Monday, 31 May 2010

ANOTHER DAY OLDER AND......


Seemingly a great deal less fit.
Monday morning and the alarm went off at six - not for me but for the Old Girl who is off to the big smoke this week. I got up just after seven. To be honest it makes no difference to me whether it is Sunday or Monday. It is a grey day today but amazingly still with the harbour like glass. This is all the more pronounced after a couple of weeks of stormy weather. I went for my morning walk along the bay and watched fish jumping. The grey sky and mist merged nicely with the still grey water - magical. On my Mount Aubrey climb I felt stuffed halfway up so only went that far and came back down. Strange that because on Saturday I had no problem going to the top and back. I feel a bit recovered now after a cup of tea so I'm going to take advantage of the windless conditions and go and play a few holes of golf.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

106 STRINGS


I went to the local Folk Club last night to listen to my niece play. She is part of a new, as yet unnamed band (I suggested that they should call themselves the Soggy Bottom Girls -  but I don't think they will do that). My niece plays harp and ukulele. She is very, very good and writes her own music. The other two in the band are my niece's harp tutor and a very good fiddle and cello player. All three are great singers. They were the headline act at the folk club and were very well received (probably because there wasn't a bass player in the line-up).
Now I don't normally go to folk club performances. I usually find them a bit self-indulgent. Its amazing what a bit of family pride can do, but my niece's band really was good. The early acts - unaccompanied singer, banjo player, two guitar players and singers were frankly difficult to listen to.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

"I FELL RIGHT INTO THE ARMS OF VENUS DE MILO"


I love that line. Pretentious it may be but surely all the surrealists ultimately are. Bunuel with his eyeball cutting scene in Un Chien Andalou achieved fame and notoriety but really, looked at after a few years it is a bit pretentious.  I've been playing one- on- one snooker and listening to random tracks and albums on the i-pod. One- on- one has meant just me with two different cues (sad I know but The wine Guy went to bed - the Sacred Hills Hawkes Bay Chardonnay got the better of him but I'm sure he will witter away about it on some soon to be published blog post). i-pods are a miracle - I know that I am a bit of a luddite - but when I was young I dreamed about some sort of central 'bank' where one could dial up at any time the best music tracks, films or television programmes. That dream has almost been realised (if I could master the technology). In regards to music, instead of sifting through cupboards of LP's and banks of CD's, all I have to do is dial up what I want, already sorted by album, track, genre, artist etc. Magic. Anyway, whilst enjoying a couple of post-prandial beers (Carlsberg Robert FYI), and practising some Snooker and Pool shots I strolled through a lot of different music. Eventually( just before this post in fact) I came across Television's Marquee Moon. I remember first listening to this in 1977 in Wellington, in a flat in Owhiro Valley Road (music has that effect, enabling you to remember time and place). A lot of the Punk, post Punk and New York music whilst being interesting at the time has faded away to (deserved) obscurity. Amongst the best and enduring is Patti Smith Group, The Clash and Television. The line which is this posts title is from a track 'Venus'.

I borrowed the lyrics below from Google Search:

Tight toy night, streets were so bright.
The world looked so thin and between my bones and skin
there stood another person who was a little surprised
to be face to face with a world so alive.
I fell.

Didja feel low? No, not at all. Huh???

I fell right into the Arms of Venus de Milo.
I stood up, walked out of the Arms of Venus de Milo.
You know it's all like some new kind of drug.
My senses are sharp and my hands are like gloves.
Broadway looked so medieval -
it seemed to flap, like little pages:
I fell sideways laughing with a friend from many stages.
How l felt.
Suddenly my eyes went so soft and shaky.
I knew there was pain but pain is not aching.
Then Richie, Richie said:
'Hey man let's dress up like cops
Think of what we could do!'
But something, something said 'you better not.'
And I fell. 



