The work provides a personal snap-shot of the years 1964 - 1966 and distils the essence of what life was generally like for each annual intake of teenage boys who flowed through the Regular Force Cadet School from 1948 - 1991. Like No One Home, Home Base uses more than text to portray memories of time, people and place. Employing a bricolage approach, the work tells its story through short prose, poems, photos, sketches, maps, diary excerpts, and images of contemporary artefacts, memorabilia, and documents.
Home Base chronologically unfolds my Cadet years, but is more thematically structured than No One Home. Themes include arrival, learning the ropes, kit and caboodle, daily routine, marching and parading, minders and carers, leave and time-out, and aspects of barrack life. Vivid and sometimes humorous vignettes are used to gradually lay bare my army home and its harsh physical and social environment. Ever present are the volcanoes that form Waiōuru’s backyard, with Ruapehu in particular writ large in the lives of the cadets. Also woven through the memoir’s narrative is the story of how my individual post-cadet future came to be shaped and secured through the interest and actions of an Army benefactor.
Home Base will appeal to those who read life-stories to learn about and be reminded of times before and to an audience who enjoys reading about the New Zealand Army's past. It will also interest those who have served (or who are still serving) in the military in some capacity. Rather than being solely an account of one person’s memories of a particular life-period, Home Base will pique the reader’s curiosity and attention through the variety of literary and graphic forms that it employs and by revealing the uniqueness of a place in New Zealand most people only experience while passing through it.
Here is a taster from Home Base:
We were marched on and marched off
We were marched in and marched out
We were dressed up and dressed down
We picked up our dressing and lost it again
We marched paces forward or paces back
We stood at ease and stood easy
We stood to attention and stood around
We braced ourselves and paced ourselves
We numbered from the right but not the left
We were wheeled in and wheeled around
We marched in quick-time
We marched in slow-time
We formed up in columns of three
We moved to the right or left in threes
We got on parade and got off it
We changed step and marked time
We fell out and fell in
We gave eyes right and eyes left
We advanced in review order
We presented armsWe hurried up and waited