Educating Mao ※

july 2010

Educating Mao

2 July

Subject: bad news


Hi Lloyd
Sorry to have to bring you bad news, but Val died this morning.

I was speaking to her on the phone earlier today and she said she and Frank were both feeling a little unwell but were okay.

Apparently Frank had a fall and Val jumped up to help him and her heart just gave out.

Paul is in Bangkok on his way to Burma tomorrow, Mary is in London which is bad timing.

Will let you know as thing develop, but if you were able, perhaps you could ring Frank?


Subject: Lloyd replies to dawn

Dear Dawn
I have just received word. I knew Mum had a bad heart. She had hoped she would survive for another year. But the stress and weight of Dad's fall finally was too much.

If she had lived another day, I would have told her I have just been appointed until August to a Summer camp near Beijing. And from early August this year, I have been appointed to a University College as an English literature teacher for a one year contract. I hope that somewhere she is receiving that news. She was so used to my ups and downs that it would not surprise her.

I can not speak to Dad on the phone because of both our hearing. If someone wants to ring me, my number is ### #### 

I will contact Dad by email later. I will send you a longer email when I have time.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: Lloyd writes to dad

Dear Dad
It is with much sorrow that I have heard from Dawn of Mum's passing away. The weight of it is now sinking in. Mum lived for all her children and for you. All our hopes and pains were hers too.

I am particularly upset as tonight I was going to email you the news that I start on Monday at an english language camp near Beijing. From August 20 I commence as a full time College University teacher of English literature for a year near Beijing. Perhaps somehow the latter news could be told at the funeral.

I will email Dawn and Paul about more news.

I hope you are bearing. You are the last survivor of the young people who gathered around Mum in the 1940s. So much history has happened since. You started as a cow hand milker. Now you are an internet user.  I trust you and everyone else will remember the joy being around Mum.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: News sinking in

Dear Dawn and Paul
It is now starting to sink in. What exactly were the final hours?

I take it Dad is living still at Stout Street. I have just sent him an email.

Could you keep me daily updated with news reports?

3 July

Subject: Delay funeral

Hi Lloyd
Val rang me yesterday morning about 9:30ish. She rang to see if we had received an email from Mary with her diary of their time in Greece. We chatted away and she was telling me how many birthdays the family had in July and that she was preparing a card to send to John for his birthday. She seemed to be her usual chirpy self but said that she and Frank were both feeling a little unwell as they had been entertaining the day before and indulged in too much sweet food. I said to let me know if I could do anything for them and she said they would take it easy for the rest of the day.

Apparently Frank was sitting outside in the sun sometime after 12 noon. He came inside (maybe stood up too quickly) and then had a fall down the hall. Val jumped up to attend to the bleeding on his forehead and her heart just gave out and she died immediately.

The next door neighbour, who is a medical person, came over. I don't know the full story but I guess Frank called them. Two ambulances came, I am guessing Frank called these also. Frank was taken to hospital to be checked out and have his wound dressed. The doctor came. Becky went up to the hospital to be with Frank. Bruce stayed in the house with Mother's body. I joined Bruce and was there when the funeral director came to take her.

Frank was completely checked out at the hospital and he is fine. Just a bit shakey as you can imagine. Becky took him home to her place for the night.

Mary and Paul are very keen for the funeral to be delayed until their return in 3 weeks time.
This has yet to be agreed on by Frank, Scott and Becky.

I will tell Becky there is an email from you for Frank and I will keep you up to date with an email each day.

Subject: dawn writes to lloyd

Hi Lloyd
The funeral is tentatively set down for this Tuesday.
Scott is coming over today and will stay with Frank for the next few days.

After that we will have to wait and see.

Frank will see your email today and hopefully reply to you.

Subject: dad writes to lloyd

Dear Lloyd,
We have been very busy all day arranging Mum's funeral next Tuesday at 2 p.m. This is the second letter to you today because I couldn't find the first in the Sent Items. I will repeat the first from memory.

I thought it would be nice if you wrote a eulogy to be read out at the ceremony by the Celebratist. You once told me that Mum was one of two really intelligent women you had met. Could you set out how exceptional she was in her knowledge of great writers of the world? She has made a thorough study of all Jane Austen's works and all the great Russian novels. She is truly a remarkable lady.

We are all very proud of you getting a job at the Beijing University.

Love and best wishes from here. We will think of you on Tuesday.

Subject: dad's fall∼eulogy∼errant taxi driver

Dear Dawn and Paul,
I don't know if Dad has read my email yet. I had tried to persuade Dad to have hospital therapy on his legs. It was all free. But he had no memory of the time he was on a walker. Maybe he did it after all. If not, I reproach myself of not warning him that a fall by him could be fatal to Mum. It seems so clear now. The doctor had apparently told her she could live another six months or more.

I have to write a eulogy. I will try it tomorrow and send it to you. as an attachment.  

I have had my passport with shoulder bag taken by an errant taxi driver. I had left it in the cab while I withdrew money from an atm machine. Apart from the cost of replacement, it doesn't seem to be an exorbitant problem. It is planned I depart to my Summer camp job near Beijing on Monday morning.

Please keep me posted.

Subject: lloyd writes to dad

Dear Dad
I read both of your emails. I will write the eulogy tomorrow Sunday. On Monday I depart to the camp near Beijing.

I am looking forward to it. It is getting mighty hot here. I heard you were enjoying the sun in Gisborne.

It is a pity that only two of your children will be at the funeral. However this will be more than made up by your grandchildren.

I understand that Mum's ashes will be laid at Eastwood hill.
Love from Lloyd

5 July

Subject: Dawn replies to lloyd

Dear Lloyd
Sorry to hear the loss of your passport is causing so much hassle.  These bureaucratic countries!

Hope you can get some words put together today, remembering that we are ahead of you in time.

All is going well here, Julia and Steve arrived yesterday.  Michaela and Kate, Elizabeth and Isabella arrive today.
The Thomson family have been tracked down and informed, as have Robyn and Lloyd and Val's cousin and friend in Wellington.
Scott and Becky have been making all the arrangments with the celebrant chosen by Val.

All the grandchildren will be pallbearers taking Val from the chapel to the hearse, as it was her choice to be in the chapel before everyone arrives.

Paul and Mary have sent messages to be read out, who would you like to read yours?

The afternoon tea is being held at the fishing club where Julia and Steve had their wedding reception.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Subject: funeral arrangements∼eulogy in email

Dear Dawn and Paul
I have sent the eulogy now in email format. I couldn't in the circumstances send it as an attachment. It is very short. I tend to shrink at public occasions. But very heartfelt.

The funeral arrangements sound excellent. Just one warning – as a pall bearer for Ophelia on the stage in Hamlet, even a frail person is very heavy to carry. So I suggest you check that the boys are positioned at the front and back.

I have moved for ten days to a lovely hotel on the banks of the local river. It is very quiet and I will enjoy my unexpected holiday. I have found a printer here in a near by shopping centre and will commence tomorrow morning the document preparations for the new passport. In my bargaining for the hotel, I was by circumstances as ruthless as Gordon Adiar. The hotel manager at one point chased me as I was departing out the door.

I was able to book in despite my lack of passport by showing a photo copy and the police report of loss.

I would choose the celebrant to read my message.

