Sunday, 30 January 2011


We drove around the bays today to check on my sister's house to make sure that it hadn't suffered any storm damage. Between McLeod Bay and Urquart's Bay I counted 19 slips most of which covered half the road and some had covered the whole road. After ascertaining that the house and property were OK we went for a walk to Smugglers' Bay which is one of the several Bream Head coastal walks. These are fabulous tracks maintained by DOC and Whangarei Council that house a kiwi sanctuary. The tracks were in good condition but with some washouts from flooded streams and run-off. The storm must have been wild there on Friday night. The reserve area is also a farm with young cattle wandering about. Some are friendly and some are skittish. Richard would have been scared of either variety. The beach at Smugglers was great with the sea still a bit wild. The water was a friendly temperature though and we enjoyed a frolic and sitting on the beach looking out to the Hen and Chicken islands. This is where the Niagara was sunk by a German mine in 1940. This was a serious sized ship - about 13,000 tonnes and was one of the biggest passenger liners to operate in New Zealand waters at the time.

The mine was one of many laid by the German raider Orion a sneaky bastard of a warship tricked out to look like a freighter.
 Fortunately there was no loss of life - the major loss was 8 tonnes of gold bullion which was mostly recovered in 1941 and in 1952. Out of the original 555 ingots there are still 5 missing at a value of several million dollars. Worth a dive? The Niagara is resting at over 400 feet which makes for a dangerous and highly specialised expedition. I won't be doing it. As the Niagara had just left Auckland on the way to Canada the fuel tanks were full. These tanks, quietly rusting away may one day collapse and release over 4000 tonnes of oil into our coastal waters unless a means of pumping it out is found.

I like going to Smugglers' Bay after a storm because I always imagine that I will find a crate of whisky that has been uncovered from being buried in the sand or the surrounding dunes. Smugglers gets its name from the fact that in the late 19th century local residents would arrange for boats to land contraband (liquor and tobacco mainly) at this bay before continuing on into the harbour and docking at Whangarei where the excise and customs officers were based. They would unload crates and carry them away across the land where we had our walk and hide the goods. It conjures up a romantic image of hardy settlers running from the customs men and hiding crates of tobacco and whisky before making their getaway. Around the point, in the harbour not far from Urquart's Bay is Frenchman's Island.

This is a tiny island that has a natural cavern inside that was hollowed out and a chimney and door put in. It looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. Apparently someone would be based in there on smuggling nights and if the customs and excise boat was seen coming out from Whangarei a fire was lit and the smoke was a warning signal to the smugglers over the hill at the next bay.  Needless to say I didn't find any whisky but I won't give up looking. Maybe now that TSB knows the story he will come up and dig up the entire bay.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Muddy Waters - Hoochie Coochie Man (1970)



We drove back from Auckland last night and caught the beginnings of the cyclone that has devastated a lot of the North Island. Water was sluicing across the roads and made driving difficult (or at least limited to 90 kph). I was wondering if we would get home at one stage and as it turned out SH1 was closed overnight in two places - Dome Valley and at Marsden Point before Whangarei. Driving from Whangarei out to Whangarei Heads was pretty hairy. Torrents of muddy water were pouring off the hills and down driveways.

The drains at the side of the road were overflowing. At many points of the road I had to slow down to almost a standstill to ford floods on the road and often had to travel on the opposite side of the road to avoid sheets of surface water. It was exciting, exhilarating and a bit scary. We made it to McLeod Bay just before 8pm just making the cafe before closing to order fish and chips (the best in New Zealand). The cafe was almost flooded with the torrential rain breaching the roof and ceiling at many points. I worried about our house, an old villa with an ageing roof as we had been away from it for three days. Arriving home water was pouring down the driveway, the downpour being too much for the big culvert on the farm at the back and our own substantial drains. Fortunately all was well inside except for a couple of small drips as a result of the flat spot between the two roofs having  to handle too much water. No problem once it is cleared. We settled in for the night (rain fade made TV a dead loss) and listened to the roaring rain outside. Luckily the wind, while high was nowhere near as bad as last year when the neighbours lost their roof in a storm. As expected the fire brigade siren went off three times during the night. The local volunteer fire brigade attend fires, accidents, medical emergencies and floods at any time of night or day. In bad weater car accidents are the norm. It gives one a creepy feeling hearing the WW2 air raid warning go off announcing some accident or other. We woke this morning and read news of the cyclones effects throughout the North Island including the two road closures of SH1 and were glad that we left Auckland just after 5 and not later.

