Having a dear and companionable friend is what makes life worth living don’t you think? And that’s what Sheila was.
She was a most delightfully unusual person
deeply soaked in that tough Stewart Island background she’d come from. Whalers and sealers who had married into Maori families. People with names like Jacka Lee, Yankee Smith Black Swan, Manuel Gomez and Ned the Nailer.
Both she and Gilbert would say of themselves.” We are Foveaux Strait. A very mixed crew. Down here we think of people by name not by whether they’re Maori or Pakeha.”
I’ve known Sheila since the 1990s when in desperation I asked her to introduce me to Stewart Island families whom she thought I should interview for my radio series Dinkum Purlers. People whose blood was worth bottling.
Wake up with me, Dinah Priestley, travelling from Wellington to London in an accident-prone WW2 truck called Leviathan. Friends said to us “You are mad! Those toddlers of yours will be dead before you reach London.” But we were lucky.! We survived, with help from peasants and prostitutes, missionaries and maharajahs.
I’m so proud of my daughter Justine who has edited films such as Touching the Void, Black Sea, Locke The Iron Lady, State of Play, One Day in September. The Eagle, Last King of Scotland and won numerous awards, including Best European Film Editor.
I just love this picture of her…
She is multi talented with excellent artistic and technical skills. This picture includes her generosity, her zany sense of humour but also a touch of don’t mess with me buddy.
My grandson Cassidy has written this book called The Wicked Plum Tree. It’s a rollicking story about Colonel Frogmorton’s quest to discipline a barren plum tree. Fortunately, a magical young gardener arrives to save the day. I loved it so much I had to illustrate it for him.
You can buy it now for $20.00 from Anchorage Press. Call 044727257 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org