Fond memories of my Kiwi re-education in Gore

It was with a little nostalgia and not a little pleasure I wound my way back into Gore last week.

This occasion was marked by stepping into the capable and capacious shoes of Sandy Eggleston, who had served as reporter, then chief, for several years at the Ensign’s helm.

My first footsteps into Gore were as a young traveller with my then girlfriend, subsequent wife-to-be.

As a semi-local herself, she warned me of the likelihood of coming away from this jewel of the South rolling my "r"s unexpectedly, and with my ’90s Adidas sneakers magically swapped out for Red Band gumboots.

After a trip round her granny’s East Gore pad for tea and home-made Afghans ("Did you bring a plate? No?") we made our way into town, where I couldn’t help but be struck by the friendly fibreglass fish.

"What’s that all about then?" I asked.

"Fishing. Might be handy to pick it up."

The truth was, as a townie Englishman, I’d already come to learn I had some way to go to become a fully-fledged, hands-on, No8 wire southern man.

My girlfriend’s uncles and cousins had popped round for the earlier cuppa — no doubt in part to check out the strange bird imported by their nomadic relative.

The conversation ran roughly as follows:

"So ... what do you do for work?"

"I’m a copywriter ..." Silence.

"And ... You’ll follow the football, I suppose?"

"Football ... yes, I support Liverpool ..." Silence. Dark mutterings about "soccer".

Uncle two steps into the breach.

"You’ll like a bit of hunting and fishing then?"

"Actually, I’ve never been hunting. Or fishing." Silence.

"But ... I’d be keen to have a crack of course." Melancholy shakes of heads. Silent tea drinking resumes.

I’m happy to report things improved, given the passage of time and my gradual friendly absorption into Kiwi society.

We stopped, gratefully, with Granny for a few months — enough time for our daughter to be born and spend her first few formative days in Gore Hospital.

Then work carried us to Dunedin, where we’ve remained since.

My wife still has links down here, and Gore retains a fond place in our family heart — as a place of warm welcome, friendly faces and safe haven from the occasional madness of modern life.

I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself more closely with your town and district as I sub in down here — please don’t be backwards in coming forward with the stories that matter to you, our readers.

And the Red Bands and "r"s?

Watch this space.