One Coke a Week Lifestyle – a New Way of Living

Wellington Harbor circa 1950’s
Aug 12, 2016

One Coke a Week Lifestyle – a New Way of Living


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #35
Rite of Passage Thirteen –An almost whole new way of living–
1958. I am 24 years old 

Q: Have you ever been regarded as a “foreigner”…a person who had a lot to prove before being accepted in a strange land?

Apart from brief visits to France I had spent all my twenty-four years in or near the south coast of Britain and three of those as a husband and father.

Of all the nations on earth to select as our new home…perhaps New Zealand was amongst the very best.

New Zealand had a small population –many had come from the British Commonwealth to settle amid its temperate climate so well suited to agriculture.

It was almost like home but without an ancient history and the cultural ‘layering’ that comes with such things as the ‘Lauded Gentry’ (think Downton Abby) with whom I had been quite familiar.

My home away from home was an army officer’s mess with several young unmarried officers where the food was completely beyond my control. Since I was the Chief Catering Advisor to the Air Force it was, to say the least, unwise of me to make the slightest suggestion on how the large portions of meat and potatoes could be better…cooked?

So (for six months) I ate without alcohol; I purchased only one coke a week and for entertainment, one movie with an ice cream. Every other penny I earned was saved so I could buy minimal furniture for a small apartment, down by the Wellington harbor docks.

Wellington Harbor circa 1950’s

Wellington Harbor circa 1950’s

Over that six months I gained 20lbs and every stitch of clothing I owned closed in to provide a near chokehold on my appearance.

In the midst of this ‘newness’ I began to find my professional feet and sought to justify my rank, responsibility and reputation as best as I knew how.

So…what about now?

How does one set about being ‘measured’ by citizens who wonder if this ‘foreigner’ has what it takes…in their country?

My arrival in New Zealand was at a time (1958) that there was only one restaurant with a wine license –The Gourmet, in Auckland.

There was a fledgling wine and food society whose founder president international was my early mentor André Simon (if you are reading the book see Rite of Passage Five). I attended, in order to somehow add some ‘status’ to my background. Before long I found myself as its vice president and starting a series of ‘one dish with wine’ suppers at which I demonstrated the dish that was made in quantity for those attending by one of my Air Force cooks.

This got the attention of Shirley Maddock, one of New Zealand’s leading ladies of the media. She introduced me to Elise Lloyd, the head of Women’s Broadcasting and within several months I was launched on radio with a series called ‘Cooks Tour’ that began in 1959.

This pretty slow moving ‘advance’ appeared to settle the issue of my having some degree of competence that was of some use to the nation.

All of this public activity eventually led to my going on television as a public relations stunt by the Air Force that simply ran away with itself.

It was during my initial six-month ‘acclimation’ period that all this effort was being made to make myself acceptable to the ‘locals’. When I added my new job this gradually took over all my attention and the most important people in my life were put on the back burner where Treena was left, without news, wondering what on earth was happening!

Have you ever been so preoccupied with a ‘new job’ that you have little thought to those who waited for you to…come home?

Well, that’s precisely what I did!

P.S This week I read Treena’s poem The Man Of Sorrow


  1. Gary Gillman Says: 2:44 pm

    Interesting, thanks for this. Given the British roots and settlement in N.Z. I’d have thought it would be more familiar than it sounds it was. Perhaps in time we will read how Canada struck you on first arrival, whether it was as different to home as N.Z. was.


  2. Jean Says: 3:44 am

    Amen Graham – I hope so too!!

  3. Lynn Severance Says: 1:31 pm

    I have only been a “foreigner” when traveling to other countries. My purposes were not to stay, although a large chunk of my heart remains in Oxford, England 🙂 .
    During some of the years I was able to travel, my grandmother and my mother were family who were excited about my opportunities. I worked for two years in Washington, D.C. and was away from Seattle, my hometown and where they lived (as did other family members). They may have “missed me” but we kept in touch. We were all busy with our lives but not too busy to stay in touch. I eventually returned “home”.

    Yet I can relate to Graham’s question on a different level and the view from where I am now. My grandmother, my mother and all her generation are now passed away. The family that remains are not ones to communicate as was the mode in my days with my grandparents, mother, aunts and uncles. Letters, cards, phone calls, meeting in person, gathering for holidays were a given and brought relationship joys.

    It may be a “progressional” change in this fast paced, text-me-in-3-words generation. When I do see any family members it is wonderful. It simply is rare. They are busy and, seemingly, too busy to stay in touch.

    It is a a “foreign” world to me. I miss “home” and what it once meant and how I belonged.
    What choices does this foreignness leave me? It has meant being more content when it is just God and I and letting our relationship deepen. It has meant accepting what can no longer be while grateful for what once was. It means reaching out as best I can when I can. It means choosing to go where “joy is” whenever an opportunity presents itself and bringing “my joy” along. I am still the same person. Only my circumstances have changed. God truly does lead the way and only I can choose to be content where He has asked me to live and serve at this time in my life.

