About the centenarian's second book — '102 NOT OUT'
Introduction to the second collection of stories. By John David Leyland, January 2013.
Peter Leyland, even during his 102nd year, was still describing himself as a self-confessed and unrepentant ‘gasbag’, ‘windbag’ and ‘chatterbox’. The stories, reminiscences and observations in ‘102 NOT OUT’ make up his second collection. His first 58 stories were published in 2011 under the title ‘Roaming Around In My Mind’. Both collections are presented as conversations, with Peter's words in plain text and mine in bold.
During the compilation of ‘102 NOT OUT’ I was drawn more deeply into our conversations. Peter had become convinced my phone calls weren’t driving me to bankruptcy, so he took time to compare our experiences, ask questions, or take a rest from talking. At times his breathlessness demanded I carry the conversation, but, because my focus was on capturing his words, I’ve omitted chunks of my side of the conversations, except where they were a catalyst for the storyteller or provided a sense of continuity. There are, pleasingly, many long passages where the centenarian narrator didn't ‘run out of puff’. Nevertheless, I apologise for including more of my yabbering than in the first collection.
Pete often commented on how his short-term memory was ‘a bit shot’, consequently he occasionally retold things I’d heard before. These retellings often included a deluge of quaint new expressions and extra information, and it was both a joy and a challenge to revisit our previous conversations and weave in the new material. I saw some conversations grow before my eyes, complete with tangents, asides and a gush of synonyms.
Many of the stories in 102 NOT OUT were captured while ‘Roaming Around’ was being compiled, printed and launched, hence the frequent references to ‘the book’. The chapter headings are my inventions. The collection’s title was inspired by the fact that these stories were collected during Peter’s 101st and 102nd years, and that his story-count had risen to 102.
My son, Rob, 'photoshopped' the lettering on Pete’s ‘100 NOT OUT’ cap to create the cover for this second collection. The title was sanctioned by Pete two days before his sudden death, on the eve of his 102nd birthday. In respect for his quick wit, the approved title has been retained. As Pete said, ‘That’ll cover it!’
An extensive index encourages browsing. If you wish, you can open the book and start reading anywhere.
Many supporting images are drawn from the valuable archival resources of the National Library of New Zealand. (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz) and the Ian Matheson Archives of the Palmerston North City Library (http://citylibrary.pncc.govt.nz/ian-matheson-city-archives-1.html)
1. About the title.
Peter Leyland died on the 20th January, 2013, one day before his 102nd birthday. Two days before his passing, Peter and I discussed choosing a title for this second collection. With his birthday only a few days away, and the transcribed story-count standing at 102, Peter was happy to endorse the idea of calling it '102 NOT OUT'. (The details of our discussion are in the 'AFTERWORDS' section, following story 102.). Although ‘102 NOT OUT’ it is now not strictly correct, his son and I agreed that, because it was perhaps one of Peter's last decisions, and since there were 102 stories on record, we would go with Peter's final words on the subject.
‘That'll cover it.’
(For more detailed information about collecting oral history go to About The Process.)