Sunday, November 27, 2016

They say it's your birthday (The Beatles)

Huge happy birthday to DLG - seen here rockin' the bob with Mr Gutsy - for the twenty-eighth!

Bring back the bob!!

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Family Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 9 part 5 and last)

The Fantastic Four are now complete!

It's just after one in the morning in ward 5 at Nelson Hospital. Right now, it's the twenty-eighth of November, 1991. I've just helped our good friend Stephanie Borlase AND the doctor, who is supposed to be delivering our new baby, out (yes - OUT) of the delivery room.

Both succumb to the heat in the room and faint! In turn, they get the wobbles, slurry speech and collapse into my (massive manly) arms. Everyone else in the room is pretty busy - Jacky especially.  So I've been asked to help the faintees outside. 

Around 1.20am, I have returned to Jacky's bedside in time to welcome, five minutes later, at precisely 1.25am, Jade Michelle Purdy to Nelson, New Zealand, and the world.

I am briefly allowed to hold Jade in my hands - she is tiny and pretty much fits in my left hand, legs dangling over my watch.

Godmum Steph with Jade
It IS hot in the room. The incubator has been wheeled in because Jade is making a dramatic entrance thanks to being premature and the heat in the room has been cranked up. Yes Steph, cranked up A LOT. 

At 1.26am Jade is quickly transferred to the incubator and I am again overwhelmed by the drama of the moment. BUT I have the doctor and Steph to check on. They are most embarrassed by events but I don't mind - it's given me something to remind Steph about for the last 25 years!

The v word can strike fear into any virile young male. When Jacky started bandying round the v word after Samantha came along, I had doubts.

Growing up with only one brother was sometimes tough for me; I would have loved to have had a couple of sisters. So, although I wasn't necessarily looking  for another addition to our brood, I was only in my early thirties and, who knew? Once it's done, it's done.

Your sis-ter!
On the other hand I'd watched and worried through three pregnancies so far and, let me tell you, it's a stressful experience for everyone concerned. There's the worry that something will go wrong for some looong months, and always the knowledge that a painful day is approaching for the new mother.

I was at school when the call came from Steph in May 1991. 

Waimea College, where I was now Head of English, was 15 minutes drive from our home in Wakefield. This being the little town where Keegan and then Adam were going to school, where our friends the Sivaks and the Borlases lived.

The Borlases had become good friends really quickly! Still, I was a little surprised to get a call at school from Steph. For some reason, I was in the main office area of the admin corridor at the time.

A routine test had returned a positive result and we were going to be a mummy and daddy for a fourth time! 

The first few months of the new pregnancy were difficult. We knew that having four children was really going to stretch us financially and in other ways. 

The day to day hand combat with four children places many stresses on a relationship. Many compromises need to be made, many of them are never articulated. You just do it!

We had developed an instinctive knowledge of how to support each other. We were very young parents for Keegan - in many ways just kids ourselves and the marriage was not yet even ten years old and we had four children!

Both of us had had to grow up fast to the responsibilities of being parents. In a way, it was a great thing. We were in this thing together and we had to make it work. There was no other option.

Big brother tries to establish order

Financially, we had it tough - living in a shoebox int middle of road was hard. Houses needed to be a certain size now and, yet again, we needed  a bigger car. I'd started out with a mini, then mum's old Chevette (Keegan and Adam), on to a Holden station wagon (Samantha). Now we traded that in and bought a Ford Econovan to ferry the six of us around Nelson.

As to the name - again, we were sure it was a boy so, again, we had Ethan William Purdy all ready to go! Again we were surprised when a baby girl emerged.  Yes, yes, we CAN be slow learners at times. However, in contrast to Samantha, we settled quickly on Jade - a one syllable name, and Michelle was for Jacky's kid sister.

Luckily, Jade proved herself to be Keegan's equal as a baby, rather than a hellion child like Samantha. Right from the start, our new little bundle of joy was mature and self-assured. She quickly established her presence around the house and her charmingly delightful little smile got her out of a lot of potentially sticky moments.


Jade's arrival also brought balance to the force. Having two boys, then two girls had a nice symmetry and Jade was able to establish tight relationships with all three siblings. 

In many ways, along with Jacky, she is the glue that holds us together, keeps us honest and keeps us linked as a family, even when we are so spread out geographically. When someone steps out of line - Jade steps in. This figures. When young we called her Nana Jade, or mini-mum, and the expression 'Jade knows all without seeing' became a thing.

