Goff Squire has had plenty of tales to tell in his 88 years, but got the shock of his life when his latest story was one of 10 winners in the Retirement Villages Association Generus Living Short Story competition recently.
"It was a real surprise. I put that one together over a few days and sent it off with only a day to spare."
Goff and his wife live at Princess Alexandra Retirement Village and he has been a hobby writer for many years, editing the quarterly Wool News at Williams and Kettle before retiring more than 20 years ago.
"I also put together an A to Z glossary of all the terms which was sent out to every client in the centennial year."
Goff says there were more than 500 wool terms, with 80 abbreviations, and 70 definitions highlighted by cartoon illustrations.
"Those stock agents have a good sense of humour."
It's that ability to see the lighter side of life and recreate it on paper which Goff was able to convey in his recent winning story. The competition had 172 entries from 80 villages around New Zealand and was judged by Whitcoulls Head of Books Joan McKenzie – initially three winners were planned but it was so hard to judge they decided on rewarding the top 10 instead.
Goff's story in the "All's Well that Ends Well" theme is a fun piece about a bunch of guys who go fishing in the Marlborough Sounds – and encounter some challenges on the water.
"All the incidents are true but it didn't all happen in one trip. We used to go two or three times a year. There are three main characters but I've changed the names. We had some good days down there."
With one of Goff's mate's health declining and the decision made by the harbour board to close the shed where they stored their runabout, it was time to call it a day.
"Then the owner of the cottage died - we were getting old."
But not too old to lead the village's Writing for Families group.
"I took over from a lady who's just turned 98 - she said, 'Well Goff, you've got 10 years'.
"I've put together a programme of how to write up your family history under chapter titles."
When he retired, Goff also wrote his own book "My Life and Times" – an historical piece for the family, which he had three copies bound by a local craftsman.
Goff says he's thrilled to have won a place in the writing competition along with a bottle or red and a bottle of white wine, which has been another boost during lockdown.
"We're not finding the shutdown too hard – with a daily walk in Ahuriri Park behind the townhouse and enjoy being very well looked after by the village. We used to have Friday happy hour too, which of course doesn't happen anymore, but instead every Friday we get a happy hour package delivered to the door with a few drinks and some chippies."