The long-awaited part eight of Fartlek and Low Things in West Auckland. Written in Commonwealth English, if you will.
Colin Livingstone is a European-based writer and illustrator who was a competitive distance runner in New Zealand. He represented Auckland in national competition over road and cross-country from the mid-1970’s to the early 1990’s. He relished fast ‘bush running’ on the wild, hilly trails of Auckland’s west coast, long before the days that mountain running was an official sport.
He coaches British and Welsh champion, Tim Davies, a three-time winner of the annual Snowdon International Mountain Race, and top performer at the European and World level. Tim went from being 15th in Britain to 5th in the world within three years of this progressive endurance conditioning.
Colin’s twin brother, was a national-level runner in New Zealand and Australia, winning Wellington and Auckland titles,with top performances on road, track and cross-country. He ran 44.37 for 15k on the road in 1983, and won the final of the Budget 10k road race series in 1984. Keith is the author of the best-selling book on the Arthur Lydiard method of training, Healthy Intelligent Training, which was written with the serious middle-distance athlete in mind and to modernize Lydiard’s method to today’s language (brother Colin provided the illustrations).
In 1990 Keith helped his current coaching colleague John Meagher to a debut marathon time of 2 hours 16 minutes, and later to a Melbourne Marathon victory, and three titles in the World Masters Games. Their “HIT Squad” currently boasts three nationally ranked senior 1500m runners.
Colin and Keith grew up a stones throw from the legendary Arthur Lydiard and in the same neighbourhood of many of his great athletes. Keith is now a coach and chiropractor in Australia, while Colin resides in Great Britain.
As a second generation runner trained on the Lydiard method by the likes of John Davies, Dick Quax and later by Ron Daws; Lorraine turned out a career typical of those who trained under the Arthur Lydiard method, long and versatile.
Four Olympiads and 30 years of competitive running, including a stunning bronze medal in the Barcelona Olympics, after she had been written off as too old, capped a career where she competed at the highest level on the roads, track and in cross-country.
Recently Moller wrote her autobiography, On the Wings of Mercury. Although not yet released in North America, it is available online. The book has already reached the top sellers list in New Zealand. Moller is also the co-founder of the Arthur Lydiard Foundation and operates a online coaching service that provides the most versatility of any program on the internet, for all abilities. Running Wizard is based on the famous Arthur Lydiard method of training.
Christopher Kelsall: Keith, did you once shoot Colin? Can good Karma come from this?
Gavin Harris: I can confirm the gun story, Keith vs. Colin.
Colin Livingstone: Forget about the gun, I remember the chicken coop Pol Pot style torture chamber…and accidentally locking Michael Billings in that old 1940s refrigerator in the back of Barret’s barn.
CK: Okay what about the chainsaw story?
Keith Livingstone: Col, You DO have a chainsaw tale; when you fell off the top of that pine tree you were topping-off at Orakei-Korako Thermal Wonderland in Wairakei. I also remember you fell from the beams of the roof of the TVNZ set-design warehouse through a Maori ‘whare’ set, after trying to rescue an injured seagull. The headline would have to have ‘Fallen Man’ in there somewhere.
The chicken coop was Col and I. About eight years later and 480 kms to the north. We dragged this perfectly good, well-framed chicken coop up from the illegal tip by the creek behind Hendon Ave on our billy-cart. We put it up on good solid stumps, and swathed it in several layers of chicken-wire.
CK: From where did you get the chicken wire?
KL: Also scrounged from the tip. This was constructed on the dark, south side of our rented house in Mt. Albert, between the hedge and the kitchen window.
This involved a lot of industry with hammers and nails. We made it escape-proof with the sole purpose of confining one Lance Fraider, a young part-time resident of Hendon Avenue state housing area located in between stints in Borstal. That part of Hendon Avenue and Rangeview Road reached the news here in Australia when a police siege and an embittered domestic dispute got a bit nasty.
CK: What type of guy was he?
KL: He was the type of guy who’d get his gang members to pull you off him when he was getting pasted. Weak as piss on his own.
CK: So how did you get him?
KL: We got him by jumping off a crab-apple tree with a blanket while he rode his bicycle beneath on his regularly-timed taunting rides, and gave it to him pretty badly while we sort of trussed him like a wild boar and shoved him inside our ‘Killing Fields’ set-up.
