Friday, 6 July 2018

The 12 out of 10 man
Does the title to this blog bring back memories of one’s aspiring success rate?  Efforts during school days were judged by how many one scored out of 10. If 10 out of 10 was unlikely the typical outcome, seven or 8 out of 10 was almost a celebration. Five out of 10 was an uninspiring average. And 6 out of 10 was marginally better.
A 4 out of 10 was demeaning. A one-time mentor, rail devote and educator Gordon Troup, remarked about giving a student a 4 out of 10.
``I did it for encouragement,’’ he said. His effort was not that good.’’

My own demeaning effort as a scholar was two percent in School Certificate French. (0.2 out of 10).

                                         Cyril Evans (left) with Gordon Troup (right).

I recall a day some years ago when I was handed the fireman’s shovel while having a footplate ride on Kingston Flyer loco Ab 795. Watching an old hand stoking a steam locomotive and it looks so easy. For the non-familiar, the task is anything but easy. I was amazed at how much coal I clumsily shovelled into the firebox and how little puff I saw in return. I was, however, feeling reasonably good about it as we chugged along towards Fairlight. Most of the coal had gone where it should. The rollicking footplate under me feet had remained mostly free of coal.
Glancing up to Mr Kingston Flyer, Russell Glendinning, I asked ``How many out of 10?’’
He wiped his forehead, smirked, and replied, ``Four.’’
He must have seen my disappointment.
``But if we get back to Kingston you might do better.’’

                              Mr Kingston Flyer, Russell Glendinning

I did owing mostly to the return trip being down-grade.
I ended up scoring an eight.
More recently I have been monkeying around with scoring.
If I am suitably impressed why not score better than 10 out of 10?
How about 12 out of 10?
It has a pleasant ring to it and is guarantee to return a smile.
Am I devilish, optimistic or just encouraging?
Health issues have necessitated ongoing hospital appointments. Our New Zealand health system curiously gets a bruising from the media. Interestingly, those needing to use the health system are more generous.
I am always impressed by the treatment I have received. Not just the medical treatment but the pleasant attitude of all involved.
My default mark along with expressing appreciation is therefore a 12 out of 10.
In my New world supermarket, a new checkout operator, Brenden, stood out somewhat. He was taller than his colleagues. And I saw him as one of those delightful old-fashioned grocers.
We might call them, ``a real grocer.’’
When I gave Brenden a 12 out of 10 he beamed. He then indicated his supervisor.
``Go and tell her that.’’
I did. The young woman packing my groceries looked amused.
On parting I told her she was an 11 out of 10.
I enjoy going to St Martin’s New World. All staff, on any day would score an 11 or better out of 10.
I once thought the best epitaph on my grave would be ``He loved his wine.’’
Maybe I would prefer to be remembered the ``12 out of 10 man.’’

                                John Snell, Manager of a pint-sized railway. He frequently scored
                             12 out of 10 in this blogger's opinion.

Monday, 2 July 2018

July kicked off with an auspicious event.
I was invited to a function in Ashburton to celebrate a change of ownership and editor of Latitude Magazine. I have been contributing a regular three-page story to Latitude for several years. Although not there at the beginning, I was close enough. I had spotted the magazine in Whitcoulls. The cover featured Canterbury artist, Austin Deans. I knew Austin so expected a good story. It was good. The entire magazine was so, so good.
Could I write for Latitude?

I contacted editor, Joanne Taylor, and submitted my first story. All good.  Unbeknown to me, Jo had been thinking I might be an appropriate contributor. She knew I was a freelance contributor to the Press Escape travel section.
Latitude was still a fledgling publication but was driven by some delightfully determined people. Joanne Taylor once told me she founded Latitude because she could never find anything decent to read at the hairdressers. One would suspect there might be a tad more to it than that.
Interestingly, a colleague from the Press had investigated starting g a Lifestyle magazine in competition with, then, long-running Avenues. My colleague intended teaming up with a long-time friend with her own successful PR business. Both women were experienced in their respective roles but failed to get their proposed magazine launched.
Then Latitude appeared on the magazine racks promoting itself as Canterbury’s lifestyle magazine.
It did not take long to discover Latitude people were great to be associated with. I have been to three or four events for contributors. We were able to get to know the core Latitude people and fellow contributors.  Friendships were made all-round.
Joanne Taylor was cleaver in placing her contributors into slots. She had started a ``I Remember When’’ feature and surmised, correctly, it would interest me. Another contributor, Annie Studholme, was experienced in travel. And so on.
Over time subscriptions blossomed and page numbers increased. Many issues have more than 120 pages.
After almost 11 years at the helm, Joanne Taylor was looking for a change in direction.  Along with Latitude magazine, she was involved in farm work with hubby Dean and bringing up a family. Joanne Taylor has packed an enormous variety into her life. She is still comparatively young. I could estimate how comparatively young but will refrain. I wrote the age of a woman I interviewed and got it wrong. So embarrassing.
Joanne sold Latitude to a long-time colleague, Lucinda Diack. Lucinda lives in North Canterbury. She has been a magazine editor and a published Penguin/Random House author.   She has a real passion for words, writing and magazines.
The surprise party for Jo Taylor was held at Ashburton’s Somerset Grocery. It partly delightfully old-fashioned with a cafĂ©, bar and function facility added.
It was great to meet the new Latitude editor and wish the departing editor/owner a great future. Maybe a little regret all-round saying good bye to Jo Taylor. 
The Latitude Ashburton office staff ably led by operations manager, Julie Mc Grath, will remain.
I have filed my first stories with Lucinda Diack and all is exceptionally good.
I will continue to have a reason to get up in the morning, (to write a story.) Latitude contributors really love their writing.
All Latitude contributors will join me in wishing Joanne Taylor well for her future. She and Dean love to travel.
And we can be confident she will have something decent to read at the hairdressers.