Sunday, 27 November 2011


To all those well-intentioned but naive non National voters out there who didn't vote Labour and didn't vote to get rid of MMP.

And that also goes for the huge numbers who didn't vote at all.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


You know that the standard of blogging has gone down. You know that.
As a counterpoint though, Google has lifted its game in the humour of the 'randomised' word verifications.
They intrigue me and I think that the word verification (w.v.) picks up on the words used in the comments to posts. I'll see what comes up as I comment on this post as another viewer.


Driving 500 km each weekend on State Highways 16 and 1 highlights the problems we have in New Zealand with drivers who have no or little understanding of the road rules. I heard Stephen Joyce on the radio a few weeks ago promising to review the licensing system should he and his dodgy mates get re-elected. In short, he highlighted the problem in this country where there is a very high number of unlicensed drivers and those still driving on learners permits after many years. He said, correctly, that until people passed the full licence they haven't demonstrated that they understand the rules and regulations. The intention is to cancel temporary licences after a few years and make the holder go back to the beginning. This is all very well but unless we actually have meaningful penalties then nothing will change. I live in a rural area. I searched the web to find out the quantum of the problem and came across this:

Unlicensed driving among urban and rural Maori drivers: New Zealand drivers study.
McDowell ABegg DConnor JBroughton J.Source
Injury Prevention Research Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.
To determine the extent and type of self-reported unlicensed car driving and reasons given for driving before getting a license among Maori drivers in urban and rural areas of New Zealand.
Participants included 824 people of self-identified Maori ethnicity. The ages ranged from 15 to 65 years, with the majority of participants aged 15 (37%), 16 (21%), or 17 (14%) years at the time of recruitment. Participants were recruited after passing the car driver's learner license theory test at a driver licensing agency or a learner license course or by the participant responding to a postcard placed at licensing agencies nationwide. All participants completed a self-administered questionnaire that included items for a wide range of personal, driving, and licensing-related variables. The cohort was not randomly selected but included as many eligible participants as possible, with recruitment taking place in urban and rural areas of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
Unlicensed car driving experience was common, especially among rural participants (urban: 65%, rural: 83%). The nature and extent of driving experience and reasons for driving unlicensed were remarkably similar for urban and rural drivers, Females (47%) were more likely than males (37%) to report previous experience of a serious traffic crash. Being stopped by the police for driving unlicensed was not common (24% urban, 17% rural), but for those who had been stopped, the consequences varied by residential location.
Driving before obtaining a driver's license was common practice and the amount of driving extensive, for both rural and urban drivers. Furthermore, contrary to common perceptions in New Zealand, the need and opportunities for driving were similar, irrespective of place of residence. This suggests that similar issues may need to be addressed by both urban and rural Maori community road safety providers.

Now I'm not saying that Maori nationally cause the greatest problem but in Northland there is a much higher proportion of Maori than elsewhere in the country. This report may be relevent to rural dwellers in total.

In Australia they take the problem a little more seriously and, like their drink-drive regulations they actually legislate properly against unlicensed drivers. See:
Unlicensed Drivers
If you drive unlicensed, you risk having the vehicle you are driving impounded.
Likewise, if you allow an unlicensed person to drive your vehicle, you risk having your vehicle impounded.
This law takes effect in addition to existing penalties and applies when a person drives in one of the following circumstances:

  • The driver licensing authority has suspended or refused to renew a person’s driver licence, or refused to issue a person with licence.
  • The person has had their licence cancelled.
  • A court has imposed a disqualification upon the person.
  • The person is subject to a disqualification because of the accumulation of an excessive number of demerit points.
  • The person has an extraordinary licence and is driving contrary to a condition relating to the time, purpose or location.
Roadside vehicle impoundment will apply to the vehicle used by the driver at the time of the offence, including borrowed vehicles or a vehicle used for commercial purposes.

