Cracker by Damian Christie

He's been doing it all day ref!

The floors finished, we ventured bravely back into number 15. I needn't have worried about the cats getting stuck; the smell of polyurethane still hangs acridly some days on and would surely have repelled all but the most delinquent of juveniles.

A friend told me the other day it is impossible to feed a cat poisoned food. I accepted this on the face of it, and it wasn't until some days later I started to worry – "how does he know?" Needless to say, he won't be invited to feed the cats over Christmas.

So the floors look great, although once all our shabby belongings have been carted back it's not quite so noticeable. There's a pronounced echo in the hallway, and it affects me, reminding me of the sound an empty house makes. When you're an army brat, and have lived in as many houses as you've had birthdays, such an echo carries with it a mixture of memories.

A great weekend to reclaim the lounge though, with a few games of rugby, and one very important game of soccer. The start of the NPC on Friday between Auckland and Otago didn't bode particularly well for the competition. With a final score of 6 points to 3 in favour of the Mainlanders, it was bad enough sitting at home – imagine if you'd actually dragged yourself out in some shocking weather on an already cold Dunedin evening to see the Big Match that Wasn't. Followed almost immediately by a disappointing loss by the Warriors to Newcastle, the entrails weren't reading well for Saturday night.

And goddamit no, I didn't win the special All Blacks limited edition Ford XR6 up for grabs. But, some consolation, the All Blacks managed to secure the tri-nations and welcome home the Bledisloe Cup. It wasn't perhaps quite as tight as the 21-17 score would suggest, but history shows out that a four-point lead heading into the last five minutes of a game against the Wallabies is not a safe place to be. Despite not being the drubbing handed down two weeks ago, it was a better spectator match for its closeness.

For months now I've been hassling my soccer-playing flatmate about dubious spectator merits of the game. "Oh look, nil-all, you don't see that every day", "Wow, another one decided by penalties, there's something for the record books." Yeah, I'm a right laff, me. So I feel obliged now to eat humble pie on a couple of accounts. First, I have to now admit that every game I've gone and watched of Heath's this year has been most entertaining, goals or no goals. A flying elbow there, a "he's been doing it all day ref" there – always something to see and yell.

Second, with a 3-1 win in the Chatham Cup final yesterday, there were more goals scored than in the NPC match between Otago and Auckland. Heath scored two of the three in University-Mt Wellington's win over Melville, and after staying out well into the wee smalls last night, is probably right now reacquainting himself with our lounge, its shiny new floors, and the hangover-curing power of the brown and orange nightmare we call a couch. Congratulations buddy!