Wednesday, 19 June 2019



We at The Curmudgeons inc.ⓒ value readers' input and we acknowledge a request from one of our regular subscribers for us to hold publication of the pending Jackets post.
We are unsure of the reason for this but fortunately The Curmudgeons inc.ⓒ has an extensive and comprehensive archive of past material to draw on. If a solution re Jackets isn't quickly found we will re-publish some posts from the Chairs, Windows and Paintings collections.

Thank you.



Tuesday, 18 June 2019


Welcome to this post on COATS.

Recently I was concerned at what's going on over at Richard's Bass Bag. You can find the link here ....... on second thoughts no, don't bother, it'll only encourage the old guy who sits up all night watching Google Blogger stats on his computer screen to see if anyone has viewed or, god forbid, commented, on his posts. He normally writes boring posts about bass and violin playing but his most recent ones have been about his foreign language studies. These are mind-numbingly boring which is really the domain of this blog. I thought then that I'd entertain regale you with a little personal history of coats that I've worn over the years.

Now I won't be able to remember all of the coats that I've purchased, borrowed and worn but will try to cover a few styles at different times of my life
I'll try to illustrate with images where possible and will insert a little description courtesy of the excellent Wikipedia which I will acknowledge here.


Let's go.

I don't remember what coats I wore as a baby but have seen black and white photographs of me, in the 1950s wearing some sort of woollen item with lots of buttons up the front.

This was one sort that I must have worn when I was a baby up until about 2 years old. I don't know what colour it might have been (black and white photography) but as blue was my favourite colour no doubt my mother kitted me out in a blue one not unlike the picture above.

From the ages of 4 to 6 I seem to have worn something like the one above. Please take note that the image above is not a photograph of me. My mother recycled clothing so often I wore cast-offs from both my older brother and older sister. The photograph I've seen suggest that I at some stage was wearing my sister's coat.

Through my primary and intermediate school years I wore raincoats with belts. These were always navy blue coloured and had a tartan lining inside. The style never changed and the exact same design was used from probably the 1920s through the 1960s.

The style I wore was the one with the built in belt and buckle like the boy is wearing just left of centre. The coats were of a heavy not quite waterproof material that had a rubbery texture. I don't know what they were made from and in this case Wikipedia didn't help.

At secondary school there were some kids wearing the belted raincoat still but I didn't socialise with them. They were normally members of the school band and were librarians from the lower classes (the school ranking system not social strata). By this stage I'd discovered the ......

Duffel coat

A duffel coat (also duffle coat, for example in Canada) is a coat made from duffel, a coarse, thick, woollen material. The name derives from Duffel, a town in the province of Antwerp in Belgium where the fabric originated. The hood and toggle fastenings proved popular, and the coat spread across Europe by the 1850s. By 1890 it was being supplied to the British Royal Navy. After World War II, the coats became available as government surplus stock and became popular, especially with students.
I remember feeling 'cool' in this coat even though it kept me toasty warm (unless it got wet). It was just the thing for windy Wellington winter days. This was the coat of beatniks, revolutionaries and those great looking French girls seen in international magazines. It was the thing to wear until those school band boys and the librarians discovered it. It was time to move on to the .....

Pea jacket

A pea coat (or peacoat, pea jacket, pilot jacket) is an outer coat, generally of a navy-coloured heavy wool, originally worn by sailors of European and later Americans. Pea coats are characterised by short length, broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, often large wooden, metal or plastic buttons, and vertical or slash pockets. References to the pea jacket appear in American newspapers at least as early as the 1720s, and modern renditions still maintain the original design and composition.

The history of the peacoat is deeply rooted in military and naval backgrounds. Surprisingly, the jacket has been around since the 1800s when the first variation was worn by then naval powerhouse, the Dutch. The name pea coat originated from the Dutch word “pije” (they pronounce their j’s funny), which was used in the Dutch language to describe a coat made from coarse wool fabric.
While the Dutch are credited for inventing the peacoat, it was the British navy who can take the credit for the popularisation of the jacket. The British version of the coat was similarly designed for naval duties, particularly designed to be a uniform for petty officers.
The coat then made its way across the Atlantic for a third appearance, this time with the American Navy. The U.S. Navy adopted the coat and used the coat for “reefers”, who were the sailors responsible for the unenviable task of climbing up the rigging of sailing ships
I wore my pea jacket from about the 6th form onwards after, as mentioned I had to abandon the duffel coat. I include the pea jacket in this post even though it is ostensibly about coats as it was slightly longer than the normal jacket and I wore it as a coat even though it wasn't as warm as the duffel coat.
Readers shouldn't worry though as following no doubt on the popularity of this post I will write another one on jackets.