The penalties for unlicensed driving range from 28 day roadside impoundment to court imposed sanctions for repeat offenders including impoundment for up to 3 months duration (after conviction of two relevant unlicensed driving offences), and for up to 6 months duration or confiscation (after conviction of three relevant unlicensed driving offences).

In addition to the inconvenience of losing the car, the cost of impoundment will typically be around $900 for the full 28 day period. Vehicles will not be released until the costs are paid in full. Further penalties, including permanent vehicle confiscation, will apply for repeat offenders.
So what have I noticed (more) now I am driving a lot.

1. Lane changing. Do you know that when indicating a change of lane you should must use the indicator at least 3 seconds before changing lanes. Makes sense? Most people, if they indicate at all, turn the blinkers on while making the lane change or even after doing so. Stupid.

2. Passing on yellow lines.

3. Passing on bridges

4. Passing on blind corners

5. Following too close. The Road rules in New Zealand has the 2-second rule for good weather conditions and 4-second rule for bad. It is recommended that the motorist takes a fixed position ahead of an object and count how long it takes to get there. At whatever speed the time should be at least 2 seconds to ascertain the distance that should be left between cars.
This table is in feet and is based on 3-seconds but shows the distance needed.

Three-Second RuleSafe Interval Should Be >3 seconds6 seconds
SpeedDistance TraveledFor These Conditions >GoodMarginal
25 m.p.h.37 ft. per second111 ft.222 ft.
35 m.p.h.52 ft. per second166 ft.312 ft.
45 m.p.h.66 ft. per second198 ft.396 ft.
55 m.p.h.81 ft. per second243ft.486 ft.
65 m.p.h.96 ft. per second288 ft.576 ft.
75 m.p.h.111 ft. per second333 ft.666 ft.
Safe Following Distance in Feet

So, how many people know or adhere to this rule? Bugger all I think.

6. Turning right off a main highway. This one always surprises me. when I was taught to drive it was mandatory to, when wanting to turn right off a main (80km plus) highway, where there is not a marked turning area, to pull over to the left until it was safe to cross. Every time I drive up North, some moron stops in the middle of the open road to turn right into a driveway or minor road. Behind them cars are barrelling along at 80 to 120km per hour and they fucking stop in the middle of the road!

7. Driving unsafe vehicles. Bald tyres, rust, insecure bonnets, doors, boots and even roofs is de-rigeur up here.

8. P.

9. Pulling out onto the main road without checking that it is safe to do so.

10. Alcohol and excessive speed.

Friday, 25 November 2011


Have you ever had a weird phone call? The one where the person on the other end doesn't seem quite right? I wrote a post on one a couple of years ago, see here:

Tonight when I got home after being away all week there was a single message on the answer phone. "Remember to mow the lawns" the voice said and nothing else. What the hell was that. This disembodied voice is what? My conscience? The neighbourhood home and garden club? A motor-mower salesman? No. On listening again I recognised the voice as belonging to none other than Richard (of RBB). Has anyone else received strange big-brotherly comments from him?

Sunday, 20 November 2011


...... I play my '70's music. That's what she calls it but to be fair a lot is from the '60's and '80's as well.
Tonight, as she is in auckland setting up the new townhouse flat we have rented and I am up North, I can indulge.
Playing select tracks from music that was important to me in my youth can be both fun and sad. It is certainly nostalgic and takes me back to places I have been and people I have known. When listening to some tonight I realised that I really like it. This is not to say that it is any better (my selections) than other music that was around at the time or music of the following generations (see MOE's excellent essays on the music that influenced him in the '80's and '90's) but it has meaning. To me.

Listening to Trafiic's 'Low Spark of High Heeled Boys'  took me back to Vogeltown and the period between school and universty - a time of change and liberation:

And Roger Chapman's quavering voice on Family's 'The Weaver's Answer' sent shivers up my spine and seemed ethereal when echoing around Aro Valley late at night:

 Small Faces was a group I liked when I was at school and I had all the albums. 'Afterglow of Your Love', 'Tin Soldier', 'Autumn Stone' etc. were all favourites but I particularly liked "The Universal' because it was mad and subversive.

