Thursday, 27 June 2013


We had a very pleasant dinner with Tom and Janny last night. I mentioned that a suitable theme song for me would be John Lennon's Watching the Wheels so Tom found it and played it. It still sounds good after all these years.

The sentiments in it seem to apply to me and my current circumstances as I've stepped back from the busy working life and taking time to 'smell the roses' or indeed to 'watch the wheels go round and round'.

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game,

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me,
When I tell that I'm doing Fine watching shadows on the wall,
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,

People asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem,
Only solutions,
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind,
I tell them there's no hurry...
I'm just sitting here doing time,

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

When overseas no doubt I'll step back into it but at present it is nice to enjoy each day without any real time commitments.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


Who else is appalled at the behaviour of the news media in reporting Nelson Mendela's imminent death.
Jornalists from around the world have gathered and hourly give hushed but excited reports on the latest status of the great man's condition. They are like vultures waiting to tear apart the carcass - in their case being the first to report on his death.

Farewell and thank you

Monday, 24 June 2013


re my previous post where I mentioned the Wellington Club and the Northern Club (in Auckland) I got to thinking about the Auckland Club (now defunct and incorporated into the Northern Club).

Inside The Northern Club

I was a member of this august institution from 1987 to 1995. For anyone who knows about 'gentlemen's clubs' whether in the UK, Australia or New Zealand they will know that they cling to empire and tradition and you have to get 'promoted' to be able to join. When I joined in 1987 the Auckland Club was flying high. It had recently moved into new premises in Shortland street which occupied about 5 floors of a smart high rise building. The whole operation was pretty good - a nice mixture of the old and the new. Age-old traditions were adhered to but new ideas, catering preferences and a recognition that it was now the '70's (even though it was in fact the '80's) were acknowledged.

While the 'club' was embracing the new age they didn't get carried away however and it bore no resemblance to Grace Jones' version of 'clubbing'. See below:

Actually, under the 'tradition' rules old Grace wouldn't have been allowed in unless accompanied by a male member (no jokes please).

The Auckland Club came into existence in 1856, originally in Princes Street by the university before establishing itself for more than a century in Shortland Street.

The old Auckland Club

In the mid '80's it sold its premises and moved across the road into a purpose built five level building inside a tower block. This is the new club I joined. I joined as part of my job. It was beneficial to the business I ran. I 'hob-nobbed' with the judges, barristers and lawyers who had obligatory membership along with Auckland's businessmen both famous and infamous. There was an old-world atmosphere about the club with quiet reading rooms, a superb restaurant (dining room), a tranquil breakfast room, a superb billiard room and overnight accommodation which overlooked Fort Street (the manager told me that some of the old legal eagles would book in there so as to watch the goings on across the road when Fort Street was the 'sin' street of Auckland).

This was in the late 1980's and early 1990's when there were only a few good restaurants and wine bars in Auckland. Unfortunately (for the Auckland Club) the liberalisation of licensing laws and the increase in numbers of drinking and entertainment venues led to its demise. This was exacerbated by the archaic club rules where women were barely tolerated to be on site and never to be had as members. Younger members were discouraged to continue membership by wives and girlfriends and older members simply died off. The heyday of the club was in the 1980's with membership of 1000 but in the late 90's this dwindled to below 300 and in 2010 the club sold up and amalgamated with the Northern Club which, like Miss Haversham, sits neglected and gathering moss on the corner of Princes Street and looks certain to disappear soon if only under the foliage.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


I was successful at school, continually being in the top few all through primary, intermediate and secondary. It was easy and I was able to indulge in my favourite pastime - daydreaming.

I spent seven years at university and left without a degree. I enrolled in several different disciplines from law to education and attended many courses as diverse as constitutional law to philosophy but couldn't quite find the enthusiasm to stick to any. There are many courses at stage one, stage two and stage three levels where I didn't bother to turn up for the exams and received an odd letter denoting the credit ('Z' I think).

I'm not stupid and know (if I bothered) that I could get MENSA acceptance but can't see the point.

I drifted through university life and work afterwards and found myself in a career in sales and marketing. This was easy and I did pretty well out of it, getting promotions I didn't seek and rewards that, to me, seemed out of whack with the effort I put in. The strange thing about this is that I detest sales and marketing. It's all a con (in all senses of the word). Being driven by sales forecasts and extolling the virtues of mediocre product was never a turn-on so eventually I gave it up.

In yet another period of inactivity (and daydreaming) I have been re-reading John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey series. This is marvellous stuff which I can happily read again and again. I also watched again the DVD I have with Leo McKern playing Rumpole. The director and actors got it just right with Rumpole the ageing barrister having fun at the British legal institution's expense. Rumpole doesn't really like law but enjoys 'tilting' at it and defending the rights of the underdog.

While reading the series I've become a bit nostalgic and wondered what might have been if I'd continued the law studies and become a barrister like some of my classmates did. Would I have disappeared in the system and become a grey and dusty lawyer frequenting the Wellington Club or the Northern Club or would I have been a champion of the underdog like Rumpole? I prefer the latter.

Friday, 14 June 2013


When  I was in gainful employment I was paid really well but also worked long hours in a stressful environment.
I used to dream about not having to work and having time to read a book whenever I wanted or to simply relax at any time of the day.

Now that I can do this it is really good but I can't help from feeling guilty. It's some sort of protestant work ethic which is weird because I wasn't brought up as a protestant. I went to catholic schools. When we walked, in our school uniforms past St John's anglican school on our way to St Anne's the protestant kids would rush to the fence and sing out:
"Caholic dogs, smell like hogs " etc.

