This is one of my Dad's favourite poems, and also one of mine. I have known the first two verses by heart for many years now, and have made a resolution to learn the rest, two-by-two (because it's much friendlier with two...)
I have learned R. Kipling's 'IF' by heart and recite it to myself now and again - to keep in practice, and to remind myself of that which I most wish to achieve in life.
There is a lesson in this poem too, which is called "The Old Sailor" and is one of Alan Alexander Milne's:
The Old Sailor by A.A. Milne
There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew Who had so many things which he wanted to do That, whenever he thought it was time to begin, He couldn't because of the state he was in.
He was shipwrecked, and lived on a island for weeks, And he wanted a hat, and he wanted some breeks; And he wanted some nets, or a line and some hooks For the turtles and things which you read of in books.
And, thinking of this, he remembered a thing Which he wanted (for water) and that was a spring; And he thought that to talk to he'd look for, and keep (If he found it) a goat, or some chickens and sheep.
Then, because of the weather, he wanted a hut With a door (to come in by) which opened and shut (With a jerk, which was useful if snakes were about), And a very strong lock to keep savages out.
He began on the fish-hooks, and when he'd begun He decided he couldn't because of the sun. So he knew what he ought to begin with, and that Was to find, or to make, a large sun-stopping hat.
He was making the hat with some leaves from a tree, When he thought, "I'm as hot as a body can be, And I've nothing to take for my terrible thirst; So I'll look for a spring, and I'll look for it first."
Then he thought as he started, "Oh, dear and oh, dear! I'll be lonely tomorrow with nobody here!" So he made in his note-book a couple of notes: "I must first find some chickens" and "No, I mean goats."
He had just seen a goat (which he knew by the shape) When he thought, "But I must have boat for escape. But a boat means a sail, which means needles and thread; So I'd better sit down and make needles instead."
He began on a needle, but thought as he worked, That, if this was an island where savages lurked, Sitting safe in his hut he'd have nothing to fear, Whereas now they might suddenly breathe in his ear!
So he thought of his hut ... and he thought of his boat, And his hat and his breeks, and his chickens and goat, And the hooks (for his food) and the spring (for his thirst) ... But he never could think which he ought to do first.
And so in the end he did nothing at all, But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl. And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved - He did nothing but bask until he was saved!
You may remember from my Easter post about a high country station known as Mesopotamia. This is the land I grew up on, and where I took my friend Megs for a holiday. This November I returned again to my roots, but this time I was on duty.
I had been invited by the secretary of the Geraldine Returned Services Association to attend the Remembrance Service they were holding at the memorial outside my old primary school.
Mesopotamia Primary School. 10 pupils at max 1x Classroom 1x Kitchen Boys loo, Girls loo Shed Playground of about 18,000 acres
I had been invited because I would be able to represent both the services (as I am in the Air Force) and the most prominent family in the area (Prouting). The Prouting's are in the third generation of running Mesopotamia. This may not seem like a lot to Ye Olde Brits over there on the top of the world, but it is pretty significant for bright and shiny new little New Zealand. My father was on the committee which was formed to research the names to be put on the commemoration stone. Though there are plenty of men who had worked on the station at some point in their lives who fell in the Great War, the committee decided it would be a never-ending task to find them all, and some would always be missed. So they opted to place the names of the men who left the station directly to join up.
Commemoration Stone Remains of Samuel Butler's Dairy
Frank Boucher, Joe Jobberns, Alex MacRae, Snowy Dalton, Jack MacRae and John McNeil.
The men above all worked together. Jack MacRae was the manager of Mesopotamia, Frank Boucher was the head shepherd. The rest were the other shepherds - or musterers, as they were known. There were eight men in the gang who left to serve. Only two came home.
I went up the day before to take the above photos (without the threat of people getting in the way) and discovered my cousin Sue tidying up the school grounds. In the truck was her daughter Pieta - keeping out of trouble.
Pietey, looking all-too-innocent...
Sunday I managed to turn up five minutes before the bus. They had about an hour's journey from Geraldine up the valley on the winding, dusty, gravel road. Before the service began I met and talked with the men of the RSA who I had already been in contact with. It was nice to put faces to names.
Meeting the President, the Secretary and the Researcher...
Reading "The Gospel According to St John, Chapter 15 Verses 7 to 13 (I think)
Giving my speech. Oh No! There is a cave in my tie. Unprofessional. I blame the lack of mirrors on a farm.
My Dad giving his speech. I think he made his up on the spot.
Famous NZ artist Austin Deans, Mayor of Timaru Jannie Annear, President Geraldine RSA Robert Wood, Vicar, Me, Thom Pike (also of G.RSA)
My Mum (left) and her sister Sue (right). That's the wreath in the middle, leaning on the stone
And below is the best picture of all. This is my Mum. She is also Ju's Mum. She is one of the loveliest people in the world, but she hates having her photo taken. I think she and Lorenzo would love having a couple of gins together. Mum is wearing her father's medals from WWII, we don't have his father's medals from WWI. Isn't she just gorgeous?