Arthur Brown, Cream, Spencer Davis Group, Them, Animals, Chicken Shack, The Kinks, The Yardbird's and others represented another world to me and one I love. after forty years its interesting to know that the music is still as fresh and alive to me now as it was then.
Check this out:

Saturday, 19 November 2011


I watched an interview of Noel Gallagher on TV last night and he said that the name of his new album came from Peter Green's 'Man of The Word' - a bit of it played here. It is an enduring classic along with virtually everything else he did in his band, Fleetwood Mac when they were something (not the pale imitation it became after he left).
Check out his music sometime.


Yes, I borrowed stole that from Monty Python. See below:

Sorry about the Czech subtitles.

I was reminded of this quote and the Monty Python sketch when watching Treme on the new SOHO channel (SKY 10) tonight. Set in New Orleans after the hurricane and flood and resultant devastation (6 months after) it shows the community(s) trying to get their lives back into order. This works on a lot of levels. It is well written and has a very good acting cast. It has very good production values and doesn't skimp on 'setting the scene'. More relevant and importantly though it has resonance with anyone who has recently experienced loss. And, who hasn't. The Global financial meltdown is mirrored. Personal disasters, family deaths and disappearances are an ongoing theme but, overall is a sense of tristesse - a loss of something that was there before and has slipped away. This is good (at least to me) and is worth checking out.
The New Orleans music scene is interesting and I think well covered with the conflict between 'authentic' and 'popular'.

A city rebuilding itself against the problems of a slow bureaucracy, weasly insurance companies and a nation that is 'over it' must mean something to Christchurch residents.

My reference to the Monty Python sketch is because we have so much TV selection nowadays that the good stuff gets lost unless it is really good. Occasionally something shines through and when it does I try to follow it.


Its a nice sunny morning up North. I have just woken up after having a nice sleep in. I have been getting up at 6.30 every morning during the week! A friend sent this ukulele band clip. Its nice and gentle. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, 18 November 2011


....... This was a voiceover in tonight's Inbetweeners, the UKTV show I talked about last week see:

It related to when Simon, one of the show's regular characters is kissed by a girl for the first time. I know that this will appeal to Richard (of RBB) who , for strange reasons of his own, mangles my Curmudgeon name into 'comeinyourpants'. Now there's an Inbetweeners' character if there ever was one.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


I used to think that there was too much of it. Endless series of boring cricket, overexposed rugby, under-performing soccer football, disappointing net-ball and thuggish rugby-league was pissing me off ..... until I discovered Lingerie Football!


..... but lately have gone off it.

For years now I have been drinking Irish Breakfast tea, either from Twinings or from Dilmah. I like the strong blend like 'navvies' tea. It reminds me of the stuff I brewed up for my Dad's workers on the building sites when I was a roustabout in school holidays. I recently entered the Twinings competition to create the New Zealand Breakfast tea. See here:

I didn't win with my submission as I refused to put that bloody awful Earl Grey in it, but The Old Girl likes my blend and only ever drinks it.

What has annoyed me recently has been the endless reporting of John Key having a 'cup of tea' with John Banks. The 'will he or won't he' was the stuff of teenage magazines and frankly not deserving of prime-time news coverage. At one stage a set-up of a silver teapot was used as if it was the bloody rugby world cup! What idiots they think we are. The whole thing is a rort and it flies in the face of democratic voting.

If we really want to see what John Key (Shonkey) is about just recollect his behaviour during a minutes silence for earthquake victims in Christchurch last week. He was either electioneering or chatting up. Either way it was not appreciated by the locals so if they vote the idiot in again God help them.



