Some Personal Details, and some interesting details about my home city.
I'm in my early fifties, and have been writing (with serious intent) for about eight years. In my other life, I manage a Christian bookstore, here in Dunedin, New Zealand.
A little about my family:-
I'm married (to a sane/madcap precious/irritating woman who appears in my columns in various guises), called Celia, and we have five kids, aged from 26 down to 18. We have survived four teenagers and are aiming to survive the fifth. And we've just heard we're due to become grandparents for the second time.
I have all-English in-laws, since my wife is a Shannock - she comes from Sheringham, Norfolk - in the UK
My youngest son recently produced a collage of photos of my favourite cat (of the three that were living at our home at that time). This gentle old fellow (the cat, not the son) died in September, 2001. Click here if you're interested. [The other cat, the ginger one, is Skeeter's twin sister.]
Some info about Dunedin, New Zealand...
Dunedin is the second largest urban area in the South Island of New Zealand,
with approximately 130,000 people. The City boundaries are so extensive that
it can be regarded as the fourth largest City in the world. However very
little of the city's area is actually populated.
It is situated in such a way that it has both a large natural harbour and coastal beaches reaching up to the city itself. The city, like Rome, sprawls over seven hills.
The population is predominantly Pakeha (people of mostly English, Irish, Scottish and European extraction), along with a mix of Asian, (especially Chinese who have been in the city since its beginnings), Maori and Samoan.
It began as a settlement for emigrating Scots, but became a haven for Free Church of Scotland members after the split in the home Scottish church. Shortly afterwards, the discovery of gold inland from the city turned it into the largest, most prosperous and cosmopolitan of the country's main towns, and it remained so long after the gold rush had finished.
It was the premier manufacturing and commercial centre, and led the country in educational, industrial and civic progress.
It fostered many firsts: the first daily newspaper, the first University, both the first boys' and girls' secondary schools, the first Teachers' College, the first woollen mills, the first shipment of frozen meat to Britain, the first electric trams - and the first skyscraper, (all of seven storeys high).
In recent years, however, it has become a much quieter city - in terms of prosperity - while still maintaining a vibrant intellectual, artistic and academic life.
[Some details courtesy of Bateman's Illustrated Encyclopedia of New Zealand]
According to the Guiness Book of Records, the world's steepest street, Baldwin St, is located in Dunedin.
Frederick St runs off Dunedin's main street, George St, which changes its name to Princes St (no, not Princess St) at the Octagon. The Octagon is literally what its name means: an eight-sided area.
The University Bookshop, in Dunedin, is the largest bookshop in the city. Though by no means large compared to bookshops elsewhere, it has an enormous range, and is aimed not merely at the Academic market, but at a huge variety of readers. Its permanent sale in the upstairs part of the shop is a treat for anyone with a few dollars and an hour to spare.
Thames in the North Island, NZ, not the river in England.
Miles Singe is a long-standing columnist in both the Star Midweek and the Star Weekender. He was there before I began writing a column, and continues to this day (3rd July, 97!) An old soldier, he often writes about the military; he also enjoys pretending to be an old soak, as well as someone who maltreats his wife and (grown-up) children. He is likely to be neither.
Bill Birch, former treasurer, and Jenny Shipley, former everything, are two of my least favourite politicians. I don't think the rest of the country, except perhaps those who consistently vote for them, like them much either! And worse, Mrs Shipley has now become Prime Minister....
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