Memory’s Irresistible Pull


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a Superman action figure from my childhood!

I am a big kid at heart. I loved my childhood and part of me still clings to it with all its might. I’ve even kept a number of my favourite toys – GI Joes, MASK vehicles and Star Wars action figures.

But for some reason, this “Superpowers” Superman figure has always had a special place in my heart.

Whenever I look at him I feel happy. I also feel like having a “Bubble O’ Bill” ice cream – as my folks bought me one just after the action figure (It must have been a very good day).

This, of course may mean very little to you, but it means everything to me. As it’s not really the action figure that has imprinted itself upon my memory, but rather the stage in my life that it was bought.

I was a child of the 80’s and still think it must surely have been the best decade to have been a kid – in terms of toys, movies, TV and just the general vibe of the time. It would have been 1985 when I got Superman (the toy and Ice cream were released around that same time). I would have been 8 years old and at Tamatea Primary School learning the educational and social fundamentals of life and discovering the joys of cricket (“Kiwi Cricket” was released around then too).

Toys played an important part in my life, though. I’m an only child, so for a lot of the time I had to keep myself entertained. It was a bit of a lonely existence, but it helped develop a fantastically creative imagination. I played out TV shows, movies, epic war battles and intimate family moments with my toys. They weren’t just toys, they were my friends too.

All these childhood memories have been coming back to me recently with the imminent arrival of our baby.

I guess I was feeling scared, as I felt that once we had a child ourselves, we had to stop being child-like. After all, being a parent was the most grown-up thing you could be as a kid, wasn’t it? I wasn’t ready to let go of that part of my life just yet.

A few days after our baby was born, my wife and I managed to get some time to sit down and watch Toy Story 3. The opening titles are home movies of Andy (Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s owner) growing up and playing with his beloved toys over the years; right up until he is about to head off to college – that big “adult” step.

Watching the opening credits I bawled my eyes out, but with happy tears. As I realised I was not seeing the end of my childhood, but the beginning of my daughter’s. We had years and years of happy times like I had experienced ahead of us.

While memory’s irresistible pull will always keep me anchored to my past, there is a long, bright future ahead of us – and a second childhood to look forward to.

Expect the Unexpected When You’re Expecting!


The one thing I have learned from our journey to having a baby is to expect the unexpected when you’re expecting.

Whether it was unexpectedly bad test results, or unexpectedly good results from medication not usually used on men, or even Napier’s maternity unit being closed down within weeks of our due date, you will have all sorts of stuff come at you from every angle imaginable… and then even more from places you never even thought about or knew existed.

So it came as no real surprise that when our baby arrived, there were a few unexpected aspects there too.

On the day before our due date I had gone out to get some Christmas shopping done when my wife called in tears to say her waters had broken. Nothing was wrong; she was just a bit surprised / overwhelmed by it happening so suddenly.

I raced home from the shops and we waited for further things to happen – it can take up to 24 hours from waters breaking to actual birth.

It didn’t take that long.

Within half an hour my wife started having contractions. We had learned these went in stages, starting slowly and becoming quicker and more intense as time went on. We called our midwife, Yoka, who said that’s fine; she will see us in a couple hours. But straight off the bat, our contractions were one minute long and two minutes apart. This went on for about half an hour before we called her again, my wife saying she felt like she needed to push. Yoka came over immediately and checked the level of dilation (2-3cm = hours away, 10cm = hello, baby!) My wife was at 9cm. Holy crap.

Our midwife gave us the option of going to Napier’s Wellesley Road Maternity Unit (where we had planned to have the baby), or having a home birth. I started closing up the house to leave and texted my mother-in-law to meet us at Wellesley Road, but the pain was too much for my wife to move off the bed. We were having a home birth whether we liked it or not!

Yoka told me to ring an ambulance, just as a back-up in case anything went wrong, while my wife started the huffing, puffing and pushing (with surprisingly no swearing whatsoever – wouldn’t have blamed her if she had, of course) that makes up labour.

Having been suddenly diverted by another text message and possibly infringing on a few road rules, Mother-in-law arrived more flustered than we were and Yoka gave her tasks to do like heating towels in the oven (this is actually a thing – I had thought it was just something they did to keep the Dads out of the way) and boiling water to sterilise bits and pieces, while I stayed with my wife, holding her hand and encouraging her (because all first-time dads are experts in this?).

The Ambulance crew arrived next, one officer coming into the bedroom where we were and the other staying in the hallway. They said they couldn’t believe how calm we were – usually they arrive and it’s too late – the baby has already arrived, or too early and everyone is in a state of absolute panic. We were just plodding along happily and under control – although my wife did tell me to shut up once when I was chatting with the officer just to pass the time.

Pushing and panting escalated until, a mere three hours after her waters broke, my wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter! Our baby didn’t even cry much – just one “Wah!” then a bit of a look around the room and an expression that pretty much said “Ok, I’ve got this!”

All the struggles and stresses of the past years were gone and forgotten and here we had before us this perfect (albeit a bit bloody and gunky at the time) little baby – Our own sentient being to look after and love for the rest of our lives (no pressure, eh?)

The day after our baby was born, my parents came to visit their new, first, grandchild. As they were leaving I caught my own reflection in the window of their car. “Huh!” I thought, “That’s what a father looks like!” “Suck in that chest, soldier, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you!”

It’s almost a month since that day – one of the longest, poopiest, cry and scream-filled, sleep-deprived months of our lives, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have a baby and she’s beautiful (and quite smart too).

Life is good.

We are a family!

Tie(rd) of Petty Political Distractions


Question: Does it truly matter if a City / Regional / District councillor wears a tie or not?

Answer: No!

Hawke’s Bay’s local authorities saw reasonable levels of change thanks to the recent elections. Not great, but reasonable.

Voters elected new councillors who they hoped would ‘stick their necks out’ on issues, rather than leave them as the last thing the public saw just above the sand (or other orifaces).

They voted in people whose necks could look left and right to see both sides of an issue. Look forwards to guide us into the future and backwards to help us avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, rather than staring in the same old direction that habit, instruction or sycophancy had seized their predecessors’.

So why has such a big deal being made in local media about what three male regional councillors do or do not place around their aforementioned cervical appendage?

I don’t care what our councillors wear or how they wear it. I care about what they DO as councillors for my city and for my region.

The publicised actions, attitude and decisions of Regional Council Chairman Wilson over recent years have given me little reason to have any faith in him as a representative of the Hawke’s Bay region, let alone as any form of men’s style guru. He should leave that to the experts – Chairman Ralph Lauren and Councillor Tom Ford, perhaps.

I wish the likes of Hawke’s Bay Today would get their focus and reporting back on the matters that have an actual bearing on the present and future of our great region.

Far bigger, more important issues currently hang around Hawke’s Bay’s neck!