6 July

Subject: eulogy sent∼overseas calling∼chapel service

Dear Scott and Dad
I tried to ring you to say the eulogy has been sent to Paul and Dawn email. But I don't have overseas calling registration. Trust China to think of that. So I have also forwarded it to you. Could you confirm the eulogy has been sent to P & D. If they have got it, please don't print and read it as it is meant for the chapel service. What time does the service begin? So I can be aware of events.

Subject: Eulogy Completed


Kia ora Lloyd,
Your message has arrived both here and to Dawn. Thank you, it is a beautifully written piece.
Dad is holding up in his normal dignified fashion and we are all following suit.

The funeral commences at 2pm NZ time. Your eulogy will be read by Dawn. Others will read pieces from Paul and Mary who are also absent, only Becky and I being actually present from our immediate family.

Six grand children will act as pall bearers including my little Elizabeth who is somewhat overcome by this. Michaela Dimond will sing "How Great Thou Art".

We send you our best regards at this sad time and we all rejoice in your recent success as we know Mum would have.

Arohanui from Scott and all your Gretton whanau.

Subject: lovely funeral service

The rain has not stopped for two days now; the coast roads and the road to Napier are blocked.

Fortunately the road to Tauranga was open and cousin Lindsay and Trevor Rose were able to attend the funeral.

The Celebrant, who had had afternoon tea with Frank and Val finalising their funeral arrangements the day before Val died, did a wonderful job.

Mary was on the phone from London and heard the whole thing. Michaela sang "How Great Thou Art" in English/Maori – did a fantastic job, best I have ever heard her sing.

The celebrant read Lloyd's message as requested, I read Paul's and everyone said I did a good job. Michaela read Mary's message and she was rather emotional by this stage.

Scott, who had not intended to speak, found a letter from Val written a couple of weeks ago and shared it with us, then he said a wee farewell to her in Maori.

All the attending grandchildren carried the coffin to the hearse, Nanny would have been very proud of them.

June and Alan Hall were there, Shirley Mossman attended the service and Robyn came too.

Afternoon tea at the Fishing Club was the nothing out of the ordinary, but all that was necessary.
Love Dawn

Subject: eastwood hill∼internet access∼forms printed

Hi Dad, Dawn, Paul, and Scott
I am so happy that everything went so well. Who is Trevor Rose?

No one has told me yet where Mother lies. I understand she was to be laid in ashes on Eastwood Hill.

I am glad that my eulogy went so well. It was delayed because of the disruptions I am enduring and difficulties accessing an internet cafe. The Chinese have this infuriating habit of springing rules upon you. Apparently it is not even strictly legal that foreigners can use internet cafes.

I am having a quiet meditative time. I have had several more offers of jobs. I managed to get the application forms printed out from the internet and find a witness to certify them. Tomorrow morning I plan to courier them to Wellington.

Fortunately everything is so cheap here. The hotel provides free breakfasts.

Eulogy by son Lloyd Gretton

My mother was a very special person. She was very intelligent. In the 1940s she was in the centre of a circle of brilliant young men and women from Victoria University and Training College. My father here today is maybe the last surviving member of that circle.

The circumstances of that distant era made her a mother, and a sixty three year wife and companion to my father. She learnt against her natural talents to be a home provider while Father brought in the bacon.

We five children and our father always knew mother rejoiced out our successes, grieved at our disappointments, felt pain when we failed to measure to what she expected from us. When our pets died, she treated them like deaths in the family. Our same mother was steeped in literature and the local history and environment of the East Coast, and Maori language and culture.

I was perhaps the most difficult of the children. She waited all her life for me to have a University teaching position in English and classical literature. If she had lived another seven hours I would have told her I had secured such a position at a University in China.

Like the mother who waited every evening at the bus stop for the return of her wayward daughter from Wellington in the story written by the Gisborne Boys High student Witi Smiler, she died a few hours too early. So mother I feel at this moment you are raising your thumb in your familiar gesture and saying “Right oh kiddo”.

So this is a celebration as well as a time of sorrow for the many people of all walks of life who knew Mother.

Valmai Audrey Gretton

Her life story as presented at her funeral in Evans Chapel.
Tuesday, 6th July 2010 at 2pm, by celebrant Dell Buscke

Val provided most of her story and chose poems and music for today but thanks also to Frank, Scott and Rebecca for their input.

Further tributes from:
Lloyd (read by Dell), Paul (read by Dawn) and Mary (read by Michaela). Scott read the last letter Val wrote to him.

Music prior to service: Best of Classics 100

Valmai Audrey Mountier was born in Christchurch on 26th March 1927 but moved to Wellington at eight years of age.
At that time, her father, Harold took an appointment as District Engineer in the Post and Telegraph Department. Known generally as the P&T, this government department was the forerunner of today's Telecom.

Harold, his wife Aileen, Val and her younger sister Joy, all enjoyed happy times in the suburb of Wadestown with the friendship of tennis parties and communal social club dances. Val also took pleasure from her active membership of the Girl Guides.

All of this changed in 1943 with sudden death of her father at the age of forty-three. Aileen and her teenage daughters were forced to move to the then small village of Porirua where Aileen took up the position of Postmistress. Home was the back of the old Post Office premises. Aileen was a mother of great courage as following her retirement from the Post Office duties, and while still in her forties, she invested in rental properties. Exceptional surely for a woman of her time; even Sir Bob Jones would have admired her! She had grown up through an era when it was expected she would live the life of a lady, not a working woman, but when fate dictated otherwise she was still able to rise to her family's need.

In those days, Porirua was a settlement based around the huge Mental Hospital which was considered a place of shame. Indeed for many years the name Porirua was the butt of many unfortunate jokes. Because of the distance from Wellington they lost contact with all their Wadestown friends; in itself a situation that was a marker of the time. How different from today where roading, transport and ease of telephone communication have diminished distance into relative insignificance.

Also in 1943, Val passed her University Entrance examination thus qualifying for entry into Teacher Training College but at only sixteen she was too young to take up her chosen field. Instead she joined the Public Service as a clerk in the Social Security Department – which would later become WINZ.

The war was still on and the government's manpower laws were strict – meaning that Val could not change jobs unless she went nursing or teaching. She chose nursing and spent a very pleasant year back in the South Island at the Wairau District Hospital in Blenheim.

In 1947 she finally realised her original plan and entered Training College in Wellington. Here she met her future husband, Frank Gretton, also a teacher trainee. Frank was a returned serviceman, ex-Air Force, and impressed Val with his good manners. After a whirlwind romance they married the same year.

To go back a step when Val became engaged to Frank, she was summoned first by the headmistress and then by the principal, who told her that it was not policy to train married women and she would have to resign. So, not allowed to finish teacher training, she did what all married women did in those days – she produced babies, in order, Paul, Lloyd, Scott, Rebecca and Mary; five lovely, healthy children who were her pride and joy.

Frank was keen on remote schools and took his first appointment at Pohukura School, thirty miles inland from Stratford in Taranaki where Paul was born soon after their arrival. They spent three years in Taranaki ending with a short spell at Kaimiro School on the slopes of Mt Egmont but then a job at Tarawa, a well known school in the Gilbert Islands came up and Frank took it. So it was off to the Pacific, and a small coral atoll one degree north of the Equator, these days known as Kiribati, and it was here that Lloyd was born.

