Wednesday, 30 June 2010

SWINGING

It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing

It don't mean a thing all you got to do is sing

If it's sweet or hot
Just give that rhythm
Everything you've got
It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing





Monday, 28 June 2010

TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

I just noticed something tonight that had me thinking about the National Cabinet. Some of the ministers look so much the same that I actually suspect that given the low level of talent that National has they have the same person playing two roles. Have a look at Corrections Minister Judith Collins and then look at Transport Minister Steven Joyce.




I think that Judith Collins is really Steven Joyce in drag.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

LONELY PLANET GUIDE TO NUOVA LAZIO

We arrived at the airport in the very, very small hours and, as anticipated could not find our luggage. Someone had obviously taken ours and left a couple of old, battered cardboard suitcases circa 1950 in their place. Having nothing better and being experienced in the soul-destroying exercise of trying to get an airline to find or replace our luggage we chose to uncomplainingly accept the offering. Our 97-hour flight on Nuova Lazio Airlines (NVA) suggested that we would not get much joy from the not only closed but also apparently abandoned NVA office. Resignedly we limped through NL Customs and had to share a spliff with the bored customs official who had bristled when he spied our Ralph Lauren jackets, assuming that my wife and I were gay but softened when I told him that RL stood for Rugby League and that we were Nuova Lazio rugby league supporters. His toothless (and aromatic) grin will stay with me for some time.
Having been hampered by our search for luggage, 'communication' with the official and by our chronic cramp that resulted from the ill-fitting hammocks on the NVA plane, we arrived outside to find that all the taxis and buses had gone. We stood around for a while looking helpless which, for experienced travelers like us was a new experience even though we had visited some of the worst shit-holes on the planet. After a while (quite a while) an old VW kombi van of indeterminate colour drew up - well when I say 'drew up' it actually coughed, lurched, bumped, stalled, restarted and stopped in front of us amidst a cloud of smoke - some of which was actually exhaust fumes. 

"Wassup Bro", slurred a shapeless form in the drivers seat. “Nuova Lazio” I said, not really understanding what this Neanderthal had said. “Cool Bro” he replied, “Yi’ve arrived”. After 10 minutes of ‘conversation’ and spliff-sharing we negotiated that Reuben T would drive us to our motel the ‘Shangri – La’. About one and a half hours later, after changing Reuben T’s flat tyre (he sat in the van – “Some cuz’s got to hold onto the hand-brake Bro”) and repeatedly telephoning directory to get the address and directions we arrived at our motel. ‘Bates’ would have been a better name than ‘Shangri-La’.

 Having paid an exorbitant fee and waved Reuben T off (more like threatening to call the constabulary if he didn’t go) we entered our accommodation. I think I mentioned ‘shithole’ earlier. Enough said. Late in the morning as we prepared ourselves for the new day we packed away our travel-soiled clothes and dressed ourselves in our ‘new’ ones. My beloved turned grey at the prospect of flannel, brushed cotton and vinyl brushing her delicate skin but I just thought, “let’s get it over with”. I put on my tartan flannel shirt, red corduroy flared trousers and brown vinyl jacket. I was ready for Nuova Lazio.
Following our itinerary we sought out the stunning landscape that we had heard of. Our researcher had exhaustively read up on all references to Nuova Lazio and she had assured us that a publication named Richard’s Bass Bag had provided the most information. We had booked a rental car and whilst the MkII Zephyr wasn’t our first choice of vehicle the agent assured us that this would be most appropriate and would help us to blend in. Travelling seemingly forever uphill we strived for glimpses of the majestic snow-capped Alps that we were promised. 

Unfortunately the flapping plastic that covered the broken windows didn’t allow this and, I suspect, the brown, gorse covered hills may well have been the ‘alps’ that RBB had been referring to.

