Sydney, 1997

The Pretenders are a cream-coloured Ford Falcon 1964.

They are a red, blue and white star cushion on the driver’s seat to prop up said driver.

They are op-shopping in Newtown and school pick-ups where every other car was a mum mobile, four-seaters at least.

They are my sister, smoking out the window, silver bangles glistening and Message Of Love playing as the 3:20 school bell rang, and I approached the coolest pick-up in the game, obviously.

The Pretenders played on a loop. Why my sister liked them I never asked.

Just like I never asked why she was tanned all year round, or where her skinny jeans came from, why she wore boob tubes in the middle of winter and shoes that she had to take off to drive.

I did ask where she got her belly chain and toe ring from and was promptly given them for my next birthday.

Admiration sometimes doesn’t require questions, you just admire, soak in the coolness.

The coolness of my older sister and the coolness of The Pretenders, with a female vocalist demanding such truths, a message of love, and equality between man and woman.

My sister was a feminist, she just didn’t know it.

Possibly because it was so ingrained, so natural.

I believe she was drawn to The Pretenders as the soundtrack of her life because she was so cool and the least fuckgiving female I have ever known.

Message Of Love was my sister as she drove free, in a car that was ridiculously expensive and unmanageable to maintain but a promise to herself that she wasn’t willing to give up.

We are all of us in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars

That was and is my sister, the one who looks at the stars while some of us, myself included, take longer, rolling around in the gutter before getting back up.

In every which way my sister was a female warrior, dressing how she wanted, partying like she wanted, working hard and sticking with her passion and talent.

Plus she could beat your arse at pool, platform heels included.

And The Pretenders were her anthem…

With a message of love.


Stereo Story #484

Sophia Irvine is a freelance writer living and working in Sydney. Sophia works and blogs for the clothing label The Naked Tiger and has been published by Independent Australia, Monster Children and others. Sophia strongly believes she should have been working for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s.