Monday, October 19, 2009

The Golden Wedding Tour turns comedic...



A few days after the Dunedin gathering for our GW there was a different kind of gathering as the three congregations of the Peninsula parish of the Anglican church met for our murder mystery dinner. Bev and I got another huge buzz out of leading this.

The local suspects played their roles beautifully and the 50 players had a ball. The after-church conversations next morning were, apparently, still buzzing with enthusiasm. And the ticket charge of $30 resulted in $1500 being raised for their chosen charities, a very satisfactory outcome, thanks to our friend Joan Carter’s generous catering for the magnificent meal.
An interesting sidelight is that two of the three Peninsula congregations have Local Shared Ministry teams and the third has a part-time stipendiary priest who is also enabler for the teams. Usually, an enabler would be engaged from outside the parish, but, as with our own parish at the moment, this is not the case. It’s the kind of flexible response that is possible with LSM as part of the ministry strategy mix.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Great Golden Wedding Tour


Sunday afternoon saw about 33 of us crowded into the living room of our friends Shirley and Joan in Dunedin. There was a brisk cool westerly but it was sunny and we couldn’t help noticing later that the day’s temperature was the same as at Paihia, far to the north!

There were friends from Theological College days and many who were part of our lives in Dunedin in the 1970s. Among them, representatives of the congregations we enjoyed, the Mission position that I held, District clergy we worked with, Family Budgeting and also the intimate neighbourhood of mid-Sunbury St where we lived.

So many friends, so many memories. Some now left us- and most of us showing our age. It could have been depressing. But we had a great time. And shared stories of the younger generations gave us new optimism for the future, reminding us of the continuity of the human story and the validity of the tradition of faith.

It was impossible to spend much time with everyone but we shared a little of our recent ups and downs, told a couple of jokes and enjoyed afternoon tea together. Bev and I cut the huge cake baked by Robyn and cunningly iced in four separate sections by Joan. The remaining three will now go with us on the rest of the Tour!

Next stop, Hutt Valley, where we were married… Watch this space!

Vote for Prohibition?


I’ve never thought much about why I continue to chose not to drink alcohol but I guess that disappointment with the outcomes of the 1989 liberalisation of the sale of liquor in this country is one reason.

The lawmakers of that time had hopes for the introduction of a more civilised pattern of using alcohol. They thought that making liquor more readily available would change the binge drinking culture of 6pm closing. They believed that ready availability of alcohol in eating places would eliminate some drunkenness. And they decided, for better or for worse, that young people should have access to alcohol earlier.

Alas, the hoped-for outcomes have not appeared. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who was in the government when the law was liberalised now finds himself appalled at what he has seen in the small hours. The Law Commission he now heads intends to ask the government to completely re-write the entire Sale of Liquor Act, not just make a few more amendments. Their discussion document highlights a whole raft of important issues and invites submissions by the end of October.

Alcohol Healthwatch, a charitable trust, is taking an even stronger stance. Led by medical and scientific experts, this group of volunteers have taken their “Ten things the liquor industry won’t tell you about alcohol” all round the country. I was fortunate to attend this presentation at Waitangi a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed with their motivation and their research. They are urging us to find a middle way between the present over-consumption and the unrealistic and dated concept of prohibition.

This is a rare opportunity to have creative input into an issue that adversely affects 700,000 drinkers in this country. The Law Commission wants to hear from us. AHW says that if alcohol had just appeared on the scene, with its known capacity to kill a thousand people a year, the country would be in the grip of widespread panic and we would have declared a national emergency.

Study the websites http://www.talklaw.govt.nz/ and http://www.ahw.org.nz/ and send a submission to the Law Commission by 31st Oct 09.

Lies and Happy Endings


The other night we went to the opening of “Yeomen of the Guard”. A splendid performance by all concerned was warmly received by the packed house.

Dunedin’s Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust are working their way, year by year, through the entire G&S repertoire. “Yeoman” was the one that G&S themselves thought was their best. It certainly shone on Friday night.

In this plot there are no fairies and there are no babies swapped in infancy and there is “magic lozenge” (Sullivan was particularly pleased about that!),. Nor is this a very comic show. But mixed in with the great music and beautifully choreographed action the large cast told a story that relies on cunning and deceit, disguise and false assumptions.

At the end of the show, of course, apart from poor Jack Point who collapses at the final curtain, everyone lives happily ever after. It’s as if an “orchestrated litany of lies” has brought about happiness for almost everyone.

Alas, it’s not so with real courtship, marriage and families. Being authentically present “warts and all” with those we love is our only hope for a Happy Ending.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Great Golden Wedding Road Trip


We’re at Christchurch, at the end of the first stage of celebrating our Golden Wedding with family and friends all over the place.
There were just a few callers here: Timothy Spencer – No 1 grandson, finishing up at Canterbury University School of Engineering; and Victor Paul, almost unknown to us except as a very distant cousin who is also interested in the Stewart family tree. We went to dinner with each of them.
Seton Horrill, our Best Man in 1959, went with us to lunch, and Harold Surtees, our Groomsman, and Barbara came over from Akaroa for a good part of the afternoon. We’ve lived in different parts of the country for fifty years and our lives have only come together when we went out of our way for brief visits. But today we shared a few photos of the big day, had a few laughs at the hairdos and hats and reflected on what the passage of time had done to us all.
Tomorrow we move on to Dunedin where we spent a wonderful decade in the 1970s. That’s going to be another very special time. But already we have been reminded of the abiding strength of family relationships and friendships across great distances of time and space. It’s been a great start.