  4. David Rhyne Says: 1:00 pm

    Graham Kerr…I’ve discovered you again!
    Quickly: During my 4th & 5th years in grade school (Las Vegas no less) I would walk home during the lunch period and eat at home vs. the “cafeteria” (I’m being civil). During this hour I had to tolerate a shallow 30 minutes of General Hospital or some other horrific soap opera tale that my mother was watching…but was always rewarded by “The Galloping Gourmet!” So that’s how I spent my lunches, eating tuna fish or PB&J with my mother (departed this earth last year) to the wonderful discoveries that you provided. I confess, the travel aspect rooted itself deeper than the food – no offense!
    Now I am 55, spent 32 years active duty military (retired Apache pilot, US Army), 9 of that was in Germany so I got quite a good sampling of European food and wine. Today one of those childhood lunch times popped in my head and here I am…delighted that you are still alive! Sorry about your loss, but it sounds like you will see Treena again soon “unless the Lord tarries” (pretty sure He’s coming soon though!).
    Those years in Germany: I could write all day – but I lost my glasses so it’s a strain to do what I am now! The German’s (and French/Brits/Czechs etc) all taught me to “slow down and chew my food” and enjoy that time vs. the desire to flip a table quickly like America. Our favorite German-Greek restaurant in town (The Lowen, St. Leon-Rot a town just south of Heidelberg) had no issue with us occupying the same table ALL night – so we did – EVERY Friday night! Those are the dates with my wife that I will remember the most; great food, fellowship and conversation. If you are interested, you can probably turn your Bible to Proverbs 31 – there should be a picture of her in the margin right next to Treena’s!
    In addition to eating slow and enjoying the moment – European’s have also taught me to relax and enjoy vacationing. American’s are usually just as busy if not more so when taking their “holiday” vs. being at home/work…we need to SLOW DOWN! I occasionally go to a family retreat spot and do NOTHING – something many of the siblings lament about – poor souls!
    My eyes are hurting so I’ll close…I was encouraged by many of your entries on the blog, your wife’s poetry and the fact the Christ is proclaimed here and it appears you or someone close has a hearing loss/issue as evidenced by the CommPilot you have around your neck in one of the photos. My 15 year old son (our youngest) has a sensorineural hearing loss that started about 3 years ago – it is changing our life with sign language, deaf camps and other necessary adaptations but God has allowed it so we are embracing it. Keep up the great work…and I sure do miss “the show!”

  5. Graham Says: 2:24 pm

    Mark, Thanks for the good word about past reflections. I do agree with you, especially when looking back over ALL the years that have taught me so much…and are still teaching!

    ON THE OTHER HAND…the entire purpose of these blogs is to look back at the HARM I once did, both to myself and others, and simply speak it out in the hope that maybe someone, somewhere, may be in the midst of harm without actually knowing it, as I once did?

    If just the telling of the tale brings revelation, then nothing was lost?

    I do want you and others to know that this long exercise in reflecting upon past mistakes is not joined to regret as much as it is cause for celebration. Past pain has, for the most part, been healed…for which I am now most grateful…Oh yes…and still learning as you perfectly describe. Graham

  6. Jean Says: 10:23 pm

    Not in a foreign land but here at home. I used to be very much involved in extra curricular activities of which my husband was not. Thus after working all day I was out three nights a week for recreation and sometimes weekends away while he kept the home fires burning. Well, this along with other stresses lead us to separate and almost get divorced. Thank God for His miraculous intervention through other Christians we got ourselves back on track and I saw the error of my ways. From that day 25 years ago until now I have never, and never regretted, giving it all up for the sake of our oneness in all things. We happily celebrated 44 years this past July. If you are not in it together it’s not worth it – move on.

  7. Mark W Says: 9:38 pm

    Graham, don’t worry about what you did – or didn’t – do as a young man. If I looked back that far I would gaffs beyond comprehension – instead, look at what you became as a result of that learning experience. Not bad, hmmm?

    Mark – still learning……

  8. Sandra Tertullien Says: 12:43 pm

    Dear Graham ,
    My Parents came to Britain in 1961 from the Caribbean meet and fell in love married and me and my twin sister and my youngest sister 3 years later . In those days things different coming to a strange country not knowing the culture the weather etc etc sadly there were racism and life was tough among the immigration coming from the Caribbean they find work , home , married and had children as the years go by children from first generation of first immigrant had children of there own move away start a new life of there own because i one of them and i proud of my parents raise me and sisters to be who we are today. Nothing is not a bed of roses is life is what we made it in this world

  9. Sally Andrews Says: 11:32 am

    My foreigner experience was rather different. Moving from Australia to the US to marry and move straight into a “family” situation with 2 daughters firmly planted, I had to prove myself to, not only the country for my career, but to my new family. I made the mistake of trying so hard to be what everyone wanted, and be “accepted”, I lost myself and the parts of me I valued. I also slowed down on my communication with my wonderful family back home, being late with gifts when I never had before, and letting good friendships drop in the distance and panic of trying to fit in to my new foreign life. I’d encourage everyone who has to move into a foreign and new situation, to be very careful to take time to honor yourself, keep you you, and not try to hard to fit in. Let your own light shine. Now having been through a crisis, and my friends from back home coming to my rescue, I am so glad they forgave me my silences and am reminded to be there more for them. Valuable life lessons.

  10. Dia Says: 9:42 am

    everything is different for the traveler. New surroundings exciting new things to do and see. We travelers just look at each day as a new task to accomplish. When I travel for work, sometimes I’m working until the work gets done, and that means long days and only time for sleep. If I picked up a pen to write, I would wake up with ink on my face because I was too tire. Then you get busy the next day and the cycle continues. Not that we don’t think of home, I think of home all the time when I travel but I also know everyone is ok at home. I know that my work is altimatley taking care of home also. But those at home are going about there days just as they had done all the days prior. We get to remember who we are as individuals before we had to consider others, so sometimes we forget that our conversation our presence is missed. We do our best to make up for it, who know we would be missed so much??? I didn’t. But now I do. And I feel honored to know that I was that important to someone. And I still forget to call or drop a card in the mail. It’s easier in today’s world than it was in 1958.. Thank you for sharing Mr. Kerr

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *