Gary Clark is the owner of pest control company Garyz Services and the Whanganui speed skating coach. He answers 10 questions from Mike Tweed.
What got you involved in the pest control industry and what’s kept you in it so long?
I’ve had a love for insects and creepy-crawlies all my life. My mother took great delight in telling a story about when I was a youngster – before my memory – when she lifted up my pillow and found slugs, snails, slaters, spiders, earwigs, anything I could pick up. Apparently, I said, “They are all my friends.”
An opportunity to get into pest control came up in my twenties, 37 years ago actually, as a part-time worker. Then I took the business over and turned it into my own.
I enjoy my work and it’s very interesting work. There was a campaign a while ago – “Get better work stories” – about joining the police. I’ve definitely got a few.
Have you ever arrived at a job and thought “Nope, this is too much”?
Yes, I most certainly have. I struck a shocking hoarder who had trouble with flies. I had to say, “Yep, I’ll be back when you’ve cleaned up all this mess because I can’t do anything for you.” It’s a two-way street if you’ve got a pest problem. There are some things you have to do yourself.
Do you still don the Lycra and compete in inline races?
Only once a year, in the last weekend of November for the River City Skate Tour. There is an old-timers’ quad race. And yes, the Lycra still fits nicely, thank you very much.
Is there a new generation of inline skaters coming through in Whanganui?
There is and there always has been. I’ve been coaching for over 40 years and it would literally be in the hundreds [of skaters] over the decades. Now and then you see a couple of really good ones. Chase Morpeth is one – watch this space. Another is Tazia Parker. She is going to be very, very good.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Wow, that’s a tricky one. I got together with my partner Krystine [Davies] later in life but I should have knocked on her door when we were teenagers. I was so nervous when I got there that I threw up in the garden and elected not to knock. I chickened out when I should have been brave.
What is the soundtrack to a day in the life of Gary Clark?
It would start with Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond. In terms of a reflection of my life, it would be Hell Yeah by Neil Diamond. It’s a little-known song – one of his later ones. You know how old rockers go, they get back into it in their sixties.
As a [speed skating] announcer, I can relate to the line “I’ve been living in a bowl with a lot of people staring”. Quite often, being the announcer at a skating tournament means everything is your fault. Someone can come up and say “How come my daughter didn’t make it into the semifinal?” and you just think “Hold on a minute.” You are in the spotlight a little bit and everybody looks at you. That’s okay, though, I like the limelight.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Whanganui?
That would be a toss-up between teaching kids how to skate and playing golf at the Castlecliff club. I started playing there around seven years ago when I gave up speed skating. It’s a great course.
How is your golf handicap at the moment? Any tips for new players?
I’m on 17 presently but that could drop to 16 very soon. Tips? Don’t try and belt the covers off it. Don’t try and hit it too hard – hit it smooth. Straight is more important than long. And play at Castlecliff. Absolutely.
Favourite city to visit?
That would have to be Berlin but, in terms of the best memory of a city I’ve visited, I’m going with L’Aquila in Italy. That’s where Krystine won her [Masters Under-60s Marathon inline skating] world title in 2017.
What is one thing you would change about Whanganui?
Get the freedom campers out of the focal points, like the Whanganui Community Sports Centre (Springvale). That’s somewhere we’d like to invite people from out of town to come and park. We had a big tournament and people were telling me they had to park 500 metres away and walk all the way back with their skates. Kowhai Park is another one.
I would say put freedom campers in places other than key “touristy” places. If I were to narrow it down to one thing to change, it‘s to get some sensible legislation on that.
Mike Tweed is an assistant news director and multimedia journalist at the Whanganui Chronicle. Since starting in March 2020, he has dabbled in everything from sport to music. At present his focus is local government, primarily the Whanganui District Council.