November 30th 1982

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Not a great picture, but the day in question

Sorry about the change of ink, + of pen width, but my not so very trusty Bic Fine Point has run out on me.  It’s quite amazing.  Back home I never used anything but Bics, + I don’t ever recall one running out on me – they always got lost first.  Now, I don’t seem to keep one of the pens going for more than a few weeks.  It’s most frustrating.  However, time is rather of the essence at the moment, since I am several days behind with this account.  Or diary.  Or story, whichever you prefer.  So I must stop prevaricating + procrastinating + press on.

November 30th.  Work today of course, but not very satisfying work because there were a number of bitty little jobs where one feels one isn’t getting anywhere.  Raking stones, scraping up leaves, clipping grass (with remarkably inefficient clippers) – nothing that one could look back on with satisfaction + think that that was a good day’s work.  Still, I persevered till 6 – no bar work for me, tho’ Val had to work.  A hearty meal for me tho’, since Sue had given Val some chops.  She’s had them in the fridge for a few days, + so was now a bit nervous about them.  Silly woman.  They were enormous, + should have been very tasty, except that I didn’t cook it enough.  Still, I had plenty of mashed potato, + tho’ I certainly couldn’t do without meat, it’s the vegetables that I like the most.  Once dinner was out of the way, the rest of the evening just flew by.  One plans to do so much, yet there’s so little time.  That’s probably true of life too.

Not sure about my food hygiene here – that’s old chops plus insufficient cooking. Hm, I seem to have survived.

November 29th 1982

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The terrace at Twin Pines

Back to work.  Gordon wasn’t about to give me my instructions, so I took it upon myself to grab the mower + finish off the grass – until the next time.  I just about managed it too, tho’ it took far longer than I’d expected – I was mowing away till the very last.  Marvin is very much in need of a service now tho’ – he’s just about falling apart, tho’ I say it myself.

In the evening, since neither Val nor I were working, we cooked a lovely big spaghetti, followed by banana custard, + then we went to the pictures.  Well it’s the big hotel in Paihia really, but they show a film every week.  It cost us $2 each, + was really pretty appalling, all about a young truck driver who’s had enough of the things working against him, + so takes the law into his own hands.  For which we are all supposed to cheer him on.  Young thug.  Even when he’s working against bigger things.  Oh it was entertaining enough – it just didn’t have any thought.  Just fights + chases + cheap sentimentality.  It was called “White Line Fever” by the way.  The worst thing was we had to walk (nearly) all the way home – we did eventually get a short lift.  Tho’ actually it was a beautiful night, + tho’ cold, really good for walking.  We were tired when we got home, but still listened to a cassette Mum had sent out with her talking to us.  She was ever so funny.  I must listen again.

It seems as though I am organising my own work pattern at Twin Pines, which has to be a good thing. And it does seem as though we have to organise wharever cultural respite we can, however limmited (and Whie Line Fever sounds pretty limited. Still, this is daily life for us at present, while we re-charge our batteries, and more especially our wallets.

November 28th 1982

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Actually, now called the Cascade Lodge (no idea when it changed its name)

A Sunday, + a lie-in.  Bliss.  But a touch overdone perhaps, since by the time we gobbled down a hasty breakfast + made it to the Cascade, the football on telly had already started.  And it just had to be Spurs v West Ham!  Unfortunately, I already knew the result, having seen last Monday’s paper, but even tho’ we lost 2-1, it was good to see the lads.  Only 2 new ones: a big, clumsy-looking centre forward called Sandy Clark, + a Belgian – he scored the goal, + a good one it was too.

After that programme, apathy seemed to strike us both, + we just sat watching telly for most of the afternoon.  As Sunday afternoons in front of the box go, it was not too bad, with mostly pretty good programmes – I think that was the trouble – but even so one feels such a slug afterwards.  As it turned out, we only just about had time to get back for Val to have a shower + return to work.  I had a flat evening, reading mostly, Graham Greene’s “Quiet American”.  It’s alright.