Much later, when I was in charge of day relief at one of my schools I told the staff to only give a message to Jade if they couldn't get me. She was about 9 at the time!

Jacky and the Purdettes

The family was now complete - this part of my journey was over, so that meant time for that traumatic snip snip in June of 1992. 

My final paragraph to the original autobiography ended with my declaration that I had lived my first 34 years proud and true and strong as a Purdy and with a hope that what my children read about themselves would put their own place in the Purdy family into clearer perspective.

Now that I'm 59, I hope that's still true.

Love and peace - Abu Keegan, Abu Adam, Abu Samantha, Abu Jade.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Family Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 9 part 4)
Getting to be a handful! We're in New Plymouth
for Samantha's baptism. The boys look cool while
Fanfa gives controversial rock on salute!

During our 1988 August holidays, as we drove along the National Park road from Taupo to Mt. Ruapehu nudged just behind Roger and Deirdre Marbeck's car, both of us part of a long trail of cars, with Adam and Keegan in the back seat, Jacky and I had time for a lengthy and deep conversation.

Samantha Mary Purdy owes her existence to that conversation.

We had just shared a holiday in Taupo at dad's holiday home with the Marbecks and we were all now on our way to see the snow.

SMP: obstreperous!
As we drove, I told Jacky about my thoughts concerning reliving my father's life - two sons, two years apart. And I wondered aloud about trying for a third, a daughter maybe. What about that?

Jacky was adamant (no pun intended) that two was enough and Adam was going to be our last. Both births were pretty fresh in her memory and she'd been at home now for four years looking after the boys while I worked at Macleans College. As we drove along we continued to talk and Jacky started softening her stance and, eventually, agreed that it was actually a pretty cool idea.

SMP with her Godparents:
Greg and Liz Lester.
We returned home to Dornwell Road, Three Kings, and had only just told our friends and family of our decision (to a generally damp set of reactions it must be said), when Jacky found she was 'with child' for the third time. We were both delighted and excited and a little pissed off that no one else seemed to share our joy. Oh well. We were off on another chapter of our great married adventure.

Our initial planning aimed at an August birth during the school holidays. Ha ha ha! The speed of conception meant that the new baby was due around the May holidays of 1989 instead.

As the pregnancy continued we were both convinced that another boy was coming, and we wanted a name early this time. We decided on Ethan William Purdy, the second name for my great grandfather. We didn't waste any time thinking about a girl's name. No point - there hadn't been a female baby in our Purdy line for about five generations (plus Michelle had two sons, as did Ross).

Who says Patrick doesn't get children?
He's a natural!
For a second time, we headed into National Women's on May 15 for our third child's birth. At 2.59 the next morning we had a really huge surprise! It's a girl!!

And we had no name for her! For a week we tried out dozens of names for 'baby Purdy'. We couldn't agree. I liked Charlotte or Claire but Jacky didn't. She liked names that I didn't think were right. We argued our cases but all suggestions were vetoed.

Visiting Grandad Brian in
New Plymouth.
I was particularly keen for either a three or one syllable name. We had Kee-gan and Ad-am. I wanted something different this time. And maybe a name that could be shortened.

Finally, we agreed on Samantha and Mary for a second name - that bit was easy peasy, being both of our mothers' middle names.

Keegan arrived at 7.21pm, Adam at 10.28am - both pretty reasonable times. Trust Samantha to be awkward and arrive in the pitch dark, three weeks early, on a terrible rainy morning.

Although she looked like a little angel, the manner of her arrival set the pattern for the coming loooong months - obstreperous being the kindest and most appropriate adjective that I can think of for her. In case you were wondering, it means noisy and difficult to control!

Note the prep for the
coming distribution of food.

Everything wound up on
the floor, so, bring the
floor to her! 
For the next 14 months (Fourteen. Months.) Samantha refused point blank to sleep through the night, take food or liquids normally, or in any way follow Keegan's example as a baby. 

Adam had been a slightly harder baby than Keegan but neither had prepared us for Samantha, the game changer.

Three children meant work. Plain and simple - little romance of any variety - just endless sleepless nights, a daily grind of dirty nappies, noise, children's squabbles, and stress!