Naval Officer's coat.
At university we used to scour op-shops like St Vincent de Paul's and Salvation Army clothes stores for what we thought were trendy jackets and coats. Some of these were diabolical and smelled bad. This didn't stop Tony though who was already both of those things and he wore the same old speckled black jacket for years.
Noel was always wearing an old army greatcoat in those days (and probably still does). I discovered a 'great' naval officer's coat in a shop in Newtown and proudly wore it when I could

When I say 'when I could' this was because the coat was about six sizes too big for me. It was beautifully tailored though and made from quality wool. I paid peanuts for it but it must have originally cost a fortune in Saville row, London. I kept this for many years and can't remember what happened to it. Maybe The Old Girl 'disappeared' it as it did make me look like a character out of Spike Milligan's Puckoon.

Harris Tweed overcoat

Another Op-shop purchase I made when at university was a grey Burberry Harris tweed overcoat. This, unlike the naval officer's coat fitted like a glove and saw me through many winters in Wellington and, later, in Auckland until for some reason it no longer fit me (must have shrunk). I kept it though and when we were living in Christchurch The Old Girl used to wear it when we went for winter walks. We ended up giving it to the Salvation Army and I hope that with great quality like that it found a good home and was enjoyed by the new owner.


A trench coat or trenchcoat is a coat variety made of waterproof heavy-duty cotton gabardine drill, leather, or poplin. It generally has a removable insulated lining, raglan sleeves, and the classic versions come in various lengths ranging from just above the ankles (the longest) to above the knee (the shortest). It was originally an item of clothing for Army officers (developed before the war but adapted for use in the trenches of the First World War, hence its name) and shows this influence in its styling.
Traditionally this garment is double-breasted with 10 front buttons, has wide lapels, a storm flap and pockets that button-close. The coat is belted at the waist with a self-belt, as well as having straps around the wrists that also buckle (to keep water from running down the forearm when using binoculars in the rain). The coat often has shoulder straps that button-close; those were a functional feature in a military context. The traditional colour of a trench coat was khaki, although newer versions come in many colours.

I bought the London Fog trenchcoat many years ago when I was living in Christchurch. This is a superb raincoat and quite frankly I like it when it's raining in Auckland so that I can wear it. I took this with me to the UK when we were living there a couple of years ago and it was perfectly suited to the winter. Ir was less suited to Canada though as the winter's there are fiercely cold and I had to buy another coat while I was there.

Stockman's coat

Wikipedia had no mention of a stockman's coat but the equivalent is a 'duster'.

A duster is a light, loose-fitting long coat.
The original dusters were full-length, light-coloured canvas or linen coats worn by horsemen to protect their clothing from trail dust. These dusters were typically slit up the back to hip level for ease of wear on horseback. Dusters intended for riding may have features such as a buttonable rear slit and leg straps to hold the flaps in place. For better protection against rain, dusters were made from oilcloth and later from waxed cotton. Dusters were the recommended "uniform" for Texas Rangers.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both men and women wore dusters to protect their clothes when riding in open motorcars on the dirt roads of the day.

I bought this wonderful Backhouse stockman's coat about 15 years ago. My marketing group arranged purchase of a whole lot of the brand's coats for a promotion and I got a special deal on private purchase - buying this coat at cost.

It's great (not a greatcoat - stay focussed, Noel wears one of those) and I really enjoy wearing it when the weather is really bad. As I was living in Auckland when I bought it I opted for the lighter material as opposed to the heavy oilskin as in the image above. Mine is made from hyrdrophilac polyurethane with a nylon lining. It's said to be a waterproof and breathable membrane and hasn't let me down in the fiercest rainstorms.

Well that's it for coats today. I've left out a few - sorry about that but will make up for it in the soon to be published post JACKETS.

Monday, 17 June 2019


The Music Curmudgeon and The Cultured Curmudgeon duked it out over this post and The Cultural Curmudgeon won:

Thursday, 13 June 2019


We are experiencing a fabulous week of weather despite what the forecasters have predicted.

Blue skies, no wind and it's warm.

