Monday, 29 August 2011

9TH AUGUST 2011

Many momentous things happened on August 9th over the years. In 48BC Caesar defeated Pompey at Paharsulus. The Sistine chapel was opened in 1483. In 1892 Thomas Edison patented the telegraph. In 1930 Betty Boop appeared in comics. In 1944 Smokey The Bear was first used by the US Forest Service.
Nagasaki was devastated by the Fat Man in 1945. In 1965 Singapore gained independence from Malaysia. Charles Manson's cult murdered Sharon Tate and friends in 1969. President Nixon resigned in 1974. And, most recently both Twisted Scottish Bastard and Nicola ceased creating posts on their blogs. Have they run off together to somewhere where there is no internet connection we wonder?


Sunday, 28 August 2011

PERFECT STORM


A perfect storm is an event where a rare combination of events will aggravate a situation drastically.
This weekend The Old Girl has been home, she hasn't had any computer work to do and the weather has been gorgeous. The result? GARDENING! She took it into her mind to do some creative things which meant that I was given digging duties. I had to dig a trench all along the border of the lawn and the sloping fern garden to stop the grass from spreading through the garden. I duly started this and it didn't take long for the odd fantasy to start to enable me to get through the otherwise mindless work. I am reading a novel about the battle of Alamein at present so my digging garden borders morphed into digging slit trenches on the Miteira Ridge as German 88 shells whistled overhead. At one stage during a mortar stonk I had to dive into the ditch hoping that it was deep enough to stop the shell splinters from riddling me. Of course this was the moment that the Old Girl came around the side of the house to see what I was doing.


Now women, bless 'em are lovely but they have little understanding of blokes' fantasies (or at least the adventure type ones). After the lecture on 'stop pissing about and get on with it' topic I resumed my digging and designing. At this stage the neighbourhood cat came over to see what I was doing. As I was about to give it a lecture in turn of the 'don't even think about crapping in my ditch' topic a Kereru flew into the garden and perched on a low branch in the tree above my head.


We get a lot of Kereru (Wood Pigeon) here but this is the closest I have been to one. The cat decided to ignore me and started taking an undue interest in the bird. The pigeon was twice the size of the cat but I thought that I'd better not take any chances. I started throwing clods of earth at the cat to get it to go away. Now this cat is quite young but is feisty and has a great personality. Not a lot seems to faze it. It follows the neighbour and her dog down to the rocks in the bay and is not at all scared of the water. As I was throwing the clods at it, it didn't move but merely looked around at me as if to say "What the fuck are you doing? I've got a pigeon here". The cat, unmoved by the clods suddenly jumped away and ran over to the fence that borders the farm up the back. A cow had come over to investigate the sound of the clods of earth hitting the hedge. The cat went up to see it as did I. It was a friendly cow and was happy to have its face stroked.


It was lucky that Richard (of RBB) wasn't here as he is afraid of cows. Actually, Richard would probably have been afraid of the Kereru and I know that he doesn't like cats.

These distractions filled in some time and, as it was 3PM, the time that I had agreed with the Old Girl that I was off to play a few holes of golf, I put away the spade and headed off.
Gardening wasn't so bad today after all.

Friday, 26 August 2011

WAITING

WAITING FOR THE POST

The blog world has slowed down somewhat. The once feverish posting activity that stimulated the creation of many alter egos just to keep up seems to have slowed right down. Richard number 2 and Richard number 3 have dried up; the other weird and wonderful ones have died and we are left with the possibility of the nascent Richard Prowse's Bass not getting off the ground.
Twisted Scottish Bastard's wife took his computer rights off him, The Confusion Chronicles ground to a halt and Nicola's Supermarket Bag blew away. Man of Errors doggedly slogs on but he seems trapped in a time warp and cannot get out. Second Fiddle sputters along but like an old and poorly repaired television set he fades out on a regular basis. A new entrant, Valley Girl shows promise albeit suffering from Second Fiddle's peculiar form of spelling and grammar but has not yet jumped out of the comments box to post anything.

