Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: A Little Voyage Around My Grandfather

16 Responses

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Glaswegian? Why did I imagine your forebears would be German?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Clayton,

    This is a joyful post and one that recalls for me memories of my own grandfather, by whom I was similarly loved. What satisfaction to live in a world with adults who understood that pudding was where the true nutrients were, and that voyages were best made on a self-designed road.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    beautiful - thank you

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 229 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    Thanks David! For a minute the dark angel looming was forgotten as I visited a slice of childhood paradise. There's not much in life that's better than sitting on a (Glaswegian) grandparent's knee singing as little 'un...Even sitting in an office recalling this is pretty damn good!

    Osterreich • Since Nov 2006 • 460 posts Report Reply

  • Lee Wilkinson,

    Nice post David,
    there is something in the conspiratorial grandparent stories that always makes me smile, for me it was the "we will just go for a walk" and somehow include an icecream from the dairy.

    Whangarei Heads • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    That is a beautiful and evocative piece of writing David, thank you.

    One thing that has perplexes me though is that my contemporaries in NZ seem to have grown up in a different century than my contemporaries in Canada. I'm probably older than David, but I've compared memories and photographs with my NZ friends of the same vintage, and the only explanation is that we somehow inhabited different eras during the same time. How can this be?

    My grandfather was born in 1878 and before the turn of the 19th century was surveying for the railroads down in South America, he went to WWI as a middle aged man... my father's childhood (the 1920s) shows him and my uncles decked out like Christopher Robin cute linen suits and adorable hairstyles long over the eyes in the front, short at the nape of the neck. He and his brothers went off to WWII having enjoyed what seemed to be a more modern era than my husband's 1960s recollections.

    When I was a child in the 1960s my world was pretty close to (Gen X novelist's) Douglas Coupland's descriptions of modern suburbia, with Panther and Mustang (forerunners of the BMX) stunt blikes, skate boards, relentlessly electric toys (anyone here remember Creepy Crawlies, Ezy Bake Ovens, Incredible Edibles and road race sets?) There were Hi Fs, tape players and portable tvs in every kids' room and most of us seemed to have glamourous older siblings who wore amazing clothes and seemed to lead exciting, enviable lives.

    Coupland is about the same age as I am, and grew up in the same neighbourhoods and he describes a childhood I instantly recognise - dated to modern readers, but weirdly space age to my NZ husband Paul.

    Paul and our NZ friends describe a very different era in the 1960s with terrifying dentistry with foot powered treadle drills, woollen clothing and wooden toys. He says there was no such thing as colour tv until he was well into his teens and that no one would have a tv - colour or otherwise - in a kid's room He even claims they didn't have indoor toilets in the early 1960s in Blockhouse Bay. My grandfather had an indoor flush toilet in 1878. Even the good memories like David's above sound like they are from a previous century.

    Any explanation out there?

    And having said that, I just visited my hometown (Vancouver) and found myself unable to operate phones, stoves, plumbing and the sky train ticketing machines. I think I've been here too long to go back.

    cheers

    dyan

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Paul and our NZ friends describe a very different era in the 1960s with terrifying dentistry with foot powered treadle drills . . .

    Lordy. The only time I ever saw one of those drills was in a display of an army field hospital at an open day at Linton camp in around 1964. Very effective disincentive to recruitment. My local primary school Murder House had a drill that buzzed loud enough to dislocate the individual plates in your skull, but it certainly wasn't foot-powered.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    The concept of The Murder House will horrify and alarm any Canadian... we had hygienists come to the schools and clean our teeth, give us toothbrushes, dental floss and those groovy little prizes - sodium bicarb powered submarines, water pistols and sparkly glass rings and necklaces... but the idea of anyone other than a dentist doing anything other than cleaning their kid's teeth will put a Canadian parent into a state of panic. Even the hygienists have something like 3 or 4 years training; dental health is taken pretty seriously in Canada, and as virtually everyone over the age of 15 has the beginnings of periodontal disease, it's standard for people to visit their hygienist much, much more than their dentist.

