Author(s): Colin Hogg
A road trip about memory, mateship and mortality. Author Colin Hogg returns to his native soil, the south of the South Island, on a sentimental journey of rediscovery - with a difference. Accompanying him is one of his oldest friends, a fellow Southlander, and now terminally ill fellow journalist. They first flatted together as teenage newspaper cadets in Invercargill in the 1960s, and much has happened since - to them, and to the place they came from. It was late afternoon and a few of us were sitting about in the sun having a drink on my birthday when the friend I've known the longest sat down opposite and looked at me like he was going to say something serious. He was, and he got straight to it. He had health issues, he said, in a tone that put the 'issues' word in ironic quotes. He'd been to see his doctor the previous day. He had maybe a year, he said. Maybe a bit more. I was so shocked by what he told me that, after an initial gasp, I said the only thing that seemed to make any sense to me in the circumstances. 'We should go away for a road trip,' I blurted out. He nodded as if he knew I was going to say that. 'Back south,' he said. 'Yeah,' I said back to him. 'South' meant Southland, where our story started, 46 years earlier. And that was the end of that conversation. Within weeks the trip was all booked and ready to roll. I felt nervous. A road trip about memory, mateship and mortality, into the heartland of a New Zealand that still exists and still surprises.