Circumstances dictated this to some extent. Our Dornwell Road house had a very cold third bedroom, so we were forced, in those early winter months of Samantha's life, to keep her in our room. We paid the price, Oh boy, did we!

In the midst of this 14 months of hell, the start of 1990 coincided with our decision to move to Nelson for my career. We have never lived boring lives!

Although I loved Macleans, I was starting to love it too much, and the road to promotion wasn't looking possible, so, after a phone interview, I was given an assistant Head of English job at Waimea College.

Our family of five was on the move! Forward! To the South Island!

Jacky and I flew down to see the school and buy a house. It's okay - we had given ourselves a long weekend. No sweat! 

On our third day there, I found our new house in the window of a realty company in Richmond and we bought it. Simple!

I loved our Lord Auckland Road house. It had bags of room for the five of us, a great outlook on farm land and a ridge of pine trees, and a log cabin feel. Awesome!

Even better, thanks to Jacky, we met a young couple like us - Stephanie and Duncan Borlase, in a street close by and the Sivak family moved in next door. The Borlases became our new Marbecks - a family we did loads of things with. Their two children, Teri and Steve, grew up with ours. 

The Sivaks came from Warren County, Pennsylvania, and Annette was my first appointment as HOD English at Waimean College. Their three children were super talented and great fun. Keegan and Luke were similar ages and they hit it off big time.

Soon 1991 rolled around and Jacky had some more news for me...

Love and peace - Abu Keegan, Abu Adam, Abu Samantha

Monday, November 14, 2016


Family Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 9 part 3)
At National Women's Hospital - Room 11, 
Ward 8: Wozza (in Bruce Springsteen cut 
off shirt) with his two sons. 
Adam was born to run!

Our first year back in Auckland and with some surprise, in April 1986, Jacky found she was preggers again. What the...

LOL. Yes Adam. Tis true, tis true. 

The old two bedroom Windmill Road flat (from when I was at training college remember) was pretty small: lounge-kitchen-diner/bathroom/ one small bedroom/ master bedroom. It was fine for the three of us but a new baby was going to stretch us. Hmmm. What to do? What to do?

Meantime, as I commuted to the Eastern suburbs of Auckland, Jacky and Keegan settled in to Auckland life and waited for December to roll around.

Who you calling overprotective?
Again the new baby was a reluctant participant in the whole birthing thing. Again Jacky went past the due date. Again Christmas was approaching fast. Again the birth was induced. Again an epidural was called for.  Wow - déjà vu all over again.

Being the late eighties, and being National Women's Hospital, just spitting distance from where I was born in Cornwall Park, things were slightly more evolved than Taranaki Base Hospital where Keegan was born.

Godparents (Godfather Patrick with
 Deirdre and Roger Marbeck.
This time we were a little more laid back about this birth business. Not ho hum, we still attended antenatal classes, just laid back. After the waters broke in the evening of December 10, we ambled into National Women's knowing that not much would be happening for a while. And so it proved.

The night was long but I didn't have the 
naiveté to go for a McDonald's hotcake breakfast this time around. Things were sorted at home, Ross had agreed to babysit Keegan for us until things happened. So we waited and waited.

Things went relatively smoothly, except for Adam deciding, bizarrely, to turn in the womb at the last minute and wrap the chord around his neck. Why you little... It wasn't serious but it resulted in Adam losing the edge from his motor responses and co-ordination in his younger years. 

He also had no pain threshold which made for some interesting moments as he sometimes fell out of windows onto concrete footpaths, dusted himself off and carried on. A passerby once saw this and ran to our door to see if he was alright. "Oh no, he's fine!", said I.

As a baby Adam had huge eyes and a slightly elongated head as a consequence of the birth. This didn't last long and we took home a perfect baby. As he grew into toddler hood Adam Lennon Purdy became totally open, sensitive to feelings around him, and a great addition to the collection. He became blessed with the most wonderful open smile that radiated his charm and melted me instantly. 

Keegan would remain Mr Placid, Adam would quickly turn into a little tyke - Bart Simpson style. My special little guy.

The boys with Wynton in Taupo
Again, I was something of an emotional mess at his birth - crying with joy and desperate to share the news. I rang the babysitting Ross from the delivery room as Jacky recovered to give him the great news, except, omg, Ross wanted to have a tantrum about me making him late for work and when was I going to be home? Exclamation point.