Another bit of news though was much closer to home. The road bridge at Tamaterau has apparently been washed out isolating Whangarei Heads. We had crossed that bridge and the surrounding road at about 5kph with muddy water surging around the tyres. We were lucky to have got through when we did. So now we are stranded. I don't know how long the road will be closed but it means we cannot get to the airport at Onerahi or into Whangarei. I personally am not worried but The Old Girl is supposed to be driving or flying to Auckland on Monday. We have provisions - vegetables from the garden, home made bread ingredients, meat in the freezer and plentiful fish in the harbour so it should be a nice adventure.

Monday, 24 January 2011


The Rover failed its WOF. Bastard!
It drives really well and is properly maintained. I wouldn't drive an unsafe car.

 (Well not nowadays. I used to drive a very unsafe 1948 Austin 8 before I sold it to a good friend. He's still alive by the way. I bought it back from him later and my brother turned it into a dune buggy. My second car a Triumph Herald - don't laugh - got ordered off the road because it didn't travel in a straight line and the bonnet kept opening at any speed over 30 mph.

 My third car, a Hillman Super Minx was OK but just before I sold it a mechanic pointed out that the entire chassis was broken in half and the fact was disguised by dodgy welding, glue and paint. We had travelled in that car up and down the country at seriously high speeds. Luckily we didn't hit anything or it would have crumpled up like a cigarette packet - pre-seat belt days.) Anyway I digress. The Rover was failed on three counts which I will recount in turn.

1. Noisy rear wheel bearing. What? What the hell is that? Apparently the WOF people spun the wheel and heard a noise. Jesus (sorry Jesus), every bloody car on the road has a little bit of noise somewhere. Its called age OK. My joints make more noise than that bloody wheel. Cost - $250 for a second hand one.

2. Spongy brakes. I won't make any jokes about things going soft with age as I don't want to embarrass anyone but hey, if it works, what's the problem? I had the brakes checked and the brake linings, brake drums and slave cylinders are all OK. What now to get a WOF? The ABS system has to be removed, sent to Auckland, checked and replaced if necessary. Cost - anything between $500 and $1500.

3. Saving the most ridiculous to last - tyres. The two front tyres have different load ratings. What's this you may ask? The left one , a 205/50 R16 has a load rating of 91V. The right one, a 205/50 R16 has a load rating of 87W. Apparently a load rating differential of more than 2 means a failed WOF. Mine was 4. These are the same two tyres I might add that were on the car when it last got a warrant 6 months ago!
A picky inspector noticed the difference and failed it. Now, I checked up on the load ratings differential and above 2 means that it is unsafe at speeds of 240 kph. I like to drive my cars fast and have been clocked at 141 kph and unclocked at 180+ but 240? What pedantic civil servant working at MOT came up with that? Not our friend R. who is an analyst there as he is the one that used to blow up peoples letter boxes and front doors and shoot up washing lines with his shotgun. Cost - $200 for a new tyre even though the one being replaced has plenty of more wear. Bloody Nanny State? Yes, I'm starting to think so.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Tennessee ernie Ford - 16 Tons

For Nicola


For the last week I haven't been able to do anything I want. My time has been stolen. I haven't played golf and have only swum a couple of times. Definitely no kayaking. Its not fair. I've been working. OK, I know that some money will be coming my way but I'd rather have that and still have my time to myself.
I did a contract job for someone in the States who wants a new brand. I came up with a concept and name and put together a presentation. I'd forgotten what working is like. People expect you to do things!

