28 July 2013


I have expressed to Susan that my views on home-schooling is that it is the ideal for primary-age pupils.  It seems to me the best environment for the young person up until about the age of 11 or so is the home. A tutor, if you could afford it, would be even better; probably parental instruction is second-best.

The situation changes sharply at around 11 or 12.  Had I the opportunity to do it all again, I think I would have suggested trying to ease our kids into the school system sometime during intermediate school age, and definitely would have enrolled them in high school.

One of Susan's favourite sayings is: Life has no dress rehearsals.

Be that as it may, by 1990, the year Johnny turned 15, it was becoming apparent to him - and to us - that he would profit from the mutual pressure of going to school.  It was decided that from the beginning of the school year 1991 - school starts just after Waitangi Day (6 February) - Johnny would enrol in school.

The natural place for him, I think, would have been Pukekohe High School.  Johnny didn't want to.

It was not clear to me at the time, and perhaps was not clear to him, either, why he didn't want to go there.  There was some talk about some of the other boys who attended that school that he didn't get along with.  I have always thought that part, at least, of the reason was that Puke High had reputation as a country school.  Perhaps it didn't seem up-market enough for him.

Somehow he knew of Rosehill College.  Rosehill is in Papakura, some 20 Km away.  Johnny had to take a 'bus - commercial 'bus, not a school 'bus - each way.  Particularly in winter this cannot have been much fun.  Nevertheless, Johnny did this for three years.  He began in what was then known as Fifth Form - now Year 11.

A note on school years in New Zealand, by comparison with the US.  In the US, the normal time to start First Grade - Year 1 in NZ terms - is age 6.  That said, many do a year of Kindergarten from age 5.  But formal school goes from Year 1 through 12.  Thus at the end of Year 12 - Senior Year - you are usually about 17.

In New Zealand, school starts at 5 - and there are thirteen years (the last year used to be called Seventh Form - now Year 13) - result, about age 17 :-)

So Johnny had three years at Rosehill.  I think he found it difficult.  I remember his sometimes angry comments about the some of the teachers.  Nevertheless, on the whole he profited from it; went to his school ball; and is sufficiently pleased about it to list it on his Facebook page.

I will be interested to read his comments on this post :-) as well as Helen's.  Helen, I know, is not particularly pleased with the fact that she was home-schooled.  Perhaps she would be happier about it had she gone to school at some point (before University, I mean).

There is so much about our lives during these years that I am not talking about: the end of the Morris Oxford's life; the Holden station wagon that we bought from Roel Voschezang which was stolen within a year - nor the many musical activities, the times the kids played in the Town Hall in Auckland, performed with the Pukekohe Light Opera Club and the times Helen and Adele played with the Papakura Orchestra.  They were all important at the time.  They weren't turning points, though.

A turning point for me was in 1991 (I believe).  I was made a deacon.

27 July 2013


I said yesterday to Susan, with a shock, that I couldn't remember when I last posted on the blog.

It was Friday the 28th June - four weeks and a day ago.

Which shows what happens when you start to let things slide.  Habits cease to exist.  Resolutions no longer hold you.

That said, there have been some ... well, if not reasons, at least excuses.

I played that concert.  At that time I had been having new back problems for a couple of weeks.  The day after the concert they took a real turn for the worse.  I was booked in for an Opus Dei retreat the following week-end - Friday to Sunday 5-7 July.  On Thursday the 4th I told Sue I might not go.  I had had a terrible night trying to sleep, and was worried about sleeping in a strange bed on the retreat.

I did go - and slept all right - and am, as always, inexpressibly glad I went.  Nonetheless, my back issues continued.  I went to the doctor on Monday the 8th, to see if somehow it was something to do with internatl organs.  Nope - just my usual back difficulties.

But I didn't blog that week-end.  The following week-end I was still in considerable pain and blogging did not occur to me.  By then it was all gone.

I will resume!  Tomorrow I will write some more of the memoirs.  Today (and tomorrow) I have been practising.  Or orchestra is going to perform - well, I hope we will perform, and not butcher! - the hardest piece I have ever played in: Mahler's 1st Symphony.  It is a breath-taking music.  It is often referred to as The Titan and it deserves the title.  We are doing an extra week-end's rehearsals for it.  Here is a marvellous performance of it on youtube that I have been practising against.  If you listen to no more of it than this, go to about 53:30 and listen to the end.  It is worth it.

I have been alone this week-end.  Sue went down to Wellington on Thursday afternoon.  Tina Coward's 60th birthday party is happening as I write.  Sue will be home tomorrow.