A pretty nothingy sort of day, much like many Sundays, though at least Val earned some money

November 27th 1982

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Twin Pines – actually a modern picture, but looking exactly the same

I went to Twin Pines in the morning mainly to give Mamie, Gordon’s sister + the lady in charge of the accounts, my account for hours worked.  I charged them $5 an hour, which is what I know others have been paid, tho’ if it comes to a dispute I’ll  certainly accept less..  I hadn’t really expected to get any work this morning, but first of all I had to take some new chairs upstairs, then help with setting them all out, + a few other jobs, + then I thought I might as well make a day’s work of it, so I went back to mowing.  I got on amazingly well, mainly because I took the grass box off.  That had been a large reason it had been stalling so much – now that it could just chuck the grass out the back it wasn’t getting clogged so much.  It was also much faster, since I didn’t have to spend time emptying the grass box every few yards.  It would have to be raked up of course, but that would have been the case anyway.

After my lunch break, I helped Robert, a young feller who lives in the place + helps out when he can, with various small jobs, + then got back to my mowing.  Now that things were going well,  I was keen to keep them moving.  That took me till 4, + then Gordon nabbed me for half an hour’s work putting up some tents.  Oh, big news of the day was that the pub had had its first fight last night.  Quite an unpleasant one too, by the sound of things, with 4 or 5 Maori guys looking for trouble, + people getting hurt behind the bar.  Bad news.  All of a sudden the gilt seemed to have worn off, especially for Gordon + his co-bosses.

Work in the evening was easy, except that I was tired.  Marion told me when I finished that she’d hired another barman as well, so we’d be sharing time for a while.  It obviously had to come, but it still peeved me a bit.  Still, the world isn’t organised for my benefit.

Rather extraordinary that I seem to be able to set my own wages, but wanting to be kept on for as long as possible does mean that I am very much on the cheap side. Otherwise, my main task is to prove that I can do anything… tho’ actually my skill base is pretty low. And there is always the possibility that I will be kicked out in favour of someone cheaper, more local, better at the job… as at the Cascafe, with the new barman.


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Fola, Nada, Sama and Frishta

When we performed our first production, Aisha was the only female in the group.  Since then, it almost seems as though she has been on a one-woman mission to improve the ratio, introducing a variety of young women from various parts of the world.  It is true that mostly, while they have appeared to enjoy the class, for the most part they have not become regular members of the group.  However, this week she excelled herself, with not only Frishta from Iran returning, but three newcomers: Nada and Sama, sisters from Saudi, and Fola from Nigeria.  Since we also had Mary, a young Eritrean who had been once before, many weeks ago, suddenly we had an overabundance. 

There was no Ali again – we remain hopeful that he can be tempted back – and Azi was poorly today, it seemed sensible to abandon the play for today, and go back to a general Drama class.  And as usual, I reverted to mime… though in fact the whole class had very good English.  We went through the basics, using a ball and a glass (both mimed), and then developed both of these ideas into short improvisations.  Like their (slightly) more experienced colleagues, none of the newcomers had ever done anything like this before, but they all took to it like ducks to water, immediately creating interesting and entertaining short scenes.

Then I used an old favourite (when do I not?) of the story of two strangers meeting on a bench, and then a small annoying habit developing into a violent confrontation… while being careful to remind them that this was cartoon violence.  The overarching idea is to show the possibility of mime, starting with a realistic situation, which then develops into the absurd and surreal.

There were some great scenes, all of which were enjoyed by both performers and audience.  Sherwan and Aisha acted out a great scenario in which a guy stabs a girl, and then asks for her number, which all of the girls found hilarious, but could relate to – “Men!”  And there was a moment of triumph when Mary, who had struggled to contain her giggles in the first exercise, produced a great scene with Hamed, eventually shooting him when he wouldn’t stop blowing smoke in her face, and retaining her focus throughout.

