I was born at midnight between the 7th and the 8th of March 1959, in the Feilding Hospital, which is in the Manawatu in New Zealand. My mother Dora tells me that the birth was all straight forward, partly because I was a fairly small baby (8lb); well, smaller than my sister Hilary (8lb 7oz) who was born 21 months earlier and smaller than my brother Michael (8lb 13oz) who was to be born 21 months later. Just after my arrival, one of the maternity nurses asked my mother what date she would like recorded on the birth certificate, 7th or 8th. My mother chose the 8th.
I know it does not really matter but I am very glad that she chose the number 8, rather than the number 7. The number 7 is a ‘prime number’ and so sounds quite important but the number 8 is a much nicer number. The character is drawn with two neat circles, one on top of the other, unless I am drawing it, in which case it is usually a bit lopsided but let's not worry too much about detail. You have to agree, when drawn correctly, the number 8 does have a very neat symmetrical look to it. Best of all, it can be divided by two to give you a pair of 4’s and it can also be divided by 4 to give you a lot of 2’s. The only thing I think is a little odd, is that if you take the character 8 and you chop it horizontally across the middle, you actually end up with two 0’s (instead of two 4’s), which means that you get nothing, unless of course you don’t see digits but instead you see letters, in which case, you get 2 of the letter o (o and o).
For me, I am definitely a numbers person. I like to see digits rather than letters. Numbers are easy but words I sometimes find are difficult.
I am now 61 years old and so, a fair way through my life (more than halfway) but hopefully still with quite a few years to go. My mother Dora is 85 and still going strong and my father James is 90 (still going strong but not as strong as my mother). Hopefully, I should have quite a few years before my life’s journey reaches its conclusion.
When I look back at my life, I see what everyone else sees in their life; a long series of ups and downs, good times and bad times, fun times and sad times, things you got right and things you got wrong. Life is a struggle and each of us, on our separate journey, encounter lots of obstacles that we have to persevere with and overcome.
Some are born into good circumstances and get a head start in life. Others are born into less favourable circumstances and have to start from behind. Good health is something that all the healthy people take for granted but if your health is not top form, then this is certainly a disadvantage. Those less fortunate, have no choice but to try and run faster and catch up. We all have to accept our lot, smile and keep moving forward.
A big part of the race is dependent on money, but you don’t need masses of it. A serious lack of money reduces your ability to exploit opportunities and move forward. If you have too much money, you might not realise you are in a race and you could even end up wandering off in completely the wrong direction.
When I look back, I do still retain a lot of memories of my pre-school years, growing up on our family farm. I don’t have memories of everything that happened to me, but I do remember some things, so I am writing this biography of my early life to get things down on paper before I forget completely. I have picked up further information by speaking to my mother Dora and my sister Hilary. I have also been very lucky, in that a large number of family letters and a few diaries have survived, together with some photographs of those far off days, back in the early 1960s.
Among the various things that I remember was an event that happened on or around the 7th of January 1963, when I would have been 3 years and 10 months old and we were living on our farm in Taranaki. It was midsummer and my memory was of a warm day, probably blue skies and sunshine, but I can’t be certain. Two cars drove up our farm track that morning and came to a halt next to our house. One was a grey police car with two policemen and the other car, I was later to find out, was my father’s doctor (Dr Rutherford). I remember my mother and father both being very distraught and both crying. For me I wouldn’t say that it was traumatic but it was certainly very frightening. I remember my father saying again and again to my mother that he was very sorry. I don’t remember what my mother was saying, probably not very much at all, as she was so distressed by the whole situation. Afterwards my mother told us that our daddy was not very well.
Looking back, this event really was a rather major turning point in the life of our family. After that day, my father pretty much passed out of our lives for the rest of our childhood. He was not to play any part in our upbringing, and except for a few brief occasions, we were not to be reunited with him until much further into our adult lives. My parents' dream of building up their farm and living a great family life as prosperous dairy farmers in Taranaki, had quickly come to a very sudden and absolutely earth-shattering end.
I had very little understanding of the events going on around me. The only thing I knew for sure, was that a short while later, we left the farm and my father no longer lived with us. Later, as I drifted through school, I could see that we didn’t have much money and I got the impression that most of the other families had lives that were very different to ours. The question I had was why? But there was no way of getting any answers that I would have been able to comprehend. Slowly, step by step, my life played out and over time I gradually pieced together what had happened and why. For quite a few years I thought someone was to blame but eventually I realised that everything was the result of a combination of events. No one had intentionally gone out to make life difficult for our family. It was more a case of, stuff just happened.