Doesn't do justice to the song I know as these lyrics need the beautiful combination of (different) guitar sounds from Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell. Listen to it sometime, its worth it. The title track 'Marquee Moon is one of my favourites.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

OFF TO THE BIG SMOKE


Up at 6.30 this morning. I hope that this doesn't become a habit. I'm off to town to get the bus to Auckland. I'm meeting up with The Old Girl. I didn't sleep that well last night (Richard (of RBB) didn't write one of his boring posts, instead writing a crazy, disturbed one. I hope he's OK this morning). We had a thunderstorm here for half the night. It was a mostly a bit West and North so it was mostly lightening flashes and less of the thunder. I opened the drapes as I love lightning. Rosie, my previous dog used to be scared of thunderstorms and would come to the bedroom door, crying for protection. Willow, my cat is made of much sterner stuff. She sits at the window watching for the flashes.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

I COULDA BEEN A...


.... TEACHER.
Yes, many years ago I went to an interview for teachers training college (Christchurch).
There was a young woman I liked (yes Richard, a real one) in my Stage II Education class (Education and Society - Jack Shalcrass was the lecturer). When she told me that she was applying to go to training college in Christchurch I thought that it would be a good idea to follow (particularly as Richard had already gone there and I didn't want him getting his grubby hands on her). As I say I went to the interview and struggled to make an impression on them. Having done 3 years of legal studies before switching to Education and History didn't suggest to them that I had the necessary vocation. They were a dour bunch those interviewers. When asked if I could give an example of what attracted me to the teaching profession I said  the holidays. They were not amused and I got that 'don't call us we'll call you' dismissal. Reading recent blog posts I realise that whilst I may have made a good teacher by helping the 'good' kids to develop I don't think that I have the necessary patience and tolerance to turn around the 'bad' kids. I admire what teachers do and feel that they are undervalued.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

OLD FRIENDS


In my last post I mentioned meeting new people up here and calling them new friends. The best friends I have though are old friends. Now I am a bad friend in that I never send Christmas cards. I never create Christmas or New Year letters to send out to inform everyone of what we are doing. If I tell an old friend of a change of address it is usually two changes of houses down the line. What I have discovered though is that good friendship is enduring. The mark of a good friend, to me, is if you can pick up that friendship years later as if there had been no break. Because I have moved around a bit this has had to be the case. Invariably, whether it is 2 years or 20 years later I have been able to connect with people as if there had been no absence. I have experienced this with Jane and Dave, Chris and Sue, Maurice and Linda, Tony and Alison, Mike and Joanne, Richard and Shelley and more recently Robert. re Richard and Shelley, I attended their wedding in 1984 and then lost contact with them for about 15 years. When Richard got in contact we just picked up on the friendship as normal. Back in 1999 Richard didn't have a blog. He conducted his lunacy via the post so I was subjected to a barrage of bizarre and anonymous letters. Fortunately his multi-personality disorder hadn't become manifest at that time so it all came from one source. I'm really glad that we connected again. Ditto for Robert. I have connected with him again after nearly 30 years via blogs (anyway his spelling would have precluded any mail ever reaching me). In this way Richard's blog is a hub that connects people. He is kind of like a bus station (in certain lights he does actually look like one- ed) with announcements of incoming and outgoing traffic.

SUNDAY MORNING (RAIN) COMING DOWN - AN INSIDE RAMBLE



Its raining today in the 'winterless north' which is good news for the farmers in the district and will hopefully fill the dams and lift the water restrictions (no garden watering at present). It makes for a dreary Sunday though with little prospect of a walk or kayak as it is a bit windy as well. Never mind, days like this are good for reading, doing crosswords and practising snooker. The Old Girl is working on her computer as she has a few projects to complete. We have rented a flat in Auckland so that she has a base when she goes there (almost weekly at present). This means that I might look for some part-time work in Auckland as well, say 2 or 3 days a week. We are going to see Ute Lemper next weekend so the flat will be handy.
Last night we attended a 60th birthday party in the McLeod Bay hall at the end of the street. Many of the people in our street and from nearby were there. It was great and reminded me of similar community gatherings that were normal when I was young but have seemed to have disappeared now. I asked for a wine at the makeshift bar and the guy asked if I wanted sparkling or still. I asked for still and asked him what flavours he had. He suggested Sauvignon Blanc which I declined and asked if he had anything else. He said "Chardon'. Thinking of Richard (of RBB) I, with trepidation, said 'OK'. It turned out to be a good Marlborough Chardonnay. The woman whose 60th birthday party it was is a new friend. We asked if we could bring food and wine but she said 'no, its all arranged'. She was very generous. There was good food and wine all evening. We had a good time apart from the ABBA theming.
One of the other neighbours we met is in a similar business to the Old Girl. We invited him around today to play snooker before they head back to Auckland. A few people here have holiday residences and come up here every third weekend or so and at school holidays. Our direct next door neighbour only comes up here a few times a year which gives us some privacy. Richard (of RBB) when he comes to visit will be able to play his bass or trumpet without fear of retribution.
Better go now as this post is beginning to be as boring as RBB2 or RBB3.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