I've played tennis today and pottered in the garden. I didn't go to the gym because I hurt my back there on Tuesday using one of the weight machines. Silly really as I didn't change the setting down to something manageable and felt something give when I was doing the repetitions.

I'm typing this while listening to Rossini's The Barber of Seville. I have doors and windows open and it's magic. We're going to see NZ Opera perform this in Auckland on Saturday. I often listen to a production before going to see it live. This kind of sets the mood and I find that when watching the live performance if I know what music is coming up next it enhances the experience. Opera is always full of 'filler' which can be a bit boring.

NZ Opera
NZ Opera

That reminds me - I need a haircut so better get one on Monday.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019


Now I know that Richard of Richard's Bass Bag lives in the now* as does my partner The Old Girl who say's to me "stop living in the past Matey".

I see nothing wrong with nostalgia as it's in the past that we have all of our memories and life changing events.

Today when I was looking for something I searched on one of my blogs** using the useful 'Search this blog' function and quickly found what I was looking for. It's a shame that neither Richard's blog (Richard's Bass Bag) or Robert's blog (Robert's Journey) make use of this useful Google device but in Robert's case he deletes all of his posts and occasionally his entire blog on a regular basis and Richard, in June 2016 deleted all of his earlier posts as he was scared that the Nazgŭls were after him.

Neither Richard's Bass Bag nor Robert's Journey have been updated recently I hope that all is well with the authors as I know that Robert's wife was taken to hospital a few days ago.

My search concluded satisfactorily I got to thinking of the past and my mind drifted to Red Rocks on the Wellington coast back in about 1961.

On Wellington’s rugged south coast, just a 30 to 40 minute walk from Owhiro Bay you’ll discover the Red Rocks (Pari-whero). This is a coastal area of national significance with fascinating geology and Maori history.
The Red Rocks were formed 200 million years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions. Small amounts of iron oxides give the rocks their distinctive colouring.
The easy coastal walk extends to Sinclair Head, where there is a New Zealand fur seal colony. The colony can be seen from May to October.
In 2002 the New Zealand Historic Places Trust registered four baches (simple beach houses) at Red Rocks as historic areas. The baches, built in the early 1900s, have been kept in original form by their proud owners.
The Te Kopahou entranceway and visitor centre at the entry point to the reserve was crowned the supreme winner at the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects’ awards in 2015.
A visitors' guide to the south coast, produced by the South Coast Charitable Trust, is available from the Wellington i-SITE.
                                                                               - From a directory I found on the internet.

When we were kids we used to 'tramp' around to Red Rocks and further on to the aptly named 'Devil's Gate'.

This gateway still looks like something out of The lord of The Rings but the roadway makes it a bit less scary than I remember when I was small.

They've tamed the walk a lot over the years with a visitor's centre, improved walkway and road and some statuary although I wish that the road wasn't there and that it was accessible by walking only.

A few of the original baches have been preserved and I remember these as they've hardly changed.

In my nostalgic daydream I remembered when my brother and I and a couple of friends used to camp out in the shelter of a cliff between Red Rocks and Devil's gate. There was a shallow cave there that provided a bit of shelter and we used to clear away the rocks (which of course had fallen down from the cliff but we didn't think about that), make some comfortable sleeping spots and bed down in our kapok-filled sleeping bags.
The first time we did this I must have been about 9 and my brother 11. Dad dropped us off at Owhiro Bay in the afternoon and we walked around the bay to our spot and set about settling in. This involved gathering driftwood for a big fire, building a 'camp kitchen' and  arranging the sleeping area. I recall that the night sky was marvellous with a much better view of the stars than at home in suburban Vogeltown. We cooked our meal which consisted of dehydrated sausages smothered in tomato sauce. Yummy. We bought these from Tisdall's camping store in Willis Street. They came in foil packs and were in the shape of fish fingers. You had to soak them in water for a while before pan-frying. It was exciting and I remember that for years no other sausages came close to matching the taste. In reality they were probably disgusting and it was the tomato sauce that was the real treat.

As we were sitting around stoking the fire and swapping stories we heard boot-steps on the beach. They were coming closer and we wondered who it might be. It was dad and my older sister who had walked around to check that we were OK. Nice that. We sat by the fire  and drank tea for a while before they headed back home. It was the first time that we'd been away on our own like this and as we demonstrated that we were capable dad didn't need to check up on us on future expeditions. I think he was proud of the way that we'd sorted the sleeping arrangements, the fire and the 'camp kitchen' - things he'd done I guess in the war in the desert and in Crete and Italy.

