Autobiography – a first draft 

It is interesting to know that a child under three years old has no concept of individuality, but relates to everything as an integer, universally and integrally connected. 

A very exciting time of life for the child, feeling so connected and integral with everything and everyone. A dreamy existence, we would probably all secretly like to return to. No personal accountability, no acceptance or apportioning of blame for anyone’s bad behaviour or ours. Just screaming when hurt or deprived and laughing when loved or treated!

Thus the child will cover the eyes in hide and seek and believe no one else can see anything either. At age three to four the mind begins to discover individuality and from then on recall is available to the growing child, probably why recall for most is is unavailable for life events before age 4.

As a child I never knew my father because by the time my mind was ready to recall anything he had “flown the coup.” 

It was not until I was seventeen that I met him and it was only years later that I learned he had returned from the Second World War shell shocked after collecting bodies in body bags on the battlefields of France and Italy with the Red Cross and suffering Post War Distress Syndrome  (PWDS) was not much use to anyone for many years after the war. He certainly did not attempt to play the role of a father to his three children.

So Mum was left with the responsibility of raising his three children and one of my earliest recollections at age six, is my dear mother dressing me up in a fine brown corduroy coat and taking me to the movies in 1953,, I remember admiring her for her beauty. We saw two movies, one with the words Cuckoos Nest in the title.

But that was the first and only movie we ever saw together, someone must have given her tickets, because until TV movies arrived and she bought a TV set I never saw her go to a theatre of any kind again. Ironically the first movie my ex wife took my sons also contained the words “Cuckoo’s Nest” and was “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest!”

We saw the “shorts” first, a Newsreel of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation. I was so impressed at how much like Mum the Queen looked I asked if I could go up and kiss her. Mum whispered it’s not real, it’s moving pictures. I remember feeling confused. That screen looked like a big stage where life was being played out in real time. Quite naive of me of course!

After the Newsreel, we settled in to watch Brigadoon and it was the first time I had seen a man and woman kiss which wasn’t happening at our place since Dad had left. After intermission Choc tops and sweets we watched the movie that had ‘Cuckoo’ in it’s name. I’ve never been able to find it again. But what was really impressive about that movie was the cosy nuclear family living in the cosy house. There was a lot of heavy rain and the family found retreat in their warm bungalow. But on reflexion what really impressed me was that nuclear family of a husband and wife and the two children just like the Cottiers who lived next door whom I was so jealous of. Every child yearns for that security!
The cosy warmth in that ficticious family’s bungalow offering shelter from the storm which I observed at age six watching the movie with Cuckoos Nest in the name, was something coveted for our family in comparing our relatively cold fatherless home in Lower Hutt.
Of course I now experience that warmth and fatherly love and acceptance through the faith and confidence I have in relying on Jesus Christ as my shelter, strong tower and virtual home wherever I am billeted on this pilgrimage to Heaven which is very definitely my ultimate home.
I didn’t like playing with Peter and Wendy Cottier next door because they had a Father and we didn’t. It was upsetting as it highlighted the sadness that pervaded our home even with a beautiful mother, a loving Grand Mother and two siblings Who all got on very well together. So it was a silly jealousy on my part.
Apart from that however Wendy Cottier was quite comfortable running around the house with no clothes on and that was something forbidden in our house so We were told to avoid going into theirs.

Mr Cottier was a bank manager who seemed a bastion of the distant corporate world and wore a long black trench coat with a black hat to work,and he was picked up in a big black car every morning and seemed to complete the family and probably accounted for the over confident children he had fathered, who were so challenging to be around.