PIONEER CEMETERY


The McLeod Bay Pioneer cemetery, other than crossing a farmers land is only approachable by water.We kayaked across the bay and landed at a gravel beach next to the most magnificent and oldest pohutukawa tree I've seen with huge branches stretching out over the water. A short, steep path leads up to the cemetery. This is a secret place (apart from the sign at the bottom of the path saying 'Pioneer Cemetery'), with old tombstones surrounded by regenerating native bush. The small area is surrounded on three sides by tall cabbage trees standing like sentinels. I took some photographs but intend going back there at dawn to capture sunlight filtering through the surrounding bush with hopefully shafts of light highlighting a tombstone. It was peaceful though and although someone tends to the weeds the cemetery looks like it is disappearing into the bush. I found some graves from 1850's to 1890's that may well be of my ancestors. Returning to our kayaks I was struck by the realisation that the pohutukawa tree was there when the people interred in the cemetery were alive and that as locals they may well have climbed its branches.

Friday, 7 May 2010

..AND YOUR WISE MEN DON'T KNOW HOW IT FEELS...



Britain. once a proud nation that set standards in parliamentary government, is now a sorry little nation full of a population that is being dumbed down by rubbish media, cheap alcohol, too much sports coverage and failing social systems. One of the latest indicators is the fact that so many voters in the current elections left it so late to go out to vote that they faced having the polling booths closed in their faces. What did they do? Blame their own stupidity? No, they protested outside and showed themselves  .....  to be thick as a brick.

MONEY GO ROUND


"...a mark a yen a buck or a pound.."

There are over 50 foundations in New Zealand called 'charity' trusts that get their money from gambling machines in pubs and clubs and 'distribute' it to the community. The business is nearly 1 billion dollars a year. Only one third of this goes back to the community. The rest is soaked up in 'administration' costs. An example of the 'administrative' costs is the $430,000 over 3 years paid by a South Island trust to someone to  sign up gambling machines run by their competitors - other trusts- to go to their trust. Dumb? yes, very.
Its a pity that the deadbeats that pour money into these machines cannot just give it directly to the community foundations that are trying to make their lives better. Cut out the middleman.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS


Well I can't say that I've worked 9 hours like Richard or 11.5 hours like Robert today but I have put in about 6 hours for the fundraising (writing letters, sending e-mails, chasing up sponsorship, designing advertising etc. today. I then attended a Landcare AGM from 7.30 to 9.30. I had seen a sign at the end of the road announcing it and saying 'all welcome'. I went along out of interest to see what projects that they are running in the area. It was very heartening hearing about all the things that individuals are doing in their own time to make our area more beautiful. These were: pest eradication; weed eradication; native trees and plant propagation; native bird rescue and encouragement; save the kiwi projects etc. I seem to have volunteered to help in fund raising again. I have been involved in funding contribution and support projects in the past for wetland restoration, save the kiwi and pateke initiatives by arranging for contribution from wine brands. When I mentioned this I was press-ganged into service. Maybe I can catch up to Robert's 11.5 hours yet.
One of the wonderful things about New Zealand is the community groups who unselfishly support local causes giving up their time and money to do so. If it wasn't for this then in a country with small population and relatively low taxation we would have system failure everywhere. Of course a lot of this good work is negated out by the scrotes (see earlier post) who leech off the welfare system and use all their spare time to cause mayhem and try and destroy all the good works done. Hopefully they will always remain in the minority although the people doing the good works get worn down by it. One of the community contributors, who is growing native trees in his nursery which are then planted out in the area (for the benefit of the public) reported a setback as some bastards had stolen the electronic sprinkler system. Makes you want to weep.

