About (5)

by Patrick O'Brien

Leaving home

I left home in 1966 to attend boarding school at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, and, while I returned to the family farm for holidays, this marked the time when I flew-the-coop.

Though cloistered from the outside world, boarding school gave me my first sense of freedom — the simple things, like, choosing how many spoons of sugar I could have in a cup of tea, or whether or not I needed to wear a jersey when cold.

I enjoyed my time at Silverstream; being a capable athlete is an enormous advantage when forging one’s place in the pecking order of a boys’ boarding school:

Cate Brett, former editor of the Sunday Star-Times, when writing her investigative article “Broken Soldiers” on undercover police in New Zealand, described me as being “… a golden-haired-boy, the archetypal all-rounder: classical pianist and violinist, sports champion, leader of the symphony orchestra,  house captain, school prefect, captain of the athletics team and vice-captain of the First XV.”

Our motto was “Sectare Fidem” — hold firm to the faith — and all the teachers were priests. My five years at Silverstream were a blessing in my life . . .