Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It was a hot summer night and the beach was burning (Meatloaf)

Tonight and forever (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 6, part 2)

Lorna Street, New Plymouth, 1983

During the long hot summer holiday break, at the start of 1983, I went to Taranaki, and stayed with friends from my tutor group. 

As a couple, they were both heading to Melrose High School in Hamilton.  As it turned out, she was a Landrigan, a well known New Plymouth family, and her parents had a holiday house down the coast a bit, at Oakura Beach. Would I like to come and spend time there while searching for a flat? You bet I would.

So, in between swimming, lounging around, having fun at the beach, I placed an advert in the local New Plymouth paper and did the rounds of the real estate agents. 

They had nothing and the holidays were starting to run out! Uh Oh! I had to face the possibility of having nowhere to stay, and maybe accepting Tom Ryder's proposal to go into the boarding school at NPBHS instead (I'd already politely turned it down and I suspected Tom wasn't a man who was fit for turning).

Then Anne Selkirk phoned me. Phew! 

Turned out Anne was a lovely wee Scottish girl who worked at the local radio station as an advertising manager. She'd been away on holiday herself and had just seen my advert and hoped I was still keen. We hit it off and she invited me to rent a room in her flat. She had a third flatmate, Moira, who also seemed nice.

It was Parris St., Spotswood, late January 1983.

As I wrote about earlier, 1983 was a huge year, full of changes in my personal life.

During the year I moved from Anne's flat and into Jacky's in Lorna Street. Moira's bulimic behaviour made it difficult to stay and besides, after meeting her in February, I had fallen in love with Jacky.

Jacky took a little convincing. She was flatting with Patrick and he first needed to move out. She also intended travelling to Europe. I was pretty desperate to prevent that!

Ultimately, Patrick moved out (the same day as I moved in) and Jacky stayed in New Plymouth! Wahoo!!

The months that followed were really happy ones. Teaching was going as well as a first year of teaching can go (Anne and I had drunk a lot of red wine, Bull's Blood, during the year); I was mostly enjoying NPBHS and had made some tight friends with Rosie Mabin and Alan Elgar, both of whom started with me at the school in 1983. Terry Heaps was our HOD and he was a great person from whom to learn.

Jacky and Pat
During the summer holidays we went down to Invercargill to meet her mum - Patricia Mary Smith and the rest of the Southland clan.  

The visit was memorable: I couldn't believe how empty Invercargill was - wide as wide streets with no one around; it stayed light till midnight; we went into a dairy and it was empty - no shopkeeper or customers...for ages...eventually someone served us; we had cocktails - loads of cocktails, at some place by the racecourse; we went to Bluff and some botanic gardens (where these photos were taken); we got to meet all of the maternal side of Jacky's family. It was cool!

We also had a great time being together as a couple. Road trips are great relationship tests.

The trip also gave me a good idea how my teaching career had altered my life. In New Plymouth, at the movies, the lights would come up at intermission and we'd find ourselves surrounded by NPBHS boys saying a grinning "Hi, Mr Purdy". Now, as we boarded a plane home, I heard the same greeting! Hmmm, I thought - this is now the norm - being recognised in public situations. Another good lesson to learn.

As 1984 dawned I knew I wanted my future to be forever linked with Jacky Smith's. I proposed. She accepted.

The wedding date was set - 21st April, 1984.

Another massive year was in store for us both!

Love and peace - Wozza

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