A witty snapshot of retirement life written by a Possum Bourne resident has earned a top 10 placing in a nationwide competition held by the Retirement Villages Association of New Zealand (RVA).
Joan Lussi was one of 10 winners to receive special recognition for her entry, a funny fictional (and pre-Coronavirus) account describing what happened when a group of residents decided to venture out to a café for a buffet brunch.
Joan has modestly downplayed her success, saying it had just been a good way to fill the time during lockdown.
“It had to be submitted by Easter Sunday and we only heard about it a few days beforehand. But I enjoyed doing it, it gave me something to do.
“I used to be quite good on the computer but it took me longer to work out how to save it in the right format than it did to write it,” she laughed.
The criteria for the competition required entries of roughly 2,000 words on one of the following three topics: Trouble in the Village; An Unexpected Turn or All’s Well that Ends Well.
Joan picked the latter, choosing very relatable characters to fill her story which was singled out by the judge, Joan McKenzie, a 40-year publishing veteran who has been Head of Books at Whitcoulls for the last 10 years.
Of the 172 entries that came from 80 different retirement villages nationwide, Joan’s was chosen as one of the top 10, along with two other Ryman residents.
“Joan’s had a great storyline – going out for a buffet lunch when in fact they could have all stayed at the village and been catered to and then turning that into a real event, with all the attendant hassles of age,” Joan said.
“It also had terrific characterisation which made it to me, really plausible. There was some lovely gentle humour being poked at the group, and the conversations about age-related issues really rang true.”
Resident Joan certainly had plenty of inspiration having lived at Possum Bourne Retirement Village in Pukekohe for three years after moving from Tauranga to be nearer to her son.
Born and brought up in the UK, she then lived and worked in Zurich, Switzerland for 30 years where she and her late husband Paul raised five children.
Joan admits writing and language has always played a big part in her life.
“I was the editor and translator into English from German of a graphic art magazine and I was responsible for writing new blurbs for new books.
“I also worked for a nuclear power plant in Switzerland doing a lot of English translation there.”
Joan and Paul moved to New Zealand following three of their children and settled in Tauranga, where she edited a community magazine for residents of Bethlehem.
“We said we’d come out for a couple of years and we stayed here!”
Since then, her children have spread out around the world. Two are in Switzerland, one is in the UK, one is in New Jersey and one is down the road in Pukekohe.
Joan said the lockdown situation had its challenges but she was glad to be at Possum Bourne.
“It’s not too bad. We’re luckier than a lot of people. We can walk around the village and I keep myself occupied.
“And this was just something a bit different to do over Easter.”
While she speaks regularly to her children overseas on the phone, it’s her son Rick who lives in Pukekohe who will receive a special treat – Joan’s competition prize of a couple of bottles of Nevis Bluff wine.
“I don’t drink, but I didn’t do it for the wine,” she said. “My son can have it because he’s the one who helped me save it into a pdf!”
You can read Joan’s story here.
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