OK, he nailed it.
But this post is not about Malcolm Tucker's opinions of bloggers although he did feature, as he always does, with this diatribe against bloggers in tonight's episode of The Thick of It replayed on UKTV on Friday nights. Peter Capaldi's vicious portrayal of a spin doctor in this very, very cleverly written political spoof is worth watching no matter how dated it becomes (like Yes Minister).
In this episode Nicola the Minister, at a Party conference preparing a speech is accompanied by her entourage of secretaries and PR people. In the opening scene she enters the hotel room of one of her lackeys to discover that it is more of a suite than a room and definitely larger than hers. The to-and-fro accusations disguised as queries is really funny and quite spot on.

This is about dysfunction.

I have experienced this in my working career. There is a ridiculous hierarchy in business of any kinds - corporations, government institutions, professional bodies - that dictate salary levels, office allocations, vehicle attributions etc. often unconnected to worth or ability. I have been on overseas conferences and visits where the scenario as in The Thick of It was played out. On two separate occasions, years apart, I was witness to and key player in similar farces. Once it was the Chief Executive of a company I worked for and reported to and a relatively junior management member one level below me and the other time it was me and my direct boss the 'President'. On both occasions the 'supremo' was allocated an ordinary room and the junior an elaborate suite. It was bloody funny but the bosses who were pulling down substantially bigger salaries and benefits behaved like petulant schoolboys. I don't think they ever realised the damage it did to their positions or the companies reputations because, like most Chief Executives, they are only aware of their own position and advancement, but I thought it was funny. I told my President that he was behaving like a wanker which, in retrospect didn't help in my career advancement. Dysfunction, small hassles that don't get resolved are the Little Murders that bring us all down.
A superb film from the early 1970's was Jules Ffeiffer's Little Murders. The link to this clip is a trailer. Don't be put off by the slickness. If you ever get the opportunity- see the film. I'm sure you'll love it.

Friday, 11 November 2011


Have you heard about the gay penguins? I'm not talking about Richard (of RBB) dressed up in a dinner suit but that's another story.

No, I'm referring to Buddy and Pedro who currently live in a zoo in Toledo and have a 'good' relationship. The 'powers-that-be' have decided to separate these two who incidentally have been buddies for years so that they can procreate (with females) indifferent zoos. It has caused an uproar with gay-rights activists around the world petitioning the zoo to let the old guys live their lives the way they choose. Fair enough.


Got your attention?
Good. That was a line from The Inbetweeners, a really funny British comedy currently screening on UKTV on Friday nights.

It is good and covers lots of those teenage angst scenarios we all know except that nowadays it is all aired whereas in my time this was all hidden.. I like the teachers who use sarcasm, cruelty and indifference to keep their charges in place. Tonight's story (not unlike the usual ones) concerns masturbation, lust over other friends mothers, lust over older girls, masturbation, anxiety over sexual performance, worry about the state of ones genitals and, oh yes, masturbation.
Its all good fun with liberal sprinkling of the 'fuck' word, a scene of one of the teenagers masturbating over a 1940's photo of one of the residents of an old people's home, shaking hands with an official representative with spunk on his hands etc etc. Quite normal really. Its just that this programme screened between 8.30 PM and 9PM. I'm not a prude but I think that standards are slipping. And, did I mention? They used the 'C' word at 8.45PM.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


I used to. It was a big deal when I was a kid, before people used to hoard them and let them off at any time of the year. We used to raise money by collecting empty beer and soft-drink bottles and pinecones and fire-wood and selling them. Back in the 60's we also used to raise money by making a 'guy' which was a stuffed replica of poor old Guy Fawkes.

In the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Fawkes and other conspirators were horribly executed after trying to blow up King James 1. Its a pity they got caught really as the bastard deserved to get his arse blown off .... but that's another story.

We used to wheel our 'guy' around in an old pram yelling out 'Penny for the Guy'. Of course we were looking for sixpences and shillings but 'penny for the guy' was a traditional thing.

Kids don't do that now which in a way is a shame with a tradition disappearing. I suppose it has been replaced by Halloween now. More bloody American culture replacing the British that we grew up with.

With the money we made the standard items we bought were bangers.

