Victorian constable and carver

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A TRIDENT High School year 9 class has submitted these autobiographies to the Eastern Bay Life, which are part of a unit in English – ko wai au (autobiographical unit), in which students were encouraged to look into their personal history to help inform their understanding of who they are today. Students took inspiration from the writing greats such as Roald Dahl and Witi Ihimaera, to name just a few, to discover how to use their personal voice and to craft voyages in time. This week’s stories are by Max Cornwell and Ned Steane.

Charles McHardy

SCOTTISH POLICEMAN: Charles McHardy was chosen to escort Queen Victoria during a visit to Scotland.

MY great-great-grandfather, Charles McHardy, was a Scotsman who came from a small village in Scotland, called Deeside.

He was a chief constable that owned a fairly substantial bach near Balmoral Castle, which was the castle that Queen Victoria and her family sometimes stayed in.

This great-great-grandfather of mine was born in 1843. This was also the year that the telegram was invented. If he was alive today he would be 175 years old. When he was 19 years old he joined the Scottish police force and was quickly promoted to chief constable after he was chosen to escort Queen Victoria and her husband the Prince Consort when they first visited Scotland. After the escort, Queen Victoria had a portrait taken of him and his family.

His family were also the reigning champions of the highland games in their area. They were so talented, other clans would try to convince a couple of the younger McHardy men to compete for their clan.

He had also developed the skill of carving walking-sticks as a hobby. He became very skilled in working with wood, horn and ivory. Even Queen Victoria was made aware of his outstanding proficiency, and in gratitude for being presented with examples of his walking-stick craftsmanship, presented him with a copy of a fine painting of his father which hung in Balmoral Castle. Edward, Prince of Wales, also became the proud possessor of several sticks carved by Charles.

My Father

IT was 2003, my parents were soon to be married. My father had left on Boxing Day, 2002, to work in Antarctica at the Indian science and research base, flying scientists to take them to places to do research.

While he was there, my mother was organising their wedding. He was due home a month before the wedding but was delayed on his trip home from Antartica on the icebreaker, Magdalena Oldendorff, in Capetown harbour.

There were issues with the ship and everyone on it trying to clear customs, so he spent a week sitting around on the ship not able to do anything. Communication back then wasn’t what it is today and mum was a little bit in the dark as to whether or not he would make it home in time for the wedding.

Apparently, there was talk of getting a cardboard cutout of him if he didn’t make it back on time. Fortunately, after about seven days sitting in the harbour, they cleared customs and were allowed to board their flights home a few days later. I hear it was a beautiful wedding.
Max Cornwell

The spotlights were blinding, it was the opening night of our school production, Rats. I was playing the lead role, of Raticulis, a kind-hearted, environmental rat, that saw birds not as food, but as friends.

As Raticulis, I was required to sing a solo, called Individuality. It was a cringy, wretched song that was very hard to sing. I could only make out the front row of the audience but I knew that the whole room was staring at me. This made it even harder to sing the song but I knew if I didn’t it would be a whole lot worse. I took a deep breath and did my best …

By Max Cornwell