Friday, 21 February 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Singing Sel keeps customers happy in Tairua

Pop in to Tairua Four Square and you are likely to encounter a big man with a huge smile and a strong voice to match. If you are lucky you will hear this cheerful guy behind the check-out counter singing.

He says “You will hear me before you see me, and when you see me, you can’t miss me!”

Fifty-seven-year-old Selwyn Ainsworth-Kopa – known locally as Singing Sel – has been working at the Tairua supermarket for nine months and his personality has endeared him to shoppers and folk in the community.

He grew up in Te Awamutu in a family of seven brothers and five sisters. Selwyn was third to last. However, in his early teens he ‘adopted’ himself a second family with best friends, Darryl and Darcy, and Darryl’s brother Brett.

“When at college these boys kindly offered our services to Darryl’s parents, farmers Colin and Margaret Campbell, to milk the cows whilst they were on holiday. When they returned Colin asked Margaret ‘When are these boys going home.’ Margaret’s reply was ‘I don’t think they are.’ And forty-three years later they are still my family.”

Recalling the boys’ time on the farm when the Campbell’s were away, Selwyn says he volunteered to be the cook, preferring lying in bed during early milking time. He rose just in time to cook his mates breakfast. “Sometimes they came back from the shed and found me still asleep,” he grins.

When he left school, Selwyn went on his big OE, working in London for a couple of years as a carpenter. “I remember my first day at work because I had all these brand new tools and the other chippies spotted them and labelled me ‘another cowboy’. In 1985, a conversation with someone who had worked on cruise ships led to five years working at sea with American based cruise ships His first job was on the ship “Tropical”, as part of 1,000 crew catering for 1,600 passengers. He started as a bar waiter, then wine steward, and then bar manager, and he loved all of it.

Also working on that ship was Londoner, Karen. After turning his advances down a few times Karen changed her mind. They got married and have been together over 30 years. Their experiences together included a stint managing the Criterion Tavern in Whanganui.

“Having been renovated, this old pub looked lovely,” says Selwyn. “My first night as manager I donned white pants, blue jacket and a tie, all from my days on the cruise ships.” But after meeting the local boys on that first night he switched to more casual attire. Before the year was out, the tavern owner decided to sell the lease. After a holiday in England, Selwyn and Karen worked in Auckland, where Selwyn was bartender, then supervisor at Auckland Racing Club.

Next came their first move to Tairua, commuting to work at Auckland Airport for eight years before moving to Papamoa where Selwyn became a taxi driver. He recalls a couple having an argument outside a Te Puke supermarket. “I was sitting in my taxi singing at the top of my lungs and they stopped, looked at each other and laughed, and thanked me for breaking up their row!”

Now back in Tairua, Selwyn is enjoying his role interacting with locals and visitors in the busy store. His friends say he has a wonderful voice, likened to that of Sir Howard Morrison. But Selwyn is shy of singing to request, saying he just sings because he feels happy, not as a performer. “And I love it when people start singing with me.”

Selwyn seems to have created his own language. When working at the check-out he wishes customers “a great day mi-darlin”, talks about buckerubies (dollars, apparently) and c-aash, and often adds extra rhymes to people’s names, Pam-damala being one of them. These are all guaranteed to make customers and staff smile. And that, above all, is what makes Singing Sel happy.

Pictured: happy customer, Sarah Rowe, with ‘Singing Sel’, Selwyn Ainsworth-Kopu 

Pop in to Tairua Four Square and you are likely to encounter a big man with a huge smile and a strong voice to match. If you are lucky you will hear this cheerful guy behind the check-out counter singing.

He says “You will hear me before you see me, and when you see me, you can’t miss me!”

Fifty-seven-year-old Selwyn Ainsworth-Kopa – known locally as Singing Sel – has been working at the Tairua supermarket for nine months and his personality has endeared him to shoppers and folk in the community.

He grew up in Te Awamutu in a family of seven brothers and five sisters. Selwyn was third to last. However, in his early teens he ‘adopted’ himself a second family with best friends, Darryl and Darcy, and Darryl’s brother Brett.

“When at college these boys kindly offered our services to Darryl’s parents, farmers Colin and Margaret Campbell, to milk the cows whilst they were on holiday. When they returned Colin asked Margaret ‘When are these boys going home.’ Margaret’s reply was ‘I don’t think they are.’ And forty-three years later they are still my family.”

Recalling the boys’ time on the farm when the Campbell’s were away, Selwyn says he volunteered to be the cook, preferring lying in bed during early milking time. He rose just in time to cook his mates breakfast. “Sometimes they came back from the shed and found me still asleep,” he grins.

When he left school, Selwyn went on his big OE, working in London for a couple of years as a carpenter. “I remember my first day at work because I had all these brand new tools and the other chippies spotted them and labelled me ‘another cowboy’. In 1985, a conversation with someone who had worked on cruise ships led to five years working at sea with American based cruise ships His first job was on the ship “Tropical”, as part of 1,000 crew catering for 1,600 passengers. He started as a bar waiter, then wine steward, and then bar manager, and he loved all of it.

Also working on that ship was Londoner, Karen. After turning his advances down a few times Karen changed her mind. They got married and have been together over 30 years. Their experiences together included a stint managing the Criterion Tavern in Whanganui.

“Having been renovated, this old pub looked lovely,” says Selwyn. “My first night as manager I donned white pants, blue jacket and a tie, all from my days on the cruise ships.” But after meeting the local boys on that first night he switched to more casual attire. Before the year was out, the tavern owner decided to sell the lease. After a holiday in England, Selwyn and Karen worked in Auckland, where Selwyn was bartender, then supervisor at Auckland Racing Club.

Next came their first move to Tairua, commuting to work at Auckland Airport for eight years before moving to Papamoa where Selwyn became a taxi driver. He recalls a couple having an argument outside a Te Puke supermarket. “I was sitting in my taxi singing at the top of my lungs and they stopped, looked at each other and laughed, and thanked me for breaking up their row!”

Now back in Tairua, Selwyn is enjoying his role interacting with locals and visitors in the busy store. His friends say he has a wonderful voice, likened to that of Sir Howard Morrison. But Selwyn is shy of singing to request, saying he just sings because he feels happy, not as a performer. “And I love it when people start singing with me.”

Selwyn seems to have created his own language. When working at the check-out he wishes customers “a great day mi-darlin”, talks about buckerubies (dollars, apparently) and c-aash, and often adds extra rhymes to people’s names, Pam-damala being one of them. These are all guaranteed to make customers and staff smile. And that, above all, is what makes Singing Sel happy.

Pictured: happy customer, Sarah Rowe, with ‘Singing Sel’, Selwyn Ainsworth-Kopu at Tairua Four Square.

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