Friday, 26 February 2010


I have been in Marlborough for the last few days attending the funeral of my Godfather Uncle Tony McDonald.
Tony was the last of the 'Old Brigade' of my father's siblings. He was 83 and had lived all his life in and around Blenheim. St Mary's Catholic church was full of friends and relatives attesting to a life well lived and one which earned a lot of respect from the community. He was a nice and gentle man who worked hard and contributed back to society where and when he could. I have very happy memories of spending school holidays with my uncle and aunt and will miss him.

Friday, 19 February 2010


... kind of. I had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic - Doxycylcline Hyclate - which gave me painful swelling to my hands and an unsightly rash (not contagious) on my fingers and arms. Sunshine exacerbated this so I had to keep indoors for weeks. Unfortunately in the middle of this period I had to go to Auckland for a 60th birthday and a wedding. I couldn't keep out of the sun in doing this and like old Drac. I felt myself wilting. The swelling and rash became more painful (thank God for wine) but I got through it. At the wedding I could hardly hold onto the pen to witness the bride and groom's signatures but got through it (the alternative was unbearable - handing over to Richard my second who would have written Whainuiomata as the witness's address).

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


Years ago we didn't have rubbish recycling centres where household rubbish is dumped out of cars into a sunken concrete pit and immediately scooped away by massive graders. We had good old-fashioned rubbish dumps. These became known as land-fills and were used to do just that - fill in valleys and sunken areas that could then be topped off with soil to become parks, reserves and schools. Unfortunately these land-fills often contained heavy metals, paints and chemicals and all sorts of toxic materials that are now leaching out into water supplies and sometimes finding their ways to the surface. But enough of that .... my memories of the old-fashioned rubbish dumps (then called 'tips') is great. The first one that I remember was in Houghton Bay at the south coast of Wellington. Dad would perhaps once per month on a Saturday load up the truck with rubbish - old paint tins, wire, broken concrete, broken bits of timber, old furniture etc., and my brother and I would set off with him. While Dad was unloading Terry and I would scuttle off like pack-rats and fossick through the acres of really interesting stuff. This remember was before the days of garage sales, roadside inorganic collections and Trade Me so we were able to legally pick over the contents of other peoples basements and garages. Fossicking wasn't forbidden then and there was little thought to the danger from metal, glass and rotting material. It was fun. We collected all sorts of stuff and loaded up the truck again much to Dad's amusement and annoyance. Most of it of course was returned to the tip the next month. We made sleds and trolleys (4 wheeled sit on things that we would hurtle down the Vogeltown streets on) from the bits of old bikes and prams we found. One memorable find was a corrugated iron canoe. Someone had built this out of two pieces of corrugated roofing iron, shaped around pieces of 4x2 wood. It was incredibly heavy but we managed to load it onto the truck. After a bit of dodgy repair work using tar products to fill in the holes we talked Dad into taking us to the coast to try it out. We went to Princess Bay a nice little secluded spot that was dad's favourite. Terry ad I pushed the canoe out a ways and climbed in. The waves at first pushed us back in but then the undertow carried us out a bit into fairly deep water. Just as we thought that things were going well the canoe filled with water and sunk like a stone fortunately leaving us on top of the water. We left quickly. I sometimes shudder to think of that rusting iron at the bottom of Princess Bay and hope that it didn't hurt anyone.
A few years later when I had met Tony and Noel I discovered that they too had a healthy interest in fossicking. We used to go to the Lower Hutt tip on Sundays. This was a big day out for us (no wonder we couldn't get girlfriends) and used to look forward to it. Richard didn't come with us. I don't know why. Maybe he was too proud although those red bell-bottom trousers he wore looked like they came from the tip. We found many great things there. Some I remember are the record player and Marty Robbins record that were the sole assets of The White Sport Coat and Pink Carnation Society; a WW2 army greatcoat that Noel never afterwards took off; a WW1 long leather pilots coat I found but which never lost its 'tip stink' so got returned later; a brown canvas jacket that I wore for years thinking it was cool; furniture that Tony decorated his Hergreaves Street house with- all sorts of treasure. Ah. The Good old days.

Monday, 15 February 2010


Yesterday Tony and Alison celebrated their marriage after being together for twelve years. A glitzy black-tie affair at a swanky waterfront location was the order of the day which went extremely well. Many of Tony and Alison's friends and family were there even including Richard (of Richard's Bass Bag) in all of his manifestations. Fortunately yours truly was there as well to report on the occasion as I haven't seen anything from Richard yet. This is typical of course as his blogs are getting a bit stale and have an air of deja vu about them. On this blog however I can guarantee fresh, insightful and up to the minute reporting and observations.
As I said there were many of the couple's friends and family there including Mike who, along with Richard and myself represented The White Sport Coat and Pink Carnation Society (Tony the groom being the other member). White sport coats were not worn however as it was black-tie. Richard had the opportunity to wear a band leader's outfit which I'm sure he has been secretly dreaming about when stuck at the back of the bands and orchestra's, hiding behind his double bass. The three of us were part of the five "Best Blokes' of the wedding party. The roles were relatively equal but I naturally had the honour of being the front Best Bloke entrusted with witnessing the marriage certificate. Richard was displeased but he should have realised that they didn't want Whainuiomata cluttering up their document and also, Philip the priest probably suspected that Richard would pocket the pen.
We enjoyed good food and wine at the venue followed by more wine at the bide and bridegroom's house.
At this stage I am unaware of Richard having disgraced himself but it is early yet and reports are still coming in. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


 My good friend Chris Prowse (Richard's older brother and the guy who has fired Richard several times from the various bands he has been involved in) has won the 2009 Tui for Best Folk Album of the Year with 'Trouble on the Waterfront'. This is a great concept album well worth listening to and it for me refreshes the idea about 'Folk' and contemporises the stories in the songs. Having a theme that is recognisable and part of my growing up is important. Most folk songs I have listened to in the past have been American or British stories or early nineteenth century New Zealand ones. Richard wasn't in the band for this album but his bass playing may well have suited the song about the blowing up of the Huntly bridge.

It is great seeing Chris get this recognition from the Folk community. Many years ago his credibility may have been a bit weak since he twice invited Richard, Tony, Mike, Roger and I to the Wanganui Folk gathering at a camp in the Para Paras. We of course behaved very badly (and had a great time). I remember on one of the trips  we went for a  day jaunt to Raetahi and Mike drove my car back for many miles with the handbrake fully engaged. When we arrived back at the campsite excited hippies pointed out the smoking and flaming rear wheels where the brake pads had burned away. The trip home back to Wellington was exciting given it is one of the windiest roads in the country and we had virtually no brakes. Several times I nearly rear-ended Chris in his Hillman Hunter.


Well why not since Robert's been banging on about the Catholic Catechism and its virtues even while there's a backdrop of priests, b...