A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas

A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas
The Cockabully Hunters --- from an original painting by Noel Guthrie

Monday, 27 March 2017

Patrolled the beat on his favourite bike

Patrolled the beat on his favourite bike

Malvern Police Station
Grey scale watercolour by Noel Guthrie

On New Zealand’s main West Coast road, between Springfield and Sheffield, at a little place called Annat, the original Malvern District Police Station was first established in 1870.  In 1984, its remains could be seen slowly crumbling away amongst the trees, I wonder if it is still there?
In those early years, Annat was a bustling railhead, servicing a large area and it was Sergeant William Wheatley who first took up this post  
Constable Charles is said to have joined the Police Force in 1876, at Christchurch.  Later that same year, he became attached to the Malvern Police District as a member of the Mounted Constabulary and was assigned to relieving at various outstations within the Malvern Police District.

During 1878 Constable George Catmill transferred to Malvern Police Station.  Along with his brother, he had served in the Royal Irish Constabulary.  They both immigrated to New Zealand in 1874, joining the Christchurch Police shortly after.
It was a tragic loss for the people of the district and the Malvern Police in 1884, when George Cartmill, a highly respected and well-liked constable, met his death in an unfortunate accident in the railway shunting yards.

In 1892, the Malvern Police Station changed its name to Sheffield.  Seventeen years later in 1909, the name changed again, this time to Annat.  Then in 1915, the police station was transferred to Darfield, where new stables and a lockup were built.
Of all the police personnel to serve this district, I am told one of the most noted constables was J.P.Larmer, I gather by some of the stories told, he could well have been of Irish descent?  Hence known as 'Paddy', by some.  
He transferred from Otira in 1950 and was to spend the next twenty-one years on the beat, patrolling Darfield astride an old pushbike.  His territory expanded as smaller stations, such as Coalgate closing and those rural areas extending as far as Alyesbury to the east, Bealey to the west, the Waimakariri in the north, and the Rakaia to the south.

Later those licensed premises in the rural townships of Kirwee, Sheffield, Springfield, Coalgate and Hororata, saw his old Wolseley 6/80 car regularly patrolling these areas.  Those outside the law rarely escaped the notice of Constable Larmer.  
Regarded as a second constable by the locals, Mrs Larmer should have been appointed to this position, according to some.   On more than one occasion, in her husband’s absence, Mrs Larmer was known to have made an arrest.  

During 1971, the Larmer family left the district.  In recognition of Constable Larmer and his service to the community, 500 people attended the families farewell at a function held in Springfield.

I must share a verse from a delightful poem written by a local farmer and read out at the family’s farewell.  It portrays the special place in which the locals held Constable Larmer in their hearts.

It goes like this: -
             Paddy ooh Paddy, wid yer beauty and grace,
                        Begorrah we’ll be missin yer vacant face.
                        Paddy ooh Paddy, I’m telling yer plain
                        We knew nothing of crime till praise be yer came
                        Paddy ooh Paddy yer can say what yer like
                        It won’t be the same wid out yer and yer bike
                        Paddy ooh Paddy here’s long life and health
                        To Josie and Anne and of course yer good self
                       And ever yer chance to fall foul of the law
                       May yer sentence be light and the evidence poor?
                       And if ever begorrah yer should end up in jail
                     The people of Malvern will always find bail.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Bully beef for breakfast, dinner and tea.

Bully beef for breakfast, dinner, and tea.