Monday, 17 January 2011


I know that stranger things have happened but what follows is a freak accident caused by electrical interference on the ‘ether’ as members of the RBB (Richard’s Bus Bag) blogging community were all coincidentally logged onto Google at the same time. There are several theories behind what occurred: the Creationists believe that God made it happen; the Naturalists and Evolutionists are sure that the freak combination of lightning hitting a meteorite is to blame and; the Conspiracy Theorists blame CIA and SIS collusion and interference. Whoever and whatever is to blame this is what happened on 17th January 2011.

Richard of RBB (R)

 wrote a particularly poor post which inspired The Curmudgeon (TC)

to mock which in turn prompted the recalcitrant Nicola (N)

to make sarcastic and pithy comments as to the quality of both R’s and TC’s recent posts. A storm was brewing made worse by the imminent return of Twisted Scottish Bastard (TSB)

from his overseas holiday with the resultant tiredness, ill-humour and constipated backlog both physical and inspirational as a result of his long trip. Second Fiddle (SF),

 having his perennial battle between his left hand and his right hand and struggling to write his posts faster than his other half could delete them was itching to bother God again (which gives some credence to the Creationists theory that God was involved in trying to stop this nonsense) and logged on simultaneously with all of his religiosity which had led to imagining many different religious characters. The Pink Paddler (PP), 

half starved and crazed from a diet of canned sprouts and stale cheese crackers had, after a particularly exhilarating if not disorienting paddle in a whirlpool, logged on and unwittingly invented some alter-egos (The Punk Puggler, The Purple Plonker, The Pimped Puddler etc.) until she got it right in her dazed state. This added considerably to the looming overload. Fflur of The Confusion Chronicles (CC)

 tired of hanging around swimming pools hoping to be noticed by other than masturbating little boys, returned home and vowed to log in to create ‘the great NZ post’. Brian from A Basket Full (BF)

 had hurried into work this day, afraid that R would sneak into his room and sit in his chair. Arriving he too logged onto his school computer safe in the knowledge that TSB was nowhere in sight. Before he did he sneaked into Man of Errors (MOE)

 office to sit in his chair but was embarrassed to find MOE guiltily searching the web – ‘for educational purposes’ said MOE quickly blanking out the screen.


Disaster struck. Somehow all of the Bus Station’s bloggers were sucked up in a vortex (except for PP who went down in one) and deposited in a strange land.
“Howdy pardners. What’ll yas have?” said N, wiping a pint handle with the bottom of a dirty apron. She was manning a long wooden bar with rows of bottles (some broken) behind her. The entire back wall was made up of a dirty mirror with an even dirtier picture of a naked woman etched onto it. TSB stared and leered, looking about for someone with a camera. The barwoman’s attention was drawn to SF who was sitting at the old piano thumping out some unrecognizable tune. “I told ya to listen to yer brother re those half-notes di’nt I?” she said. While she was looking the other way TSB reached over the bar and grabbed a bottle of whisky. “My shout” he said. The words were almost out of his mouth before N’s shotgun pressed into his belly. How she got there so fast he didn’t know but then he didn’t know what he was doing there. “That’ll be $5 pardner” said N. “Yer pals will be pleased”. TSB went white from the shock. The gun being pressed into him was also disconcerting. He stammered, “I’ve only got Scottish pounds. Have you got change for a hundred?” TC pulled out a few silver dollars and tossed them on the bar. N glared but scooped them up and went to get glasses. MOE had drifted away from the bar and was, in a dazed and myopic state, climbing the stairs where CC was sitting at top on the banister. She was wearing a short skirt with flouncy ripples and a very revealing top. A black cheroot was dangling from her lips but which still allowed her to croon in a Marlene Dietrich way to SF’s piano playing. When she saw MOE she said “whassamatter Mac? Do you want a picture?” MOE, quick as a flash which he is renowned for and fortunately which he didn’t do at this moment said “No. I saw the resemblance on the mirror. I think TSB is arranging that for me”.
R noticed something familiar about the setting and the dialogue. He realised that it was from one of his favourite western films. “Could it be that we have ended up in one of my google blog favourites?” he thought.


