dirty sex!”
“Yippee!” yelped Jim as he quickly scoffed his Danish Blue.
“And perhaps later you can blindfold me and handcuff me to the bed and have your wicked way with me,” I whispered in a kind of sexy, but not too erotic voice.
“I said I had a dark side,” declared Jim. “I didn’t say I was a pervert.”
Oh my.

Jim and Claire were married a month later and they moved to a larger house just outside Nikkinakkinori.