After three and a half years they returned to New Zealand where Frank took a position on the East Coast at Wharekahika School, Hicks Bay. It was 1955 and conditions were still very primitive with no electric power or tar sealed roads. Trips to Gisborne were hazardous and infrequent.

Such conditions meant that having babies could be more adventurous that anyone would like and many mothers of the time had stories to tell. And so did Val. At 2am one morning, Scott announced his intention to arrive. Frank and Val had little idea on how to find the Waipiro Bay Maternity Home, knowing only to head south, turn off somewhere and find a big house on the hill. No problem! Fortunately their neighbours came to the rescue with the wife baby-sitting Paul and Lloyd as arranged but her husband also appeared and said ‘I’m coming with you’ – surely much to Val's relief. Two and a half hours later, they reached the maternity home where Scott was safely born. On today’s sealed roads that drive from Hicks Bay would be about an hour less.

Rebecca's arrival was even more dramatic, beginning at daylight with a call at the Te Araroa doctor who sent them onto Te Puia Springs Maternity Home. Frank described the drive south as:

“a mad drive on a winding, tortuous gravel road, we reached Tikitiki where we met a ten year old Maori boy in the street who gave us clear and concise directions how to find the district nurse's house. She was just preparing to leave on her rounds and was not happy about our arrival; however she rose to the occasion and did everything that was required.”

Two hours later, with Rebecca asleep on a pillow they were welcomed at the Te Puia Maternity Home by the matron who said, ‘This is the easiest confinement we have ever had!’

By the time of Mary's birth they were much better prepared and she arrived without drama at Te Puia Springs. Val, like her mother, showed her own brand of courage throughout those years.

In November 1962, they moved to Gisborne and bought an eleven acre block of land at Manutuke where they would establish a citrus orchard. In 1963, Frank joined the staff of the fledgling Lytton High School. It was a transition time for Val; she learnt to drive and had to adapt to quite a different kind of social life. But with the children growing up a little more, she was able to rekindle her youthful interest in community activities and joined the Forest & Bird Society, with whom she enjoyed many pleasurable outings and camping expeditions.

Some twenty years on in 1982 Frank retired and a new life began for the two of them in Wainui. Val continued her interests; an important step was to join the 60+ group, which led to U3A – University of the Third Age, in which her favourite groups were music, history and poetry.

At one stage at U3A she tutored in te reo Maori; although by no means fluent she had studied enough to pass on a little to others. On the subject of languages, during some of her extensive travels around the world, Val discovered that her fourth form French hadn't deserted her either.

In 2001, Val and Frank built a new home at Stout Street where they have lived ever since. Val's later years were much enhanced by the friendship and activities at the Arohaina Centre. Also, she and Frank were members of the Eastwoodhill Arboretum; their visits even including the drive through the countryside en route, brought them great joy.
Val said of Eastwoodhill, ‘It was the best thing we ever did.’ They have trees for each of their family in Eastwoodhill's Millennial Wood. Trees were always a great love of Vals and she planted them wherever she went, favouring the English varieties like pine oak, claret ash, liquid amber or silver birch. Her plantings are still to be seen at the Manutuke orchard.

Val was a loved Nanny to her ten grandchildren and she followed their interests with a will. She was also known to many as ‘Queen Nanny’; always regal, beautifully dressed and looking a million dollars, she never dropped her standards in any way. She was a highly intelligent, well informed woman, who could conduct a conversation on any many subjects – from literature to art to films to rugby; Scott said, ‘You could never pull the wool over her eyes.’

Val described the latter years of her life as part of her ‘declining years’. I suggest that although they were naturally impacted by ageing, they were also years where she continued to be interested in life and in living it; where she was an organised and willing participant in all she was able to do, be it in her group activities, or a drive to Tolaga Bay or Mahia for example, or just a simple outing with Frank for an ice cream at the beach. And it's not too long ago, that Val drove to Napier so she and Frank could enjoy a garden visit down that way.
Declining? No, not really. Val just adjusted and faced the progression of physical life by getting on with what she could do, in her typically pragmatic style.

For her family as a whole, to review Val's life and the era she lived through is to make history real and personal; to understand a little more of the pathways that shaped her world and therefore yours. It is a privilege to know. Someone once said:

“ Every job is a self portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence.”
If living can be defined as a job, then, I suggest, Val has left a fine signature

Reflection to: “Send in the Clowns” by Judy Collins

Val liked the theme of that song for how it looks back at life.
She also liked the William Blake poem, The Tiger, and chose this verse:

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the Lamb make thee?

William Blake

Service prepared and presented by celebrant Dell Buscke

Good afternoon and welcome. For thousands of years, ceremony has played an important role in all societies around the world, particularly at times of significant events or transition in people’s lives. Such ceremonies or rites of passage, honour endings and beginnings, the sad, the joyous, and the precious; they mark moments and turning points and help draw us into new phases of living.

So it is that we pause awhile today, to honour the life and death of Valmai Audrey Gretton. We gather in support of Frank, his family and all who will miss Val the most; we come to pay tribute, commit her body to cremation and to say farewell.

Frank and family thank you for the comfort of your presence and acknowledge those who have come from outside the district to be here. Following the service and committal they extend a warm invitation to all to join them at the Gisborne Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club at the wharf to share refreshments and the special fellowship of the day.

Life's plans do not always work out as we would hope, so not all of Val and Frank's family were able to be here as they would wish. Let us respect the thoughts and feelings of those absentees; Paul is at present cycling across Thailand, Lloyd is in China starting a position at Beijing University lecturing in English Literature; Mary and husband Trevor are in England, and grandchildren John, Alice and Grace are all in the South Island.

Most of you who knew Val would be aware that she has not enjoyed the most robust of health in recent times. You would also know that she and Frank were quite a team but one day late last year they managed to add a new dimension to togetherness when Frank had an ambulance trip to Gisborne Hospital and Val did the same a couple of hours later.

Whilst in hospital, Frank was brought to Val's bedside as her condition deteriorated. She didn't feel up to having company so he was returned to his ward and the next morning told a nurse that his wife had died last night. The nurse checked, and then informed Frank that his wife was sitting up in bed having breakfast! Val said she felt that she has been through the process of dying once already – but still had to do it again.

Given such recent history, Val's passing was not unexpected in the true sense but it was sudden; it was also at home and with Frank, just as she might have wished it to be. For that the family are grateful.

So we come in thanksgiving and respect for a life well and fully lived, to share memories, listen to music, poetry, prose and gather the thoughts that define this special time for Val, for Frank, for their family and for all who mourn.

Let us begin with a tribute in song from Val's granddaughter, Michaela Dimond from Christchurch: How Great Thou Art

Author Pearl Buck said: If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday. And it is surely at funeral time that we are especially inspired to search and delve and consider our loved one's life, and to hear their story…

The death of one of our own is all at once a personal yet universal experience. Whatever its cause or timing it is both profound and emotive and calls upon us to think, feel and reflect. There is remembrance of times past of course and we are bidden to measure our own lives at our maturity in the world – and at mortality itself; we look at life for its meanings to seek insight of our own.

It's the ultimate question time on the mysteries of life and death – and questioning was something Val loved to do.

From an essay to his son on the subject of death I share the thoughts of author Kent Nerburn:

Death is our common mystery. Like birth and love, it is a bond that unites us all. Yet none of us can know for certain what it contains or what it portends.

