Gift from best ever to worst ever

The monthly – another box of bangers from Becs. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

It’s been described as musical glue – the tunes, beats, jams and sounds that bind friendships.

It was Becs’ idea.

“My best friend moved from the other side of town to the other end of the island. Neither of us were flush with cash and we were feeling the strain of being apart.”

Hence “the monthlies”; a package, a gift, every month in the shape of a compilation of music on a CD and some of that glue to repair the pain of separation, a reaffirmation of friendship, a small gift made great because it’s delivered with love.

It’s not instead of emails and texts and phone calls, rather an inspired add-on. 

“It was a playlist of my favourite new hits with a hint of the old school bangers,” says Becs. “She and I mostly have the same taste in music. And hearing these tracks just made us feel closer together.”

It’s a gift that impacts. Friend Aimee-Leigh remembers it well – when she was accepted into the circle of friends when she received her first “monthlies” CD. It was August 2015.

“I went to her house to hang out and she told me I was alright, that I’m a keeper,” says Aimee-Leigh.

Becs isn’t given to over emoting, but the significance of the occasion was marked with a CD, in a beautiful, personally designed sleeve, with a name on it. “Aimz” it said, alongside the date.

Aimz but not je t’aime or avec amour – but that went without saying. “It’s definitely delivered with love and you can’t buy that,” says Aimz.

Music is a huge part of Becs’ life. “I love finding new beats, and having new songs to crank in the car, or out in my shed sharing good times with friends.” Music, she says, makes people, including herself, immensely happy.” So Shakespeare was on point when he said: “If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess.”      

Becs draws her inspiration from everybody and everywhere. “When I come across songs to investigate or I want to download, I save the details in my phone until I get the bug and do a big stint on the playlist I’m working on. 

“Once I get on a roll, usually the songs just flow. I choose around 18-20 songs, around 120 minutes.  If I’m real desperate I’ll send a message out to the team for suggestions, and if I like them, they will make the cut.”

There’s rap and pop, old school and rock and roll, “but I don’t like all of it, probably about half,” says Aimz. “Some songs I have never heard of, by artists who I have never heard of, that I now like.”

Like John Farnham, the soft Aussie rocker of the 60s and 70s. “Take the pressure down,” sings Aimz, “cause I can feel it, it's rising like a storm.”

And if people complain too much about the tracks they’re receiving, Becs says they seem to stop receiving CDs.  “Fancy that? Lol.”

Music aside, Aimz likes what the CDs stand for. “When you go round to your friend’s house and she cooks you dinner and pours you wine, you don’t expect a gift on top of it.”

It tells us something about Becs. “How kind and thoughtful she is – because these things, the monthlies, take ages to make. She makes you feel quite special, that you are worthy of her time and effort.”

And while Becs is the best friend ever, Aimz wonders if she is worst friend ever. “I give Becs birthday presents and Christmas presents, but nothing in between and certainly not every month.

“I have never cooked her dinner. I haven’t done anything for her, I just offer my friendship and visits.”

And for Becs, tomboy friend in beanie and trackpants, the fork-lift driving softie who cries, that’s probably enough to keep Aimz in the collective.

“I look forward to the packages – ooh yes, absolutely,” says Aimz. “I am always quite scared I will get cut off the list, ex-communicated. I have to keep her on side.”

Packages are for the collective beyond Becs’ hometown. The boss pays for the packages to be sent via the company courier. Bless him. He knows not what joy he brings.

Becs’ love is contagious. A courier package arrived for this bloke reporter this week. He knows where it’s from, who it’s from and what’s in the package.

But he hasn’t opened it. He just wants to feel the love for a while. And another thing; is it in the constitution? Can a bloke be in this chick coop?

Yes, they can. “Boys are always involved – all boys are OK, I love boys.” Becs even has her own tame one.

“I generally choose people that are deserving of my time and effort,” says Becs. “People who appreciate the time I put into each album without being told of the creation process, and share the same love of my terrible song selection.”

One of the collective passed on her CDs to some German tourists, “cos they thought New Zealand radio was so crappy.” And when another of the collective had her car broken into, only her stack of monthlies was stolen.

That says something about the quality of the product.