Sunday, 26 February 2017


The nicest people I've known - Part 2

Part 1 of this series unfortunately attracted too much negative comment and indeed threatened to blow up into a major religious war.

And this was just limited to Catholicism!
Imagine if the post had attacked other religions and beliefs like - gasp - Islam.

Geremy/Robert's witterings would be nothing compared to what these idiots might do.

Saturday, 25 February 2017


I haven't written a post series for a while like the 'lucky' series, the 'stupid' series, the 'worst' series etc. that I've done in the past. Usually I start off with great intentions and then the series sputter out after a few.

This time I'll see if I can do better and the theme is THE NICEST PEOPLE I'VE KNOWN.
Fortunately I've met a lot of nice people who have enriched my life so I'll do the posts in groupings rather than individuals.

Part 1 will be the Religious people that have crossed my life. Religious is written as a proper noun to denote people who are part of religious orders rather than just those nutters and 'god-botherers' who don't belong to religious orders but who still feel that they should bang on about it to all and sundry - you know the sort of people I mean.

The Religious orders I will refer to are all Catholic as I was educated in the Catholic faith so consequently was taught by Nuns, Brothers and Priests.

Not all of these were nice people but the majority certainly were.


Not Ray Nunns who worked at Murray Roberts years ago. While not exactly not nice, Ray was a funny rogue but a little bit bent. A bit of a con man and definitely dodgy.

No, I mean these people.

When I was at primary school (St Joseph's and St Anne's) from 1957 through 1961the Sister of Mercy nuns wore the whole kit and kaboodle like in the photo graph above - the second from the left not the scary one on the far right. Nowadays nuns have gone 'mufti' wearing normal clothing which kind of takes the fun and mystique out of it in the way that Mass services lost it in the late 60s when they dropped the latin service.

Over the four or so years that I was in Primary there were some nice nuns who took a real interest in what we were doing and who were really good teachers. Being cloistered and celibate, let alone having to wear those heavy black togs through all seasons though took a toll on some who were just plain mad or frightening.

One, I can't remember her name, used to wander around the classroom holding a two foot ruler which she would slam down on fidgeting hands or use the long leather belt she wore to slap
 the backs of thighs.
I'm sure that this later boosted Wellington's dominatrix business with some of those little Catholic boys becoming regular customers.

A couple of nuns who I do remember were Sister Mary Agatha (they all had the middle name Mary) and sister Mary Lucille.
Agatha was pretty old (or seemed so to a 5 year old) but was caring and looked after us if we were sick and used to visit my parents socially.
 Lucille was young (probably late teens or early 20s) and I remember being confused about her name thinking that she was a seal

which wasn't helped by the fact that she was wearing black head to toe.

These nuns and others helped shape who I am from an early age as the 3Rs were accompanied by teachings of social values of honesty, fairness and integrity and, at this stage weren't confused by the bullshit of catechism.


I was taught by Marist Brothers through the Intermediate years from 1962 through 1965. In old money this was Standards three through to Standard six. I went to Marist Newtown which was a superior school (Richard and Robert went to Marist Thorndon which was a bit dodgy).

I  thoroughly enjoyed my time at Marist although I can't remember the names of the Brothers who taught me except for the sociopathic Brother Paulinus. See Here:

Paulinus was a bit of a nutter I think but I remember a really nice teacher in Standard 5 who seemed a lot more 'normal' than the others. He didn't cane us the way the others did, especially Paulinus. I remember once getting a real thrashing by Paulinus for something as innocent as a bit of fun and pushing on the bus home and got 'the cuts' on my hands and bum that left marks for ages. Bastard!

The 'Standards' were a time of learning things beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, and science, social studies (geography and history) featured along with that godawful catechism. The nuns had glossed over this gobbledy-goop in a kind of naive acceptance of its 'truths'. The Brothers, all wannabe priests I think took it a bit further but in a totally unquestioning way. You had to accept that Jesus resurrected himself miraculously and 'ascended' into heaven and Mary his virgin (?) mother was assumed (good word that) into heaven by Jesus's power kind of like the way that the money and receipts in James Smith and DIC department stores whooshed along those vacuum pipes on the ceiling.

If you didn't accept this you got caned.

Despite this however, and probably due to the care and attention of the couple of nice Brothers (the one in Standard 5 and another in Standard 3) the concepts of right and wrong - basically conscience were formed which have guided me through my life.

Here is an interesting take on this period by Stephen Oliver who I think was a year or so ahead of me at the same school. His memory is much better than mine but I remember the music teacher and Stephen Keith the soloist. Go to this link here:


I attended St Patrick's College from 1966 through 1970 - third form to seventh form.
This was a pretty good school - actually at the time one of the country's best secondary schools and from it I got a good education.

The catechism continued now under the guise of 'Religious Studies' although from memory we only ever studied the Catholic version of Christianity and certainly never went near any non- Christian religions.

