Tag Archives: celebration

1550. Where angels fear to tread

In the “old days” – like a year or so ago – when I was new to blogging, I would excitedly celebrate each 50 stories with a glimmer of revelation into my REAL life. It could be a wander through my garden for example, or a posting about the cat. Once I even endeavoured to show photos of my crockery! Today is Story 1550, and since old habits die hard, I thought I would tell of a particular event.

About forty years ago, when I had a ponytail and torn jeans (because I thought it was cool), and went around in bare feet (because I thought it was cool and you can still do that in New Zealand), I earned just enough to live on by writing to every primary school in the country and announcing that I had a brand-new short children’s musical they could use at their end-of-school-year celebration/event. It was not copyrighted. It was a photocopy. Teachers could make as many copies as they wished and change what they wanted. The only thing they couldn’t do was pass the manuscript on to another school. Each musical cost a mere ten dollars. It came with a tape.

At the time there were roughly two and a half thousand primary schools in the country. Although the letter itself was photocopied, I signed each one personally, and then addressed each envelope by hand and licked each individual postage stamp. Getting a hand addressed envelope with a postage stamp on it was more likely to be opened and noticed than getting a printed envelope with “POSTAGE PAID” slapped coldly in the corner. About 70% of the schools purchased and used these musicals. Towards the end of the school year I could grab any local paper in the country and there would be a photograph or two of the local school rehearsing or performing MY musical!

I did this for about ten years. Many schools used a different musical for each of the ten years. Then other people cottoned on to the idea. Suddenly there were about twenty other writers. They ran seminars on it! Teacher Resource Centres started advertising their own home-written end-of-school-year musicals. I was shut out, usually by cunning and corrupt Resource Centres pretending they wanted to do the advertising for me. My little empire collapsed and died. The last gasp was when a publishing company in America wrote and said they were suing me for pinching their title and idea for a musical. I explained that my musical was quite a few years older than theirs. I had written it years ago for a school of eight pupils and no electricity on Pitt Island to perform in candle light!

So where is Pitt Island?

At the height of such commercial success (one year I made around $14,000 – think about it) I thought I needed a logo! I began to knock on a few doors. There were Graphic Designers galore in the telephone books. The first Graphic Designer was down a dark alley. It had a doorbell. I pressed it. An inside contraption played Für Elise, rather like the electronic music one hears on a phone when put on hold. I fled.

The second Graphic Designer was in a large messy attic. Two women were sitting in armchairs sipping coffee. They stood and excitedly exclaimed: “Oh God! We have our first customer!” I told them I was sorry to disappoint, but I was looking for directions!

This went on all day. I had about two hundred dollars to spend on my logo. I didn’t want riff-raff ruining the opportunity.

It was then, near the centre of town, that I espied a Graphic Designer with a decent billboard and signage, in a rather nice skyscraper. I went in and explained that I wanted a logo for “MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS”.

I was ushered into a luxurious reception room. My ponytail, torn jeans, and bare feet felt a little out of place. On the coffee table was a brochure advertising logos they had designed. Here was the header for a resort hotel’s restaurant menu that had cost a mere $94,000. Here was a logo for a hotel chain that a President of the United States had stayed at while playing golf. A mere $140,000 had been paid for the logo. The logos were certainly attractive but I thought “I gotta get the hell outta here!”

A woman suddenly appeared. She was smartly dressed and meant business. “How may I help?”

I splurted out about the Für Elise doorbell and the “Oh God! We have our first customer!” She laughed. “And now, here I am in a place that’s thousands of times out of my league. And all I wanted was a simple logo for my MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS.”

Well, would you believe? The woman wasn’t the receptionist or the undersecretary’s secretary. She owned the company. It was a multinational company. It was the largest company of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. I explained how silly I felt.

“You give me $50,” said the woman, “and I’ll tell you what we’ll do. I’ll run a competition this week among all the company’s graphic designers. For a bonus of $50, a winner will be selected for the best logo submitted for MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS. Come back in a week and we’ll make the selection.”

I came back in a week. She had dozens of designs. Can I take the lot? No! You must pick one. I picked one. “That’s the very one I would’ve picked,” she said. I was given copies of the logo in all sizes and colours. There must have been several hundred lasered variations.

