In the 1960′s I was a kid growing up in Wellington, New Zealand. Those were other times, before computers and smart-phones, and a mark of arriving maturity was being given a watch on one’s twelfth birthday. I turned twelve at the beginning of 1972. My parents, being young, were enjoying the freedom available to baby-boomers at that time after the stultifying years following the Second World War. As a mark of his – but not my – individualism, my father always insisted that we wore brown shoes on the basis that when we were adults we would be obliged to wear black-ones for all of our working lives. I wanted black shoes like all the other kids. But it was true that, until I came to La Faula, every working day I wore black shoes so in this my father was right. My friends who turned twelve mostly got their watch. Normally it was a Timex with a black strap and normal numbers. I wasn’t wholly surprised to receive a watch with a brown strap and Roman numerals. My watch was not like those of the other kids but it was elegant. I remember it still with its broad white dial and criptic I’s, V’s and X’s. I can’t remember how much I used that watch. For me, growing up in New Zealand, a land of light and contrast mediated by the great and ever-near Pacific Ocean, what really mattered was the light at each moment of the day. I loved the mornings with their golden sunburst, mid-day with the great orb blasting through a blue sky, yellow-baked afternoons under a cobalt blue mantle. And, finally, it was time to repair inside for bed when the vagueness of the light at dusk announced that the allotted time for that day was up. My guess is that I used the watch little. With my brother, I was packed out of the door by my mother at the allotted time to catch the school bus. School was a succession of bells regimenting our movements throughout the day. But those mornings playing tennis with friends as the rising sun pushed away the cool of morning, midday throwing a tennis ball against the high brick wall of the school shaded from searing sun, blue sky and blue ocean behind us, and afternoon, sauntering down the school driveway as the sun went behind the hills to catch the school bus home. These things are with me still.
to be continued