We have glimpses – from those who have experienced clinical death and returned to tell what they saw, from great religious tracts like The Tibetan Book of the Dead and others. And we have promises – from all faiths and religions.

We can never know for certain which, if any, are true. Everyone must meet death alone, so it remains the great private preparation for each of us.

We do death no justice by measuring it against ourselves. We are too small; it is too great. What we fear is only the loss of the self, and the self knows eternity like a shadow knows the sun.

So, fear dying if you must. It takes from us the only life that we can understand, and that is a worthy loss to mourn. But do not fear death. It is something too great to celebrate, too great to fear. Either it brings us to a judgment, so it is ours to control by the kind of life we live, or it annihilates us into the great rhythm of nature, and we join the eternal peace of the revolving heavens.

In either case, I believe in my heart that it is ours to trust.

That life has been lived and endeavour met to the completion of nature's seasons may bring consolation but we still miss our people and look into heart, mind and memory for the solace to hold onto in the future. We live in part on their behalf, remembering the ways they did things and how they thought.

Val was typical, I guess, of many from her era who understated and under-estimated their achievements and the contribution they made to their families and communities. Hers was the story of a young girl growing up with the hopes and dream of youth, lived through an era when roles were defined, expectations were clear and choices were few if any at all. Times were hard and no one was spared the dominant effects of the Great Depression and World War II.

Even children were left with impressions and ethics that would endure for the rest of their lives. Each generation has its own battles but may we who follow always find a moment or two to look back, weigh up the qualities and experiences of Val's era and ever accord them the respect they earned.

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing in.
New waters must always flow but may we always remember the stream that supplied life as we know it now – for therein is the legacy that is ours.

In times of sadness and loss, when the great questions are brought to mind the most, there is comfort and companionship, to be found in the words of the poets.
Val chose this poem, called ‘Uphill’, by nineteenth-century English poet Christina Rossetti:


Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti
Val Gretton


We have remembered with sadness yet thanksgiving the life of Valmai Audrey Gretton

As we accept life so we must also accept death, as one of nature’s unchanging laws, which comes for some sooner and for some later. With sorrow but without resentment we recognise this universal law and say farewell.

Val, in grief at your passing but with gratitude for all that has been because of you, with dignity and with love, we commit your body to cremation earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and thus to the elements from which it came.

May all who mourn find peace of mind and acceptance of Val's death – and assurance that the goodness and best you have known because of her will never die, but will be passed from one to another in the spirit of love known and shared – and thus become an abiding memorial.

In the spirit of care and love we have gathered and remembered. In the spirit of such love, enriched by our memories, we depart.

Val, we bid you farewell and hear your final choice for today:

“Amazing Grace” by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

7 July

Subject: Mother cremated yesterday∼the last two Mohicans

Dear Lloyd
Pleased to hear everything is coming right for you.

Eastwood Hill

Mother was cremated yesterday and her ashes will be taken to their tree at Eastwood. Paul and Mary are planning a little memorial service to scatter the ashes when they return.

Trevor Rose is a very dear friend of Paul's and mine. He recently lost a son in a motor cycle accident in Gabon which was very tragic so it was very much appreciated that he came down to pay his respects to Val.

Bec and Bruce left for Brisbane today and Scott and his girls returned to Taupo. Julia and Steve have just left to return to Ohakea though the road has been blocked all morning so I just hope that they can get through.

Frank phoned me this morning with a couple of questions and said that he is feeling rather lonely. Tonight will be his first night on his own. Scott stayed with him last night and Ben is visiting him at lunch time. I will be seeing him in the morning to take him to the doctor to have his wound dressed, and take him to the bank, and to buy a new electric jug.

Just as well Ben and I are still here, the last two Mohicans!


Subject: passport returned∼scatter the ashes∼Poor old Dad

Dear Dawn and Paul
I got my bag and passport returned. As I suspected the taxi driver had driven away because he was unable to park. I got a phone call about it and had to move fast to get my couriered documents back and a refund.

I think it is an excellent idea that there be another service with absent family members to scatter the ashes. I thing Mum had always looked forward to that moment.

I got today a posted letter from Mum written about a month ago. I did not keep it as it was quite cold. I think both Dad and Mum became quite bitter at how the world has developed in their lifetimes. I sometimes wonder if my stated opinions had influenced them. I was told several years ago that I should be locked up as I was getting an audience.

Poor old Dad. I don't think he will last much longer without the moral and physical support of Mum. When he fell and Mum passed away, was he able to activate his alarm bracelet? That is very worrying if he becomes incapacitated. Maybe he could join the Church circle around his old friend Frank Spencer. As Dad was brought up in the Anglican Church, he might return to it.

Perhaps you could contact Frank Spencer by telephone and suggest he befriend Dad. They are both war veterans. Frank Spencer doesn't drive. But he has a circle of elderly lady friends who take him on regular outings. He might be glad for a more balanced group.

It has been quite a cool day and I am enjoying my unexpected extended holiday.

Can I continue sending Dad emails when he is on his own?

8 July

Subject: Good news about passport∼Frank told he could drive

Hi Lloyd
Good news about your bag and passport.
Yes, Frank did activate his ambulance alarm when Val died.

Yesterday he had a great chat on the phone to Frank Spencer.
Yes, continue sending Frank emails.

Today I took him to the doctor to have his wound dressed. All is well there, the only problem is that the doctor told Frank he could drive the car. I was not impressed to hear that and I know Becky and Paul will not be pleased either. Hopefully Frank only wants to be allowed to drive the car, not actually drive it.

I have told him that I do not want him to drive and that I will take him anywhere he needs to go.


Subject: college liasion∼contract start date∼Dad's licence

Hi Dawn and Paul
I always say Paul because I assume he is reading them. Yes, that is good news, the bag and passport recovery. The loss had thrown me into a condition I call ‘descending into the mælstrom’. If that had not happened I would now be working full-time at a school camp near Beijing. A hellish thought, incidentally.

The University wanted me to go to the College this week. Jessie, the college liasion, was quite shocked that my passport was taken. She seemed to blame me for it. I have of course contacted her about its recovery. We have now agreed I depart to the college on the nineteenth this month. But my contract does not start until the next month August 20. I do not understand why they want me so early. However there is free accommodation. Maybe I can find some teaching in that month gap.

Now the College suddenly wants a work reference from my previous employer. Asian employers tend to do that sort of thing after they have employed you. I have two days work at a school at Harbin on seventeenth and eighteenth and have asked Edward, who is on leave there, to make up a work reference on the thirteenth when we first meet.
You see what I mean about ‘descending into the mælstrom’. 

That is dismaying that Dad has got his licence back. Knowing him he will be heading out on to the road. Maybe he has already done so. I recall an old driver in Dunedin who once did and repeatedly nearly did, knock me off my bicycle. Gosh I hated him. Maybe a quiet word to Doctor Smith before he sets the wheels metaphorically and literally in action.

I am not going to comment to Dad about it as it will only make him worse.

9 July

Subject: passport hassles∼Dad and driving

Hi Dawn
More hassles with my passport. A little bit of Lloyd deviousness will be required. I will report back later about it. Suffice to say I am now convinced the rednecks are right. The Government is the enemy!

Dad and the driving issue will have to be treated with great caution. Dad is to some degree in his second childhood. He has always, to some degree, never left his first. Still it is amazing how good he is at ninety one.