A few months later I bumped into that lady in the street. She asked me how things were going. She was enthusiastic about MUSICALS FOR SCHOOLS. I couldn’t shut her up! She was off to buy something to congratulate the grandchildren. They were in an end-of-school-year production and she was so excited. Would I mind if the school used the logo on the program?

And that is how I got a $140,000 logo for a few bucks.

1541. Things happen in threes

What an extraordinary day it had been! First, Nola’s husband had checked the lottery ticket numbers and Nola and her husband, Cresswell, had won thirty-three million three hundred and thirty-three thousand dollars. While they were dancing around the living room, whooping and hollering, Cresswell suffered a heart attack and died.

That took the edge off the excitement. Nola had to organize and go through the funeral. After twenty-two years of marriage, she was sad. Of course she was sad. But it was also a relief. Their relationship had been strained over the last few years, and Nola had frequently dreamed of freedom. Now with the sudden death of her husband and the winning of the lottery, that freedom could become a reality. Of course his death was a shock. It was devastating. It always is. But at least she had security for the future. She genuinely sobbed as the undertaker carted Cresswell’s body from the house to the funeral parlour.

At last the funeral was over. Things began to settle. Nola, who hadn’t wanted to appear too excited at winning thirty-three million, knew that the time had come to claim the money! But where was the ticket? Oh! It was in Cresswell’s back pocket when she had him cremated.

1421. Memorable and happy day

Trudi had made an extensive grocery list. She was going to make sure that today would be both memorable and happy. She was going to prepare a special meal. Her husband of eleven years had suggested it. Just the two of them. There were no children. Trudi had hoped for a family but Archie had said no.

Anyway, this was to be a celebration for no reason. It’s good, said Archie, to do that now and again. It was easy to say, thought Trudi, but she was the one who had to do all the work; all the cooking. Hence the long shopping list.

When she got home from the shops she had to make several trips from the car to the kitchen to carry all the food. Archie was watching the sports on tele. Trudi began to put things away in the cupboards before beginning her baking. Then she remembered. How could have she forgotten? But forget she had.

She had forgotten to get the arsenic for the pie. That was the one thing that was going to make her day both memorable and happy.

1400. Spring Equinox

It is just two weeks before the Spring Equinox. Today it’s raining and blowing a gale. I wonder how best to “celebrate” this blog’s 1400th story.

Putting on a warm pullover and raincoat I went up the little hill at the back of my house where there are the ruins of a home. The derelict house was built in the late 1800s. Growing in the field around the house are clumps of now wild daffodils and snowdrops, all in full flower. The field was once a garden. There is a grove of camellia trees in bloom, red and white. The abandoned kitchen cupboard hides a few old preserving jars and a starling’s nest.

The farming Hamblyn family used to live there. It was there that Charles and Mary Hamblyn began their married life in 1887. The excitement of breaking in new land! From wild forest to farm! From flooding quagmire to dairy cows! It was there they had their thirteen children. Two children died in infancy, but by 1905 there were eight healthy sons and three healthy daughters! Here’s a little information on some of them…

William Charles Hamblyn: the oldest son, a cheese-maker at the factory down the road, left for France on the 9th December 1916. Killed in France on the 9th of June 1917.

James Edward Hamblyn: the second son, a farm hand, left for France on the 13th April 1916. Missing, later declared killed in France, on the 9th September 1917.Henry John Hamblyn: the third son, a farm hand, left for France on the 5th of March 1916. Missing, later declared killed in France, on the 3rd of October 1916.

Thomas Day Hamblyn: the fourth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 9th December 1916. Killed in France on the 9th of June 1917, the same day as his oldest brother.

Richard Ernest Hamblyn: the fifth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 18th September 1916. On the 28 November 1917, declared “No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service”.

Frederick Leonard Hamblyn: the sixth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 28th September 1917. On the 4th of October 1917, classified as injured with an “indeterminate disability”. The authorities believed that four brothers killed and another ill was enough.

Before the two surviving veteran sons could return home, father Charles and youngest brother Osborne died back home in the 1918 flu epidemic.

I wonder who planted all those daffodils and snowdrops? Who established the grove of red and white of camellias? Was it Mary the mother, or the sisters Winifred, Bessie and Letitia? Perhaps it was their brother, Harold, who never went to war, or Richard and Frederick who came back. Perhaps it was the children themselves in an earlier time. Perhaps it was their father. Maybe even grandchildren.