Anything that could make a lot of noise and that we could throw at one another was the thing.
The standard purchase was the Double Happy.

This made a decent bang and could (just) be held in the tips of the fingers without actually losing a digit. It hurt and there was the occasional loosening of a nail but it was OK, certainly stronger than the Tom Thumb which was a bit lame. The 'mother' of all bangers was the Mighty Cannon. This was about 5 times bigger than the Double Happy and had a fuse protruding from the side instead of the end. Binding a half dozen of these together could result in a very decent bang and, with enough 'baffling' could do some damage to our preferred target - the letterbox.

For the actual night of the 5th November we would buy the colourful stuff. Mum would like the Roman Candles and the little pot fireworks like Egmont, Vesuvius,  Emerald Fire, Floral Bouquet etc but these were a bit tame. Jumping Jacks, Catherine Wheels and sky rockets were our thing.
Obviously firing them at each other was not allowed (or at least when our parents were watching). I remember setting fire to my sister when I fired a small skyrocket at her. It burnt her wooly jumper and I got hell for that.

Later, when I was older, skyrockets were what I spent my money on. Bangers were later to be banned but manufacturers and importers concentrated on skyrockets and their kind that made bangs. When I lived on a farm in Papatoetoe we made a big bonfire each year and I would spend a couple of hundred dollars on skyrockets. This was in the 1980's so I hate to think how much this is in 2011 figures. What a waste.

Nowadays I think the whole thing is dumb. The risk of fire is even higher than it used to be with the higher use of flying flaming things than before. The power of these is greater and can lead to more accidents and the use of them is becoming less discriminate.

I think most of all though that the connection with past history has been lost, kind of the way Easter,  Christmas and New Years has. With luck this may be rejuvenated so these events don't just become commercial sales sprees but I doubt it. Its more likely we will end up celebrating more American events like 4th July, Thanksgiving and bloody 9/11.


I started full-time work again this week. Man, what a shock to the system this has been. Up at the crack of dawn (well, 7AM anyway). Off to the place of work at 8 AM. Incarceration until 5.30PM. Home, exhausted and bed by 10PM. This is seriously different to what I have been used to for the last two years.
On Monday morning I arrived to find that the temporary person who was filling in my position for the last month was doing her last day there and was going to 'induct' me on that one day.
There was a mountain of paperwork to be actioned relating to the hundred or so activities that were all deemed to be urgent.

For some reason, the three export container orders that they had to process, and had been sitting on for three months, all had to be done the week I started. Murphy was well and truly in action as: the paperwork to date was wrong; the labels printed in Chinese script were incorrect; the same labels were also supplied in the wrong quantity; the production people put the wrong labels on wrong bottles; once corrected they put the wrong bottles in the wrong cases; they then packed one lot of Chinese order into the container for an order for a different region of China; the customs people supplied the wrong information; the export documents were subsequently wrong and all had to be re-done (twice); no-one had been able to decipher what the Russian customs people wanted by way of labelling and export documentation. All this and small wineshops in New Zealand were asking where their orders of 3 cases of wine were. Sales staff were wanting product information, pricing and samples. External providers were wanting to re-do the website. Publication companies were asking where advertising copy was etc.etc. And, all this was directed at me who had just bloody started!

Russian customs vary the rules to suit the amount of revenue they can screw out of you

And I've mentioned before of my dislike of Customs people:


And here:

New Zealand agencies triplicate documentation requirements seemingly to keep themselves in employment

And they all demand urgent action on processing all this stuff just so they can pile it somewhere never to look at again

While arranging one shipment I noticed that the shipping company had a name that I recognised. With luck the shipment will go off overseas like this:

and not like this:

As this company operates operated the Rena.

All in all it has been a hectic week and I am exhausted. I have been a glorified shipping clerk and had no time to do any 'marketing'. We left Auckland at 5PM last night and got up here shortly after 7 to enjoy a relaxing weekend before heading back Sunday night to do battle once again.


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...