Waiting

Thursday, 25 August 2011

BLACK AND BLUE KEEPER

I played some golf today. I was hitting some pretty amazing shots and all was going well until the par 4 4th. This is one of my favourite holes as it dog-legs around a stream hidden by trees and, to approach the green you have to hit over a stream and a massive oak tree. I had hit a good drive down the fairway and only needed a wedge shot over the tree and stream up to the elevated green. As the ground is till quite soft I chose a 9-iron instead of the wedge. I connected really well and the ball easily cleared the big tree and went  beyond the green............. to where two greenkeepers were chatting. It hit one of them on the upper arm then the mower before dropping next to the green. Bugger. I went up to see if he was OK and he showed me the mark on his arm where the ball hit. He pretended to punch me (I think he was pretending) and we laughed about it. His name is Blair and he lives three houses away from me in McLeod Bay. He will have a mighty bruise on his arm. It was lucky that the shot wasn't about a foot higher as it could have hit him in the head.



Years ago when I was about 9 or 10 I was playing golf at Berhampore Golf course. We were a bit slow I know but some men behind us got a bit grumpy and drove off over our heads. One of the bastards hit a low shot that hit me on the back of the neck. I dropped like a stone. He got a hell of a fright and came up all apologetic. My brother asked him what he was going to do about it and he fished around in his pocket and came up with two half-crown pieces. Five shillings. In 1962 this was a fortune and represented at least two weeks pocket money. For a while after this my brother would try and get me to get in the way of other golf balls. He was a bit of an entrepreneur in this way but it never happened again.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

IN GODZONE WE TRUST...

And trust and trust and trust in order to avoid paying tax.
I believe that New Zealand has the largest number of family trusts per capita in the world. This is all to avoid paying tax not just to look after the family. If we are not careful this country could end up like Greece and Ireland where tax income does not cover the outgoing of running a country.
I was pleased to hear that IRD won their case in the Courts today against the two Christchurch surgeons who artificially paid themselves low salaries while putting the rest into family trusts all in order to avoid paying tax. Now I don't have a great liking for the IRD, not out of principle but because I have had dealings with some very arrogant officers of the department. There is an unfortunate culture in that organisation that needs changing. Nevertheless they are charged with gathering a fair and equitable amount of tax from everyone in order to help run the country and I have no sympathy for anyone who deliberately tries to circumvent that.
Do you trust your surgeon? When going under the knife we put our lives in their hands. I can't trust someone like the one interviewed on radio today who disingenuously said when asked what he does with the trust money in relation to his holiday home "I don't personally own that holiday home, I'm just fortunate in being able to use it". I hope I never have to depend on him.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

ARSEHOLES

GOING COMMANDO....

..... with underpants securely on.
We've had a cracker of a day today. No wind, sunshine, mid 20's temperature - lovely.
I played golf this morning (found 13 balls) and kayaked in the afternoon.
As it was so calm I went right across the harbour to Marsden Point. This involves going across the channel where ships and boats motor along so I had to paddle furiously to cross it. It was a good workout and was harder coming back than going there. By water from McLeod Bay it is about 4 kms to get to where I went.


I skirted around the big ships berthed there, went under and around the wharf and landed on a beautiful white sandy beach. Its typical that an oil refinery gets based at one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
I didn't notice any signs while kayaking but found this on the web after I returned.


This was the area I paddled around. Still, I didn't get shot. I indulged in a bit of a fantasy while I was there though. I imagined myself as a WW2 commando (as you do), sneaking up on a U-boat port and laying explosives.

I put magnetic mines on the ships there and the fuel bunkers, carefully avoiding the sentries before paddling away. I had to rip my shirt in half to muffle the paddle (fantasy) and slipped away into the handy fog bank (fantasy) before the explosions ripped apart the ships and the fuel tanks.



The blast waves and water surge accelerated me away as MG42 bullets probed the mist and hissed into the water around me. Fortunately I had the foresight to take my 21st century kayak with me with the multi-compartments so that any bullets piercing the plastic skin wouldn't totally scupper me.

There was a big swell in the channel and I was a bit tired when I got back home. I had that nice feeling you get after doing some strenuous exercise (and saving the world from fascists).

