Allen Lockington The face behind the letters

IF there is anything The Fiji Times Letters to the Editor column may have contributed to Allen Lockington’s life, it probably has given him a chance to be a responsible citizen and mindful of what he does in life. Being a regular contributor to the column has taught the former Customs officer many life lessons and this includes being very careful of what he says and does.

Allen also always fights against littering and most of his letters are intended to be educational and are written to help members of the public realise that dumping of rubbish carelessly is not good for the environment.

In this week’s Spotlight, Allen shares his life, passion and what he values the most in life. Being the entertaining person he is, he always ensures that in addition to being educational, his letters are also entertaining.

Age: 56

Lives at: Kava Place in Waiyavi, Lautoka

Describe yourself: Fun loving and very aware of current affairs. I will never become a politician.

Q What inspires you to be the person you are?

A Family, my grog mates, issues that affect us and the need to tell people what they should know and how they could be affected. The smile on the faces of needy people when you offer them something and they are lost for words and all they can do is smile and wipe away a tear.

Q What would you describe as your passion in life and how would you go about realising it?

A I am retired from active 8am-5pm work and loving it. I have many passions — family, grandchildren, friends, going to grog sessions and listening to people’s opinions then putting pen to paper or for that matter fingers to computer keyboard and writing about it.

Q What would you consider to be the most memorable in your career?

A Having worked as a Customs officer in Suva, Levuka, Nadi International Airport and Lautoka, and being sent to Labasa and Savusavu to work when foreign vessels would call there. Meeting people and facing challenges and dealing with them and not passing the buck to my superiors. And the opportunity to travel abroad to be attached with various Customs departments and learn new things. The most memorable was my time with the Singapore Customs Department.

I am obsessed … with reading the news and especially Facebook because I have gotten to meet friends and family that I haven’t seen in years.

And after I started writing letters, I stayed within the law, never double parking on the roads, never tooting the horn aimlessly. Making sure my trash is always deposited in its place, I am careful about what I say and do. And only crossing the road when traffic lights say so. (If there are pedestrian crossings that is).

I can’t live without … My wife because she has been with me for 36 years or more — I’ve lost count of the years and when I got transferred around Fiji during my time in the Customs Department she has been with me. She has been my leading light, mentor, confidant, a person who would tell me that I was wrong (even though I was right). Oh, and my trusty laptop (computer) and internet because it keeps me in touch with the world. I don’t really know which I can really live without.

I am proud of … My children and their achievements. I am proud to be a grandparent and like my friend from Australia, Terry Hulme said: “Allen, when we have grandchildren we get to be parents all over again, but the second time around we get to do it right.”

Wish I could change … There are many things I wish I could change. A few are the mind-set of some of our representatives in Parliament so that they could be more loving and accommodating and not to be seen as aloof so that Government and Opposition could work together in peace and harmony. Change people’s attitude towards throwing litter where they want. Change drivers’ and pedestrians’ attitude in so far as road requirements go.

Change people’s attitude towards dogs. People keep dogs and let them roam around and become problems for the pedestrian and they reproduce like rabbits. They bark at night, run after people taking morning or afternoon walks and they use the road as their toilet.

And I wish I could change the weather.

Really need to … Get my six-pack back.

Can’t handle it … When people don’t keep their word.

I look back and … I often wonder if I could go back in time and be present when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. When Moses came down with the Ten Commandments. Be present when the first Bible was being written. Be present when the first people inhabited Fiji. Be present when Fiji was ceded to Great Britain — and never influence or change anything.

I relax by … Having a basin of yaqona or a bottle of wine with my wife with only the streetlight lighting up our porch. Not saying too much, just sitting in silence and every now and then one of us will say, “taki”.

I am excited about … Getting up in the mornings and feeling great and not hungover from alcohol or too much kava. Because as I grow older each new day is like winning the lottery.

I have always wanted … To own an island far from the maddening crowd where I could live on and go fishing and swimming and row out to the reef and surf. And sit on the beach and watch the sun set and sun rise.

Play my records of old numbers and waltz the night away, and shake to the sounds of the Guitar Boogie just my wife and me.

And every now and then a speedboat would come bringing our supplies and kava and my mates, and they would sit with us under the moonlight and tell me what’s going on in the world and especially what exciting nonsense was being talked about on Facebook.

Biggest weakness … Having heard a joke and retelling it and forgetting how it ends.

List of favourite things … Reading novels, listening to music and enjoying solitude.

Opinion on the state of the world … We could do better if the countries that manufactured weapons could manufacture agricultural equipment instead.

Mother always told me … To be kind.

My attitude to exercise … Sad, very sad.

My relationship with my body … To always see to it that my stomach doesn’t get so big that I wouldn’t see my toes.

Full name: Allen Malcolm Lockington

Favourite food: Anything goes.

Favourite drink: I have many but one that is constant would be good old Levuka waka — called wai ni bu kei Ovalau.

Favourite book: The Haj by Leon Uris.

Favourite movies: Cartoons.

Mentor since childhood: My dad, who has passed on, may God rest his soul.

Favourite quote: Always be prepared and most of all be kind to one another.

Person you would love to meet: The Creator.

Advice to young children: Be kind to your parents so that you may grow up to be good parents. Look after them in their twilight years and get a good education so that you may be highly considered when applying for a job. And speak and write proper English.

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