THE MAYOR OF ANSON BAY
It was the last day of summer, and you could not have picked a more beautiful day. Lots of phone calls and word of mouth resulted in about 100 of us gathering out at Puppy's Point yesterday afternoon for an unusual and spontaneous occasion....the investiture of Greg Quintal Snr. as the Mayor of Anson Bay. Well, not altogether spontaneous, because Ngaire had been hard at work planning the event, but it was brought forward so we could hold it before Greg's son Les returned to Sydney.
Now Ngaire was responsible for giving her neighbour Kik Quintal the title of Mayor of Cutters Corn a while back, and ever since Greg has been dropping broad hints that he ought to be Mayor of Anson Bay. He has certainly earned it, having lived there for well over 70 of his 90+ years. I should add that although he now sleeps at his daughter Gracie's home. He sets off for his Anson Bay property by 7 a.m. each morning, and works hard in his huge vegetable garden (over 1/4 acre). and does not usually return till sundown.
It was all a big secret - all Greg knew was that Ngaire was taking him to a "Fancy Dress" occasion, and he had to wear this ridiculous outfit. At the appointed time, Archie picked him up in his vintage vehicle, and transported him across the road to the beautiful picnic and barbecue area at Puppy's Point, where he was greeted by everyone with great enthusiasm.
Greg arrives in the Lord Mayoral vehicle, chauffeured by Archie.
Ngaire led him to his throne with its picturesque ocean backdrop, and when told he was now to be made Mayor of Anson Bay, he firmly declared "But I am not a mayor (mare) - I am a stallion!"
Uncle Tom was ready dressed as the Town Crier, and proceeded to read out the proclamation, after which Greg received his Chain of Office.
There followed an extremely funny session where folk told amazing and hilarious stories about Greg, most of which would lose much in the translation to written English here! But I cannot resist passing on the one about the time that Greg was digging a well for a local man. The digging had gone on for some time, with no water being found, and the landowner decided he could only afford to pay for one more day of digging. The next time a stone was lowered on a rope to see if there was any water right at the bottom, Greg, who was way down the well himself, decided to pee on it for a joke! When it was raised to the surface, the owner squealed with delight at the wet stone, held it to his lips and sucked on it, excaiming:"Beautiful, clean, fresh water!!"
Fortunately, real water was discovered just the next day.
Funnily enough, in his inimitable way, Greg had decided to have a ring ready for the occasion - although he was not sure what it was to take place - and he now placed this on Ngaire's finger (after much rummaging beneath his robes to find it in his pocket!
There followed the most wonderful time of enjoying the 'wettles' (food) brought along by everyone. The tables were absolutely groaning with beautiful home cooking, and a very refreshing punch that turned out to be deceptively potent!
The new Mayor of Anson Bay and the Mayor of Cutters Corn have a chat.
These signs will grace Greg's fence at his home across the road.
What made the afternoon so special? No doubt the clear blue skies, the wonderful scenery and scrumtious food helped. And there is always so much humour and laughter when a group of Norfolkers gather together in this way. There is a spirit of family and community and shared values that defies neat and tidy descriptions and explanations. Young and old seem to gain equal pleasure in sharing in the occasion.
And it was all homegrown and grass roots stuff, with not a single real official dignitary in sight!
Best of all, it was an opportunity to honour Norfolk Island's wonderful senior elders in general, and one very special person, Old Man Greg, in particular.
How wonderful, what a marvellous occasion.
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