Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reunion Update and other matters

The reunion went well and I think it was worth all that money. The bus to Christchurch was bearable - just 3 others onboard,  I think overseas students. The problem was that we arrived at the airport at 2.30am and my plane left at 7am. I seem to spend far more time than I like hanging around airports. The captain said we would take less than 3 hours but, as we approached Sydney, the heavy air traffic meant we circled over the Tasman twice and landed nearly 3 and half hours after takeoff at 8.25am Sydney time.  I only took hand luggage and the customs officials were unusually cooperative so I was on the train just after 9 am and at my sister's home before 10am.

I slept until 1 pm, had lunch then lay down again until nearly 3, showered and changed, and set off for the reunion at 3.45.  I felt remarkably ok. It was not far away and was set for 4pm till late.  There were only about 15 of us, including one teacher.

Only one, Dennis, could have been said to have been in my group at school but it is strange how guys who hardly connected at age 16 can be very easy to be with now we are 66 plus. I guess those 5 years at a rather remarkable school give us a bond. I left at 10pm and the few who remained did not look like staying much longer.

The teacher, Rod, was my Latin teacher which I only studied for 3 of the 5 years. However he was also the teacher-in-charge of the school Christian group so had an enormous influence on me.  He went on to become Principal of one of the leading Anglican schools. At one time there was trouble over homosexuality at the school and I wrote to him and we met for afternoon tea.  He expressed regret that he had not been able to help me at the time I was at school.   However in the late 50's homosexuality was never discussed.  I did not understand my feelings until I studied psychology at university.  I have a feeling he would have advised me to see psychiatrists who, in those days, treated people with "sexual disorders".  Receiving such treatment at age 27 was bad enough, I do not know how I might have coped as a teenager. 

Rod has always expressed pleasure at meeting me again and asked if I had a partner.  I told him I felt more at home in the Dunedin diocese than in Sydney and let him deduce what he might from that.  My feelings for him are mixed as are my feelings about my evangelical upbringing.  It developed my faith and gave me a strong sense of Christian certainty but at the same time I blame it for many of the problems I have had to deal with over the years.

My best mate at school, Peter,  sadly died of cancer in 2004 and I missed him at the reunion.  Rod was also important to him and visited him in his last weeks.  He also became a teacher and a Christian School Principal.  A week before he died, I rang him and we were discussing some of the hymns we loved to sing such as "Blessed Assurance".  I remarked that things had seemed so much simpler in those days and Peter replied that they sure were and real life was really far more complicated.

I knew Dennis, like me, had met up with another in our group about 10 years ago. Trevor was brilliant and gained higher degrees in both English and Science. but sadly has bipolar disorder and a problem with alcoholism. He had a difficult time at school due to his extreme feminism.  I lunched with him at the time but feel guilty that it was so unpleasant that I never repeated  it.  Dennis said that, when they met, he found his overt homosexuality hard to deal with, I stated that was not a problem for me and let Dennis deduce what he might from that.

Sydney from Watson's Bay
On Wednesday I slept in, booked my last free flights with United Airlines (to Sydney and back next Easter) then went to the city with my sister. After some shopping, we walked to the Quay and caught a ferry to Watson's Bay for seafood lunch. The Harbour was sparkling but not too hot, one thing I do like about Sydney.

Thursday I flew home, this time with Jetstar who cannot match Air New Zealand for service. They are a subsidiary of Qantas and I always say "I am an Australian, I never fly Qantas." I waited another 4 hours at Christchurch airport for the Air New Zealand flight back to Dunedin in a very small plane which struck turbulence over the Northern hills. I was very relieved when we came down out of the cloud and I saw Mt Cargill (the highest local point) was still comfortably below us.

Tomorrow, Sunday,  I will be spending my first day as a volunteer on the Taieri Gorge Railway which takes passengers from cruise ships up into the scenic area behind the city. There are over 80 cruise ships visiting Dunedin this summer so that should keep me out of mischief.

1 comment:

Fran said...

Thanks for the update! I thought of you today as I drove by the Holiday Inn that you stayed in while you were here last year. Meeting you was one of my favorite blogger meet ups!