    Canadians will spend a fortune on their kids' teeth - we were given endless flouride treatments (that horrible bubblegum flavoured stuff in those trays they leave on your teeth for 5 minutes) but fortunately for them none of us needed braces. But our Mum thought school appointed hygienists were not the real thing, and they only came once a year, so we were dragged in every 6 months to have our teeth scraped with those little metal hooks, which they still use. The process seems unchanged, except I don't have to have flouride treatments anymore, thank god. I've had people express alarm at all the flouride I must have swallowed, but what really alarms me is the endless x-rays they used to do of kids' teeth in those days.

    Actually poor periodontal health has been conclusively linked to all sorts of diseases from cardiovascular disease to all kinds of arthritis, so it's much more crucial to health than most people realise. I wrote an article about this a few years back - poor periodontal health has been linked to an incredible number of disorders. It's not a good idea to piss off your immune system, which is what periodontal disease does, even in the early stages.

    cheers

    dyan

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Canadians will spend a fortune on their kids' teeth.

    That and maple syrup.
    Sodium bicarbonate powered submarines were the best-ever Weetbix freebie, I collected all the colours.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Kennedy,

    there is something in the conspiratorial grandparent stories that always makes me smile, for me it was the "we will just go for a walk" and somehow include an icecream from the dairy.

    In my case it was a visit to the pub, When I was 4 or 5, my maternal grandparents would collect me from my parents house at around 3:15 for the “Sunday walk”. Invariably after 45 minutes of rambling around Waterford, we would by magic find ourselves outside one of granddads many locals just as the Sunday 4 o clock opening time came around.

    In we would go, and so started my education on the relative merits of Guinness (Draft versus Bottled), Beamish and Murphy’s. Quantity was strictly controlled, and I would “win” and extra packet of Tayto (crisps for you non Irish readers) when I could successfully identify the drink in question from the look and taste of the head.

    My other role on the walk was to be displayed to my grand parent’s contemporaries, as the first grand-child I represented the next generation. As the years went by and I began unsupervised pub visits, I was often accosted with the greeting “your Billy’s grandson aren’t you”. It was kind of hard to misbehave with that level of surveillance.

    After my grand father died I would sometimes visit one of his favourite haunts (not one of the “Sunday” destinations), stand at his spot and listen to his friends reminisce. I was never allowed to put my hand in my pocket and was always referred to as “Billy’s grandson“.

    The pub in question was Moondarrig House, owned by the legendary, at least in Waterford, Tom Maher http://www.munster-express.ie/obituaries/obit_maher%20tom.html). Now that’s a story for another day

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh David, you really do write so very well. How evocative indeed. I hope that all of us had a childhood imbued with as much grandfatherly love. I certainly did. I really miss my grandad.........

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    You're famous au. Prolly too buzy on the tv today to respond to your responses....that and practicing for Dancing with Stars. Gawd let's hope it hasn't gone to your head being both on TV and NZ's (or is it Fiji's) "Blogger's spokesman".

    You were a lot more youthful looking on the telly and didn't have a David Bellamy-beard as I'd imagined.

    Let's hope the bro' town fullas go easy on you ;o)

    Osterreich • Since Nov 2006 • 460 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Jon Knox (and others):

    Very sorry -- I've been rushing round trying to make the science radio programme today... Er, yes, and dealing with proper media types set upon me by a certain Mr Russell Brown (or, as I tend to think of him now, my former friend Mr Russell Brown). Also dealing with perplexing and vexing questions on the other Southerly thread. But I was intending to post to this thread before I went to bed -- honest!

    Thank you everybody for all the kinds words RE: today's post. I've really enjoyed reading through everyone's comments -- particularly Megan, Jon, and Tony. As Jackie observed, we're really blessed if we have good grandparents. I certainly appreciate how lucky I was.

    Dyan Campbell wrote:

    One thing that has perplexes me though is that my contemporaries in NZ seem to have grown up in a different century than my contemporaries in Canada.

    Would it make it even weirder if I told you that this recollection comes from 1974? Back home my mother was tie-dying clothing, baking her own bread, and doing leatherwork. My dad spent his weekends making pottery.

    I think the slightly old-fashioned feel in my post might actually be due to the fact that my grandparents were recent immigrants from Scotland, who thought they'd died and gone to the future when they came to New Zealand. They came from Glasgow tenements that were genuinely third world.

