06 May 2012

Normal life

We were fortunate that our landlord was a doctor.

Susan began going to work at World Vision (riding our 90cc Honda up and down Symonds Street amidst the Trolley 'buses).  She came home each evening and made dinner for us, got up each morning and went to work.

And was increasingly exhausted.  One morning she felt she simply could not go to work.  She must, she thought, be sick.  Well, Dr Grigor had his surgery upstairs in the building our flat was in.  She made an appointment.

She received exceptional treatment from Dr Grigor.  Doctors in New Zealand are partly funded by the State - in 1973 the funding was considerably more than it is now - and are under pressure to move patients through quickly.  15 minutes per patient was the standard.  Dr Grigor spent something like half an hour with Susan - and charged her only the standard $2 for the visit

Sue had (somehow - there was no fashion for this sort of thing at the time) been on what would now be called a low-carbohydrate diet.  She had eaten this way since before I knew her.  Dr Grigor asked her what she ate - and was horrified.  No fruit.  Little grains.  Protein and fat, basically.  He lectured her sternly and prescribed a balanced diet for her.  It was not long before she was in much better shape.

Looking back on 1973, I realise how much has changed in New Zealand in nearly 40 years.  Milk was not homogenised - and was delivered in pint bottles - at 4 cents/pint - it is now homogenised and $2.50/$3.00 for a 2-litre (roughly three and a half pints) plastic bottle - at the supermarket.  A telephone call at a 'phone booth was 2 cents.  Now there are still 'phone booths, though I am not sure how much they get used.  Who doesn't have a cellphone?  The 'Family Benefit' was still around, though only $6/week - but we got that when Johnny was born in 1975, and it was not insignificant.  Shops were open five days a week, with the exception of fruiterers and greengrocers (Saturday morning), and 'dairies' ('convenience stores') - all day Saturday.  Things are rather different in 2012!

By the end of 1973:
  • our home church was Hillsborough Baptist Church
  • we had made many wonderful friends - Geoff and Julie Renner (Geoff was Sue's boss at World Vision), George and Coral Curle and their children, especially David, Maria Subritzky (who married David!)
  • we had acknowledged the inadequacy of the '90 and replaced it with a fantastic motorbike - two cylinders, 175cc, electric start! (another Honda :-))
I was working intensely that year on finishing the Yapese Reference Grammar and the Yapese-English Dictionary that I had contracted with the University of Hawai'i Press to write.  Pugram had been flown (at whose cost??) to Auckland and spent a couple of weeks in May - beginning to be very cold - helping me with them.  I think that my part of the production of those two books continued into 1976, when we were already living in Yap.

And I was deepening my knowledge of Calvinism.  When Sue and I were first married and living in Honolulu I had already begun a practice which I continue to this day, that of inflicting on her (and on our children when they were home) reading from whatever books seem to me suitable and interesting and likely to be helpful.  During our children's years at home these were sometimes rather more digestible things, such as Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  When Susan and I first lived in Mt Eden, I read aloud such page-turners as Cornelius Van Til's Syllabus: Introduction to Systematic Theology.  We were not to be Baptists much longer.

Our first Christmas in New Zealand we spent with the Browns in Howick.  It was high summer - and it rained.  "I thought it was supposed to be summer!" Sue said to our hostess.  "It always rains on Christmas!"  Not quite true, but not far off.

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