He may be scheming for Doctor Smith to complete the paper work to get the licence back. So always give the impression you or others want to take him out. Never mention the issue that he might be using the car but give the impression his driving is out of the question. Then the whole issue might fade out. One of his legs is twisted so even he may recognise the consequences.

Subject: talked to Frank

Hi Lloyd
Nothing much to report today.

Have talked to Frank on the phone and he is okay.
He doesn't need me to go over today but he would like me to take him to town sometime in the next few days.

That is good as it means he doesn't intend to drive any time soon.
He was busy doing emails when I phoned so I guess you will hear from him.

10 July

Subject: internal affairs n.z.∼work contract

Dear Dad
Unfortunately not so well. I don't know whether you know. A taxi driver drove away with my bag that contained all my school books and my passport. In consequence I have been unemployed in a nice river hotel until this Friday.

I took immediate steps and alerted the local radio station. The bag and passport was returned to the school. But when I informed this to New Zealand Internal Affairs, I was given the shattering news that they had destroyed it. The rednecks are right. The Government is the enemy.

I will go on using my old – now invalid – passport as an ID in China. I have today couriered to Internal Affairs New Zealand for a new passport. I have instructed them to post the new passport to your address in Gisborne. Then you can courier it to my address in China.

I went to the Bank of China to see if I can send money to New Zealand to pay for the charge of a new passport. Not possible, as Internal Affairs does not have bank numbers and I do not have a credit card. So I will have to ask money to be wired to Internal Affairs from you or Dawn in Gisborne. It will cost $150 New Zealand. I can if you like wire the money to your account, when I am receiving income again.

I am of course very angry with Internal Affairs. In the meantime it seems I have signed the work contract for the University and plan to arrive there on the nineteenth this month.

Will write later as I will be disconnected any moment.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: John Key in Beijing∼busy writing letters

Dear Lloyd,
When do you go to Beijing? John Key was there two days ago according to our T.V. He is making a great thing about Free Trade Agreement with China, it's a great idea!

I have been very busy writing letters and thank you notes. There is always a lot to do following a death in the family.

Cheerio for now.
Love and best wishes from Dad

11 July

Subject: new passport∼How are you keeping?

Dear Dad
The charge is $150 New Zealand dollars. It can be made by Visa, MasterCard, Amex, or Money Order. Cheques and money orders are payable to DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS. Can a message be sent that it is for a new passport for Lloyd Geoffrey Gretton who has couriered the application documents to internal affairs passport office? They will be arriving in the next few days at Boulcott House, Wellington.

I remain greatly annoyed that Internal Affairs has put me and others into this totally unnecessary situation. But for the time being nothing can be done about it. I am going to email them a message that the documents are on their way and considering their act to expedite them immediately. They should arrive at your house after some days.

I am aware that I am in a hazardous situation. Fortunately everything is so cheap in China and teaching positions very easy to come by. Just as a thought don't let slip to authorities that my passport has been recovered. The bs might then demand it before they issue a new one.

Of course you understand I cannot leave China without the new issued passport. If I have further problems I am going to email the Office of The Minister of Internal Affairs. I have known that to get immediate positive results should the bs at the passport office be more troublesome.

If you have any difficulties, don't hesitate to ask Dawn for assistance. She has been overseas and knows all about these hazards.

How are you keeping with Mum's passing? I know it is difficult. I have an internal monologue with mother. She was a lovely person. We will all greatly miss her. I hope you keep on good terms with Frank Spencer. He can get very lonely too. So you find solace in each other's company. Have you thought of returning back to the Church? Through Frank I am sure you will find drivers to take you to their Anglican Church. It was there that you received your first Christian upbringing.
Love from Lloyd

12 July

Subject: Harbin traffic ∼employment visa∼Keep your chin up

Dear Dad
I am so grateful to hear your kind response. Mum tended to be tougher on my foreign mishaps. The loss of the passport was so unfortunate. It was a lapse. The traffic in Harbin is so dense that the driver felt compelled to drive on. I take some pride for initiative in getting it back. Then the twist with the knife from Internal Affairs. I will send you my communication with them.

My employment visa carries on until September 14. I fear that Internal Affairs will demand I send them the restored passport. The bs are not getting it. Unfortunately I dutifully reported to them it was found. I might have to claim a mental lapse.  I will keep its invalidity secret in China.

I was told America also invalidates reported lost passports. America is controlled by the maniac generals. But there is no excuse for this in New Zealand. When this business is over, I am going to make a public issue of it.

I am glad to see you are getting such good home help. Keep your chin up.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: posted cheque∼ladies looking after me

Dear Lloyd,
I have this morning posted off a cheque for $150 to the Internal Affairs with a letter explaining the situation. I hope to get a response very soon.

It is Monday morning and Glenys and I have been to the supermarket, Glenys is doing her normal monday house cleaning. Dawn has just arrived  with my yesterday's washing, washed and ironed. My ladies are certainly looking after me well.

Becky will be home tomorrow from Brisbane. Ben has called to see me every day since Becky left.

I have had a lot of visitors and I gather from them that Mum's funeral was very well conducted. I am too deaf to understand most of what was said. All were in praise of Michaela's rendering of ‘How Great Thou Art’. She surely sang it beautifully.

Paul will be home from Burma next Thursday week. I will be happier when I have more of my family around me.

I do like to get your e mails as you were very close to Mum and me.

Love and best wishes from Dad

Subject: forwarded emails

Dear Dad
I have forwarded these emails to you. Unfortunately I imagine this Carol Thomas is a real bitch. That is my experience of professional New Zealand woman. Note her use of my first name. I also detest all that pseudo Maori stuff.

Lloyd writes to the Passport Office:

My full name is Lloyd Geoffrey Gretton
DOB 31 10 53
Delivery address Mr F L Gretton
New Zealand

My father has today Monday posted to Internal Affairs Passport Office Boulcott House a cheque for one hundred and fifty dollars to pay for the replacement passport.

Inside the couriered parcel from China you will find a signed note directing you to post the replacement passport to this Gisborne address.

Lloyd Gretton

The Passport Office replies:

Dear Lloyd
Thank you for your email. In order for our office to confirm receipt of your application and payment from your father or other family member, we require the following information you:
Full name
Date of birth
Passport return delivery address stated on the application form

The passport delivery address, stated on the application form, must be provided if you require information about delivery details.
Please email us back with the details that were not supplied in your previous email, and we will respond to your enquiry.

Please note: We can only release information about a passport application to the applicant, or if the passport is for a child under 16 years of age, we can only release information to the consenting parent or guardian who completed and signed the application on behalf of the child.

The processing time for your passport application on the standard service will be up to 10 working days, providing your application is complete and correct, plus delivery time.

We can send the passport directly to an address in China by DHL couriers, the additional fee for this is NZ$15.00, and the delivery time is targetted for three working days.

Our Contact Centre is open Monday – Thursday 8:00am – 7:00pm; Friday 9:00am – 7:00pm and Saturday 9:00am – 2:00pm.
If you have any further enquiries, please contact us again by email or phone Call Free (NZ) 0800 22 50 50, or if overseas (+64 4) 474 8100 or visit our website:

Kind regards
Carol Thomas

Client Information Officer – Kaipûrongo Kiritaki
Passport Office – Uruwhenua
Department of Internal Affairs – Te Tari Taiwhenua

Lloyd writes to the Passport Office:

Dear Passport Office
After your act of vandalism of my passport, a manageable and solved problem has become huge. I will spare you further comments.