Few remember the family of course. But there’s a remnant of memory in those flowers each year at the end of winter. In the field next to the old house a cow has had a calf. It’s a girl! It is two weeks before the Spring Equinox. It’s not a platitude to say new life begins to spin out of control.

1349. Seventieth birthday

It was Ferdinand’s seventieth birthday coming up. Quite frankly, he was excited about it. His wife had passed on, but he had three sons, and there were three daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren. No doubt they would all come to celebrate his special birthday!

Of course, Ferdinand didn’t say anything – he wanted it a secret, but he wondered what they had planned. He hoped it wouldn’t be too big. Having the family around for a light lunch would be enough. He would open all the presents they gave him (what does one give a seventy year old for his birthday?) and hopefully there’d be a cake to cut after blowing out seventy candles. It doesn’t take much to delight a seventy year old – especially when surrounded by grandchildren.

Anyway, that was last week. He’s still waiting.

1300. A feast to celebrate!

Even in the jungles of darkest Africa, the wild creatures wondered how to celebrate most appropriately the 1300th story on this blog.

“Why don’t we,” suggested the pretty hyena, “celebrate with a dance?”

“A dance is a good idea,” added the elusive tiger, “but why not combine it with a feast?”

“A feast it is!” declared the imperial lion. “We shall celebrate the 1300th story on this blog with a massive feast.”

All the animals of the African jungle did just that. They attacked en masse the people of an entire village. There was plenty for all, although not a scrap left. And there was blood all over the place! What a feast! What a celebration! Congratulations!

1200. 1200st

Would you look at that! (exclaimed Myrtle). It’s the oneth thousandth and twoth hundredth story on this blog. Oneth thousandth and twoth hundredth! That’s amazing!

It’s not the oneth thousandth and twoth hundredth story (interrupted Benjamin). It’s the one thousand and two hundredth story.

You think you know everything! (exclaimed Myrtle). She took a pistol from her mohair handbag and shot Benjamin dead. Bang! Bang! One in the heart and one in the head. (Head first).

That’s for being a know-all! (exclaimed Myrtle even though, by now, Benjamin was incapable of hearing her). Yet another body. What’s one more death in all these oneth thousandth and twoth hundredth stories?

It’s starting to smell around here (observed Horace, who had been present the whole time). In all of these onest thousandst and twost hundredst stories there have been only a couple of funerals.

It’s not the onest thousandst and twost hundredst story (raged Nora, who had also been present the whole time). It’s the onerd thousandrd and tword hundredrd story.

Nora was seen taking a pistol from her mohair handbag. The plot thickens as occasionally happens.

1160. No nonsense

There could be no doubt that Nurse Frieda was efficient. People suspected she was soft as butter underneath, but no one ever saw it. And since when was butter soft, especially if it was cold?

Nurse Frieda was ideal for the old peoples’ hospital. A command was a command. “Get in the shower” meant “Get in the shower”. “Eat your vegetables” meant “Eat your vegetables”.

How exciting it was that Marlene was about to turn 100! “A hundred is a hundred” said Nurse Frieda, and indeed it was, although one couldn’t help but get a little excited. After all, Marlene was expecting a congratulatory telegram from the monarch of England, and there would be a cake and candles, and perhaps even a little sip of wine.

Marlene was born at quarter past six in the morning of October 20th. At midnight, Marlene declared that she had reached 100! Her birthday had arrived!

Unfortunately Marlene died suddenly at a quarter to five. “Strictly speaking she never reached 100,” declared Nurse Frieda. She took the congratulatory telegram and screwed it up. She took the candles off the cake. “She certainly didn’t reach 100. Goodness me! Let’s be clear about that.”

It’s always good to have someone in an old peoples’ hospital who accepts no nonsense.

1147. Happy birthday darling

I can’t believe how the time has flown. Persia turns twelve today! It seems just like yesterday that she was born. Doctors said my wife couldn’t have babies. It was a grievous blow, and then Persia came into our lives. My wife has some Iranian connections, so that’s where the name Persia comes from.

Persia has been the joy of our lives. We always wanted a girl, and it was a girl we got. Coming home from work every weekday, it’s such a joy to have Persia greet me. I have never not felt the excitement. Tonight I brought home some special things to celebrate, and celebrate we shall. Also, my wife has had hidden away a little parcel as a birthday surprise. It’s a secret!

Happy Birthday, darling Persia!

As you can see, we really love our cat.