Sunday, 21 August 2011

UGLY, BRUTAL, BAD-TEMPERED AND SOUTH AFRICAN

OK, I know that this might apply to most of the Neanderthals in the SA team that beat the AB's last night but this guy is unbelievable.
I don't believe there is any place in sport for this type of player - whatever the code. See:



This is lightweight stuff compared to what he usually does. He's a monster. The sight of his fellow team mates doing 'high-fives' after his thuggish antics makes me sick.
I hope that the powers that be take a good look at him and similar players (New Zealand ones included) and get the bastards out of the game otherwise Rugby won't have a future.

Bakkies Botha 'playing sport'

"BRING THREE AND FOUR-PENCE WE'RE GOING TO A DANCE"

OK, I'm going a bit deaf, or, need my ears syringed. The Old Girl knows this but she still talks to me over her shoulder while exiting a room or, worse still, from another room entirely. Half of the time I don't have a clue what she is saying so just ignore her (dangerous) or respond in a really obtuse way which tends to irritate her (fun).
My father started to have hearing problems at about the same age that I am now and I remember that he used to get frustrated that we weren't talking clearly and we got frustrated at him always saying "What? Speak up!" If I have damaged my ears it is most likely that it was due to loud music at concerts, with ear-phones and listening to very loud music in the car. I haven't driven tanks and fired off artillery rounds like my Dad and have only a couple of times operated a kanga-hammer (pneumatic drill) so can't think of what else might have caused it. There is Richard (of RBB's) bass playing I suppose but as sustained listening would be needed this is ruled out.

A WINTER'S DAY UP NORTH

We started the day with a long walk around the bay and along a bush track. In the sunshine. The air is a bit cool and we will probably light a fire this evening but the sky is clear and there is no wind. After breakfast I sorted out the shed to find a couple of appropriate sized picture frames to mount the Old Girl's prints (she has been nagging asking for this to be done for a while). It was still cloudless and sunny and was becoming warm so, as it was nearing high tide I took the kayak out into the bay. The water is crystal clear and even out in the deep the visibility is great right down to the bottom. No fish in sight today. I'm not a fisherman so don't know what conditions or seasons are best for fish but I did notice that the gannets weren't working.

Its fascinating to watch these birds fishing in the bay

An hour or so kayaking is good for the body and mind. I felt quite refreshed after that. A nice hot bath while reading Ian Gale's Alamein (a war novel that is interesting to me as my father fought at the Alamein battles) rounded things off. Now, a bit of internet trawling keeping the Old Girl company in the study where she is working will be followed by selecting a bottle of wine for dinner and watching the re-run of the rugby. Bugger Yahoo. On starting up the computer the Yahoo home page boldly showed the result.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

THE STUPIDEST THINGS I'VE DONE (2)

I used to go to Vinexpo every second year. This is the world's largest wine fair and is a biannual event in Bordeaux. The first time I went was in 1995. I had been to South Africa for the disastrous Rugby World Cup (although we did get to the finals) and was on my way to Scotland but stopped off in France on the way as I had arranged some meetings at the fair. I had been to France several times before this and was familiar with the language, customs and hotel procedures but this time there was a catch. I was not booked into a hotel this time as the wine fair attracts so many visitors accommodation is at a premium. The only late booking I could get was in a kind of serviced apartment building. This was a place that was staffed during the day but not at nights. On arrival a maid showed me to my apartment, unlocked the door and handed me the keys. I was in a bit of a rush as it was early evening, I had just arrived from Johannesburg and had to attend a dinner party so stupidly took the keys without asking about any special instructions. I duly went out and didn't return until the early hours of the morning. On the way back to the apartment building there was torrential rain and I got soaked through. One of my keys opened the main doors to the building giving me access to the lobby and administration areas. Squelching my way upstairs through intermittent light and dark patches (French buildings have those light saving devices where at the foot of the stairs or at the end of a corridor you press a button for the light which is on a time setting.


 If you are not quick enough the light goes out and you have to scrabble blindly along to find another switch) I eventually found my apartment and tried to open the door. It would not unlock. I tried both keys to no avail. I had to several times make my way to the end of the corridor to turn on the light to double-check the keys and the room number. Bugger! I was wet, tired, slightly drunk. It was 2AM and I had an 8AM meeting. I gave up on trying to open the door and went back down to the administration area. There was no-one there. I went out again and wandered about looking for another hotel to check into. I found two nearby and they were full. It was still pissing down and I get even wetter.