I couriered yesterday Saturday the application documents to Boulcott House, Wellington for a new passport. Under the circumstances, I expect the Passport Office to expedite the application and post the new passport to F.L. Gretton, Stout Street, Gisborne, New Zealand. He or another member of my family will dispatch to you $150 NZ to your office to pay for your vandalism. My father is ninety one years old and was widowed a week ago. So spare him further distress.

Any further obstruction or delay and be assured I will bring a formal complaint to the Office of the Minister of Internal Affairs and to the Ombudsman. New Zealand blogs would also be very interested to hear of your cavalier treatment of a New Zealand citizen travelling through China.
Lloyd Geoffrey Gretton 

14 July

Subject: I.A. reprimand∼coldest here since records kept

Dear Lloyd,
Thank you for the e mail.
I always like to get mail from you in the morning and I can enjoy it with my rather lonely cup of coffee.

Your reprimand of Internal Affairs was most apt but I don't think it will have any effect. Officials like Carol will quote Policy and Regulations ad infinitum.

If you can still use your old passport, how did Internal Affairs destroy it?

It is a cold damp miserable morning here. N.Z. has experienced some of the coldest weather since records have been kept, this last week. Some districts went as low as minus 13 degrees C., down the South Island.

John Key is swanning around in South Vietnam and loving the publicity.
Love and best wishes from Dad

Subject: Chinese regulations

Dear Dad
Because of Chinese regulations that forbid my use of internet cafes, I can't promise you an email every morning. However I will when I can.

I am at present in a country town near Harbin, I passed a lesson test at a school there. The principal said I am a great teacher. I have two days teaching there on Saturday and Sunday. Then I depart to the College with a work reference.

You are right about Carol. The passport has only been invalidated. It has no physical affect on my copy.

Must away as I have been given a dispensation to use this computer.
Love from Lloyd

15 July

Subject: Internal Affairs Passport Office

Dear Dad
It appears they will now move quickly. Did you post the cheque to Department of Internal Affairs Passport Office, Boulcott House, Wellington? Also the letter needs, at the back of the envelope, the return address. The new passport will be posted to you and I will direct you where to send it. I have made my correspondence with Internal Affairs more dire than reality. But these things can escalate.

Again this has to be a short email as I have to use the office computer.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: Lloyd Gretton application for new passport

Dear Passport Office
I have now forwarded to Guy Nathan the Internal Affairs Minister our email correspondence. I have also sent him a personal email asking for Ministerial action.

This is not at this stage a formal complaint. As the couriered package should be arriving in a day or two, I expect immediate issuing of the new passport and its postage to my father's address in Gisborne.

I am not normally of this nature. But this is very, very urgent. I must have it in order to take up a teaching position in China. If I do not get it in time, I will no be able to pay for the air ticket to return to New Zealand and will run out of money in China. These problems are entirely the fault of Internal Affairs Passport Office.

Therefore, in an old fashioned sense, I demand restitution for the hazard you have given to my life.
Regards Lloyd Gretton

Passport Office replies:

Dear Lloyd
Thank you again for your email.
Please be advised that your passport application was received by our office today 14 July 2010.
As of 2.14pm, 14 July 2010, we do not yet appear to have received the payment from your father.
Once this has been received, we will be able to commence processing of your passport application.

Our Contact Centre is open Monday – Thursday 8:00am – 7:00pm; Friday 9:00am – 7:00pm and Saturday 9:00am – 2:00pm.

If you have any further enquiries, please contact us again by email or phone 
Call Free (NZ) 0800 22 50 50, or if overseas (+64 4) 474 8100 or visit our website:
Kind regards
Carol Thomas

Client Information Officer - Kaipûrongo Kiritaki
Passport Office – Uruwhenua
Department of Internal Affairs - Te Tari Taiwhenua

19 July

Mr Brown, Team Leader, Passports Uruwhenua writes:

Dear Lloyd,
Passport application: Receipt Reference: T0730006903

I acknowledge receipt of your passport application. I can confirm that the fee of (NZD) $150.00 was received by our office today. Unfortunately we still need to resolve the following problems before we can issue your new passport.

The Passport Office photo standards have not been met due to the reasons stated below:

  • The photos sent with the application are too small. They should be 45mm in height × 35mm in width.
  • Photos must be clear, sharp, with sufficient focus of the whole face
  • Photos must not show noticeable pixels or dot patterns.

Please send two new identical photos (two prints from the same negative/image) that are less than six months old, and ask the Witness, Steven Harding, to write the your full name on the back of one of the new photos, and then sign and date it. If you want to use a new Witness, please ask that person to complete a new Proof of Identity section.

We also need to confirm the loss of your previous New Zealand Passport. You have stated that the passport stolen by a taxi driver in Harbin, China was passport № XXX XXX.

Our records show that you were issued with a new passport. Could you please verify that it was your most current passport that was stolen.

Please send back this email with your reply so that it can be matched quickly with the application. It will take up to ten working days to prepare the passport once all the details have been received.

If the passport is needed more quickly than this, we do have an urgent service. The fee for this service, if required, is $150.00 for each application.

If we do not hear from you within three months your application will be cancelled as we are unable to store applications indefinitely. Please note the application fee will not be refunded.

Please call free on 0800 22 50 50 between 8am – 7pm Monday to Thursday, 9am – 7pm Friday and 9am – 2pm Saturday if you need further information or advice. If you are calling from outside New Zealand dial +64 4 474 8100.

James (Jim) Brown
Team Leader
Passports Uruwhenua
Identity Services Te Ratonga Tuakiri
The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
Direct Dial +64 4 382 3432
Fax: +64 4 382 3410
120 Victoria Street
New Zealand

Subject: passport photographs

Dear Mr Brown
Two days ago two new passport i.d. photographs were posted to Passport Office Wellington Internal Affairs. They should be at your office very soon.

When they arrive, could you please get on to it right away. Remember to post the new passport to Mr F.L. Gretton ∗∗∗Stout Street Gisborne New Zealand
Lloyd Gretton

PS: Please call me Mr Gretton!

20 July

Subject: Dawn helpful∼coughing attack

Dear Lloyd,
I am now awaiting the Passport Office and the Courier Mail. To what address should I courier the passport? The only address I have is the Top School in Harbin.

Dawn has been very helpful in winding up funeral affairs, I have yet to reply to the numerous cards that have come through the post. I expect I will have a problem with the return addresses.

I have just had my coffee and am considering phoning Murray Smith as I had a nasty coughing attack last night and difficulty of breathing during it. However, Becky was here early and made me a cup of tea  and breakfast. It's surprising what a little TLC will do.
Love and best wishes from Dad

Subject: college in Gongyi∼new service for Mum

Dear Dad
I will be taking the train to my new college in Gongyi City, Henan Province tonight at eight pm. I should be there by Wednesday morning. It is in south-east China.

It has been a quite stressful time because of language misunderstandings and the ridiculous restrictions on internet use. I found one internet cafe which has dared to permit me to use it.

After some issues, I received my full payment from my two days at the school in Achen Achen which is near Harben. I am now quite exhausted.

