In 1970 Alvin Toffler, futurist and author, penned Future Shock, followed by The Third Wave.
Both made headlines. Both tackled the issues of rapid global change and social upheaval. It seems we humans, for better or worse, are creatures of change and the lessons of history are learned slowly, if at all, and must oft times be repeated.
Time passes. Things change. Principles however, like gravity, don't. This is fortunate. Everything needs a reference point. My delving into my family's slide collection and my father's diary account of our 1962 journey to the UK sparked this current series of columns.
In the mid 1950s and early 1960s my father was involved in New Zealand Radio and Television production in the NZBS and NZBC. Television in New Zealand was new. My father, Peter Cape, was granted a bursary from the Imperial Relations Trust to train with the BBC in London in television production techniques.
In 1962, in March, the Cape family, my parents, my sister and I, sailed from Wellington on the Dutch Netherland Line MS Oranje, bound for Southampton by way of Tahiti, Panama, through the Panama Canal to Florida. Life on board was varied, full, and colourful for all of us. We crossed the International Date Line and I had my eighth birthday.
There was no internet in 1962 so education was paper based, by correspondence school and the theatre of life. Tahiti was steamy tropical heat and amongst Pape'ete's architecture a colonial atmosphere lingered.
The coconut palms were tall. Street vendors operated market stalls draped in colourful tapa cloth along the dirt road beside the wharf where the Oranje was moored, adjacent to the white oil silos.
In 1962 passenger ships were modest by 21st century standards. Floating cities of 5000 souls did not exist. Super tankers were generally still on the drawing board. The largest passenger ship was the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which we sighted, berthed in Southampton.
In Pape'ete in 1962 there was no overseas shipping terminal. Now I see, thanks to Google, that there are two cruise shipping wharves and a large oil tanker occupies the Oranje's 1962 berth.
We spent several days in French Polynesia taking short trips to see the lush green, thatched and colonial landscape.
Fishing was common. Fishing nets hung to dry under trees near the water's edge and outriggered canoes, occasionally stored on wooden scaffold frames, were regular sights. Brown skinned locals marketed produce and colourful shell necklaces.
We bought one or two, and some coral, along with a small dried parrot fish which I still have on my bookshelf. It featured in one of the Bear and Cindy children's stories that my father wrote in later years. The locals rode bicycles and Vespa scooters, and drove Citroens. At day's end the sun set golden behind nearby Mo'orea on a tranquil ocean.
Life can be unpredictable and we would see Tahiti again in November or December that year.
The plan was to return to New Zealand by way of Suez but the Middle East was still unsettled by the echoes of the war in 1956 when the Egyptians closed the Suez Canal by sinking a few ships in it. This made the NZBC nervous about their investment in my father's training. They couldn't afford to lose a producer and his family. I was disappointed. We all were. It would have been exciting but I suppose it might be have led to bad publicity.
We left Tahiti sailing east towards Balboa and Panama City.
I recall a couple of occasions in the mid tropics. In the heat the large boarding doors on the side of the ship were opened and chained off to allow ventilation below decks. I remember watching, fascinated, as the waves rolled blue green and white topped and schools of flying fish leapt the troughs between the waves.
I recall their iridescent reds, blues and silver. There was such unbridled vitality in that windswept scene.
By contrast I know that somewhere mid passage, the ship stopped in the early hours of the morning. It was dead calm. A baby had died and there was a burial at sea. My father, being an ordained minister, attended. I don't think he officiated but I believe he was interested and may have been invited to attend and I recall my mother being annoyed at not being included. Of course my sister, at 5, and I, being 8, could not necessarily be left alone in the cabin.
I suppose the tapestry of life really was rich. I would become accustomed to taking it in my stride.