HEART STOPPING


Not literally hopefully. I mean the views to be had from the top. Over the last week I have added to my morning walk a climb up Mount Aubrey which is behind where I live. Once the red mist clears from the eyes you can see right across the harbour and beyond eastwards to Dargaville, out west past Ocean Beach, north past Mcleod Bay or south down the Ruakaka coast. A great way to start the morning and a good way of getting fit which I must do before Richard (of RBB) comes to visit given that he must be as fit as a rooster with all the walking he has been doing recently.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

HANG THE BASTARDS UP BY THEIR BALLS!


Uncharitable you might think? It is Charity that spurs me to say that. In the region where I live there has been a spate of burglaries where several charities have had their premises broken into and essential equipment (computers, microphones etc.) has been stolen. These are The Northland Cancer Society, Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand, Northland Brain Injury Association, RSA, Raumunga church amongst others.
What scrotes do this? Whangarei police tactical co-ordinator Rob Huys says "the criminals would have realised that the buildings are occupied by agencies helping the community. But they don't care that they are taking money away from those assisting people in need. It is extremely ironic that these offenders probably have friends and/or family members in need of these agencies but they are so selfish they just think of themselves"
I am helping a charitable organisation to raise $3m to create a new oncology centre at Whangarei hospital. I, and many others, freely give up our time and resources to run projects to try and raise this money. We are paid nothing for this. We dip into our own pockets to attend the functions that we organise, use our own petrol to run our cars in the running of the charity, use our own equipment to conduct the business. Every penny earned goes to the project. The beneficiaries of this will be the people of Northland, the majority being Maori. It makes my blood boil to think that this effort can be ruined by some lazy, selfish and useless bastards.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

WHY MEN SHOULD CONTROL THE TV REMOTE


When men use the TV remote they tend to skilfully navigate their way through at least 20 channels, remembering the salient points of each programme that they notice on the way through. They do a quick re-look at channels that, as they were speeding through, showed an enticing flash of female breast, thigh or bum and similarly when there is a snatch (unrelated to the previous phrase - ed.) of war, western or action film. Having quickly scanned all potential channels they can then decide on 3 or 4 to flick between and have an evenings entertainment.
When a woman gets hold of the remote she invariably clicks on channel 1 and 2 and then jumps to at least 18 and if there is a house renovation programme showing, stops there. If there is no house renovation programme or a relocation programme she will jump to channels 20 and 21 the Sky movie channels. If there is a chick-flick, a ROM or a dance movie then that's where she stays. Amazingly it makes no difference if the movie has just started, is halfway through or is near the end - this is where she stays.
The man grits his teeth, sighs heavily but goes unnoticed. He then resorts to leaving the room and reading and writing blog posts.

KAYAKING #1


Yesterday I went for a 3 hour kayak around the Bay. It was full tide, the water was like glass and it was windless and sunny. Ideal conditions for a leisurely paddle. Because the conditions were so good I went further than usual, heading right across the bay to the northernmost point where McLeod Bay starts. This was about 5km across, skirting past the small island in the middle. I then traced the shoreline all the way back to my start point which was another 9 km or so. The water was so clear I could see the bottom at about 3m or less depth and could see stingray flying like stealth bombers. They can really move fast.
On the return I paddled up the creek that runs past our rental property to check on the grounds (everything fine) and then set on back home. A lovely spaniel/beagle cross (I think) dog jumped into the creek and swam across to join me. She was very friendly and with my help climbed into the kayak. She wouldn't sit behind me in the space that my dog Rosie used to, preferring to sit in my lap instead. I took her for a short paddle out in the bay before returning her to the shore. I think I've made a friend there.

NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

**************** Sorry for the peremptory sign but The Darker Curmudgeon took things a bit too literally when I asked him to ...