I have posted the new signed photographs to Internal Affairs. The previous posted photos were rejected by Internal Affairs as not passport size. It is possible my passport is not invalidated as I gave Internal Affaris the wrong passport issue. I just hope this issue does not bite me later.

How are you getting on? The day for the new service for Mum must be quite soon. I will be there in spirit.
Love from Lloyd

22 July

Subject: Chenggong College∼passport office

Dear Dad
I am now writing from the Chenggong College in Gongyi. The trip was a hell of an experience. It took me about thirty four hours!  The new apartment is as nice and large as the Oman College apartment. Tell Paul that and he will give you an idea.

Chenggong College

I was a bit afraid I had antagonised the new College by my technical ineptitude with tele texting. I still can't do it unless someone does it for me. There was no one on the train with the language skill to help me and the College office kept sending me texts. The train was four hours late. I was able to ring up Jessie and relay that information. I thought she was texting but it was the foreign teachers coordinator, a Jackson. It all gets very confusing. Fortunately Jessie is very nice.

There are quite a few bears I have to cross. The passport office won't do anything until they have the new photographs I have posted to them.  The charge was one hundred and fifty dollars not three hundred. If you really did spend three hundred dollars, let me know.

My new apartment gives me free use of a personal computer and internet.
Love from Lloyd

24 July

Subject: nice apartment∼holiday time

Dear Dad
I seem to have missed a Saturday email of yours. I am now ensconced in my large nice apartment. The College has been very good about this. However this can't go on too long. I need two documents from my former school in Harbin. I will email Jessie and direct her to formally request them from the Harbin Top School. They are not nice people and yesterday did not respond to my email request. But a formal request byChenggong Collegethey will have to respond to as it is Chinese law. You may have to be prepared that I may have to return to New Zealand if these documents are not satisfactory.  I need them by Chinese law to be able to transfer to another school.

However I have that peculiar feeling I sometimes have that things will work out ok. That always then seems to happen. Perhaps I can come back to Gisborne and be your home help and companion in your lonely hours if I am wrong.  At that point there would be no more overseas teaching.  it is just too vexatious and expensive.

In the meantime this is holiday time. I got lost returning home as usual. More forgivable as it was pitch black. I now know my route back to my apartment. A College security guard took me back to my apartment on the back of his motor bike.

Yesterday I went shopping and I am now stored for a week. Alas, I dare not plan my purchases further until this is sorted out.

The College is huge and very well preserved. I have to be a bit cautious with my language just in case the College is reading my emails. I very much doubt it. I am using now my home computer which works very well.

For the time being I will spend my days on the internet. There is a student cafe a short distance from my apartment. I am not sure I am allowed to use it.

As regards the passport. I think we just have to be relaxed about it. Otherwise it would make us both ill. It does not affect my residency in China.

In extremis an emergency passport can be provided at extra cost and used until it arrives.

Internal Affairs is revenue gathering. The lost one hundred and fifty dollar cheque belongs to you. If it is a bank written cheque, the bank will eventually return the money to you. If it is your cheque, it does not appear in your bank records.

I will email Carol Thomas again and ask for information.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: computer acting the goat∼Internal Affairs have $300

Dear Lloyd,
This is my second letter to you today. My computer is acting the goat again.

I will tell you what you wanted to know in your today's e mail.

Yes, Internal Affairs have $300 of ours. A cheque for $150 which they seem to have lost in their internal mailing system and Carol Thomas took another $150 from my credit card. Where is that new passport?
I hope it turns up soon.

25 July

Subject: nice apartment∼holiday time

Dear Dad
Don't wait around for the passport. Internal Affairs have been real ass holes. A letter from China to New Zealand takes about a week. I sent the new photographs on Monday.

Chinese regulations require these two documents. Jackie (the principal of Top School, my previous school) is a rather uncouth person – although he did express sympathy at Mother's passing. When I had my private interview with him when I started there, he said, Are you Jewish? I can tell by your eyes. When I said Yes but I have no attachment to the synagogue, he said he wanted to know because Jews run the world. He did say that with a laugh. But such thoughts are clearly circulating.

I was dismissed with a week's notice. I had feared that because I was at the end of my first month's probation. For people like myself, probation periods are very cruel because they judge form not substance. The other teachers said they could not understand it as I was certainly not the worst teacher. I may have said a few politically charged things in the classroom that got reported back. Chinese administrators are very paranoid.

The regulations require the new school receive from the former school these two documents. They can be very quickly procured if the old school co-operates. I have sent emails to three people in Top School. I have also given Jessie the three email addresses and also the two telephone numbers of Jackie and his assistant who is a nicer fellow.  A formal request from Chonggong College should get a positive response. As you know school administrators co-operate in the transference of documents.

As you seem to be getting a bit muddled, I think a family member sharing the house with you would be a good idea.

I agree New Zealand seems to be going to the dogs. The white populations is seeming to be pushed out. History has plenty of precedents for it. Historically there is eventually an insurgency against it. If so it will be fuelled by the internet. I could not get an esl job in NZ perhaps because they want New Zealand established teachers.

I spend my days surfing the internet. I have the trick of instantly Googling whenever a thought comes into my head. The College was established by a millionaire from Taiwan. Gongyi was his family home. So its layout and structure is modelled on the ancient British Universities.  Again I won't say more on the remote chance these emails are being read. So you can imagine my thoughts about this. Try to GoogleChenggong CollegeGongyi. It would have made Mum nearly faint with joy.  I recall Britannica College in Iraq so I am not so enthused. However it has a huge library so I won't be short of books. This is holiday time now. The new semester starts on August 20.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: passport should arrive soon∼weather cold

Dear Lloyd,
I hope you have the two vital documents by now. If so you will have been more successful than I. How long does it take to get from China to N.Z. Internal Affairs? Your photo should be with I.A. by now. As they have the money the passport should reach me any day now.

I was disappointed to read that your position was not too secure in China. We were both hoping that you were set for at least a year. After all your qualifications are good, perhaps it's just bureaucracy that is at fault. There is nothing for you here in N.Z. Students passing out of university have great difficulty finding suitable employment.

I am not very happy with my computer's performance. It keeps on harping on about the non-delivery of an email addressed to Mary and Trevor in London months ago. I have tested an email to Paul and Dawn's address and that was sent successfully so I hope you get this successfully also.

I am settling into living alone quite well, though I did find myself making two breakfasts a few days ago!

There are so many things I want to discuss with Mum and it is then that I miss her most

The weather is still cold and miserable. It is truly a very cold winter. What is all this about global warming?

With love and best wishes

29 July

Subject: reply button on computer

Dear Lloyd,
Becky and Dawn were here today and they showed me how to use reply button on the computer so I will have a try and you can tell me what you think of it in your next letter.

It seems we are no further forward with Internal Affairs. How annoying for you. I will look forward to your report of the new semester.

Subject: Still no correspondence from Internal Affairs

Dear Dad
As you can see your reply was swift and excellent. The advantage of the reply button is we both have a shared record of our correspondence. We simply scroll down to read the previous correspondence. So I suggest we stick to that now.

Still no correspondence from Internal Affairs. The new photographs were posted to them six days ago. They were in a sizable parcel. They may be sulking at our correspondence or even being vindictive. When I write my book I am going to have plenty to say about this.