Next on our itinerary, having found the ‘green and luxuriant valley’ that featured some of the best grape growing land in the country (actually dotted with  home-brew processing plants and marijuana plantations),


we picked our way through fetid swampland, rubbish tips and semi-industrial lots full of wrecked cars to find the Nuova Lazio Mall, said to contain the biggest supermarket with the largest range of German cheeses in New Zealand. This may well have been true, as we hadn’t had the opportunity to visit any other supermarket in New Zealand. In the ‘delicatessen’ we discovered ‘La Vache qui Rit” an abominable processed cheese from France. Still it was European I suppose. Negotiating the ‘mall’ was an experience. The concept of mall shopping is to have an interesting collection of boutiques together undercover. The Nuova Lazio mall had 12 second hand shops, 14 discount jeans shops, a KFC, a McDonalds, 3 Happy Woks and 27 Instant Finance outlets – all together but open air from which seemed to fall incessant rain. ‘Seemed to fall’ is a euphemism as the ice-cold sleet actually came at one virtually horizontally. 

We would have frozen to death if it hadn’t been for the fact that we had to run for our lives from gangs of truant school kids who wielded baseball bats knives and what suspiciously looked like violins and double basses. This exercise kept us warm and dried out our clothing. This was a good thing except that on drying out the clothing gave off an unwashed reek that was nauseating.


We needed to fill in time until the promised concert that we had booked in for (strangely enough at the local High School). This was billed as a ‘hot bed of gypsy jazz and competition between bands’ with ‘a lot of flashy solo playing’. We sought out a wine bar with ideally tapas food offerings. After our guides finished laughing hysterically we were directed to the local hospitality centre, something called the RSA. For some reason we had to sign in at the entrance (or they recognised us as overseas dignitaries). At the bar I requested a Chardonnay each for the wife and I. The barman dropped the pint glass he had been spitting on and repeated in a loud voice “Two Chardonnays. One for your wife and one for you?” I said yes that’s correct and as he was pouring them out of a 5 litre cardboard cask behind the bar I couldn’t help noticing the odd Neanderthal coming in from the public bar to look at us. Trying to ignore them I pretended not to notice the odd prod and pinch where they were checking me out to see if I was real or not. After a while they lost interest because some Australian rugby league team was beating up another rugby league team on the big TV screens and they wandered away. Licking our wine (it was too dangerous to put any quantity into our mouths) we ordered our tapas. Unfortunately Nuova Lazio doesn’t do tapas but they had discovered Paninis. 

Ordering two ‘seasonal’ vegetable Paninis we made our way to a table. The tables in Nuova Lazio are unusual. For one thing they don’t come with chairs and for another they are about 5 ft high and you have to stand at them. When our Paninis arrived (we declined having another ‘chardonnay’) we were amused to discover that the vegetable Panini was full of roast pumpkin, roast kumara, roast potato, boiled carrot, boiled cabbage and some remnants of gravy. I made a note of this for the culinary section of the LP guide.
We then made our way to Nuova Lazio High School for the concert, wanting to get there before the crowds and to get a good seat. On arrival we were the only ones there except for an old guy who was picking up left over Cheezils and other discarded foodstuffs. Feeling sorry for him as he looked like a derelict I gave him a $10 Nuova Lazio bill (about 10p in real money) for which he was most grateful.
“Thank ee zur” he said, “ concert startz in 10 minutes”.
We strained our eyes to find the forty strong orchestra that RRB had promised only to find an old gramophone in the corner. A few people shuffled in all having a disturbing resemblance to the old derelict we had spoken to earlier. When the curtains were opened (to be honest it was a broken venetian blind that was pulled up) the old guy came on stage and announced himself as the Music Director. This was immediately followed by jeers and catcalls from his extended family in the audience and so he corrected himself and confessed that he was the music teacher. He apologised that the forty strong orchestra were not there that evening, as he hadn’t seen them for a couple of weeks. He also apologised that the violins and double basses had disappeared so that he was going to ‘play’ on the gramophone. After 7 repeats of Harry Belafonte’s and Marty Robbins’ greatest hits we decided to make a break for it.

 The Mk II Zephyr had been stolen by then so we decided to jog back to the motel. As luck was with us by the time we arrived back at the motel it was time to go to the airport. The prospect of a 97-hour flight was heaven in comparison to our last 24 hours in Nuova Lazio so we bade farewell, a little wiser and promising to have a hard word with our researcher.


Friday, 18 June 2010

STORMIN' NORMAN


"Give me my flag back. Give me my flag back" Green's leader Russell Norman almost cries as he pleads with thuggish Chinese protection people who took 'his'' Tibetan flag off him and trampled it on the ground.