CK: Did he make much noise?
KL: Well then Colin got the slug gun….. It’s a good, solid, historically verifiable true tale about revenge – a dish served cold. Needless to say, the good guys won, and we let all the little animals in the forest come and poke sticks into Lance and spit at him while he was safely in his prison, sobbing, before we all pissed off and left him alone when the thunderclouds let go. Mum came home from her teaching job about 5:00 pm, and made herself a coffee in the kitchen. With the rain thundering on the tin roof, she thought she could hear the faint sound of crying outside, opened the kitchen window, and saw something straight from Pol Pot’s regime. Judging by the way she bailed us out, we were all reading comics in the bedroom, having moved onto the next thing.
KL: And, move forwards about ten years, and I’ve got to establish from (Gavin) Harris or (Chris) Pilone, who still live in the area, whether Pilone’s notorious illegally-constructed workshop still stands behind Colin’s former business in Mt. Albert Road. That’s quite a good one, too. I imagine it could well still be there, but there’ll be no record of it in City Council building inspectors’ files. Had lighting, power, clear fibreglass roofing, everything.
CL: Yeah…that happened as described; the shooting.
Another one was the dork who chased me in an unmarked Chevette at 80 through a red light in Balmoral, claiming he was a cop (he was). I pulled over with engine running, foot on clutch and in gear by Stilwell Rd…not too far from home.
CK: What did you say to him?
CL: I said he was a dickhead and if he did not let go of my door, I was going to pummel him. He would not let go and then it was off with the clutch in first…smoking down the road with the bugger having a fit hanging on. I was home like forty bastards. I did my usual trick of parking the car under tarpaulin, bucket of water over bonnet and engine…a few seconds of steam and job done.
CK: That’s it?
CL: Cops called round after scouring streets and finding cooled Morris Oxford under tarpaulin, me and Bill, tea in hand. We had quizzical looks as copper recognizes me and accuses me of the former. He did not verify or recall my plate number. So the other officer apologised for wasting our time.
Slarty Bartfast: Brings to mind us all in a Humber 80 in Taumarunui and driving through the arcade having to “borrow” a battery somewhere in Huntly when the old girl finally died (broken exhaust had knocked charging wire off the generator). And of course the “other car chase” out of Taumarunui when I hooked up with a lady who was related to the Mongrel Mob and they took exception to me stealing the best looking girl in town. Ended up they wrote their car off when they failed to take a bend on the first bridge out of town…. being drunk and trying to fire and load a shotgun and drive a Morris Oxford that handled like a wheelbarrow full of walruses with a flat tyre, is never conducive to good cornering…doesn’t have much to do with running though.
CK: Yeah we should talk about running…
KL: EVERYTHING has something to do with running and can be weaved into the contextual tapestry of life. This sort of adventure, along with various childhood epics, were all about risk-taking, development of endurance traits, and development of character.
Have you got any photos of that Humber with the goat’s skull mounted on the bonnet, up on the steps of Parliament in Wellington, Paul?
You visited me down there a couple of times; the first time you came solo through the night on a dirty big off-road bike, with various insects embedded in your hair and clothes, and the other time in the Humber 80, maybe with Dave Mann and a fair-haired bloke who you knocked around with. I should remember his name, but that bit of selective memory got removed by the neurosurgeon.
CK: Or some tangles of neurofibrillary
KL: Obviously wasn’t necessary for my long-term survival, what the neurosurgeon did.
Another occasion is when we were puttering uphill in Parnell in my Fiat Bambina 500 with the sunroof, and a large Yank tank full of Maoris forced us off to the side. You jumped up out through the roof and let fly with the loaded starter’s pistol that you’d acquired at Mt. Smart Stadium the day before, and they just took off. Quick thinking under pressure. 100%.
CK: So off the running again.
KL: How about one where a lone girl runner gets hassled by young males as she runs past, and her riposte….? Wasn’t it “If you were good looking, I’d have fallen over!” Anyhow, Peter Renner was being hassled by these idiotic CB radio freaks after finishing a run in the Port Hills, and as he always ran after topping trees in the morning, the chainsaw was still in the back of the ‘ute.
We heard it roaring from up the track, and then we heard all the squealing tyres of rapidly departing vehicles. He had to get going earlier than us to some family engagement, which was why he was on his own, and also why this gang of CB freaks thought he was fair game.