One of the most vivid memories of my early childhood is the visit from “the stranger.” I wish Mum was still alive so I could quiz her about many things like this. But I suspect her answer may have been similar to my younger brother’s:”I don’t want to talk about it. It’s too painful!”
I would ask her if JB or Jellybeans as she nicknamed him would have been the caller on that dark night. A clue on how little she respected him that she gave him this nick name despite her understanding of the requirement of the fifth commandment and the first one with a promise from Exodus 20:12
“Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you.”
How could she encourage us in the face of this to call our father Jack Blaiklock, “JB” or “Jelly Beans”?
Her excuse would be that he had walked out on his family because his Pastor Frank Wilson, Head of the Commonwealth Covenant Church, had told him to. The reason being that Mum had insisted on seeing a Doctor prior to my birth as she had septicaemia and her life and mine were at risk. Frank Wilson who didn’t believe in doctors, only Divine Healing, had forbidden her to see the doctor. When I was born healthy she was ostracised from his pulpit. Her first day back at Church after my birth she was denounced by Frank Wilson declaring publicly “Look at the mercy of God who still allows Mary Blaiklock to live with her son after she rebelliously and against my instructions went to see the doctor and relied on ‘the arm of the flesh!'” She was never forgiven by Frank who encouraged Dad to leave her after her youngest Eddie was born. No wonder she turned Jack Blaiklock into “Jelly Beans” – jelly by name and jelly by nature! But this judgement on his cowardly mistake makes no allowance for the PWDS he suffered after WWII.
Nobody talked about that in those days, it being obviously too painful and the wounds too ‘open’ and ‘fresh.’
Lower Hutt had many dark and stormy nights and this was a Friday version. Mum and Nanna were out. Probably gone to a meeting at the Baptist Church. Ruth was about 9 and being the oldest was looking after us.
We were huddled together in our bedroom while Ruth read us adventures from The Famous Five. Someone tapped softly on the bedroom window. Startled, we all heard it and froze. We had been told not to open the door to anyone. Ruth silenced us with an index finger to the mouth. I said “It’s Jellybeans!”
Ruth said “hush!” again.
So we all slid under the eiderdown and tried not to breath too loudly.
When we surfaced the intruder had given up and silence reigned again.
This memory still haunts me. It may have been Jellybeans! Even though he did not have an appointment, I wanted my Dad! That invisible bond between fathers and sons, mothers and sons is very powerful and very magnetic.
I don’t know why I never asked him that question. Maybe a desire not to embarrass him. Not a quality that is mine in abundance I admit.

The Weeniks, our neighbours on the other side who though a nuclear family as well seemed far more down to earth, Mr Weenik was a likeable tradesman though he forbade any child to go anywhere near his brand new Vauxhall sedan, as if we cared to anyhow! Maybe that was the root of a blasé and couldn’t care less attitude to cars, their only use being to get from point A to point B without risk of breakdown. (The solution is always a second hand Lexus!) if you can’t afford it don’t covet it!

We didn’t have a car but Uncle Don did and he came round and collected us and took us to the Chicken farm he managed and let us drive the Wrigley mini tractor. At least he did until Aunty Myrtle asked Ruth, my nine year old sister, to look after my baby cousin Ian while she went out to shop and Ruth while distracted failed to notice he was spreading a trail of poo up the new hallway carpet. Nearly all the houses were new then after the war.

Mum complained that it was wrong for Aunty Myrtle to expect Ruth to look after Ian who was a baby anyhow. I think that was when we began calling her ‘Myrtle the Turtle’ behind her back. But Aunty Myrtle wore the pants in that family and I guess that was why we didn’t get invited back very often after that. However ‘every dog has his day’ and our time came when the body of a half finished Canberra jet was delivered to our back yard as a playhouse. It’s delivery even made the front page of the newspapers. We were the envy of the neighbourhood!

Mum took in lodgers, we called them ‘boarders’ and though we didn’t see much of this one as he worked long hours, he was an aircraft engineer who just happened to be scrapping a spare Canberra Jet body which we were just happy to ‘lodge’ as well. 

He was a far more acceptable boarder than the older spinster who seemed to be far too old to still be working, but who insisted ‘children were to be seen and not heard and that as and suffered from constipation she must have boiled prunes for breakfast every morning in silence!’ she didn’t last long at our place.

