It's interesting to look back. On I January 1998 I began a diary. I stopped writing it when I was hospitalised on Anzac Day 2007. Here's that first day eleven years ago.
Having reached 63 and a quarter years and thereby becoming a superannuant and having just retired from my full-time job as executive director of the New Zealand Council for Teacher Education I have decided to keep a diary. The only definite thing about the forthcoming year is that it will be different. Off to the office at eight and returning just before six is over. So is having a PA to do all the mundane tasks. If I get contract work I will continue to buy books. If I don’t I will be reduced to reading those we already possess. Either way a win/win situation.
What else does the new year hold? Abroad the meltdown of the Asian markets will have long-term consequences. At home racial tension looks like intensifying. Politically, will Jenny Shipley last? Will I?
We are in Auckland, staying at Rosemary Stagg’s lovely sun-drenched Browns Bay pole house, surrounded by native trees, which help keep it cool and frame the view of the sea. The only fly in the ointment is a tui. Usually they are melodious but this one must have learnt its call from the mynahs - the most ugly squawk you’ve ever heard. When we arrived and Rosemary said she could wring its neck we were both a little shocked. Now we understand as it scolds in the morning.
Rosemary left mid-morning to go a bach down the Coromadel. A beautiful hot day, every window and door open and the two cats Scooter and Buttercup seeking the shade. I wonder how our two, Dorothy and William (named after the Wordsworths, she’s plump and placid and he whines a lot), are surviving the Wadestown cattery. We only left on Monday and today is Thursday.
I have just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s 'Alias Grace' – a powerful book. Women’s lot in the 19th century left a lot to be desired. And the class system. Usually after a book that grips me I seek something lighter so I picked up one of Rosemary’s 'Under the Tuscan Sun' by Frances Mayes. Three months in Tuscany, the rest of the time at San Francisco University. Suppose it is part of the class-system of our global society. The only thing I ask of academics is that they realise what a fortunate life they lead. The book brought back memories of our own stay in Italy in 1989.
Anne went off to take her mother for a drive and then brought her back, very frail and tottery. We amused her with colourful cookery books - Rosemary has the best library of these in New Zealand and is a superlative cook as well – until Anne’s sister Susan rang to say they were back from their Wenderholme picnic. We drove round picking up Kentucky Fried Chicken on the way. Mrs Matthews tires very quickly so we took her home at about 8 30 to a lovely sunset and us on to Browns Bay and a night-time read of Italian living. For me a lazy beginning for 1998.
Lowlife: Short Story Collection Published
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