I had a brain wave last night of actually applying for esl positions with countries that border on China. That will be a last resort. Clearly by your last email you don't need a help in. So long as I have free accommodation, I am spending very little. The train journey from Harbin cost me about fifty dollars. That is promised to be refunded byChenggong Collegebut only if I work there.

We are further forward each day with Internal Affairs. It is only the emergency situtaiton that makes it seem long. It was a nightmare as I anticipated getting this arranged in Harbin. In southern China all this is much easier.  Except for international border crossings, there is no affect on the passport. At least I don't think so. At border crossings, the airport officials always have to check through the passport to find the relevant documents. Internal Affairs also wrote I would only be affected at border crossings. I am not even convinced there but I would not test it. They might confiscate it!

As the rednecks in America say – "The Government is the Enemy".
Love from Lloyd

Subject: returning to N.Z.∼Peking to Paris on SKY

Dear Lloyd,
I see no reason why Internal Affairs should be vindictive. The passport will be along shortly.

I must point out that while I am around here it is your home too. Don't worry about returning to N.Z.

You will have to explain your brain wave to me. I think southern China is a better proposition for you.

I watched ‘Peking to Paris’ on SKY last night. The cars are just about to enter Russia

Love and best wishes

Subject: documents from Top School∼exit China then return

Dear Dad
I just got your email.

My brain wave was simply a last resort. If I cannot get those documents from Top School I will be unable to work in China unless I exit China then return. By September 14 I must have employment or leave China.

I trust the wheels are in motion.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: I'm wary of brain waves∼drove to the supermarket

Dear Lloyd,
I'm always wary of brain waves. Glad to get your letter this morning even though there is no mention of the passport.

I drove to the supermarket by myself yesterday. My biggest problem was finding the items I needed because Woolworths have now become Countdown and shelves re-arranged Countdown style!

Love and best wishes from Dad

Subject: technical difficulties∼snafus in Chinese bureaucracy

Dear Dad
I have had to restrict these emails because of technical difficulties with my apartment computer. I take it still no word about the passport. I sent an email to Internal Affairs saying I trust the photographs have been received and the new passport is being processed. I did not get a reply so I assume that is the case. When you get it, please immediately email me. I will authorise you where to courier it.

I remain in my apartment. However there are snafus in the Chinese bureaucracy regarding my foreign expert certificate. I am supposed to have one. Yet I last recall having one in 2005. Every school has its own interpretion of regulations which it insists is the right one.

I was going to offer to take the train to Vietnam and arrange the visa there. But Internal Affairs writes I cannot cross international boders until I have my new passport. I am not sure they are right but I dare not risk it.

I have sent Jessica emails of the Chinese schools I attended. That should settle the matter regarding the foreign expert certificate.

I read you are now driving. You had better be very careful. The smallest mistake and they will take you off the road. So treat every driving like a military opeation. I always did and never actually had an accident.

Also I suggest you don't try Eastwood Hill. I recall a driving altercation at the Patutahi bridge with Maoris. They would love to knock you around.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: exasperating delays with government business

Dear Lloyd,
How exasperating delays with government business can be. I keep hoping the passport will be in the box each time I look. Be assured I will hot foot it up to the post office as soon as it arrives. I will address the courier envelope toChenggong College, 168 Zijing Road, Gongyi Hanan, Post Code 451200, Peoples Republic of China

Further emails to Internal Affairs are indicated as this delay is becoming serious. Where are the photos? Do you have the courier receipts?
Quote these. The traceable number on the receipt should locate where the package is now. We should not be put through all this by our own government department.
Best wishes and love from Dad

Subject: photos have not arrived∼Dr Smith to witness

Dear Dad
The new passport photographs have not arrived at Internal Affairs office. I should have couriered them. I have now couriered two new photographs with the witness statement to your house. They should reach you in a few days time. Please ask your Doctor Smith to sign the witness statement and the back of one of the photographs. Then please also ask Doctor Smith to write my name Lloyd Geoffrey Gretton with the signature. Then please post the documents to New Zealand Passport Office.

Department of Internal Affairs
PO Box 10-526
Wellington 6143

Doctor Smith has done this for me before. He should know what to do.
I will email Mr Brown from Internal Affairs to give me the cost of couriering them to China. You can then send the courier cost by credit card to Internal Affairs and they will courier them direct to China. If the old photographs suddenly arrive, Mr Brown will ring you and you won't have to do anything.

I have now found a printers office and am writing this email from there. I remain in my apartment.
Love from Lloyd 

30 July

Subject: bitter experience∼free apartment∼computer troubles

Dear Dad
This is, of course, a bitter experience for both of us. But it will pass. I have in fact directed Internal Affairs to courier the passport direct to my China address. I will stay in Gongji until I get it.

I am having not a nice time. I am very luck to have this free apartment. So I am spending very little money. But of course I am not accumulating. I go most days into town and look around. But China is quite dreary.

No word yet from Jessie. As I said before, I somehow feel I am doomed to work at this College. I have had to use printers' offices for emails as my apartment computer keeps conking out. Everything in China is always shoddy.

Thank you so much for your kind support. I still feel angry that after my initial mishap I did what I was directed by the New Zealand Embassy and that has caused us all these difficulties. I should have known better. They do not represent our interests.
Love from Lloyd

Subject: one cannot rely on foreign post∼Best of British luck

Dear Lloyd,
I will do as you request. Bitter experience has taught us that when overseas one cannot rely on foreign post. Why didn't you ask Internal Affairs to courier post the completed passport directly to you in China? Sending to Gisborne will only cause further delay.

When Murray Smith has completed his signing I will certainly send it by registered courier with a traceable number. Best of British luck in this!

With love

Subject: have to leave

Hi lloyd,
Could you tell me the phone number of the school who give you the foreign expert certificate?

We can't do anything without the recommandation letter and the copy of your foreign expert certificate.

So, if we can't get that two things you have to leave.

31 July

Subject: day-to-day living∼B.N.Z. blue card

Dear Lloyd
How are you situated financially for day to day living? If you are short of cash let me know and I will go to the B.N.Z. in Gisborne and deposit what you require in your B.N.Z. account which you can access using your B.N.Z. blue card. This should overcome your problem immediately.
Love and best wishes from Dad

Subject: website funding∼work in Vietnam∼ESL articles

Dear Dad
Thank you for your kind offer. As everything is so cheap here, I am not in straits now. However since you offered, you might like to fund my internet site for a few months. I could pay it from here but it would cost international bank charges. A hundred dollars would do. Could you deposit the money at the beginning of this banking week?

I suggest once I receive my new passport in about a fortnight – I hope – you consider the situation. If I am earning then it makes sense I stay. If not, then I think I should take a ticket from Shanghai direct to Auckland and then to Gisborne.

Unless the expert certificate is sorted, I cannot stay in the apartment. It is really a ridiculous situation. I have no idea who has it. I have started looking for other positions in China and in Vietnam. There are other university colleges in those countries that are interested. The university semester starts soon. I would love to work in Vietnam. China is very dreary.

I was reading last night correspondence about my ESL articles from ESL readers. I thought some was quite valid. I don't have a good track record to put it mildly.

If I return to New Zealand, I will no longer pursue overseas teaching. I am somewhat worn out with being treated as a machine. I am sure you know the feeling.

I plan in New Zealand to start on my book, “Why Johnny Chan Can't Speak English”. It will be modelled on “Why Johnny Can't Read”.
Love from Lloyd