We had surrogate grandparents over the street in Ariki Street Lower Hutt, called the Skilleters. Mr Skilleter was Canadian and I think Mrs Skilleter was English. She had been a domestic in historic Highclere Castle, seat of The 5th Earl of Carnarvon’s household, the financier of the famous Archaeologist Howard Carter’s famed attempt to find Tutankhamen’s tomb, which he achieved at the eleventh hour of The 5th Earl of Carnarvons funding on November 26th, 1922 about 44 years before I was born. Mrs Skilleter was typical of the down to earth domestics portrayed in Downton Abby which is filmed in Highclere Castle. Her class based Christian morals would certainly have rubbed off with positive effect on three impressionable children looking for role models. The Skilleters didn’t seem to suffer any of the ‘mummy’s curses’ though, but were a really well balanced Christian nuclear family. So the Skilleters were fairly aged by now, Mr Skilleter was a retired carpenter and a handyman with a tool shed where he taught us woodworking skills how to saw, plane and nail wood to make small furniture items like stools and bowls. Their daughter Margaret, who was about Mum’s age ran a home Sunday School which we attended. We all belonged to the same Church, the Commonwealth Covenant Church run by the Wilson brothers. Which I will return to later.

Anyhow Mr Skilliter, with doubtless our best interests in mind, removed the wires connecting the control sticks to the bomb bay of the jet body now in our back yard so we couldn’t dump each other on the ground remotely. This probably saved us from broken bones but spoiled our fun as aspiring paratroopers and low level bombers. 

Then he built a cubby house on the front of the jet where the nose should have been, that part was missing when it was delivered, so we could walk from the cockpit into the living area. a bit like the reverse of a passenger jet. I loved the texture of the materials of that jet and it was probably the root of an unfilfilled desire to be a pilot, a career in the NZ Airforce was denied me because of my inadequate eyesight and flat feet. 

I still believe in flying cars though and hope to fly one while still on planet earth.

Otherwise that will wait until Heaven!

Anyhow we were the envy of the neighbourhood now, who needed a car!

But I still felt jilted not having a father, which is maybe why I became a bit of a bully. 

We walked to school together, my older sister Ruth, younger brother Eddie and ‘The Twins’ whom after meeting I declared to Mum “I just met the most beautiful girls I never didn’t see!” (Place their picture here.) 

Anyhow there was a bigger boy down the street who didn’t seem to go to school but, a bit like the ogre under the bridge, was in the habit of jumping out at us from behind a tree growing outside his place and menacing us. Maybe he was just lonely, perhaps he was being home schooled or just staying with relatives for a short time. But hero status was attained with the twins and their mother when I punched him one day. After that he left us alone. 

It was easy to be punched by bullies if you didn’t go in hard and go in fast using every opportunity to bruise. Out bullying bullies was the best remedy apart from Margaret Skilleter’s remedy of ‘turning the other cheek’, which was still very much only theory growing up as the ‘defender of the family!’ In the absence of a Dad.

Anyhow my reputation with the twins’ mother suffered because I loved kissing them, one by one of course, which their mum severely rebuked me for and I’ve always been a bit wary of kissing ever since. Mum was not the kissing type at all. Hardly ever got a hug from her, her Mum, Nanna was more affectionate. One day sitting on her lap as she read the Golden Book ‘The Shaggy Baggy Elephant’ I commented “your skin is just like the Shaggy Baggy Elephant’s Nanna” She laughed and gave me a big hug. Nanna was more Irish than Scottish. Dour Scots upbringing was probably the reason for Mum’s emotional reticence. We never met her father, deceased before we were born, but hearing of his angry temperament, she must have been somewhat restricted growing up. She remembered fainting from fear when he called for her once. He was a ship’s Captain in the merchant navy during the Otago gold rush of the 1860s, shipping gold and other commodities up and down the coasts of NZ so he probably had to be pretty tough to deal with his share of rogues. 

He had four sons, one of whom suicided after a sexual indiscretion, Mum found him hanging in the garden shed!

His three brothers survived him, they were our Uncles Andy, a sexual deviate, Jack, married to Mary a Catholic, so he converted to the Roman Catholic Church, and Uncle Don who was the only one we had much to do with, who was a strong Protestant Baptist Christian. My main role model as a child. A very nice man whose hair style I copied until this year!

He’s been dead a while now. At his funeral he was recorded as questioning a bad decision by the Church Parish Council with the soft words “Are we sure that is the right thing to do?” A very gentle Gentleman. But he grew very angry when he discovered five years later how we were all being treated by our step father.

He wasn’t the only one.