An assegai thumped into the ground next to BF’s head. He screamed. Shrilly. The spear was a minor annoyance compared to the fire-ants that were crawling over his nether regions where he had been staked to the ground. “You bastard R!” he yelled. “Why did Zulu have to be one of your favourite films? What’s wrong with The Sound of Music?
CC ran forward towards BF, calling over her shoulder to the others “what are you all standing there for? Help him before the ants reach his…”


“…. Willy! Willy! There’s Willy over there just diving below that big wave. I hope he’s OK” said CC thinking “Bennett really likes this movie”.


“Are ye no gunny drink that sonny” said the boy’s alcoholic father reaching out for the can of Irn Bru and then topping it up with White Horse. TSB meekly handed it over thinking all the while how unfair it was that he had to get stuck in TC’s Ratcatcher when R would have at least imagined Brave Heart or something like that. “Still”, he thought, “when the old man falls over I’ll liberate some of his whisky.”. Eventually, after ducking a couple of skelpings from his mother, his father fell asleep and TSB carefully reached into the old man’s pockets for….


… What the fuck?” said MOE, sitting in the darkened picture theatre as TSB wriggled his hand inside his trousers. Are y’all queer or somethin? “Aw hell” MOE thought as he adjusted his cowboy hat and stretched out his scuffed and dusty boots “a feller has to eat somehow”. Afterwards, out in the grey autumn city light he watched R scurrying crab-like across the street in front of slow moving yellow taxis. “Hey, I’m walkin’ here” said R, banging the hood of a car.
He scuttled along the pavement and pulled away the boards that were covering the doorway of an old derelict building and saw…


… CC, in leotards and leggings doing stretches in the hall of the summer camp. Unaware that R was watching her she did her best bump and grind thinking all the time of the instructor and his hands…


… wrapped around the snout of the alligator as they slowly tumbled in the water below the boat. Blasted MOE and his old movies thought SF. If he wanted to imagine a Humphrey Bogart one why not one set on dry land not in bloody Africa. He pulled his trusty knife that Sue had bought on Trade Me from his belt and plunged it into the general vicinity of the crocodile’s neck. It broke. Not the neck unfortunately. The knife. “O shit” he thought, “This is…”


“….where I get off” simpered N as she lifted her skirt and placed one silk stockinged leg after the other on the bus steps knowing that the male passengers (and some females) were straining to catch a glimpse of her upper thigh. She had to meet Charlotte, Miranda and Carrie at the cafĂ© and she had a great story to recount. That barman she met last night had…


…spiked the whisky that TSB had taken the credit for buying. The bastards had stolen their horses and gear and had dumped them miles outside of Tumbleweed in a ravine. Gradually the fellow travellers started to rouse themselves, feeling their heads and rubbing their backs. TC did an inventory: MOE in his floppy Mexican hat; BF with the large boots that TC suspected were to hide his furry feet; N (no longer the barwoman) with a comical straw hat; TSB wearing his multi-pocketed coat that made suspicious clinking noises when he moved; CC still in her bar gear but now with a cigar replacing the cheroot; SF with three hats on (he didn’t ask); PP wearing a strange plastic helmet that just looked a tad out of place and R…Where was R. He asked “where’s that *#@** gone now?”. No-one knew. A low moan came to them from a hollow. TC went to investigate and found R huddled up, his pants around his ankles. “What’s wrong big guy” said TC, referring to his girth not his .. ahem. “I think I’ve been bitten by a snake” said R miserably. “Blast” thought TC “We don’t need this shit”. Putting a cheery face on it ( this must be fiction – ed) TC said (not to worry. We can make an incision and suck the poison out. Where did it bite you?” R looked down and TC followed his gaze. “You’re going to die” he said.....
...... “We’re all going to die” said BF, pointing to a dust cloud of horsemen racing towards them. “Quick behind this rock…