So it was a most enjoyable class.  Where that leaves us in terms of the play, we shall have to wait until I see who turns up next week, and go from there.  As I explained to them, it is entirely their choice whether they decide to come each week, but that there are more possibilities if we have a more consistent group.  And I can manage either way.

November 26th 1982

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The Twin Pines Toblerone motel units

Work at Twin Pines more or less the same as yesterday, especially since Marvin Mower was playing up again.  I was given a couple of other jobs to do as well tho’, so the day went pretty quickly.  I had to do some driving with a trailer – I’d never really realised before just how difficult it is to reverse with a trailer on.  A bit of unloading some wood, + then collecting some garden furniture.  They bought some new land on the back of the place last year, + there was quite a bit of garden furniture went with it.  The problem is that in the meantime, most of the neighbouring houses have helped themselves to it.  Quite blatantly so – presumably they thought it was up for grabs – so now they have it on display in gardens, on verandahs etc.  Rather belatedly, Gordon has decided to take it in to protective custody.  It was bloody heavy stuff, so presumably quite expensive.  Fortunately I had Jonathan around to help me manhandle it, first onto the trailer, + then off it again, + down into the cellar.  I did get some grass cut but knocked off work a bit early when the blasted machine broke down one too many times.

Work at the Cascade in the evening.  I didn’t work there last night. By the way.  That’s the trouble with this hardworking life – one day is much like another.

Ah, so there is another reference to Jonathan, the bolshie cleaner, no longer throwing is weight around as top dog cleaner, perhaps.

You will perhaps be noticing that I am fast running out of photos, always a problem when we stay for some time in one place; I suppose I shall have to get creative again. Hmm…

November 25th 1982

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Twin Pines camp-site

I tried to get on with my mowing today, but it was very frustrating, because the darned thing kept breaking down.  I’d mowed down to a section down under the trees, which obviously has been left for a very long time, + is very overgrown.  As a result, the mower is being seriously overworked, so keeps stalling, + then not wanting to start.  And especially for me, not the most mechanically-minded of blokes, it’s very difficult.  However, I would find something else to do + try the blasted thing every so often – when it finally agreed to start I’d mow for a bit longer until it packed in again.

In the evening, I was a barman again at the Cascade. They had a new tour in, quite a young + pleasant bunch.  Highlight of the evening was Mike offering us all a meal.  A bit of alright it was too.  Does this mean a huge transformation?  I doubt it.

Getting into a pattern now, with two jobs occupying my day, plus some occasional work at River Park to cover our rent.

I have been asked for my views on New Zealanders. As I have already observed, the whole place resembles Britain in the 50s, and in many ways the social attitudes are from that era too. There is a grudging admiration for the Maori people (who, at least as rugby players, are welcomed) but that exists alongside a condescending attitude to them, seeing them more as a social problem than anything else. Apart from the Maori population, the country is pretty much exclusively white – I guess that must have changed now. And while we always encountered generosity and friendliness – viz the ease of hitch-hiking, I’m not sure that would always be the case if we weren’t white. English, indeed, seeing as most people we met had English roots.

November 24th 1982

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Twin Pines camp-site (including the twin pines!) They are now, I read, reduced to a single stump.

I was back to shovelling earth first thing, levelling out a flower bed, but then to break the day up, I had to fetch another load of sand, clear up a concrete area ready for a holiday group, drive into Paihia to collect some things, + mow some more grass.  Val had an early start, kicking off at 7 am with some cleaning the bar.  She’d hitched to Kawakawa yesterday afternoon to do some shopping, + had managed to acquire a small, cheap travelling alarm clock – it solves a lot of problems for us.  For me, a relatively easy day.  Some driving to do, including a trip into Paihia, + quite a lot of time behind a hot mower.  A bakingly hot day.  Val found out for me that I was required to work in the evening, so I knocked off at 4.  However, upon my arrival back at River Park, Wayne asked if I could play football against a visiting side staying at the camp.  I was quite keen of course, but despite Wayne’s assurances that Marion would have no objection if I just sent Val along in my place, I was hesitant to appear presumptuous.  However, eventually we were able to contact Marion on the phone, + she agreed to release me from duties, + allow Val to work instead. 