    You make an interesting point about the cultural/historic differences between NZ & Canada. But I wonder if a lot of this might be down to different degrees in urbanization and class. Do you think working-class Canadians from small-town Saskatchewan or Quebec or Newfoundland would have had the same experiences as you did in Vancouver/BC? Don't forget that the NZ population didn't even reach two million people until the 1950s.

    But I can reveal that the 'murder house' at my primary school still had a treadle drill in 1975. I remember being allowed to give it a practice treadle. Although, strangely, I don't actually remember it being used on me. Perhaps this is a memory that I will recover in therapy one day.

    Further to Jon Knox's comments:

    1. By a fortunate co-incidence -- and this is the God honest truth -- I shaved off my beard yesterday and had a haircut. Before that I had a whole kind of homeless Jesus/Bellamy/Methuselah look.

    2. I accept no responsibility for any captions inflicted upon me by television companies.

    3. If I have anything to do with it, Jon's soul will go to hell for posting that link. I am already drafting a letter to the Pope.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    3. If I have anything to do with it, Jon's soul will go to hell for posting that link. I am already drafting a letter to the Pope.

    <Impression of the not nice Iain Paisley begins> A PAPIST eh!? <Impression of the not nice Iain Paisley ends...resumption of agnostic transmission begins>

    If there is a God in the Christian sense, save yourself the paper & postage, I'm already on that list.

    Osterreich • Since Nov 2006 • 460 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    David Haywood wrote

    Would it make it even weirder if I told you that this recollection comes from 1974? Back home my mother was tie-dying clothing, baking her own bread, and doing leatherwork. My dad spent his weekends making pottery.


    Yipes, I am much older than you are... in 1974 I was 17 and all set to graduate high school. When I saw The Checks perform at one of Russell's Great Blends, I remarked to my husband that I had clothes older than that band... clothes that I still wear.

    But I don't know if you could really consider a suburb of Auckland (my husband's old stomping ground, Blockhouse Bay) any less urban than where I lived. As Douglas Coupland points out in one of his books, Vancouver's North Shore may be on the edge of a city, but it is still populated by deer, bear, ravens, eagles, racoons and the occasional cougar. You can walk straight out of the neighbourhoods and into the woods, even today.

    And it's my husband Paul who insists the two countries existed in different centuries - at his high school in the 1970s boys were punished for having long hair, at my high school in the 1970s the teachers all had long hair, and most of the boys had moved on to Ziggy Stardust style mullets, or New York Dolls style bouffants - some complete with eyeliner, glitter and black nailpolish on the little fingers. No teacher ever minded, nor did they mind that we girls wore bare halter tops which were much more revealing than any bare midriff top popular today. No one minded, no one seemed to think there was anything sinister in it. No one in their right mind dressed like that in winter, mind you.

    When we watch a movie that would like the skater-boy film Lords of Dogtown Paul is astonished at how different life in NZ was from life in North America. The cultures and attitudes may be very different between Canada and the USA - as evidenced in Michael Adams book of statistical comparisons Fire and Ice, but there was what Douglas Coupland describes as the "Pan North American Experience" of the same toys, slang, tv shows, cereals, clothes and pastimes. And these things either didn't come to NZ until half a generation later or were in some way banned by adults, according to Paul, who feels distinctly shortchanged.

    I've never met anyone from Newfoundland, as it was thousands of kilometres from where I grew up on the West Coast, but I do know people who grew up in tiny towns like Nelson or Kimberly, Osoyoos -where there is little to do but ski, ride, fish, hunt or smoke pot. And their clothes looked pretty much like what we wore out on the coast, though their pastimes were less varied. Actually their ski clothes did look way less fashionable, but this is before their hills like Big White and Silver Star were discovered, and while Vancouver's Whistler may have been home to the Bognor or Fila suited Ski Bunnies, there were still plenty of kids in pom-pom hats and ordinary snowsuits up Grouse, Vancouver's after-school ski hill.

    But you should really talk to my husband Paul about this. To hear him describe it, he was made to live in the distant past in NZ, and his photograhs do support his claim.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Made to live in the distant past? Obviously it didn't suit him at all, which may be why he went to Canada. It suits me and I have to say that quite often I wish it was still like that. The innocence, the utter geographical isolation from the rest of the world, the shops shut on Sunday. A better world in some ways, I would venture to suggest.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

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