A LONE blackbird chirped its presence, breaking the silence of the dawn.
His furtive cry for a lost mate heralding a new day as the glow of the morn slowly spread across the hills, lifting shadows of darkness and transforming the valley into a vision of beauty.
Piri emotionally basked on a sight he knew so well all his life, but never as poignantly as now.
Since Abby died he had returned to seek more sustenance from the past, some reason to carry on his lonely existence.
Her untimely death had left a vacuum, a gaping wound in his soul.
Winners and losers
They thundered around the turn, churning up sods of turf
The crowd in the stand rose as one frantically urging their fancies to the winning post.
Excitement pulsed through veins as hoarse-throated punters unashamebly screamed out ridiculously named steeds like children would at playschool.
“Banana Salad… go you beauty! Jeez here comes Aggie’s Knickers!.. knew that slacker wasn’t trying last week!
The noise rose to a cresendo as the commentor’s voice screeched above the din seemingly demanding riders punish their mounts more in a final desperate effort to cross the line in front.
Then it was over – like the aftermath of a huge climatic orgasim it all petered down to the discarding of valueless tickets, mumblings of ‘should have known’ and ‘what do you like in the next’.
Those few who profited on the race were either queuing up at the tote or shouting their mates in the bar, generally feeling elated and justified in their gambling pursuit.
Paora Panadelo, aka Paul Baker, has written a book which immediately appealed to my love of history with Caught Up in Time.
The book, based on actual events and people, takes you on a trip through roughly forty raucous, witty, racy, and occasionally poignant years with interwoven stories, songs, and photographs to accompany.
We tend to see the past through rose-coloured glasses, but this book is a no-holds barred look at life in post-WWII New Zealand from the 40s to the 70s, and Panadelo tackles issues which we didn’t want to admit to having back then (just as we don’t want to admit having them now).
Easy to read and highly entertaining
Reviewed by Mollie Smith
NEARLY MADE THE BOOK’
The buzzards were circling, each with a glint of personal greed in their eye.
‘Is this all a man’s existence of a lifetime descends to,’ wondered Piri, as claims were made for the remnants of his father’s life.
A distinct shuffling of position was not so subtly evident as the ‘picking over of ‘the corpse’ began.
Piri had to excuse himself as a surge of sadness and anger enveloped him.
Hank found him in Steve’s back garden, seated on the old iron wrought bench, where the trio had laughed, argued and cemented their love for each other over the years.
Words were not necessary, the warmth of a brotherly embrace transcended all..
“YOU’RE a bloody loser! ”
The words echoed through Baxie’s head … not meaning much anymore, just an empty comment that reflected where his life had been and the pointless existence he had travelled in his journey.
‘Jump!’ the tormentor in his head kept demanding ‘Get it over with .. you don’t need this shit anymore!’
His past rolled out before him like an over-played repeat of a B-grade movie where everyone knew the plot, and the ending had been seen so many times the audience left the theatre yawning.
‘Ten Stories’ – he had revelled in the nickname , seeing it as a title of someone bigger than the rest, someone people could look up to.
The reality of it all struck him after all these years.
Here he was standing on the edge of a ten story building contemplating his own demise. The irony of his own naivity and over-blown egotism was a bitter pill.
“What the fuck!,” he suddenly called out to no one in particular as he tettered on the balcony ledge.
“I only need a ton to crack that multy at Epsom tomorrow and Squeaky’s an easy touch for a week at least.”
The change of heart had him swaying both emotionally and physically on the building’s edge as commitment turned to survival and a wave of fear swept over him.
Boss Ngatai wasn’t invited – his reputation as a thug meant he didn’t have to be.
He brushed the inoffensive Mike aside and began slurping his ale as his own while glaring at Piri… waiting for a reaction.
“Wanna fuckin’ rumble” he snorted between gulps of the shaken Mike’s beer. “Ya can have it in here or out the back”
Piri felt a cold chill run through him, knowing the short-fused heavy had been wound-up for confrontation.
Ngatai leaned across the pub table his drunken breath infusing the air as he spat out the challenge again..
‘Ya fuckin’ chicken shit Piri?”
“Piss off Boss!” a high-pitched feminine voice blared above the din of the six o’clock swill, “or I’ll kick you in the balls myself.”