I was embarrassed at his reaction and couldn't understand why he wasn't as overjoyed as I was. Sometimes I think his empathy bone was dented at his own birth. To this day, he certainly runs a mile from having to deal with others' difficult situations.

When Jacky and Adam returned to the flat, they saw a huge welcome home banner that Keegan and I had put together, and we proceeded to make the small flat a home for Adam.

Jacky with her boys, Deirdre Marbeck with Jessica.
The name battles continued with Adam's emergence. Jacky had found 'Keegan' in a baby book, not from Kevin Keegan as my friends had assumed. We both loved it and Keegan has suited him in all stages of his life so far. 

Keegan's second name was a tussle that I lost. As is obvious from my family history, the name 'Nugent' has been a feature for at least four generations of first born Purdy males. I was keen to continue the tradition. I admit it!

We compromised, and picked 'Warren' instead. Over the years, I have caught considerable flak for my unusual middle name, so I wasn't too devastated when Jacky put her foot down and refused point blank to pass it on to Keegan.

Now we needed another boy's name.

'Adam' came after much discussion and trying out loads of alternatives. We could not agree on anything. 'Adam' has the advantage of being slightly unusual but it was also quite popular as my roll at Macleans College indicated. I suggested the name and we eventually agreed.

Call these bars???
The cot was no match!
The second name was also discussed a lot and I eventually persuaded Jacky by writing a lengthy list of reasons why 'Lennon' was the best choice. I was desperate to name one of my sons after my hero. Adam lucked out! 

It was an inspired choice, if I do say so myself - Adam and his namesake share a fabulously frank, sometimes blunt, creative and open personality.

As we set about life with two boys, Adam moved into the second bedroom with Keegan as his roommate: bonding happened quickly between these brothers. 

As predicted, the place was a tight fit. Adam was a pretty good sport - he started sleeping through the night as soon as the new school year began in 1987, but his early morning routines were weird. For instance, I'd wake up to find that he'd escaped his cot (easy - he just took out the bars!), made his way to the kitchen and was eating flour out of the container or doing other things with the contents of his nappy that I can't bring myself to repeat in this blog.

We needed more space! We looked everywhere from Mt Roskill to Pakuranga but eventually settled on an affordable place in Dornwell Road, Three Kings. Funny how I've always gravitated to the general Mt Eden/Royal Oak/ Three Kings area of Auckland. I guess I'm drawn back to my mountain - Maungakiekie (a.k.a. One Tree Hill).

Anyway, together, our mortgage and little family set up shop in this substantial house, our first. Keegan was two years old, Jacky was 24, I was 29.  

I commuted to Macleans with Graeme Sterne; Jacky took care of things at home; we made friends with Rodney and Di, a young couple across the road; and we happily watched Keegan and Adam grow up.

Life was good!

Love and peace - Abu Keegan and Adam

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Family Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 9 part 2)

I'm a family man
Working every day for my family

Dragon (Family Man)

In terms of nailing purpose, Marc Hunter's lyrics are spot on. This chapter is devoted to family.

I like the way everybody has a family tree of some sort. Everybody has a whanau (an extended family) which expands, always exploding outward, on-going and limitless.

My Purdy family offshoots take in an ever expanding number of other families, some I know well, others are more tenuous but we are all interconnected.

Aside from various Purdy families, right now in 2016, my whanau takes in branches of the Adsett, Holden, Curson, Selman, Dix, O'Neill, Bulman, Smith, Hope, Skynner, Moore, Rowbotham, Peterson, Haigh, Hodge, Kennedy, Kirkham clans.

They all intersect on me! Cool.

In 1984, Jacky learned with some surprise that she was pregnant. All I remember is a kind of dumb elation. She was 22, I was 27. Although we were married, we were just kids ourselves. What did we know?

Keegan Warren Purdy was born in New Plymouth's Base Hospital on December 19, 1984.

He was two weeks late and still wasn't that keen to enter the world, and Christmas was coming. 

Jacky and I went on long walks around New Plymouth to help pry him loose. Fording the Waiwhakaiho River was somewhat helpful but even then he was a reluctant participant in Wozza's world.

Time was a dragging on and finally, Graham Purdy's first grand child was induced to appear but even then he took his own sweet time going about things.