…”Hey, You all can’t get behind here” said BF huddling behind his rock as an orc arrow whistled past. “Go get your own rock” The group desperately looked around for rocks that looked like rocks and not blankets. TSB had already camouflaged himself having consumed a few quarts of whisky. He said he was trying to look like a half full bottle. R, having contorted himself to suck the poison out said through a Mona Lisa smile “Its OK, one of my favourites is Hitchhik


....”Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster anyone? “ asked TSB who had quickly taken on the persona of Zaphod in order to get his hands on the cocktail cabinet. The group all accepted except for SF who said he’d make his own and stumbled off in the direction of a shed, any shed. “This is more like it” said R. “Put it in Infinity Drive” and let’s give old Jasper a run for his money. Luckily SF was in the shed otherwise eternity would be taken up with endless argument about the existence or otherwise of God. “Who gives a fuck?” thought God, sitting unnoticed in the corner already on his third Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster “these turkeys will find out sooner or later anyway without me wasting my time." Sure enough, within microseconds (in infinity drive, real time was really centuries) the ship reached the end of the universe and fell off….


"I can't see how it is any worse some of the posts you two have been spitting out lately."
Said Nicola, rather defensively when she received a deluge of bloggers' criticism for wasting everyone's time with Twitter-like useless updates instead of writing one of her previously considered and erudite posts.
What she doesn't realise is that it is difficult keeping up posting standards during holiday periods. Richard (of RBB) for example is shagged out after his walks and trips to the Last Supper takeaway as he has lost his stamina. (He lost his dignity some time ago).

Nicola has obviously forgotten that in New Zealand over the summer holidays, there is very little news reporting and only re-runs on both television and radio so current affairs and interesting gossip is hard to come by. We have to resort to unusual methods and end up scraping the barrel.

Now that Richard (of RBB) has become bored with holidays and has voluntarily gone back to school early (I bet he sneaks into other offices and sits in people's chairs) no doubt we can expect bigger and better blog posts to sink all opposition ones.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


I alerted you all to the fact that Richard's Bus Bag was trying to drum up business by resorting to cheap marketing gimmicks (

He has been handing out dubious awards and accolades like lollipops to anyone who shows any interest in his site. Sad really. He assumes that people will bend over backwards to receive said accolades.

The Fluffy? I wonder what he will think up next.

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Some friends visited recently and the conversation got around to other people we know and places in New Zealand. When I mentioned Nuova Lazio and the strange people who live there they perked up and said that they holidayed there last Christmas. Apparently one of their elderly parents was incarcerated in the Pleasant Memories rest-home there. They cracked up recounting that the sign had lost its 'l' in 'Pleasant" and the proprietor was a Mr P. Staines. They stayed at Big Dick's Halfway Inn and joked about that as well. There wasn't a lot to do in Nuova Lazio but they tried to make the most of it - visiting the Richard Prouse Memorial park (in daylight hours only) and spending time at the shopping mall. Felicity had her hair done at Great Head hair salon and her nails done at The Hand Job. Of an evening, not wanting to dine at the RSA they had a choice of the Vietnamese restaurant Phat Phuc, or one of the two Chinese restaurants Fu King or Golden Shower. Knowing that they wouldn't be able to stop laughing enough to order a meal they had takeaways instead.


Friday, 14 January 2011


It seems that the recession has hit Richard's Bus Bag. He is desperately trying to drum up throughput through his tired old and grubby station. No wonder when the offering is dated.

What he needs to do is to get some new collateral and show that his station is exciting, cutting-edge and offering travellers a new experience.

Either that or resort to the old tried but true marketing devices like 'two for ones', free offers, value-added or sweepstakes to get bums on seats.

Monday, 10 January 2011


I've been far too nice in my recent posts and its time that I started living up to my name. Here is a list of things that have pissed me off over the Christmas/New Year period.

