On the occasion of his 80th Birthday
Saturday 29 July 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you today to roast the man of the hour. A roast is a humorous look back on the life of a man who has had plenty of time to make plenty of mistakes. Let’s begin!
My first enduring (injuring?) memory of Peter was at the wedding. I’m sure we must have met before then, but this is what sticks out for me. Peter was walking Fiona down the aisle to me. Previously, Fiona had asked her father for some advice about the ceremony, as she knew she would be nervous and might forget something important. So, he told her, “it’s easy. Just remember to walk down the aisle.”
“Ok, I’ll remember, ‘aisle’,” said Fiona.
“Then stop at the altar,” said Peter.
“Ok, I’ll remember, ‘altar’,” said Fiona.
“Then, we’ll sing a hymn,” said Peter.
“Ok, I’ll remember, ‘hymn’,” said Fiona.
It was most disconcerting to me, to hear my bride-to-be, as she was marching down the aisle, repeating over and over under her breath, “aisle-altar-hymn, I’ll alter him!”
I was still recovering from this turn of events, when they both arrived at the front of the church. Peter looked at me. I looked at Fiona. Fiona looked at her Dad. Then Peter looked at Fiona, I looked at Peter and Fiona looked at me. I wasn’t sure if he was going to say a few words or not. So we waited. This went on for an uncomfortable period of time. Eventually Peter took the hint and sat down.
My second memory of Peter was about a year later. We decided to meet up about half-way between Otautau and Wellington, in Picton. That’s half-way, isn’t it?
Fiona had researched and decided we would do the Queen Charlotte Sound mail-boat run. It’s a leisurely tourist activity, exploring the nooks and crannies of the Sound. An unexpected bonus of the trip was visiting a mussel farm, where the skipper took possession of a bucket of fresh mussels. He was just about to boil them all up for us, when I requested he leave me a few uncooked. I was happily smashing them open, when I happened to glance up to see Peter’s face. The look of shock on his face projected the thought, “Into what form of barbarism has my daughter married?”
Our next encounter was on his home turf: the farm. I’m still not sure to this day whether he was deliberately testing my limits when he suggested we go out on the quad bike. Of course, that meant he would drive and I would sit in the back trailer. He eventually looked back at some stage to discover, as he was throttling through the long grasses, my hay-fever had kicked in big time. I had tears streaming down my face. Disgusted, Peter took me back to house.
I extracted revenge on my final encounter on the farm; Peter decided to let this townie try to help him move his prize sheep. “Somehow”, I managed to get in front of the herd. They went the other way. Peter sent me home, again.
Peter loves gadgets. He loves upgrading to the latest and greatest. Peter and I finally bonded. He would buy the gadgets, then I would visit and help him set them up. I’m not saying he’s technologically challenged, but I am saying there was plenty to do to keep me occupied on my one week’s vacation.
Peter has gotten involved in setting up the Otautau Museum. A fitting place, for a dinosaur.
Peter is a gentleman farmer. This doesn’t mean he farms gentlemen. It means he now keeps gentlemen’s hours.
Peter finds it difficult to sleep. He used to be a banker. He would lie in bed, counting sheep, but then realised he’d made a mistake. He’d spend the next four hours trying to find the error.
Peter was asked whether he would organise a special birthday party for his mother’s 90th. His response? “Awww, I thought we’d wait until her 100th.”
Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, it is Peter’s 80th birthday. Please charge your glasses and be upstanding, so we can share a toast to Peter, before it’s too late.
To Peter, Before It’s Too Late!