We had gone up to the hospital the day before - the evening of the 18th. Jacky had little sleep that night and Keegan was making slow progress by the morning of the 19th. Little had happened during the day as well. Our GP (Dr David Lyall) was the father of one of my star students and he made the call for an epidural shortly before 5pm. The timing was critical because the anaesthetist went off duty at 5. Hey - it was the eighties, and it was provincial Nu Zild.

An epidural is a cunning little procedure. It works on the spinal column to numb the lower body. So the urge remains to push, but the pain is alleviated. Jacky was immediately able to relax and go to sleep.

Thinking I had some time to play with, I decided to grab some dinner - you should know that Purdys don't operate well when they're hungry. I went off site for a McDonalds combo and returned to the hospital, sitting on the steps of the maternity wing to have my dinner. 

Tanked up on a Big Mac, fries and coke, I returned to Jacky's room just in time for Keegan to finally get his act together. It was all good. When I think back now, I was the picture of calm. Ignorance is bliss!

Jacky was in a lot of pain during labour, a long and slow process in this case. 

Although we'd been to ante-natal classes, nothing really prepares you for the gush of emotions that accompanies a birth. 

As soon as Keegan appeared, two things happened: I cried my eyes out and Jacky said, "Well that wasn't too bad".

The whole experience was completely overwhelming and draining. Jacky slept, while I sat beside her in an armchair and held onto this new life in my hands and was drenched in pride and tenderness for both Jacky and Keegan.

It's one of those moments.

When I returned home, leaving KW and Jacky to get some rest, I immediately started on Keegan's photo album - cards, photos, news cuttings of the day. I wanted a sense of history. I've done this for Adam, Samantha and Jade as well, and I realise a selfish need here. This didn't exist for me and I wanted it for them.

As a baby and an only child, Keegan lulled us both into a false sense of security. As soon as school started for the new term, he slept through the night. During the days he played happily in his cot and rocked himself in a bouncer chair that Grandad, up in Auckland, had bought for him.

This parenting thing was a doddle!!

He certainly had all the equipment as his cabbage coloured parents embarked whole heartily on their new adventure together.

I don't recall any in depth discussion but Jacky had given up work at White's Department store (in the shoes section) to look after Keegan and, now that he was here, devoted all her time and energy and love into his upbringing.

Although she's not maternal, she's an amazing mother. Go figure.

I went on teaching English at New Plymouth Boys' for the next year but during 1985 we decided a return to Auckland was needed. I missed my dad for one thing. 

So, we loaded up what possessions we had (mainly my record and book collection and plants) and my then brother-in-law and I drove the heavily laden van up to new digs in Windmill Rd, Mt Eden, in time for a 1986 start at Maclean's College.

And a whole new adventure!

Love and peace - Abu Keegan

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Things that go to make up a life (Genesis)

Family Man (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 9 part 1)

All the worlds I could have conquered
Are all inside of me
I have found the secret
Set my devils free
Now I want to raise my children
Proud and true and strong
Now I know the answer
I've looked for so long -
I'm a family man
Working every day for my family

Dragon (Family Man)

All baby pictures retell a familiar story: human babies are completely dependent on other people; human babies are supremely vulnerable. 

Babies have no control over what pictures are taken of them for instance. They just have to lie back and take it. 

Parents, holding their new babies are all the same as well. We all feel like this is the first and most important moment in the history of the world - and we're always right, you can see it in our faces! 

We suddenly get it - we have become our parents. We are now re-experiencing the moment we were born. We sense the connections. Bam. Right there. Back, and back, and back, and back, through the generations. 

It's a magic moment. 

I've been extremely lucky, having had four children with Jacky, becoming a family man!

This post is the start of the last chapter to my original autobiography. 

By way of introduction, I proudly present to you the cast of characters in Warren and Jacky's family.

Wozza's world creator,
Dulcie Mary Purdy, and her first son.
I was in good hands!

Then there was Jacqueline Frances Smith
Hair now became very important, 
even if it was a top knot.
A serene Keegan Warren Purdy, 1984

KWP and his mum who models 'the look' 
I was pointing out!

Adam Lennon Purdy

Adam (our special little guy)
makes four. Xmas 1986.
Samantha Mary Purdy, 1989.
Bright eyed, looking for action.
And then there were six as Jade completes the set!

Jade Michelle Purdy, 1990something
(LOL, joke Jade - 1991 right!)

Love and peace - Dad