Jet Skis

I complained about these last year and the problem is still there. The morons who buy and use these things should be shot. They are noisy, polluting, dangerous and plain bloody useless. The morons who own them if they haven't been shot who then lend them to young people to hoon around on should be hung by their balls. The probable death of a 17 y.o. at Lake Rotorua attests to the danger of these machines and the criminal irresponsibility of letting inexperienced, untrained people who do not know the boating rules use them. The official boating rues dictate that no speed over 5 knots is allowed near swimmers and other craft and within 200 metres of the shore. Do these idiots know or appreciate this? If they do then they are ignoring it. The other day one of these maritime bodgies raced into shore near our place, dangerously close to swimmers and other craft - and I mean close. The Old Girl to give her credit stormed off down the road to give the guy a piece of her mind. She informed him of his IQ and parentage but it was good to see that the local harbourmaster was already giving him a lecture and (hopefully) a ticket.

Irresponsible boaties.

These idiots have the same traits as the morons above. Generally they are not the regular, local boaties but the wannabe sailors who come out each summer. Again they don't know or ignore the rules and are a danger to themselves and others around them. They go too fast, don't have a proper lookout, invariably don't wear life-jackets and make a general nuisance of themselves. One good thing is that these idiots don't know how to reverse a trailer and launch a boat properly and so run their cars (company vehicles?) into the sea-water and/or get stuck in the mud. On Saturday we saw a lot of these idiots who decided to have a BBQ/picnic on one of the large sand banks in the bay at low tide. It was early afternoon and temperatures were high under a blazing sun. After a few hours of drinking beer these Neanderthals drunkenly drove their fizz boats back, ignoring all safety rules. They were overloaded with drunkenly screaming females and retired to the house that they had rented at the end of the street. Thankfully sunstroke or alcohol poisoning precluded them having an all-night party.

Filthy Fishermen

Most are OK but a few gut and clean their fish at the waters edge or from their boats and kayaks close to the shore. One dirty bastard sneaked along late at night and dumped a whole lot of fish heads and guts from his car onto the beach. The cowardly, snivelling bastard drove off before a neighbour got his car registration number. Our maritime laws are weak as piss in trying to control this and the only regulations against it are in the area of proving size and quantity of the catch. Bastards!


In this country we are allowed fireworks during a limited window of time around 5th November. Historically this is to (celebrate?) the capture and execution of Guy Fawkes who tried and failed  (unfortunately) to blow up the British Parliament in the 17th century. What this has to do with New Zealand is a mystery. Why we would have a fireworks night in late Spring, almost Summer is plain stupid. It is still too light for children to see and enjoy them before late at night and conditions are generally too dry for safety. While there are regulations governing the sale of these annoying things it doesn't stop potential pyromaniacs stockpiling the bloody things and bringing them out on their birthday, at Christmas and on New Years eve - usually at 1 or 2 in the morning when they are all pissed up. Each bang then is accompanied by roars, hoots and hysterical female screaming not unlike the drunken females on the boats above.

Crap films

Local picture theatres assume that everyone on holiday is either a child or has an IQ of less than a 100 and screen abysmal animation films, 'blockbuster' action/adventure crap or pathetic American rom/coms that are usually rip-off remakes of something better done by the French, the Italians or the Japanese many years before. The same fools who organise this are seemingly connected to the TV programmers who dish up even more of this rubbish. Trying to find a good quality film or programme to watch at this time is like trying to find musicality in a solo double bass performance.

There is more that has annoyed me but The Old Girl is calling me to dinner.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


We went to Ocean Beach today. I don't often go there which is a shame given that it is only an eight minute drive away but whenever I do I am overawed by the beauty and majesty of the place. The beauty is in the long, white sand beach with dunes at one end and unusual rock formations at the other along with an outlook to the Hen and Chicken Islands, Great and Little Barrier Islands and the distant Coromandel. The majesty is in the power of the surf coming in which whilst being fun to play in is also scary as you feel that it can snap your back or break a leg as it dumps you into the shallows. As it was The Old Girl wrenched her shoulder doing some body surfing.
I love New Zealand and, over the years feel that I have made use of a lot of the special things on offer. I have tramped in bush, up mountains and through river valleys; I have climbed and skied on awe-inspiring alpine peaks; ridden down white water rivers on lilos, rafts and kayaks; parachuted and parapented above open, lush farmland; swum and boated on lovely lakes; abseiled down into underground caves and made my way along underground river systems on inflated tubes - lots of exhilarating outdoor things. All of these with the possible exception of parachuting and skiing have been free or very affordable and available to everyone and anyone who wants to give it a go.