Unfair?
 He's entitled to exercise his free speech but as a member of parliament and leader of a sitting party one would think that he had better opportunities of exercising his democratic rights than protesting like a schoolgirl outside the very House that he has preferential rights to.

Unseemly?
Yes, definitely. One expects better from elected representatives and this wasn't up to the mark.

I am in sympathy with many of The Green Party's ideals and ambitions. In 1972 when I first qualified to vote I voted for the newly formed Values Party in Wellington Central. I did this even though I had spent all week and that Saturday canvassing for Mirimar's Labour Party candidate Brian Edwards. I went to the Labour election night bash (figuring that they'd have more and better booze than the Values people).
If only the Values/Green people would balance ideals with political practicality. They continually shoot themselves in the foot by acting like precocious 7th formers (year what in modern day school class systems?). Often their peevish attitudes only serve to alienate them further with the conservatives and to embarrass their otherwise supporters amongst the liberals and Labour voters.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK


"You are becoming too much like a bloke for my liking matey. You need to rediscover your feminine side"
This from The Old Girl when I made disparaging comments about her having candles in the bathroom when she was having a bath.
What do women want from men? They want them to be strong and manly (virility doesn't hurt) and to be able to fix things around the house but they also want them to be gentle and caring with this soft, feminine side. Its a big responsibility you know. When we were younger, the gentle feminine side was as effective as a good pick-up line. Being an 'honorary woman' gave access to that inner circle of women by being intuitive, using that 'right brain' and showing an affinity with the arts.
The 'left brain', with its practical, mechanical and analytical characteristics can be in conflict with the 'right brain' and, as any woman will quickly tell you, men are not multi-taskers.
Oh well, I'll give it a try. I'll make a sponge cake by candlelight before tuning into the rugby and world cup soccor highlights.




Thursday, 3 June 2010

BALLS


I've played golf 3 times this week. I don't get any better overall but I do play some stunning shots now and then and manage to put it together for the occasional hole scoring pars and even birdies. I lack the concentration and stamina to be able to complete a round with a decent score though. I usually play about 7 holes before getting distracted. My major distraction other than the pleasant walk and stunning views at my local golf course is the thrill of finding golf balls. I have plenty of golf balls. I don't need any more. I have enough to see me out even at the rate I lose them. The excitement I get in spying a shiny golf ball in a creek, in a pond, in the marshes or in the high grass is ridiculous given the value of them. It stems back to when I was a kid and couldn't afford to buy a new golf ball. I used to fossick in the gorse and bushes at Berhampore Golf Course to find some to play with. The thrill I got back then in finding a ball, especially a new one was great but no greater than the thrill I still get today.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

ORCA



The rain abated this afternoon so I went off to play golf but discovered that the course was closed. The rain had been so heavy that water lay on some of the fairways in sheets. The wind had dropped and the bay was calm again so I went out in my kayak looking for Putita. Putita is the young Orca that lives around here and which got stranded at Ruakaka last week. Rescuers managed to free him and he joined his mother Yin and brother Rua who were waiting anxiously nearby url. The three of them hunt in the Whangarei Heads area and up and down the coast. They are beautiful creatures and it is no wonder that people go out to help them when they are in trouble. A couple of years ago the Old Girl and I were at Ocean Beach. It was May so I was too wimpy to go into the surf but the Old Girl did. She was body surfing and generally enjoying herself so didn't notice the pod of Orca (about 6 of them) swimming past not too far away from her. From the beach I waved frantically to get her attention. She just waved back and missed seeing them.

RICHARD's DELUGE


.... has reached the far North. It rained heavily all through the night and this morning the sheets of water are almost impenetrable (to the eye). It can make for a cosy feeling when ensconced inside but as we have an old house every new gurgle makes me check out window frames, ceilings and downpipes. I don't fancy having to climb onto the roof especially as there are now lightning flashes. So much for my golf and gardening plans today. I'll tidy up my CV, blog, write letters and organise my charity race day instead.

BUSY BUSY BUSY

I had the busiest day today from the standpoint of busy days. Donald Trump has reinvented the concept of hyperbole so I feel that I can e...