I went back to the apartment building and entered the lobby area again. Wandering around I discovered that the admin area on the first floor was unlocked. I found a couch to sleep on after rummaging around in drawers to find a large bottle of mineral water and some biscuits which I devoured. After a very uncomfortable attempt at sleep I went back down to the lobby at around 6AM and waited. Eventually a woman came in from somewhere (a staff entrance maybe) and busied herself behind the counter. I stood up and called out "Excusez moi". She just about jumped out of her skin thinking that she was alone and seeing a crumpled, sodden thing with a weird accent approaching her. After much explanation in bad French (mine) I was able to explain the problem. She accompanied me upstairs to my apartment and showed me how to open the door. It was one of those stupid French ones where to unlock it you had to pull the handle towards you, turn the key once clockwise and twice anticlockwise. Its like the weird French plumbing, electricity and just about every appliance. Nothing works logically.

The French make everything complicated


I went in, had a long scalding shower, changed clothes and went out to my meeting and a very long day at the fair with an oncoming cold.
I wondered what the office workers would think when they arrived to find a sodden couch and that their water and biscuits had been eaten.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

THE STUPIDEST THINGS I'VE DONE (1)

I was thinking today of some of the stupidest things that I have done in my life and believe me there have been a lot of them.
Do we learn from our mistakes? I believe in empirical knowledge but that doesn't stop me wanting to press that big red button that has "DON'T PRESS" written on it, or touching the hot fry-pan to see if it is hot, or locking myself outside before checking that I have a key......

I thought that I would jot down some of them as a reminder to not do it again.

#1. DON'T TELL A GIRLFRIEND/WIFE/LOVER THAT YOU ARE GOING TO TRAVEL OVERSEAS WITH ANOTHER WOMAN.

 Seems obvious doesn't it but this is exactly what I did.
Years ago, before I met the love of my life affectionately referred to in this blog as The Old Girl I was set to travel to Scotland to attend my sister's wedding. For a couple of months I had been going out with a current girlfriend, a lovely and attractive young woman (CG) and we enjoyed each other's company. A previous girlfriend (PG) of mine with which the relationship had ended badly (her fault, honestly) had experienced some problems and, as we had kept in touch, knew I was travelling to Scotland to the wedding and asked if she could go with me. I said yes as she knew my sister and we made plans. Intending to travel as friends and doing so because of PG's situation I naively told CG of the plan saying that PG was an old girlfriend and the trip was on a platonic basis.

The news went down rather coolly I thought but then got busy making the plans and then going away for I think 3 to 4 weeks (England, Scotland, France).
The trip was good apart from getting a horrendous head cold that rendered me deaf for 3 days when I flew to France to travel to Burgundy and Bordeaux on a wine buying trip and the wedding was superb (Grey Friars church, wearing a kilt, whisky etc.). When I got back home though I discovered that CG had taken a posting to a ski resort town for the season (doctoring) and wouldn't be back for several months. I went down there as soon as I could get a weekend off which meant that it had been about 6 or 7 weeks since we had last seen each other. Things did not exactly go well as basically she had already struck up an acquaintance with a colleague down there. How unfair was that?


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

LONDON CALLING, SORRY, BURNING



The riots in London and elsewhere in England are said to be the inevitable outcome of years of bad policy, the widening of the gap between rich and poor, the failure of the work and welfare system and the inability of government to handle the 'youth question' whatever that may be and the power of social media. OK, all of these and all the other theories and observations may have some elements of truth to them but I don't accept the glorification of causes when, fundamentally the problem is disaffected youth caused by the erosion of social and moral values and the wanton desire to break, steal and harm as a form of entertainment.


Svengali-type manipulators may well be taking advantage of the situation to further their own ends but deep down, the little scrotes who are burning and pillaging are doing so out of greed, boredom and lack of respect and responsibility. I guess that their parents don't give a toss but their grandparents and great grandparents would be mortified at how their country is turning out.
When will New Zealand reach this nadir I wonder?





