1626. Wrecked

Today’s story is simply a transcript of a newspaper report. I thought it was interesting, especially since “back in those days” ship wrecks were relatively common.

Christchurch Star – 16 August 1876

STEALING FROM A WRECK. – Joseph Kilpin, an elderly man, residing near the beach at New Brighton, was brought up on remand, charged with having stolen a quantity of timber forming part of the wreck of the ketch Jupiter. The ketch belonged to Major Hornbrook, and was in charge of Captain Robert Day. On August 3, she was wrecked while crossing the Sumner bar, and drifted onto the beach on the New Brighton side.

Being insured in the South British Company, the vessel was abandoned to them on August 4. The hull was sold on that day, but the cheque given in payment for it being dishonoured, the hull reverted again to the Company, whose property it had since been.

The hull broke up, and was strewn along the beach, and prisoner took a portion of it home to burn. When arrested timber to the value of several shillings was found on the prisoner’s premises, and he admitted having taken it from the wreck. In reply to prisoner, Mr Macpherson, agent for the South British Insurance Company, said he did not know there was any mark or notice on the wreck cautioning persons from removing any portions of it. He also informed the Bench that he had no desire to press the case severely against the prisoner, his sole desire being to caution people that they had no right to take away timber from wrecks. Prisoner, in defence, said he was entirely ignorant of doing wrong when he took the timber, and would never have touched it had there been any notice against its removal, or had he known that he would be acting illegally by taking it.

Three witnesses came forward voluntarily and gave prisoner a very high character for honesty and general conduct. One of them had known him eleven years, one five years, and the other three years, and they had always found him a hard working, steady, honest, and respectable man. Dr Foster said he might also inform the Bench that the habit of taking timber found on the sea beach was a very common occurrence, and he did not think it was generally known this was an offence against the law.

His Worship said he did not know whether it was generally understood that the offence complained of in this case was indictable, and persons who were guilty of it rendered themselves liable to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour. The law very properly regarded the matter as very serious, because it was an offence against a person who might have lost his all by the wreck. Supposing the owner of the vessel had not been insured, the loss would have been heavy, and the law ought to protect persons in cases of this kind from losing what little might be saved from the wreck.

A very high character had been given to prisoner, and as he might have acted in ignorance of the law, he would be discharged, but must be more careful in future. Both he and others in the habit of picking up timber from wrecks must remember by doing so that they rendered themselves liable to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour. The case would be dismissed. (Applause).

1625. Scuba honeymoon

Burgess must have been one of the most obnoxious people on the planet. It’s hard to say exactly why. It was little things he did that drove people crazy. For example, when dining at a restaurant he would blow his nose on his napkin as if it was a tissue or a handkerchief. He would poke his finger in his ear and scratch as if it was itching and wipe his hand on his pullover. He would… Ok. Ok. You get the point.

Why he got on so well with Averil beggared belief. Averil was so prim and proper. When dining at a fancy restaurant she would delicately dab her lips with her napkin, and say “Pardon” even if the belch had been inaudible. Everyone was shocked when Burgess and Averil announced their engagement. A marriage simply would not work.

The marriage was just over a month ago. And then off they went on their honeymoon to some isolated spot somewhere in the region of Vanuatu. They both liked scuba diving and there was a resort that specialized in it. That was probably why they chose to honeymoon there. People back home joked that Vanuatu could well be the place that would see this clearly unsuitable couple fly home on separate flights.

They did fly home separated but on the same flight, each in their own casket. The tsunami had hit without warning.

1624. The pension

Errol was excited. Well, not so much excited as pleased. He had worked as an academic all his life, in the field of electromagnetic radiation, so getting excited was little over the top. His birthday was next Tuesday, and the following Monday, exactly at midnight, he should get his first pension payment. His wife, Siobhan, was a little older and had been getting the pension for more than a year.

As had been done for Siobhan, the first pension pay out (it was a little rule the two of them had) was to be spent on oneself! Errol knew exactly what he was going to get with his pension money: books!

In the weeks leading up to his birthday he scoured the internet. In the end he had ordered twenty-six books, and paid for them including postage. He suggested to Siobhan that she collect the mail through the coming days and store the books in a hidden pile. Then on his birthday all the books would be there! What a way to start the pension! What a feast of present opening!

The books arrived in dribs and drabs. Siobhan collected the mail and stored the books in a closet. The morrow saw his birthday! Except, not even a barrage of canon fire could have woken him.

1623. The grocery list

When Theta got up that morning she discovered she was out of coffee. Not to worry! She would have a cup of tea and once daylight broke she would walk to the corner shop and buy some coffee. In the meantime she made a list of other things she would get.

The list grew longer; in fact, too long for the corner shop. She would have to get in the car and go to the supermarket. It didn’t open until seven each morning, but she might as well wait and it would save a trip in the next day or two to the supermarket.

