Monday, October 3, 2016

Wow, reality, what a concept (Robin Williams)

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

With Annette, Jo and PJ

By 1989, Colin had moved on,  and we were sick of living in Auckland. 

Dad had moved on as well and had remarried by June. Second wife Nita had been mum's bridesmaid all those years before. 

Jacky and I welcomed the marriage, Ross was less magnanimous. The wedding went well, I spoke at the wedding to welcome Nita to the whanau, and clearly Dad was happy and that was enough for me. Both he and Nita had had enough tragedy and bad days.

Inevitably, dad now had less space in his life for the grand kids. That's just a fact - we certainly didn't begrudge him. Ross had also recently married and, naturally, he was now less inclined to spend time with us as well. 

Ross has always needed a best friend. In younger years he'd always latch onto one friend at a time and pretty much ignore everyone else while in that friendship. Lynda was his first female best friend. They are well suited and, to this day, they remain a tight unit with their two sons.

Our sibling relationship hasn't really changed much over the years. Typical of brothers, we have always been on the opposite sides of issues, and we've always found things to fight about. 

Growing up, there were many heated discussions at the dinner table as my ideas and thoughts were often at odds with his and my parents. An example is the racially selected Springbok tour in 1981. I marched against it and in our house, I was definitely alone on the issue.

Ross and dad had many things in common. I stood outside their relationship. I enjoy art and literature, they loved electronics and making things that produce noise (model airplanes, go carts, and so on). 

Ross has a science degree, mine's in the arts. I love music with a passion, he doesn't. I love sport, he doesn't. He's good with money. I'm not. He's happy working from home. I'm not.

I could go on but, believe me, the sequence holds up. We're opposites.

I love my brother, but the only thing we really have in common is our parents and now they are not around anymore.

Briefly when dad died we had a moment but that passed and we live our own lives with our own families. So be it.

For all these reasons, there was nothing keeping us in Auckland.

Dornwell Road in Three Kings had been a good central spot to live. While I commuted to Macleans, Keegan went to Three Kings Primary and enjoyed the multi-cultural feel there. Jacky was at home, looking after Adam and our new baby, Samantha. They were yet to start school so that also contributed to our rationalisation that this was a timely move.

With Peter Joyce and magazine crew,
the hirsute, colourful shirts/ skinny tie years had continued
Nelson came from out of the blue, more accurately, from out of the Education Gazette. I'd never been there and when I told Jacky of an assistant Head of English job at a Nelson school she said, perkily, "Yeah - I could live in Nelson!"

Everything fell into place quickly. I got the job after a phone call, we sold our house in Three Kings, flew down during a long weekend for a look around and bought a house in Wakefield before flying back to pack up the kids.

Chilling at Waimea
We moved in the May holidays of 1989. Our place looked over pine tree forests, farmland and a river. Snow peaked mountains were visible from our second floor bedroom. Easy to get blase about all this!

After Macleans, Waimea College was a major shock to the system. No sophisticated  city kids here. Instead, the rural client base provided a more laid back, basic feel. For two terms I struggled with trying to maintain high Macleans' values while accepting my new reality. 

No one had ever sworn at me before. A boy in my class told me to 'Firetruck Off!' It was a shock! And I didn't like it.

Actually, I didn't know what to do. When it happened I went immediately to the Associate Deputy Principal, Geoff Ashton and asked his advice. Geoff was always pretty calm and he handled things but I went back to class feeling discombobulated.

I'd also walked into a situation where two English staff members (Mary Hall and Grant Rawlence) had been passed over for the job given to me. They were frosty and watching me keenly!

PJ wisely takes a step backwards. The big hair years!
But then the nineties started and the Head of English (Aileen Ambler) left on promotion, leaving me in temporary charge. Fellow English staff members, Peter Joyce, Jo Kahl and Annette Sivak were great fun, fabulous teachers and kind hearted souls. The students stopped swearing at me and actually turned out to be good sorts!

I was rewarded with the permanent job and started to build on the confidence that Colin had kick started in me. The Head of English job came largely from being in the right place at the right time. It's ironic - after all those failed attempts as a student, since then I have continued to have huge success.

Some wonderful characters crossed my path at Waimea. Students like James Scott, Sam and Leda Sivak, Rowena McQueen, Chris Seifried, Kimberly Anderson, Susie Dulieu, Natasha Fijn and Jason Richards. They made life very easy for me. 

Jason, of course, is well known to NZ racing enthusiasts. Tragically, he passed away in 2011. The wiki link fails to mention his schooling, where we knew him (and remember him) for his killer smile and personality.

Peter Joyce is a great English teacher, very intelligent, and hugely funny. We became tennis partners and had a lot of fun at pub quizzes. One of his inspired ideas was to host a games and dessert night for the department - top entertainment!! I'm sure he won't mind me thinking that (to myself). 

John Clarke was also on the staff - we'd cross paths many times in the years to come, including in the Middle East! Tragically, he also died far too young. Like Jason, Clarkie was a fine human being.

With the Borlases
More firm close friendships kicked off during the Nelson nineties. 

Annette's family moved into the house next to us in Wakefield. The Sivaks  - Sam, Leda, Luke and Stas became great neighbours and friends. Like the Borlases - another family living close by that Jacky made friends with. Duncan, Steph, Terri, and Steve (close in age to Adam) continue to be our southern Spring Grove buddies.

With Annette and Stas
These Nelson years were also important for Jade Michelle Purdy's emergence (yep - more on this and Stephanie Borlase's antics coming in the Family Man chapter). 

It was during my five years at Waimea that I also started this autobiography. It ended with a comment along the lines of - what next in my brilliant career

That thought was left hanging will continue to do so - you'll have to wait for the next bits and the family history - up next is the music chapter, as per the original text.

Love and peace - Wozza

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