Chance encounter began a life-long friendship

The sun has its own way of turning the world into art. Ben Pearse captured this beautiful sunrise...
The sun has its own way of turning the world into art. Ben Pearse captured this beautiful sunrise on Saturday a week ago from St Clair looking towards St Kilda beach. Photo: Ben Pearse
I can't believe it’s October already. Before we know it, the shops will be putting up their Christmas decorations and trying to prise money from the grips of the gullible, convincing them there’s only a few weeks to go.

Sorry if that makes me sound really cynical. But I’d much prefer it if we did ourselves a favour and left Christmas until December.

Let’s have a competition. As soon as you see a decoration or yuletide advertisement in a shop, let me know. I haven’t seen any yet but they’re often in evidence by Labour Weekend.

Chance encounters

We came out from England on the SS Ocean Monarch at the end of 1974. It was the ship’s last voyage — the stabilisers stopped working and oil leaked into the water tanks. It was a bit of a nightmare trip — though, as a 9-year-old, all of those problems were largely irrelevant and it was a pretty fantastic experience.

On one of the downstairs decks there was a large laundry. It was there that my mum came across another mother, frustrated at the lack of water for washing, who threw dirty nappies at the purser and told him to "try to wash them then".

By the end of the six-week journey, we knew the family by sight. Then the ship docked in Auckland and the country’s newest arrivals dispersed to all corners of New Zealand.

A couple of months later, Mum was driving me and my brother Keith to Jellie Park in Christchurch to go swimming on a sweltering day. She recognised with surprise the young boy, about my age, walking down the footpath as the son of the family on the ship, and pulled over to chat.

About a year later, Tony and I found ourselves in the same class at Cobham Intermediate School. We have been friends and meteorological colleagues for more than 40 years and our families for many years celebrated the anniversaries of our arrival in New Zealand.

Sadly, Mrs Trewinnard died in Rangiora last week aged 88. She was a lovely woman, an incredibly talented gardener, a down-to-earth Londoner who always made this columnist feel at home when I went round to play darts or snooker at their house, or talk weather with Tony.

That whole strand of my life started with a bunch of dirty nappies on a clapped-out boat. Do you have any similar stories to share about chance encounters that turned into life-long friendships?

Ulster accent

There have been a few mentions of Northern Ireland recently and that’s reminded me of the difficulties some people have in understanding the accent.

Toad Innes sent this photo of a commemorative piece — possibly a paperweight — given to her...
Toad Innes sent this photo of a commemorative piece — possibly a paperweight — given to her grandfather, Arthur Barnett, for his contributions to the New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition in 1925-26. Photo: Toad Innes

We were getting together a team for a school quiz and one of the other parents, from Northern Ireland, informed us it was also fancy dress and we should dress up as "parrots" (say it with the appropriate accent).Seemed strange, but oh well.

Still mulling over the costume a few hours before the quiz, we checked. What he’d said was "pirates".

Close enough.

Bus windows

Carol Shortt, of Mornington, is also worried about stickers on bus windows, as mentioned in Friday’s column.

"Please, no stickers!" she says.

"On a 15-minute bus ride, what would you do if you weren’t able to appreciate the views from your seat?

"I always look forward to the view of the blue sea and sunny skies when passing along Elgin Rd, just by Havelock St, on the 61 bus, or whenever I walk along there to the shops.

"Surely there’s enough space for stickers on the body of the buses?"

You’d think so, Carol.

Careful with your words

Here’s another amusing example from The Guardian’s "It’s a funny old world" column.

From the Churchdown Parish magazine: "Would the congregation please note that the bowl at the back of the church, labelled ‘For The Sick’, is for monetary donations only."

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