How I came to be me is for me (as it is for everyone) part science, part speculation, part fantasy, and mostly mystery. I was the second son and third child produced by my mother in five years, my younger brother arriving ten years later. My older brother teased me without mercy, but then I was, for him, an absolute pain. My poor worried mother had undergone the tribulations of the ‘Great War’, the ‘Great Depression’, and yet another world war by the time I arrived. The Japanese were moving down the Pacific. Her favourite brother had become part of the New Zealand squadron, flying out from Great Britain to bomb Germany. One image I received from my psychic mum has haunted me all my life: Uncle Max struggling to keep the burning plane level while the rest of the crew bailed out, and then the plane falling, falling too low while he struggled to escape.
My older brother’s life seemed to be accompanied by dramas from an early age, such as when he cut his foot open on a broken bottle, or when our grass hut went up in flames. By contrast I was mostly quiet and in the background. My early days at school were not auspicious. I attended with a broken arm, found the noise and activity alarming, and escaped whenever I could, generally losing myself (mentally) in the bush tracks above the school. Needless to say I was always found and hauled back into class.
Mostly, I drifted through school, picking up the ‘English’ prize without effort, and occasionally shining at maths, but nothing much else to show for those years. I was a disappointment to my historian father, because I failed dismally in history exams, although curiously, perhaps by some sort of osmotic process, I seemed to absorb a good deal from the books in the shelves that lined many of our walls: The Maori as he was, by Elsdon Best, The Voyages of Captain James Cook, The Voyages of the Beagle, The Diaries of Samuel Pepys. Perhaps it was the exams, not the history, that bothered me. Later at university I was to do a paper on ‘Educational tests and measurements’, during which I wrote an essay on ‘The unreliability of marking essays’. Ironically, this got me the top grade.
Eventually I concluded that it was not the subjects of books that interested me so much as books in themselves. I took a postgraduate course in ‘Library and information science’ and later scored a job helping libraries transition into the digital age. Around this time I met my wife-to-be, although, this would have been a surprise to me had I known. After a string of failed romances I had largely given up on women.
A year after our marriage Rohin came along and was like a little woodland elf. Later he outdid me by hiding UNDER the school rather than along some track above it. (Had I passed on some anti-school gene?) I think he also achieved what he needed to without much effort, and ignored the rest. He is now married, and works for a company whose staff are scattered around the world.
That’s it really. I got away from a job that had me working inhuman hours as the servant of a mainframe computer, and began writing (although I’d never really stopped.) Naomi, who has done a course in creative writing (I have not) takes my work, critiques it and often tears it apart. I am helpless prey in her grasp. How you respond to our books, and my blog, will be the measure of how well we have succeeded.