The real beauty is that these things are still available to the current and future generations (as long as our legislators and councils make sensible decisions in regard to preservation and anti-pollution). Going to Ocean Beach today, sharing in the free experience with lots of other New Zealanders who were surfing, swimming, laughing and playing brought it home to me how lucky I and we are. The laughter of children during the holidays is one of life's best sounds. Oh, we weren't the only ones enjoying the surf. A pod of dolphins came along and surfed, splashed, leapt and played at the other end of the beach. Magic.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


.... the first for 2011.
Its not about the existence of god. Richard proved to Second last year that there is no such being. This question is about the silliness of different religious sects. When I was a kid growing up in Vogeltown there wasn't a lot of entertainment beyond what we made for ourselves. Bow and arrows, sleds, trolleys, guns (wooden), shanghais (slingshots) etc. were all made by us and made up the after school activity before we were called in for tea. The hills and vales would ring to mothers calling out the names of their children. This, like the newspaper boys in town calling out 'Evening Post' is a fond memory.

When word got around that some fellows were setting up softball games at McCallister Park (at the bottom of our street) we all went to have a look. These guys had bats, balls, sandbags for bases - the works. At a time when no one had a cricket set or any quantity of gear to equip a team this was a big event. We joined in and found it to be fun. I was good at the game as having a good throwing arm meant I could pitch as well as field and a good eye meant I could catch and bat well. We played I think once a week after school and, towards Christmas the gents in black suits who organised the game invited us all to a Christmas party. At this stage we got parents permission (not having bothered with this before) and on the due Saturday morning gathered at the park to be collected by car and taken to a big hall somewhere in Newtown. We had soft drinks and treats which was fun but there was also a strange sort of church service. Being brought up Catholic I was used to mass, benediction and the formal ( Latin) services. This was weird and different. I told my mother about it when we got home and she was shocked. It was like she thought we we were going to hell for entering foreign lands. We were forbidden to play softball again and told to keep away from these men in black who turned out to be Mormons.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


.... to not feel guilty for not working this year.
For all of 2010 I did not have a job. This after 35 odd years of working virtually continuously and having few holidays. Admittedly for 20 of those years I had jobs that took me overseas and I could have working holidays in some of the world's most interesting and beautiful spots but I never had a decent long break (not being a schoolteacher and all). Last year I was a kept man with time on my hands to do what I wanted. The problem with this was that The Old Girl was working long hours and most of the time away from home so I did not have a chance to share my leisure time with her. I did play golf a lot, walk and kayak and spend time in the garden and around the house but I never really got into it feeling that I should be working to help bring money in. I continually sought jobs, having some interviews and coming close on a couple of occasions but where I live there is not much opportunity to use my skills which are general management, marketing and sales management. For most jobs I was either over-qualified or lacking in specific technical experience (most jobs up here are hospital related, engineering and farming, boat-building or at the oil-refinery) but there is the underlying problem of ageism.

Employers generally want younger people. This is because they can pay less and also feel that they can boss them around better. I will still actively seek employment but I won't feel guilty about using my spare time for leisure. Through 2010 I was also involved in volunteer work for a charity organisation raising money for a new unit at the hospital and for an art gallery. The problem was that I could not get as actively involved as I would have liked because I thought that at any given week a job would turn up. This year I am going to get involved 'boots and all'.


I like John Oliver. His retakes of the news are insightful and very funny. Have a look via the link below at his latest review of Facebook...