The teaching priests were all Seminary educated and had various teaching degrees and some had Divinity degrees. This meant that the blind and naive teaching of catechism (by rote) was replaced with an enquiring and searching analysis of the concepts - or at least that's what they pretended.
The basic tenets of the Catholic faith and Christian and non-Christian religions are of course bullshit and indefensible. Some if not all of the priests knew this I guess and almost wryly referred to it from time to time. This is why we had a dedicated religious teacher in each form which meant the science teacher could concentrate on science (definitely a conflict for Catholicism) and the mathematics teacher could concentrate on mathematics etc. There were a lot of teaching priests (and some lay teachers) so Richard and Robert didn't necessarily have the same ones that I did.

Father Bliss (I kid you not, that was his name) was the dedicated religious teacher that I had through the years. He kind of latched on to me in the third and fourth form realising that I ducked out of chapel services, confessions, prayers etc. and so he conferred on me the honour of being a Sacristan (my role was ensuring the numerous chapels throughout the school were stocked daily with fresh hosts for mass service). This didn't really have the desired effect. See here:

So, Father Bliss kind of gave up on me from then on but I found him to be an intelligent and interesting man. In the religious studies, named at one stage Christian Doctrine I think, I ignored all the claptrap that Robert obviously soaked up and instead concentrated on the more interesting and useful stuff - the science of morality. This teaching rounded out the social values teachings from the Nuns and the sense of conscience from the Brothers to become Ethics - a way of living that I try to follow.

There were a few oddballs at this school given that it had such a large teaching staff. I'm not aware of any paedophillic behaviour from the priests (although a lay-teacher was dismissed because he caned pupils bare backsides) but there were a couple who had alcohol issues. There were some really nice blokes there who really shouldn't have been priests and should have lead normal lives. Hopefully in the future, the stupid Catholic Church will allow priests to marry (partners of either sex) and become more natural. Maybe this new Pope can get something going there. Perhaps Robert can enlighten us.

I recall a good mathematics teacher, an excellent if eccentric science teacher, a reverential rector (headmaster) and a lot of others who helped in my studies and and growing up.

There were a couple of bastards as well, one being a psychopathic discipline master who was almost as bad as Brother Paulinus. Generally though these priest/teachers could happily have been friends or associates in a different life. Some of my classmates kept up contact with these guys but once I went to university I no longer had any further connection with them. I hope that they fared well in their lives.

Friday, 24 February 2017


This is what a town hall looks like to me.

I guess that you've been hearing about the 'Town Hall Meetings' going on throughout America that threaten to bring down Trump's dubious presidency.

In USA 'Town Hall Meetings' denote public forum meetings.

Wikipedia tells us:

Town hall meetings, also referred to as town halls or town hall forums, are a way for local and national politicians to meet with their constituents, either to hear from them on topics of interest or to discuss specific upcoming legislation or regulation. During periods of active political debate, town halls can be a locus for protest and more active debate.[1]
Despite their name, town hall meetings need not take place in a town hall. They are commonly held in a range of venues, including schools, libraries, municipal buildings, and churches. A number of officials have also experimented with digital formats for town halls. Town hall meetings organized by national politicians are often held in a variety of locations distributed across a voting district so that elected representatives can receive feedback from a larger proportion of constituents.
Historically, no specific rules or guidelines have defined a town hall meeting.[2] Any event that allows constituent participation with a politician may be called a town hall, including gatherings in person, group phone calls, or events on Internet platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Attendees use town halls to voice their opinions and question elected officialspolitical candidates, and public figures.[3][4] In contrast to town meetings, a type of direct democratic rule that originated in colonial New England,[5] attendees do not vote on issues during town hall meetings.
In the United States, town halls are a common way for national politicians to connect or reconnect with their constituents during recesses, when they are in their home districts away from Washington, DC.

Bloody Americans!

In New Zealand we don't use the term 'Town Hall Meetings'. We just call them 'Meetings' or 'Public Meetings'
Much more sensible and practical.

I recall a few years back when I was working for a company that had been taken over by a bigger USA company and the CEO/President of that company came down here (on his private jet) to visit. In each region he called for 'Town Hall Meetings' to take place so he could address the serfs.

I told our New Zealand CEO, my boss, that the term 'Town Hall Meetings' was alien and frankly stupid in a new Zealand context and that it would underline the hostility that some people felt to a USA takeover and would undermine any benefit from the get together. Now my boss was either too stupid or too sycophantic (probably both) to see this and proceeded to promote 'Town Hall Meetings' to all of the staff - much to their bewilderment and resentment.

The US CEO came in on his magic carpet and sped around the country doing his meetings (I set up the Auckland one in a neighbouring community hall rather than our offices - I don't think anyone got the joke). The US CEO was a bit of a joke. He was a very short guy with a squeaky voice and was bumptious as a lot of short people in power are. He didn't have much 'mana' and, for the first time ever in any of our meetings, used a teleprompter to make his (from the heart) speech. What a laugh.