One of my brother's friends named Richard Pearce (not the aviator), before we went to sleep wondered out loud if any bodgies or widgies would come around and regaled us of his (limited) knowledge of their ways and the dangers that they represented.

From Wikipedia:

Bodgies and widgies refer to a youth subculture that existed in Australia and New Zealand in the 1950s, similar to the rocker culture in the UK or Greaser culture in the United States. Most bodgies rode motorbikes but some had cars, many of which were hotted-up e.g. mag wheels, hot dog muffler, etc.
The males were called bodgies and the females were called widgies. Bodgies were often depicted in the media and folk-lore as louts. 
Richard took particular delight (he was 11 after all) in describing how the widgies would attack us, take our clothes off and 'do it' to us. I must admit that this was a bit frightening but it also sent a frisson of excitement through me as I drifted off to sleep. Luckily, or unluckily - no widgies came around that night.

"Hey! Where are the young guys at?"


* A couple of years ago Richard expounded 'Living in the Now' and was promoting the books of Eckhart Tolle or Susan Nolen-Hoeksema or someone.

** The Curmudgeons Inc.ⓒ has a collection of useful and informative blogs to choose from.

Monday, 10 June 2019


We have a family of kingfishers living near us. One or more of them are often seen sitting in the palm trees or on the telephone and power lines. They are beautiful to watch and fascinating to see take off rapidly in pursuit of flying insects.

Today as I was in the kitchen I saw this one on the line. We have a stained glass mobile of a kingfisher hanging in the kitchen window and I was able to get a shot of this with the real kingfisher beyond.

Normal setting on phone

Magnified setting


Richard's bass Bag* has always had an obsession with the frequency of posts and in recent days has been preoccupied with the number of comments received on its (ever decreasing) posts.

We investigated this a couple of months ago and unsurprisingly concluded that Richard's blog is woefully behind in blog posting frequency, comprehensibility, quality and readership.





Whilst I don't wish to create alarm, as something is going wrong down in the Hutt Valley, I thought it best to do a quick check on the status of posting so far in this month of June.

As the above graph clearly shows, Richard's Bass Bag is already, by the 10th day of the month, way behind The Curmudgeon:

Number of posts: 7
Number of comments: 12

Number of posts: 12
Number of comments: 45 ✓

The numbers speak for themselves, particularly in the number of comments which is a measure that Richard's bass Bag has used as an indicator of success.

Just out of interest and in no way wishing to promote this particular  blog I looked at Robert's blog and using the same criteria established:

Number of posts: 8
Number of comments: 14

Well, I rest my case.

* An obscure blog that is becoming obscurer kind of like a flashlight fading as the batteries run out.

Sunday, 9 June 2019


The Old Girl's in Auckland this weekend so I'm rattling about on my own this afternoon.
I went for a walk and then a kayak this morning which was good - it's a lovely day here.

The afternoon's been a bit boring though and I'm watching the clock for 5PM when a glass of Mountford Estate Chardonnay will be in order.

I wish that it was as exciting as the Hutt Valley in the 1950s though.


I've just been for a long walk around our bay. It's a beautiful day with clear sky, no wind and, when out of the shade, warm.

Yesterday was different as we had a fierce storm most of the day. There were big waves in the sheltered bay and I expected the pier at the end of our road to be washed away (again). As it was, a fishing boat broke its moorings and was beached just down the road from us.*

The local birdlife like the calm weather as well. See the kingfisher in one of our 'palm' trees below. below.

I'm just off out for a kayak.

Be nice to each other.



I've just got back from a kayak around the bay.
The fishing boat was floated off at high tide during the night and is now on a new mooring.

I talked to the owners who were on board checking for damage and they told me that the storm and swirling waves ripped out the other mooring. They blame the council for poor anchoring technique.

It was nice tootling about in calm water.

Robert would have enjoyed it. His mate Jesus could have walked out on the water with a cup of tea - hey, the whole family of three plus Mary could have walked out with a picnic for him.


I've just been listening to the wonderful Al Brown talking on National Radio with Jim Mora. Al recounted how he loves New Zealand and said that New Zealanders should all feel like the've just won Lotto.
I know what he means. Regardless of financial situation or status there is still the opportunity for people living in this country to experience and enjoy the lakes, rivers, seaside and countryside. You don't have to own it - just live it.

* Strangely enough no chairs were blown over on the deck.