Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: My Life As a Palm Tree

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  • David Haywood,

    This piece was written at the request of a Public Address reader. He probably wishes to remain anonymous (although I can reveal that his name rhymes with Tat Norkington). All complaints should be directed to him.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Oh, and ‘pozidriv’ is really spelt that way (not ‘pozidrive’ as you might logically think). I believe the spelling was subcontracted to Noddy Holder from Slade.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to David Haywood,

    Wonderful tale, as always David, but you do realise that Bob and Polly will read all these one day, and then decide on your resthome...

    I believe the spelling was subcontracted to Noddy Holder from Slade.

    Now if 'hanger' had been given to aviation enthusiast Gary Numan, he would've had it as 'hangar'...
    Just sayin' :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7869 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Now if 'hanger' had been given to aviation enthusiast Gary Numan, he would've had it as 'hangar'...

    Thanks for that, Ian! Now corrected (it's amazing how mistakes can get past).

    I figure I'm already screwed in the resthome stakes, so I'm now operating on the "hung for a sheep" system in everything that I write about my children.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    BRAVO! LIKE +1 FAVOURITE FRIEND SUBSCRIBE PLEASE SEND ME INFORMATION ON YOUR PRODUCTS AND/OR SERVICES!

    (this is how we say "thank you, you wonderful man" on the Internet)

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Glad to be of service, Mr Norkington!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Few things are more relaxing than listening to someone else deal with your protesting child.

    A similar principle operates when your children have become somewhat older and you are within public earshot of a parent trying to manage a difficult young child or children.

    You could be annoyed. But, really, why not simply luxuriate in the knowledge that the child is not your problem and let its cries fall upon your ears like birdsong? You will a find that a beatific smile comes easily.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David Haywood,

    Glad to be of service, Mr Norkington!

    I think the two of you are close enough for you to call him "Norks".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Her two-year-old’s life has been packed full of building, plumbing, electrical work.

    But she and Bob are growing up with a father who makes things. Real things, things they can touch and break and then watch him repair. It's a kind of magic.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I'm just reading one of the best memoirs about child rearing ever - it is by 'Aspergian' John Elder Robison and is his story of raising his own son. The title is: Raising Cubby: a father and son's adventures with Asperger's, trains, tractors and high explosives.

    As a teenager the author provided the technology behind Kiss's flaming guitars. Their family life is not a quiet one. His now adult son is into chemistry in a big way and the chapter I am now reading is how Cubby made his own fireworks when he was a child.
    (My copy is signed as I met the author last week - I am a fan!)

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3188 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I am now reading how Cubby made his own fireworks when he was a child.

    Oh, I did that! I was an irresponsible child as well as an irresponsible parent.

    I'm heading off to bed now (midnight in the UK), but I'd be interested in tales of irresponsible and dangerous parent/child behaviour. Did your parents allow you to make fireworks or similar? Do you let your children?

    Give me something to cheer me up when I awake to a damp English Monday.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to David Haywood,

    The action tales in Raising Cubby are too numerous to mention. John Elder Robison's special interest that developed into a business is restoring old British and European cars eg Land Rovers, Rolls Royces and Jags (he has a wonderful story of taking Chairman Mao's BMW with its blacked out windows to a car show and winning the major prize). In his restored white Rolls Royce he and his son drove to all the major railway hubs, nuclear plants etc (he is in Massachusetts) and were shown around and got to use the equipment, drive the trains etc, on the assumption they were VIPs. They bought a few shares in the businesses they wanted to visit and told the managers (honestly) they were the owners of the company.. He taught his son to drive very young and Cubby went on off road Land Rover competitions when he was about 10.

    For them running wild is a very good thing to be encouraged.

    I heard him speak at the recent autism conference in Australia. He said how his own expertise in electronics only developed because he destroyed stuff for many years in order to learn. That is a necessary preparation and one that many parents don't understand. He also said his son's interest in chemistry could have led either of two ways - drugs or explosives - so he was pleased it was the latter.

    By the way his brother is the writer Augusten Burroughs (so he can write well too).

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3188 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    My father had a couple of bullets he "brought back from the war". It was a large calibre short cartridge bullet. He was foolish. One day he "showed" me how to whack it with a hammer and a nail and make it go bang. I was less than 5 years old. He went to work. I found the other one. Got the hammer and nail but couldn't get it to go bang. However, I did make sure it ended up quite flat after whacking it for a long time. I still get shudders.

    Yes I made gunpowder. Being the lab assistant at school gave me access to the whole chemical store. :-) That other brew with iodine and potassium permangate....I think...that goes bang when it dries. :-) :-) :-)

    Yes I made two stage sky rockets with the second stage being a "Screaming Meemee". it would take a few seconds to light and in that time it had turned to face mother earth and sound like a banshee as it headed back down.

    Sparkler bombs. Acetylene bombs. oh dear....

    Yes I swung my kids by the heels and flipped them. ....must be something physics dads do.