Of course, once she started looking there was more and more to get. Butter would run out, as would cheese. And milk. And cream. In fact, the dairy compartment in her fridge needed an overhaul! Then there was flour and yeast. Both were getting low and Theta liked to bake her own bread. In a bread-maker mind you, but it was still nicer than most sliced loaves available. In fact, over the years, Theta had so refined the bread recipes for the machine, that there was rarely a failure. Now and again she might buy a baguette or bagels for a change.

Fresh fruit! It was always nice – and healthy – to have fresh fruit. Bananas were great because they were so convenient. But apples and oranges were always a must. Occasionally Theta would “break out” and buy a couple of pears, or even a bag of kiwifruit. Once she went way over the top and purchased a pomegranate!

There were general household items too that were getting low; cleaners and so on. In fact, the kitchen detergent had run out and that was a priority – although it was a very handy excuse “not to do the dishes”! But “not doing the dishes” couldn’t last forever!

The supermarket was about ten minutes away by car, so Theta left home about ten minutes before the shop would open. She loaded the trolley with groceries from the list, passed through the checkout, and headed home.

Unloading the car and putting things away was always a hassle and it was best to get it over with immediately upon arrival back home. Theta unpacked quickly. She put the kettle on for her morning coffee. When all was done, she…

…she…

…she had forgotten to buy coffee. It was not on the list.

1622. A study in ennui

It certainly produces ennui when stuck inside on a rainy day. In fact, Syd had stayed in bed with the curtains drawn. The only thing that would happen if he got up would be to have breakfast before discovering that there was “nothing to do”. He wasn’t allowed much time on his phone, he wasn’t allowed much time watching videos, he wasn’t allowed much time on his computer, he wasn’t allowed much time doing sweet nothing. And now his parents were telling him to “go look for a summer job during the holiday time.” His parents sucked. The world sucked. It was hosing down outside. He might as well stay in bed. So he did.

When his father came home around one in the afternoon he went into Syd’s room and said “Get out of bed you lazy sod and do something useful.” Syd saw red and leapt out of bed and he and his father had a shouting match. Syd threw on some clothes and stormed out of the house.

What Syd’s father then said to Syd’s mother shouldn’t necessarily appear here unedited. But he swore that their next two sons would have their teenage years circumvented and they’d go from age eleven to twenty-two in one go. It’s a wonder the falling rain outside didn’t steam and hiss and evaporate once it hit the roof of the Maddock household. Syd’s father mowed the lawn in the rain he was so fed up to the back teeth. Then he tidied the garage. Then he fixed the broken cupboard door handle in the kitchen.

When dinner time came Syd came home and everything was normal.

1621. A week camping

There’s surely little more scrumptious than a sausage cooked on a camp fire, then wrapped in a buttered slice of bread with some chopped fried onion and tomato sauce. Follow this with a hot cup of tea or coffee made with water boiled in a tin hung over the hot embers. It’s summer! It’s evening! There are a few mosquitoes but the insect repellent keeps most at bay. All that’s needed now is a competent guitarist to complete the spell. A little sing-along and a bit of yarn telling and all is perfect.

Rufus and Trina with their two children had been camping for a week. Twice a man had come along and told them to move, but they hadn’t budged. Apparently they were not permitted to have a camp fire where they were, or to erect a tent. Rufus had used some choice words at the man, which had prompted Trina both times to say, “For goodness sake, Rufus, not in front of the children.” It made little difference; Rufus gave the man a piece of his mind in a way that only Rufus could.

It was nearing the time they would have to move. The camping food supply was getting low, as was wood for the fire. Camping on their driveway after the catastrophic earthquake was only a temporary measure. But where to go?

1620. Love of horses

Ross Randerson was into horses, so it was just as well he had a big farm. People said they reckoned he had a horse of every colour and shape. There was a horse there for every need, except the need for a horse these days wasn’t so common.

I guess when you’re as rich as Ross Randerson you can afford to have so many equine animals. The local equestrian society members were most unhappy with him. With so many horses how could he properly take care of them? Some of the mares seemed to have foals willy-nilly. It was irresponsible for Ross Randerson not to manage things better.

Only the other day the vet had been called because apparently a horse had slipped down a bank and broken a leg. Word has it that it had to be put down. With proper care such things need not happen.

These horses were not race horses, or pack horses, or draught horses, or whatever. They were ordinary, run-of-the-mill horses like those that horse lovers have in their back field as a hobby. Except Ross Randerson had a whole lot more. Quite often you would see a car stopped on the side of the road while photographs were taken of the horses galloping around the meadows. Such grace! Such regal grandeur! The white ponies with flowing blonde manes were everyone’s favourite!

Some people wondered how Ross Randerson could afford so many horses. How come he was so rich? Some knew and some didn’t. There’s a lot of money in dog food.