Bloody rude and we didn't have a counter song to sing back at them. The Catholic church obviously didn't think it worthwhile writing one for their kids. I guess that they assumed that inquisitions, burnings and massacres were enough to quell those of the wrong faith.

No, we just threw stones at them and threatened to tell the nuns who would sort them out.

Thursday, 13 June 2013


Common sense is defined as sound and prudent judgement based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.

Common courtesy is defined as the simple acknowledgement of others and the return of a favour.

Neither of these applies to the behaviour of most pedestrians - at least not in Auckland.

There was a time when pedestrians would have enough sense to realise that their body weight was far outweighed by the mass of an average motor vehicle and, coupled with velocity the force was enough to hospitalise them. Not so today. I don't know whether it is ignorance or a blind faith in the efficacy of the hospital services and the generosity of ACC which leads them into taking stupid risks.

There was also a time when pedestrians would catch the eye of the driver who has stopped for them and given a simple acknowledgement of thanks, or, when the pedestrian wasn't in the right when crossing given a simple nod or shrug of apology.

 Not so nowadays. Usually the offending pedestrian is totally unaware of its surroundings due to texting, telephoning or listening to an iPod.

This is particularly bad around the university area where I live. The pedestrians wander across the road whether there is a crossing or not. When there is a crossing with programmed sequences for traffic or pedestrians crossing there are always a few stragglers who set off at the end of the pedestrian sequence, dawdle slowly while aforementioned tele-communicating or chatting with a companion, totally oblivious to the motorist turning left who is in the right (eh?). This makes my blood boil akin to what  Richard's does when he encounters cyclists.

Saturday, 8 June 2013


When Ned Ludd smashed up 'new-fangled' agricultural machines in the early nineteenth century he would not have known that his name would be given to a movement and that today it represents a fear and mistrust of technology. Good old Ned.

I saw a tv news item the other day about babies early adoption of new technology like i-pads. It's amazing how quickly kids learn to use these 'new-fangled' machines and that they will grow up with them to use as tools as much as we use pens and pencils. But at what cost? The tv report I saw had a 7-day old baby with an i-pad installed in its crib.

Kids playing with smart technology is cute. See below:

This is all very well but child psychologists are now warning against early adoption of smart technology as:

  • 'Screen time' is passive time and the child doesn't learn to think for itself.
  • Unless there are puzzle games involved it might as well be tv
  • Screens don't provide sensory stimulation
  • Screens are 2-dimensional and don't encourage development babies' spacial awareness
  • Screens and lack of sunlight could damage babies' eyes
[from the American Academy of Pediatrics report]

I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey on TV last night. This is the first time that I've seen this film on TV and I was impressed at how good it still looks and at Stanley Kubrick's vision. Made in 1968 the filming and animation is still gob-smacking.

It got me thinking though at how in 2013, younger people watching this might think it all a bit ho-hum as they have been and are continually exposed to films made using digital technology (The Matrix, LOTR, Iron Man, Star Trek etc) to the point where nothing is marvellous.

I'm not sure I want to live in a world where nothing is marvellous.

Over the last few months we have been should have been treated to wonderful coverage of the mars robotic exploration programme. Two robotic vehicles are on mars and are travelling about, investigating, sampling and reporting. This is huge but has largely gone unnoticed. I guess when there aren't intergalactic wars, evil robots and marauding aliens about then it doesn't command much attention.

A couple of years ago the world via all of the media was focused on the Large Hadron Collider. This was being touted as mankind's greatest engineering milestones. It was built to prove or disprove the existence of the theorised Higgs boson (2) and other particles. This massive machine did actually identify two new particles before the energy drain forced it to be shut down and is considered a success. The frenzied reporting died down however when the media realised that:

  1. It wasn't going to send the earth off its axis and,
  2. It wasn't going to prove the existence of God.
Currently there is an Earth based exploration project that has the potential to vastly increase the store of our knowledge or to send the earth spinning off its axis. This is the BEAM project (borehole into earth's mantle) where scientists and engineers will drill 6km through the crust and into the mantle to bring rock samples to the surface. Jules Verne could only have dreamt about it. Today's kids? Ho Hum. Where's the aliens or vampires? (or balrogs).

In 2001: A Space Odyssey the ship travels to Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. This, in 1968 was way beyond imagination right? Wrong. Since the 1970's NASA has had many programmes with (unmanned) flights to Jupiter. These have been largely fly-bys but the exploration is getting closer.
Amazing? I think so but because the youth of today's imagination has been captured by video games and blockbuster films and dulled by social media, advancements like this are lucky to get a couple of minutes soundbite on TV and are generally bumped because of Kim Kardashian's or Posh Spice's bump.

Just as well I'm a Luddite.

ps. Did you know that an anagram of astronomer is moon starer?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


We had a cracker of a long weekend. Friends from Auckland came and stayed and thankfully Northland put on a show for them. No wind, sunny skies and not too cold. We walked and enjoyed the holiday.
This was good as these friends have visited a lot over the last few years and see our place as their second home. They will miss it as much as we will over the next couple of years.

Yesterday it started raining and is continuing today.

I don't mind the rain generally. It's nice being inside, hearing the rain on the roof while reading a book but I need to be doing things outside. I need to clear out the shed and under the house and to take things to the hospice store and the tip. Bugger.

I'm busy sorting out files inside the house and packing cartons with glassware, ornaments and bits and pieces for storage. I can get a lot done but the temptation is there to turn on the TV and waste time.  I just watched One Foot In The Grave which still wears well after many years.

After blogging this I'll stay on the computer and try and sort out, change and cancel accounts such as telecommunications, electricity, insurance, banking, car registrations, health insurance, car parking contracts, mortgage, taxation, credit cards, rental agreements .... the list goes on and on.

Still, it's a nice day for it.


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...