Tho’ as things turned out, it was a lot of fuss about nothing really, since the game was a bit of a farce.  It was only about 6 a-side, + it was hardly fair, since their 6 were all excellent players + could all play together, while we were a motley crew of kids + people like me (ie not  very talented.)  We had one big mouth on the side who tried to tell everyone what to do but was pretty rubbish, + late in the game we were joined by a young bloke who looked really excellent, especially in the air.  But it was too late by then.  I think the official score was 11-4, + that was being kind to us, especially as right at the end we were joined by a few kids – tho’ they really had no more than nuisance value.  I played pretty well in patches, + scored 2 of our goals.  I’ve decided, after all these years of playing in defence, that really I’m a forward.  Ah well.

Afterwards I went first to see how Val was getting on (fine) + then went to the pub, where I had 2 jugs, so got a bit pissed, but otherwise depressed myself by sitting there on my own.  I’d half expected to find someone to talk to, but I was out of luck.  All I could do was admire the breasts of the ladies + wait for Val.  I think that maybe I’m a tit man.  2 discoveries about myself in one day.

Ah well, honesty, I suppose, which is about the only positive thing I can say about my final comment. Nobody could accuse me of not writing exactly what I was thinking.

Shame there are no photos of the football, which was my first opportunity to play anything like a real game, however chaotic, since Mexico. But the photos are very random. Obviously, while playing I could not also have access to our camera, and in any case we were careful not to take too many photos, as there was such a cost implication. Unlike now, of course, when not only does pretty much everyone have access to a camera at all times, you can take as many as you like (and see if they are any good) without it costing a penny.

November 23rd 1982

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View of the Falls from Twin Pines

Val was once again general cleaner, while once again I had a potpourri of jobs.  I work all the time for Gordon, one of the owners of the place, + the one, I gather, who had the original idea.  Apparently, the place is the site of the very first licensed premises in New Zealand, but it burned down in 1937.  Gordon bought the property originally with the idea of reconstructing the old place, but changed plans when the building became available.  He is rather a disorganised bloke, but immensely hard-working himself, + very capable in many ways.  Today I fetched bricks for him to construct a small walkway over the flowerbeds – + a very attractive job he has made of it – + then spent much of the rest of the day mixing wheelbarrowloads of cement.  They finally obtained their licence from Whangerei – this had been the thing holding them up – so they decided to open this evening.  A bit of a blow for me since I was working at the Cascade, but not to worry.  As things turned out, I was able to grab a drink there with Val before work at 5 o’clock – we’re not sure, but we think we may have been the place’s first paying customers – + then a jug of beer after work.  As I anticipated, I hadn’t had a busy night.  We sat + chatted a bit with the 2 Canadian guys, who were there with a group of their friends, + then Mike, the chef from the Cascade.

Two jobs starting to become a regular day’s work. But history of a kind; not too many can claim being a pub’s first customers. I have idly considered what the reaction might be were we to make it back there and introduce ourselves; probably seriously underwhelming (always assuming it is still there.)

November 22nd 1982

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Twin Pines

Work again today, for both of us.  It would seem that, with luck, there’ll be loads of work at Twin Pines.  Val was cleaning, while I had several jobs – one of the things I enjoy about working there is the varied nature of things.  I had to mix up cement, to help with erecting some big posts to act as markers for footpaths across the flower beds, to take the truck to fetch some sand (I enjoyed that – I’m not a good driver, but it still gives me a great thrill), + we were all shovelling stones in doing some road surfacing.  That took me until 6, + when I returned I couldn’t work out where Val was.  It took me a little while to remember that she was off working at the Cascade.

I had my shower, + considered going to Waitangi to see The Towering Inferno – but I was just too bushed, so I fried myself up a feed, + then headed off towards bed.  Val was back early – she hadn’t had to serve a single customer.

Plenty of work just at present, so we’re happy enough, even if it does seem to leave me exhausted.