Gidday! My name’s Ritchie Manning and I reckon it’d be a good idea if I clued you in on this yarn. After all, I’m in it, and it’s the straight goods about me, a “townie” from Christchurch, New Zealand in the 1940s, set on becoming an agricultural professional. This meant four years study plus an additional year of farming experience gleaned around the country. For me, the “Magpie” sheep station and its owner provided experience by the truckload lot. There I formed a sort of fighting friendship with two hard-case shearers, but best of all I met Ngaire (the “g” is silent) Ferguson. Later, on the Thibault’s dairy farm, I encountered a ghost that brought tragic consequences for their family and much soul searching for me. Unexpectedly, this improved the yoyo relationship I had experienced with Ngaire’s father. Between farm work and study Ngaire and I found time for a goose hunt, spearing butterfish with her sister and boy friend, and observing the return of Lord Cholmondeley-Melbourne to our campus.
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