CK: Sounds idiotic.
KL: They must’ve been very stupid. He was a gangly 6’3” of stringy muscle and bone, used to felling pine trees for 40 hours a week. Then he’d do his Lydiard-based training.
CK: Oh good. Running dialogue.
KL: I was the passenger in my powder-blue 1956 Morris Oxford with bench seats and 1500cc four-pot, with Colin at the wheel, when Colin pulled into the police cavalcade that was escorting the visiting princess of Tonga across Auckland, and availed himself of the steady 40 mph free trip through all the intersections until it started pissing one of the police officers off at a lights where they finally stopped and re-grouped.
My memory of this is the cop telling Colin to get out of the cavalcade, and “piss off, smart-arse”, while waving his open wallet with his police ID. Then Colin said ”I don’t want to see your f***ing credit cards, dickhead!” And it was all on. I got out of the car shortly after and walked home up the hill, but I could certainly hear all the sirens going as the chase got underway. From up the mountain I could see more and more lights flashing along the roads below Mt. Albert, and then I turned in to bed, to be awoken in the wee hours by brakes, doors slamming shut, and an animated discussion outside, and then two male voices laughing in the doorway. I asked Colin what all that was about, and he said to me “that was that cop. He reckoned he never had so much fun in a car chase for years, and wanted to congratulate me. He loved the bit where we drove through the late shift at the Reese foundry in Rosebank Road. They always keep their doors open there at night so it doesn’t get too hot”.
CL: Yeah…the cavalcade for the King of Tonga in 1979, joined by your powder blue 1956 Morris Oxford with a bent bumper from hedge crashing. We had a singlet flying out of window in lieu of flag. We had an escorted drive through Auckland, plus a hoot of a chase after. I remember it was the furnace doors of Rheems Industries where we got a bit silly. Lorraine was there, I’m sure of it, or at least in one of these rose tinted memories…happy days.
KL: The classic I always laugh about is when Lorraine and Allison (Deed/Roe) went to the Customs St. Tepid Baths swimming pool in downtown Auckland, ostensibly for some steady laps. I was just hanging around and went for the ride. Allison was a blonde bombshell (still is) who obviously was used to just smiling and batting her eyelashes at men and getting her needs catered to. So she parked her little car in a street alongside the Tepid Baths, and asked the nice policeman up the road if he could “look after my car while we pop in for a swim”. And he did, like a puppy-dog.
Lorraine Moller: Yes I was with Allison when she got the cop to mind her car while we went for a swim. She more or less left it in the middle of road under this cop’s care. He was clearly mesmerized by her as he had been assigned to police the area for illegal parkers. She pulled off some intrepid moves for which I had the wrong hair colour and too much ingrained fear of authority to even dare. We got in a good swim before the pool closed and the car was right there when we got out.
KL: Yeah and it wasn’t a short swim, either. That was 1979, before she became the marathon superstar.
CK: Oh good. Running talk.
KL: I think she won North Island schoolgirls 100m freestyle swimming races, high jump, and maybe 800m in one year (1974?). A couple of years before my time in athletics started, but an all-round athlete. Could’ve been a superstar triathlete too; she won or placed second in an early version of the world triathlon champs in the USA, I recall.
LM: Yes Ally was an amazing athlete who could have excelled in any sport she chose. Beautiful runner. And an incredibly refreshing and uplifting person to be around.
KL: She also managed to lose her late-model SUV in the multi-level car-park when she came to your book-launch a few years back, so you, Allison, Col and I all piled into a taxi to get down to the waterfront hotel where we had a few apres-launch drinks and a chat along with about 20 others.
CK: How do you lose an SUV?
KL: We went through four floors of cars looking for it, but she had absolutely no idea. The template for “Legally Blonde”.
LM: I don’t know how Allison lost her car the night of my book launch, can only guess it was temporarily parked in one of her alternate realities. It was not a huge lot for Borders bookstore.
CK: Ok, so did she find it?
LM: She sent her husband to collect it the next morning and being the only car left there it was pretty easy to spot.
Keith, Paul Holmes was very generous that night and paid for everyone’s drinks – he was probably quite happy to pay for your cab home, for another hour with my pretty nieces.