London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared-and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
London calling, now don't look at us
All that phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust
London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

Monday, 8 August 2011

BEING 58 AND 59

It is my birthday today, the 8th of August. This is a lucky date in Chinese terms - the 8th of the 8th. One of my birth years is 1952 which is the year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar. This is also seen as being lucky and, when combined with the 8th of the 8th, especially so. My other birth year is 1953 which is the year of the Snake which is not as auspicious as the Dragon but hey, it could be worse, I might have been born in the year of the Rat or the Sheep or something. Not many people have two birth dates. The Queen does. She has a real one and an official one but these are in the same year. I wonder if she gets two lots of presents?

You. Yes you. Where's my other prezzie?
Having two different birth years is sort of like being born again.

Just as well that the second time I came out better looking.

Second Fiddle could relate to this as it fits in with his religious belief system.

How it came about that I have two birth dates is that years ago my drivers license went through the wash and got totally destroyed. To get a new one I had to prove identity and a date of birth. This was before the days of credit cards and all the other ID crap we carry around so I had to have a birth certificate. I couldn't find mine so applied to get another one. This was pre-computerisation days so everything was hand-written. The church registry or the council or something provided me with another certificate with the information entered by hand. The date was written as Nineteen Fifty Three instead of 52. I duly went to the MOT to get the new license and they picked up the difference from their records. It was easier to say that there must have been a mistake with the old MOT records (I was right there at the counter) than saying that the birth registry had stuffed up as this would have taken another couple of weeks. My new license was issued with the 1953 date.

Sometime afterwards I found my original birth certificate so now have two. The original one I used years later to get a passport so now my drivers license and passport have different dates. It sometimes causes some confusion with various agencies but I just tell them that I was born again. They look at me funny but let it go.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

ON THE TOWN



The Old Girl and I went on the town in Auckland on Friday night - a couple of oldies having some fun.
After work we met at the Crowne Plaza for a drink. The Old Girl said she would find a seat and I ordered the wines at the bar. Carrying them back to the seating area I had in my mind the spot we sat at the last time we were there and went to that table. The woman sitting at the table was wearing a short skirt and had black fish-net stockings on.


It went through my mind briefly that The Old Girl was wearing a bit of a risque outfit but I proceeded to sit down opposite her. At that point a "Oy" came from the next table over which I recognised as The Old Girl's voice and I looked up (from the legs) to the face of the woman sitting at the table who had a bemused smile and realised that it was not in fact The Old Girl. She who must in fact be obeyed was summoning me to join her. I spent the next few minutes being lectured on how unobservant I was, how she was wearing red and the mystery woman was in black, how she was wearing jeans and not a skirt, how....etc. The wine was nice though and the hotel serves delicious tapas-type bar snacks.
After the Crowne Plaza we went to the cinema at the great Event Cinema complex that has the stunning atrium (worth a visit if you are in Auckland). I jokingly said that we'd see a Rom Com (Chick Flick) and, unfortunately, choosing Larry Crowne, that is what it was. The Old Girl was happy with it though. After the film we set off to have another glass of wine somewhere. "The Bluestone Room", said the Old Girl, who had been there one lunchtime. The quiet daytime bar is transformed in the evenings to a crowded and noisy Neanderthals watering hole. Making our way through the milling throng outside a drunken young guy said to the Old Girl "How come you're so old - but good looking"?


We cracked up and when we asked the bouncer if there was room inside for us he said "Yes, as you are so good looking". He obviously had heard the previous comment. We went inside for...... about 30 seconds. The noise and reek of spilled beer put us off and so we ran the gauntlet outside again. It was all boisterous and good-spirited fun so we didn't mind.
We made or way to Bellota the Spanish bar at Sky City. This is owned by Peter Gordon and is really good with all Spanish wines (good ones) and Spanish tapas food.  A glass each of top notch Tempranillo set off the evening well.
Making our way back to the apartment at midnight in upper Queen Street was pleasant. It was a nice clear evening and there was a great buzz around us. We reflected on how we were heading home after a nice evening out and all the young ones that passed us were just heading out and would be out until the morning frantically trying to have fun.  Ahh, the joy of growing old.

"WE'RE A TOILET"

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...