The first movie I saw as a child was Disney’s Fantasia. I liked it. The Night on Bald Mountain segment scared the Willy out of me. I must have been about four years old. The second movie I ever saw was The Wizard of Oz. Probably in the same year, late 1956 or early 1957. My Dad had told me that he had seen The Wizard of Oz when he was a child, and the flying monkeys scene had frightened him. I was prepared to be scared by the monkeys, but I wasn’t. The bit that scared me was the floating green head.
A memory associated with one of those films, though I can’t recall which, was my amazement at learning one could get an orange drink in a cardboard box and you drink it through a straw inserted through a hole in the top.
It was the first time I remember setting my brain to work at a scientific question. I tried to figure out how liquid could be in a cardboard box without making it soggy.
I’m proud to say my budding intellect solved the conundrum. Wax. The paper was waxed. I realised that wax had the property of repelling water.
My first intellectual foray into Curiosity. My first hypothesis that I can remember.
I have always since had a fondness for tetrapaks. A clever invention.
In the very early 70s when I was working as a leading hand at the Ceracrete Panel co. In Keeling Ave. one of my workmates invited me to his home for a meal one weekend. He got me terribly drunk, and I think he slipped me a Mickey in my drinks, because I don’t remember much after dinner. Apparently he drove me home. I assume his wife drove my car. My dad says I was really rude when they brought me home, and I went straight to bed, I remember nothing of the event after dinner.
However, I discovered next day I was the owner of a Smith & Wesson model 14 .38 Police Special with a four inch barrel, that I had apparently bought for $50. I knew nothing of its provenance, or how it came to be in the possession of the person from whom I apparently bought it. I don’t know how it was smuggled into New Zealand or whether it had been used in a crime.
All I know is I had in my hands a very illegal double action revolver with eight rounds of ammunition. I recall now that as a person in his early twenties, I thought, at first, this was pretty cool, though I did not ever carry it round tucked into the back of my pants. Not that cool, not that stupid. Even then.
Yes. I thought it was cool. Until the day I took it to the pine forest at Muriwai and tried it out, firing it at a tree. One shot. It scared the shit out of me. It was accurate, it was powerful, and it was fucking loud. The noise astounded me. The recoil shocked me. This was before I bought my (legal) .303 rifle. Until then I had only ever fired an air gun.
I did not know what to do. The enormity if what I had in my hand suddenly dawned on me. An illegal, lethal weapon that could send me to jail. And I had just discharged it for anyone to hear. I quickly skedaddled.
I took it home and hid it. Sorry Dad.
Fortunately, I had a friend who had a friend who was a legitimate gun collector. He took me to meet him, and that person agreed to take the revolver off my hands for the price I’d paid for it. Apparently it’s a classic. Collectible. How he accounted for it in his collection I know not, and care not. It was off my hands. That was all I cared about.
That is my pistol story. I’m drunk right now, or I wouldn’t be telling it.
It looks as if I am finally starting on the long road to new knees. I know it will take time, but I am hopeful I shall get equipped eventually.
Which reminds me of a story.
When I was a Health Protection Officer in Auckland, New Zealand, part of my role was to inspect mortuaries, crematoria and cemeteries. Also to approve disinterments on behalf of the Minister, and supervise them.
Which reminds me of another story. But I’ll tell that one later.
And another. But maybe I won’t tell that one at all.
But I digress.
To continue. I got to know the cemetery staff and local morticians quite well. One day the sexton of a large cemetery asked me if I could advise him on how to get into the medical appliance market.
It’s actually quite complicated and involves a lot of red tape. I was curious about what he had in mind. He took me to a shed in which was stored all the stainless steel knees, hip joints, pins, skull plates and what-have-you from all the folk who had passed through his furnaces.
He had lovingly cleaned and polished them all until they were good as new. Refurbished. Sort of. They were on shelves, and benches, hanging on hooks and all smaller parts were carefully sorted into labelled boxes.
I’d never before really thought about what happened to these things after a cremation. I knew that some electronic implants must be removed by the mortician, as they tend to explode. But surgical steel survives the fires virtually unharmed.
Of course they can’t go through the grinder that reduces the remains to a sandy powder to be put in an urn and lovingly thrown away somewhere, or stored on the mantelpiece.
Here they were. A fortune in indestructible body parts, useless to anyone but a scrap metal merchant. He was so disappointed when I told him not even third world – Sorry, developing – countries could have them. Even though there was probably a great kneed.
Today is the anniversary of the second of the two most important days of my life. Two events that both completely changed my view of the world and my place in it.
This is the anniversary of when I fell completely, and utterly, in love. Once again.
The first thing I learned when my second daughter was born was that there is always room in the heart for one more. I loved my first daughter, now a cute and precocious two year old, so much that sometimes during the time of expectancy I had been genuinely concerned I might not be able to love this newcomer as well. It was a fear that vanished without trace on her arrival.
That arrival was just as fraught with difficulty as was her sister’s before. Distressed foetal syndrome and a caesarean. But this time I was allowed to be present. Watching a caesarean is fascinating and frightening. I concentrated on holding June’s hand and being reassuring.
The surgeon jokingly warned me that if I fainted, he would just stand on me and carry on with his work. June was conscious. She’d had an epidural. The previous time she had been under general anaesthetic, so this must have been even more frightening for her than for me.
When the hospital staff held up the still and silent chocolate-blue child my heart stopped. I’ve never, ever, been more frightened. In fact I realised at that moment, I had never really been frightened before at all. I cannot express the dread I felt just then.
Suddenly she let out a cry and miraculously turned pink right then and there in front of me. I treasure that memory as I do the one where I was introduced to her sister, so tiny in an incubator, tubes up her nose, two years before.
I shall never stop loving June for what she went through to bring those two into the world. If ever frustration or resentment arises when I think of how things eventually turned out, I remind myself of this.
I shall never stop loving those two girls, for the meaning they brought into my existence. Flawed as it must have been, parenthood is the one thing that really gave my life any significance.
These wonderful young women that June and I made.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Found in Woolworths. I bought it all. There were only six cans left. There must be a few kiwis here.
For those of us who grew up in NZ in the sixties it is a little can of nostalgia, and it still evokes happy beach memories, despite no longer being bottled in Paeroa, and despite the ghastly new can design.
It was on the Asian foods shelf, beside the Wattie’s tomato sauce, which I also snapped up.
Another crowded morning at the pool. Now the weather is hot, I think I shall swim in the sea on the weekends, and visit the pool weekday mornings only. I cut my swim short this morning after only 75 minutes, due to high demand. Three to a lane gets tricky. Instead I went for another long ride, which is how I ended up in Woolworths looking for kitchen tidy bags and green curry paste.