KL: I also recall that Col and I claimed Paul Holmes’s regular chauffeured taxi to get back to Mum’s place in Green Bay. Got the receipt which had his Remuera address on it, so presumably it was paid on his credit card.
CK: Who is Paul?
KL: Paul is a local NZ “celebrity” who is very funny and generous in small doses, but he got painful after a few too many drinks, “hitting” on young girls and swearing his head off, and therefore it was only fair that he paid our way home. Don’t know how he got home in the end, or what condition he was in……
Oh yeah, I remember shooting you in the leg, Colin! Through your PINK corduroy trousers, in 1974. MAN! Did you go off! (I think your cords were originally bright red, don’t want to give the impression you had hermaphroditic leanings).
Thought my last minutes had come. Don’t know why I shot you- I think you pissed me off about something.
CL: Yeah …Keith you bastard….I was going to rip you apart. You shot the entire chamber from that .22 gas pistol at me in the garden of Pickens Crescent. The trousers were new Levis from Kean’s Boss Jeans in Queen Street….pink? …uh….say…light burgundy…this was 1974. I still have a scar on my leg from that shot…and another thick nodule of scar tissue behind the right knee ( which narrowly missed the nerves according to Doctor Laird).
KL: And what about you and Paul O’Donahue, aka ‘Zimmo Window Cleaners’, collecting $40 for picking out the slug pellets from the back eaves of the Holdens’ house in Allendale Road, the day after you’d fired them in?
Didn’t the poor kids over their back fence cop the blame and get their slug gun confiscated by the police?Little did they realize you had a Crossman pump-action .22 rifle with cross-hair telescopic sights, and were firing away from the comfort of our back deck further up Mt. Albert. The years 1979-1980 were a lot of fun, and despite trying to get back there, my efforts have proved fruitless, so far. I also remember you had a Colt ‘44 replica, and you sat in the bath one day and nailed a fly on the wall with it. There was no Clint Eastwood influence at all. Luckily you were in Scenic Art at T.V.N.Z. and your repairs to the bloody great slug hole were pretty good.
CL: Anyway…although I did regularly sight the rifle in on Allendale Road…the house in question was in Duart Avenue, parallel to it. For some reason lost on me 32 years later…I just loved to shoot at one house in particular…the slugs cracking into the weatherboards like a bullwhip. Many an evening was spent just shooting from the verandah on Grande Avenue, high on the shoulder of Mt. Albert….after a long run or weights…beer cans on the table…Frank Zappa playing on the turntable. The lads would come around, Pilone, Dalzell…and have a go as well. Over a year, I must have pummeled that place with thousands of slugs…which I sincerely apologise for retrospectively.
CK: Ok off the running, how did you get the job?
CL: Well…O’Donoghue and I got a call from one of our many leaflet drops…there was this lady in Duart Road needing lots of holes fixed and filled on the front of her house.
None the wiser, we showed up to quote on the job, the place seeming vaguely familiar as we approached the door. She opened the door, all bouffant hair, lavender perfume and horned rim glasses like Dame Edna Everidge. A lone Grandfather clock was tick-tocking in the hallway, atop the flowered Axminster carpet.
CK: Good detail.
CL: We were ushered into the kitchen, whilst a bloody yap-dog arose from his kip like a woolly rat. We were shown around the side of the house where the teal weatherboard was splintered from an oblique angle. Then, the greenhouse where shards of glass punctured various splattered tomatoes like a vegetable massacre. This was not good, we thought, as the old lady told us how the Police confiscated an air rifle from some teenagers in a neighbouring street. Fair enough too.
Then, we went round the front, where a sense of deja vu prevailed. I realised I had seen those familiar gables many times through a telescopic sight, with a cross-like pattern of holes emblazoned across the loft, peppering and splitting the wood. Well, we quoted on the job…
CL: And we got it. It was a bastard to dig out all those slugs and fill them, but my artisan’s sense of perfection enabled me to do a fine job, filling, sanding, painting over several days. I remember giving her back a hundred bucks, but she insisted on leaving an envelope of dollars in my rucksack. Then, she got me to do tree topping, landscaping and lawns…always with a pot of tea and biscuits on the porch. The same porch that I knew so well….and they say there ain’t such a thing as karma. God was testing my conscience.
Feeling an inch tall with humility, I reformed and changed my habits totally…only shooting in areas miles from home.