After a visit from cousin Peter Blaiklock who was Juvenile Policeman of high rank in Auckland and would have headed up the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service if it had been left with the Police Force fifty years ago. Peter gave some very serious advice to deal with our domestic violence situation!

Mum was dirt poor after Nanna died
I know she left her 37 Ariki Street Lower Hutt
This upset some of her brothers
In those days there was no social security
Mum had a tab at the grocery shop which was growing larger




Vic McChesney and Frank Palmer finally decided after months of high-pitched screaming at each other decided to part company, so Frank got a contract in town not far away in Whakatane on the east coast of the Bay of Plenty in the middle of New Zealand. The Whakatane River is the river where the tourist boats leave to [unclear 00:56] out to White Island, an active volcano not far out to sea visible from the harbour and from the beach at Ohope.

The house that we rented was right on the river next to the mud flats, would have been flood-prone and certainly was a very strong contrast with 37 Ariki Street Lower Hutt, the first rente premises we lived in. Of course we felt more at home at Awakeri Hot Springs where we were living in a resort, at least what we could call our own. The canopy with the canvas on the ground was simply a refuge from the rain as far as we were concerned, somewhere to sleep when we couldn’t go out to play or to school. But I remember arriving at this fibro house and thinking is this what a rented property looks like? There was a piece of broken fibro on the front wall, the grass was up to our necks, the garden was a shambles full of rubbish, and behind the house the trees sitting on the bank of the river. However the mud flats gave us somewhere to have adventures. When we weren’t able to wade out to the water in the river we would literally slide across the surface of the mud. By the grace of God we weren’t cut open by the debris that would have certainly been embedded in it. We must have given our systems a really good workout, and our immune systems must have jumped in strength and durability during that time. I had just been released from hospital with a strep disease, streptococcal infection, Rheumatic Fever, Scarlet Fever, so I’d come through that ordeal probably stronger than I went int. And I probably can credit some of my health today to my strong immune system given that we certainly gave out immunity systems a workout in that muddy environment. I was fortunate in coming out of Rheumatic Fever there was no scaring to my heart, Rheumatic Fever being a disease which often leaves permanent heart damage and even causes heart attacks, but what a contrast between a rental and owned properties.

I was about eight years of age and probably starting to think what I would do for a living. So I asked my mother what she thought. She probably gave a good answer because as it turned out I just fell in providentially to doing something with my life which really has been beneficial to me and to my family. So it was a good thing that she just suggested looking at the panel beaters shop that was right next door. You could be a panel beater because panel beaters make good money, that was her career advice. Mum having had no education except for what she read herself, and she certainly was literate, far from illiterate and well-read, certainly read the Bible non-stop. She had left school at age 15 in the middle of the depression and started work sewing in a factory. And on her first application for the job they had declined to give her one saying there was no work, and her response was just put me on for nothing. So she did what interns today do and went and worked for them for nothing to prove her metal, that she was a hard-worker and of course was employed. Not that sewing made her rich, far from it, but at least she was earning enough money to live. I’m not sure what she did in Whakatane, Frank Palmer began to come home drunk and that lasted for as long as he was with us, so he wasn’t a provider at all. As my father was not a provider at all. Two men who failed to do what is commanded by God Himself, who says that anyone who does not look after his family is worse than an infidel, so they both set a good example for us children not to follow, and we certainly inherited our mother’s hard work ethic. And she could have given us up for adoption as her brothers suggested, two of whom it was suggested by her wanted their share of the money, what they considered their share of the money from the sale of the house. But my grandmother made it quite clear that the proceeds of the house would go to mum because she had no husband to look after her when Nanna died. So mum fortunately held the purse-strings, did not let Frank get to the money, which was quite remarkable really because the Commonwealth Covenant Church would have been teaching that Frank should run the finances. But in this case that would have been a very bad idea, so mum hung onto her capital as much as possible, which you will see in future chapters was a very wise move.

Mum was dirt poor after Nanna died
I know she left her 37 Ariki Street Lower Hutt
This upset some of her brothers
In those days there was no social security
Mum had a tab at the grocery shop which was growing larger

SONGS. Remember The Bridge Over The River Kwai movie!
Sent from my iPad


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