Well. That’s Embarrassing.

Mehdi seemed surprised to see me. Particularly when I asked him why I was there. He reminded me we had agreed I would not need to return until the stitches came out unless there was new information from pathology.

I agreed, and said that’s why I was surprised to get an invitation via the appointment app. this morning. Then it dawned on him. His face was a picture.

That’s what happens when you have automated protocols without human oversight. The results come in, an invitation is generated to make an appointment to discuss them. Anxious patients put two and two together.

As a dear old and wise friend used to say to me in a broad Norfolk accent – or was it a Norfolk Broad accent?;

Doont joomp ta kon-kloo-shuns, lad”.

Sorry Norfolkers if I didn’t capture that properly. A fond memory. No piss-taking intended.

Mehdi apologised, I said I’d send him my fuel bill. He laughed. I smiled wryly.

He checked the wounds, expressed satisfaction that they are healing cleanly, but still won’t let me swim until the sutures come out. Bugger. If he had conceded that the trip would have been worthwhile.

At least I don’t have to pay for the appointment.

.38 Special

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.

On This Day

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.

L&P

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.

Sonnet

“The Martini; the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”

H. L. Mencken

I think that I shall never see

A Bottle lovelier than thee

And this companion by thy side

Is quite thine equal, undenied

And though some might discuss the merit

Of lesser, Cossack potato spirit

It’s you the connoisseur preferred

Either shaken, or just stirred.

Either way is just as nice,

In a glass of chinkling ice.

But if one to six I mix you in

I’ll need another five bottles of gin.

Me.

Ahoy

The second activity passion of my life, after SCUBA diving, is one I have not enjoyed since the eighties, apart from a brief spell as half-owner of a cabin cruiser for a time in 2000. And my kayak in Fiji.

Boats. Especially the simply messing about in part.

From 1978 to the eighties, I had a Shearwater catamaran that I rebuilt from a wreck purchased in Napier for very few dollars. I had no idea how to rig it.

There was no manual, I could find nothing in the Library and of course there was no Internet. So I improvised and seemed to get it mostly right, because she sailed like a speedboat in a good breeze. I measured my time between the marker buoys on the Pania reef on one good sailing day, and later calculated that Peter Cox and I had taken her over 20 knots with Peter at the helm and me, the heavier one, stacking out in a harness.

I say I rigged her mostly right, because she had one characteristic that was not at all right. If one let go all the sheets while sailing with the wind, instead of luffing up and stalling like an obedient yacht, she would turn downwind and sail like billy-o. This became a problem one afternoon when I was sailing in Hawkes Bay out past the Esk river. I don’t recall exactly how, but I fell overboard.

My worthy vessel turned downwind and sailed away. The wind was onshore, so she headed for the beach. So did I, but more slowly. By the time I caught her she was washing around in the shingle with broken dagger boards. Which made sailing home to Ahuriri a difficult task.

In the early eighties I sailed her round the Hauraki Gulf, and one glorious summer took her to Bay of Islands, where Rob, a friend, and I camped out and swam and fished for a week. I even sailed her through the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett.

Then in 1984 I went to Solomon Islands, where I worked as a volunteer with the Rural Water Supply, building water supplies in remote villages. I found myself skipper of a 20 foot glass canoe named Lady Allison after Allison Holst, a NZ TV cooking personality who did a fundraiser with the Lower Hutt Lions to purchase it.

I also bought a dugout which was a great deal of fun. I really regretted leaving it behind when I returned to NZ.

It was thinking about all this while I swam yesterday. I’m thinking I am getting fit enough to take to the water again in a small boat. I rather liked that glass canoe and wondered if I could find one here. It seems not. But one could buy one from Honiara for around $34,000 SBD which is just over $6,000 AUD. But then there would be shipping, import duty, an outboard, and safety gear. So probably not.

With my financial state I think I should consider, if anything, an aluminium dinghy, known here as a tinny.

Something to think about.

New Bird Noises

There have been some new noises in the night just lately. One familiar sound I know well from a similar bird New Zealand – the Morepork as we call it – or the mopoke or boobook as it is known here. This owl has a distinct call. There are some in the bush nearby. One of my favourite birds. I talk to them, mimicking their call. I had a family of them in the trees in the Shire Sentinel chicken pen in Halls Creek.

There is another new call I am not familiar with. It is a sad eerie sound, almost ghostly, like “weee low” Today I think I found the bird that makes it. As I walked back to my caravan, I found this bird sitting on the stone slabs outside a neighbour’s cabin. I’ve only seen it once before, at a wildlife park, where it sat motionless in the leaf litter under a bush, convinced it was invisible. It is the Stone Bush Curlew, Burhinus grallarius.

This fellow was sitting rock still on these stone slabs. It thought it was invisible, I think. I hobbled right up to it, thinking at first it might be injured. It didn’t move, just gave a little grumbling call. I decided not to disturb it, and went to fetch a camera. It never moved until I was about to take a picture. Then it stood up. But still it didn’t run away.

The Bush Stone-curlew, or Bush Thick-knee, is a large, slim, mainly nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird.


Below is one of my boobooks in the chicken pen in Halls Creek.

Ninox boobook

The Australian boobook is a species of owl native to mainland Australia, southern New Guinea, the island of Timor, and the Sunda Islands. Described by John Latham in 1801, it was generally considered to be the same species as the morepork of New Zealand Ninox novaeseelandiae until 1999. Its name is derived from its two-tone boo-book call.
Scientific name: Ninox boobook

Wikipedia