Hello, Uncle Peter. What’s it like to be home from hospital?
Well, I’m tied, and have lost a bit of my appetite, but there’s one big change. I used to have truckloads of pills — truckloads — pills for everything known to mankind, but they’ve cut them all out except some heart pills and my puffer. But you, boy, what have you been up to?
Canoeing down the Whanganui River with my son Rob.
That was always one of my dreams — and to walk the Heaphy Track. I never got to do either. You need to do these things while you may. Just pay the money and get on with it. All I had was the ambition, but I never got around to it. But, of course I know a fair bit about the country up the Whanganui River, and the Ranges around Palmerston.
It’s interesting country. Rob and I collected some pumice we found floating down the river. There was a Peruvian chap guiding our group, and we told him how pumice sold for outrageous prices in London and was used to take the roughness off your feet. Everyone got in on the act. We all parked up in an eddy-current and set to scrubbing our feet.
Pumice is good for that.
The guide was impressed. He said he’d add that information to his spiel, and that, ‘Henceforth this place shall be known as Pedicure Cove.’
It’s interesting country. Your dad and I would go off up the Whanganui for Fallow deer, or into the ranges and hunt for Red deer, or Sika. We’d shoot them and bring them home for Aunt Florrie to butcher and turn into feeds for us. But nothing much was wasted. The old house at 139 College Street — it’s number 309 these days — had wooden floors, and there was no money for manufactured carpet on our floors, but there was no shortage of rugs and mats, they were pretty much all from deer Bill and I had shot. Plenty of them.
Aunt Florrie would off with the skins, and Old Phil would make sure they were properly trimmed and cured. There were procedures. Old Phil, and his father before him were once classified as fell-mongers — curers and treaters of skins and hides — they knew the tricks of the trade. Old Phil would do the appropriate soaking, and perhaps salting or whatever it took. And there was some other chemical to stop any smelling or rot — can’t recall its name.
Yes, I think that was it. Anyway, we were never short of floor rugs — even had sheepskins in those days. Not a carpet in sight. Nowadays there are all sorts of modern treatments, even for men. There came a time when men got forced to start putting stuff on their armpits and groins. What’s in that stuff?
I believe it’s an Aluminium compound.
Well, I guess it’s important to stop the smell, but there was time when didn’t use it. Before it got marketed to us men it was a woman-thing.