    Yes I made high swings at playcentre with a bell in the trees that the kids LOVED to ring as parents held their breath. The bastards chopped the tree down after I left.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1587 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Robison also of course literarily threw his son around a lot when he was little. One of the early chapters relates the various types and names of propulsion. The mildest was making the roundabout in the local park go as fast as it could. Of course this made Robison senior very popular with all the other kids in the park, as their parents were much more risk averse.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3188 posts Report Reply

  • Jono Baddiley, in reply to David Haywood,

    Did your parents allow you to make fireworks or similar? Do you let your children?

    Give me something to cheer me up when I awake to a damp English Monday.

    I once set fire to my parents hedge. Dad said to use a bit of petrol to lift an oil stain off the drive. I think that he was envisioning brushing, but burning seemed obvious to me. When it seemed to me that the oil stain must surely be burnt off, I used a hose to put it out. Of course, the flames floated on the top of the water, into the hedge.

    Instant conflagration. I consider it an important life lesson: make sure that the driveway doesn't dip down to the hedge when you try to put out burning petrol with a hose.

    Wellytron • Since Mar 2008 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to David Haywood,

    Hoot. What’s a few painkillers betwen father and son when you can be a launchpad.

    Did your parents allow you to make fireworks or similar?

    When my 14 yr old stepson came back from Oz to live with our family at 12 hours notice, we had no idea what to do with him. On day two I took him down to the Crow’s Nest secondhand shop, hurled him a wettie and surfboard and told him to teach himself to surf (we lived a block from a wild beach) and be home for tea each night at 5.30. We wondered if we were a bit harsh when he came in one evening to tell how he’d been out the back and when the board was nudged by a shark, he had punched it in the nose and paddled home for tea.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    I feel your pain. Literally. The adorable Aardman movie “Chicken Run” morphed into “Chicken Pie Machine” game. Haven’t done it much in the last few years, but when pushed into it the other day I almost killed myself – my son is now almost 12 and he is BLOODY HEAVY. I may well not be as strong as I once was …

    Thunderbirds: my god they need a decent edit. Endless shots of bow-waves/vehicle wheels/plane wings (whatever is about to crack/blow out/fall off).

    My youngest (girl) just wasn’t as into the rough stuff as my older two (boy & girl). When I tried twirling her round and throwing her in the air the poor thing was terrified, and through the sobs made me promise not to do that again. They all grow up with different experiences, and she gets to have a way cool older brother to watch do crazy things.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Attachment

    Elder son returning from low earth orbit, many years ago.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Attachment

    Darling daughter. At one point, we got a bit nervous about filling in another set of ACC forms, in case we got a visit from CYPFS.

    My mother didn't so much encourage me into danger as just not pay much attention if I wasn't around. She used to gratefully leave me in the care of her best friend's slightly older son, Lincoln. He made his own fireworks. I think the parents were probably slightly alarmed the time we accidentally burnt his shed down.

    The tribe of kids I grew up with in my street used to play in the abandoned quarry across the back paddocks. Twenty foot high cliffs, and a big shed full of... quarry stuff. As long as we were home for dinner, nobody really cared what we were doing.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Great pic Russell!

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    On rainy days, his preferred method of entertainment was to have me swing him in circles by his heels, and then flip him yelling into the air, so that he somersaulted once (or preferably twice) before crashing onto the settee. He would happily partake of this activity for hours.

    So this is where that horrible ALAC advert came from.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The tribe of kids I grew up with in my street used to play in the abandoned quarry across the back paddocks. Twenty foot high cliffs, and a big shed full of… quarry stuff. As long as we were home for dinner, nobody really cared what we were doing.

    I, too, was lucky enough to have tribes and wild spaces in my childhood. I'm not sure whether that served or actually generated an appetite for risky behaviour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Emma Hart,

    As long as we were home for dinner, nobody really cared what we were doing.

    The only time my Dad got upset was when we told him we'd been digging caves in the hillside next to the creek out the back of the neighbour's place.

    That was the week that some kids had been digging caves in a sand-dune and it had collapsed and killed them. I think it touched a nerve.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I, too, was lucky enough to have tribes and wild spaces in my childhood. I’m not sure whether that served or actually generated an appetite for risky behaviour.

    Same. My friend – now a prominent businessman (you know who you are) – and I owned the alleyway between our houses that was the local kids’ shortcut to and from school We legged it home most days so we could pelt any incomers with the clods we had stockpiled by our fences. For obvious reasons, we let off the guys who lived down the road whose old man kept a lion in the backyard.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Our home in Titirangi backed onto reserve. I could and did literally walk out the back door into the bush to randomly play. I remember following the stream down the valley to where I discovered eventually it emerged into the suburbia of Glen Eden and walking the 5 or so km back up the road to our house. I know my parents had no way of knowing which way I had gone but they trusted me enough that I would figure out a way to get home.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

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