The old Hermitage at Mt Cook/Mt Aoraki

Since the 1800s, visitors to New Zealand have been drawn to the Mackenzie, where they can gaze at the sun going down on a magical yet barren landscape, where the sky is blue, the air is clean and one can see almost into eternity.  It’s true, I kid you not.
That original site for the first Hermitage was at Foliage Hill, where it fought several battles with Mother Nature, in the form of floods and fire, eventually succumbing after almost thirty years. 
Construction of another Hotel was mooted.  History of this project is officially recorded, although what is not recorded or seldom talked about, except in family circles, is an incident during the rebuilding of that second Hermitage.
It all began as a result of a fire that damaged part of the Hotel.  Owned by the Government at the time, they engaged a contractor from outside the district, to make repairs.
At the time, there was a desperate shortage of skilled and unskilled labour, therefore all personnel employed in the National Park, whether they were guides, cooks, or handymen, were required to help with the rebuild.
One of those men was Stanley (Stan) Guthrie, who worked as a guide.  He grew up in Burkes Pass about fifty miles to the east.  There, his Scottish-born parents established the Aries sheep station, so named after their home in County Ayrshire, back in Scotland.
Stan loved the outdoors and had grown up as a musterer, regularly mustering sheep along the steep slopes of the lowland Southern Alps.  As a guide, he accompanied tourists around the Mt Cook National Park and cooking for them in a camp oven in those outlying huts, became second nature.
Labouring for a building contractor on this project was one thing, but being well fed by the contractor was another.  All workers were treated to the same meagre meal each day.  Of course, the contractor was claiming maximum expenses from the Government by way of a substantial meal allowance. Perhaps the contractor, to make the finances stretch, had moved into the realms of deceit.  Tinned bully beef provided by the contractor was supposed to sustain the workers for breakfast.  Of course, there was bully beef for lunch and you’ve guessed it, tinned bully beef for the evening meal. 
Eventually, mutinous thoughts began to float around the camp.  Those thoughts began to take on a more colourful aspect, when workers heard of an up and coming inspection by the Clerk of Works and several Government VIPs’ all from Wellington, arriving for an official visit.
In a last ditch stand to improve their lot at the meal table, several of the disgruntled workers hatched a cunning plan for survival.  And yes their plan would coincide with inspection day.
Eventually, that day came, and with inspection in full swing, several workers had dressed in tidy clothes and appeared on site with what appeared to be a coffin.  Someone had obviously died and a primitive service for the departed was underway.
At the head of a small column of mourners was number one rascal, Stan Guthrie playing a lament on his bagpipes.  The coffin was suitably draped with a large black cloth, topped with several bunches of the Mt Cook Lily, a flower recognised as a native to this part of the world.  Many other workers trooped along behind the casket, their eyes downcast.
Those VIPs stood at attention, removing their hats as this spectacle passed.  Then, as it was only proper and respectful, they joined the procession to where a grave had previously been dug on an adjoining piece of land.  As those VIPs and workers gathered around the gravesite, pallbearers held the casket steady.
One of the workers had been elected to speak on behalf of the dearly departed.  Stepping forward, he mumbled a few unintelligible but solemn words before the casket could be lowered into the ground.
As the casket reached the ground level the black cloth was whipped off, to expose dozens of tins of bully beef all stacked together on a shaped base of planks made to the shape of a coffin.  As the planks and bully beef slid slowly into the empty hole, there was total silence for several minutes.   It was so quiet; you could hear a 'kea' pass wind at twenty paces. 

That little prank worked like a dream.  Obviously, some explanation was called for and red faces were abounding amongst management and government circles.  Never had management expected such a well thought out performance.  They were never able to discuss reprisals, for, with the location and the labour shortage of those times, meals took on a new look, a more delicate aroma and a much better taste. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Dog's Jubilee

Dog's Jubilee.

When I photographed this dog outside its kennel it looked as though he or she was searching for fleas. I immediately thought of an old tune we used to play on mums piano.  Don't ask me how it goes, for I can't remember.  It started off with "My dog has flea's," and carried on for several verses.  Totally out of tune, but when one is a kid of about seven or eight it makes perfect sense, a bit like the tune " I can wash my daddy's shirt", all played on about two keys.

The other thing I thought of was that story of the dog's jubilee.
It was many many years ago when the older dogs in the community considered it was time for a jubilee to mark a dog's life.  To cut a long story short, the hall was booked and dogs turned up from far and wide.  As a general rule of entry, every dog was to present their rectum at the cloakroom until they all left for home.    The cloakroom attendant hung each rectum on a hook under their name tag.
During a rather sexy dance, where the fiddle, played at speed by an old Jack Russell by the name of Rastus, burst into flame.  Fire rapidly spread and there was a mad rush for the door and the cloakroom, where every dog was grabbing for a rectum.  In their haste, many picked up the wrong one.

So, when you see a dog rush up to another and begin sniffing the others rear end, you can be sure that dog was at the jubilee and was one of those unlucky enough to have to have grabbed the wrong rectum.  Until his or her dying day, those ringless dogs will continue their search, hoping that one day they will strike it lucky.