Paul Ashford Harris

About Paul Ashford Harris

Paul Ashford Harris Paul was born in New Zealand in the dying days of WW2 in Lower Hutt, a suburb as anonymous as its name suggests. Situated on the north side of Wellington harbour it's hard to actually think of anything interesting that has ever happened there. Its resident's only solace is that nothing happens further up the valley in Upper Hutt either. Paul's mother was from the leafy north shore of Sydney and father from London, the latter the offspring of an unlikely marriage between an English Liberal Member of Parliament and an eccentric suffragette. Paul's parents had met on the ship on the way, or in his mother's case the way back, to Sydney. Romance evidently flourished under the starry skies, visible from the first class promenade deck and no doubt fuelled by French champagne. Married in Sydney, they had come to Lower Hutt via Dunedin during the 1930's Depression in an effort to revive the dying embers of the family business, started by his Great Grandfather in Dunedin in 1858. Sydney was tough in the Depression but Dunedin, a Scottish outpost of flinty eyed Presbyterianism, and cold as Edinburgh, must have been a nasty shock for his mother, who put it about that she had sacrificed a lively career on the stage in Sydney with the JC Williamson Company.

The family moved from Lower Hutt in 1950 to an old farmhouse surrounded by 40 acres of native bush in Waikanae, 40 miles north of Wellington. Barely turned six, and in the grand old English tradition of keeping your children out of sight and sound, Paul was immediately saddled with a nanny and then bundled up and sent off to board at St Peters in Cambridge four hundred miles away. This was an exact replica of an English Public School, with an eccentric English Headmaster, arcane English customs and what in hindsight was a strong whiff of that essential ingredient in a decent British lad's education, sadomasochism. A further five years of boarding continued at Wanganui Collegiate by which time Paul could hardly remember his parent's names but was at least used to having his backside walloped with a cane, a pastime which these days would get the perpetrator five years. On leaving school, fearful that he might decide to lounge about at home, Paul was sent off to Cambridge University, the alma mater of his father and grandfather and a shock of epic proportions to someone used to being incarcerated in male institutions in the middle of nowhere. Naturally and luckily for him, being a New Zealander he was good at 'rugger' a passport to ready acceptance amongst most of his peers. It also helped that his father was a Baronet, this last being a surprise to Paul since it was studiously ignored by his New Zealand friends.

Not long after graduating Paul married Gail, a gentle brown eyed honey blond, and fellow Cambridge graduate, in the Cathedral at Stockport, a suburb of Manchester. The service was performed under the gimlet eye of the felicitously named Canon Garlic. Gail was the middle daughter of a family who ran a business in Lancashire remarkably similar to the Harris family business in New Zealand. Both fathers took pains to mutter to whoever was interested that they thought the others business methods 'somewhat old fashioned'. Both were right but Gail's father had a Rolls Royce and Paul's father didn't.

Soon after marrying, the newlyweds emigrated by ship from Naples to Sydney accompanied in second class, somewhere close to the plimsoll line, by a few hundred Sicilians all dressed in black; so much for romantic nights sipping champagne under the Southern Cross. Not quite a replica of his parent's voyage in the '30's.

Sydney turned out to be just right. Paul and Gail grew into themselves, made their own friends, found a house that became a home and had a family. They revelled in the fact that the inhabitants of Sydney, a city truly of emigrants, are in the main welcoming regardless of background, race or religion, although they do have a fondness for rogues and a respect for money, especially if ill gotten.

They have been happily resident in Sydney ever since. They are now engaged in helping their four married children, three living in Sydney and one in Queenstown NZ, handle their own seven and a bit young children; hence the need for children's books. There is a certain synchronism in having three of the grandchildren born in Invercargill, the South Island equivalent of Lower Hutt, and a stone's throw from Dunedin.

The website contains some random writing over the years, including the children's books, completed whilst having a break from a career in finance and media.

Latest Works

The Origin of Cricket

Cricket can only be comprehended if it is remembered that it was invented by the English before the arrival of Televisio...

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The Wonders of Japan: a coutionary tale

Sat 25th May: Arrived in Kyoto from Osaka airport, an hour and a half along a motorway which the Japanese have sensibly...

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I Should Have Stayed at Home

I set out from Sydney full of enthusiasm for three weeks sailing on “Time Out”, a Beneteau 45, in the Greek ...

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