Category archive: Encounters

Grandma lost her purse…

Grandma has lost her purse. She’s hurrying from one room to another and back again, opening cupboards and lifting cushions. Wispy white hair works loose from the floppy bun at the back of her neck, her hands twist together, her faded blue-grey eyes dart.

“I know I had it yesterday, where can it be, oh dear, oh dear, I know I had it yesterday.” Her litany of distress is on repeat and winding up.

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Among his souvenirs.. new shoes

To say he had a beard would be an understatement- his whole face bristled with pepper and salt whiskers so thick they looked like an uncut hedge. In one of Auckland’s coldest winter spells, he wore a coat which had seen too many winters and was at least two sizes too big for him. And then there were his shoes, or perhaps one of  them. It  remained  staunchly unflappable while  the other had  clearly given up the pretense of being a shoe,  and its uppers flopped open with every step he took.

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Two men, two wives, six daughters and…

Two men, two wives, six daughters between them.   So in their conversation, a liberal  sprinkling of domestic chit-chat –  the kind you’d also  imagine women having over a cuppa. Except  that these were two  old blokes  who’d notched up a  century of marriage between them.

And blokes  talk about sport, who should have won the one day cricket final at Lords,  politics –  and of course the good old days. There’s a pause between  all this chaff and then this:

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When was the first time you felt old?

When was the first time you felt, umm… elderly? Well okay – old? It’s not as if it’s something that  happens often because we live in a self-made reality, now and in the past.

But it’s right there if we bother to look: on the car radio Magic FM specialises in music for the ‘oldies’ – that same music which revolutionised the music world when we were in the Swinging Sixties, is now a commercially viable lullaby for early baby boomers.

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A hero at 14…

(Part two of John’s adolescent dilemma)

In the first episode which we ran in June, 13-year-old John Anderson is acclaimed for his heroism – rescuing his 18-month-old brother from a charging bull in post- war Britain. He makes the front pages of national newspapers is feted in London along with other young heroes – and dies just a little bit each time…. Here’s the sequel to his dip into the waters of celebrity…

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A loose bullock – and a reluctant child celebrity…

Part one of John’s adolescent dilemma

Despite the progress women have made in the last generation and a half , some things are and have always been easier for girls. At 13 years old they are blessed with greater confidence, greater maturity, greater common sense and most importantly are not faced at every turn by the constant threat of embarrassment. True! Here’s a story I kept to myself until my children found out about it when they were in their teens.

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The Very Last Time I Played Rugby…

The last time I played rugby was when I was a (relatively) springy 34-year-old.

I’d moved from south Wales to take up a new job on the English north east coast 45 kilometres or so from the town where I was born.  The good news: We found a house in a small, pleasant and ancient market town of some seven thousand people. The not so good: we  knew  very few people apart from a handful of new colleagues.

How, I asked myself, could I make friends?  The local Clubs didn’t appeal  and that left sports clubs; why not try rugby again?

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Soggy pants flight

“Six o’clock!” she cried and the bedsheets undid. “We’ll miss the bus. Won’t catch the plane!”

So she ran and he ran and they ran, until they came… to the wristwatch which, glowing with a smug luminosity on the bedside table, told them: “It’s only five o’clock”.

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Starlings…

There she was – laid out like a trophy on the back lawn. First I thought it was a Tui, my favourite bird. Ashamedly, I was relieved to find it was just a starling.

Just a Starling – didn’t it have just as much a right to live, free from urban predators? I knew immediately who the culprit was – ‘Daisy’, our over-fed house cat. The self-satisfied – ‘what me?’ – look on her face was more than sufficient to establish guilt. 

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