Saturday, 30 November 2013


It's been snowing here for the last few days and it's only November. I guess that December and January are set to be doozy months.

This morning it was minus 10 degrees so any brass monkeys about will obviously be eunuchs now.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


We just had a four day weekend.

While this isn't a big deal for me as I'm not working, it was great for The Old Girl who has been working long hours recently.

On Friday we flew to Newark (New Jersey - Sopranos country) to catch an Amtrak train to Baltimore. We had to be up early which for those used to travelling means that you don't actually sleep for fear of sleeping in and were at the Toronto City Airport at 6AM. This airport is on a small island on Lake Ontario sitting just offshore from downtown Toronto. It is so close that the ferry ride is said to be the shortest in the world. We waited for our flight. And waited. And waited. The city was fog-bound and we were getting concerned as we had train bookings to meet. The Old Girl rang Amtrak and changed our tickets for a later train, but we were fully expecting to not be able to fly until Saturday. Fortunately the fog lifted at midday and we were away soon after.

We were expected for dinner with friends in Baltimore and were only a little late, spending a really enjoyable dinner party to the early hours.

Another Baltimore friend had offered her apartment for us to use for Friday night as she would stay with a friend nearby. The one-bedroom apartment turned out to be massive, occupying the top floor of a small historic building in Mount Vernon Square opposite the Washington Memorial. We were gob-smacked.

On Saturday morning we wandered around the square area. I'd been practicing my "Arright" Baltimese accent that I picked up from watching The Wire but didn't get a chance to use it. The 'Projects' as featured in The Wire must have been further away from where we were.

We got the Amtrak to New York City. The Big Apple.

It looked the same as we remembered except for the replacement building for the Trade Centre twin towers. Ugly. Its height accentuated by a big 'Skytower'- type hypodermic syringe. I reckon that they should have had a big finger on top up thrust towards Mecca but then I'm not PC.

By the time we found our apartment on 53rd street it was about 4PM. We sorted ourselves out and walked uptown to The Metropolitan Opera to collect our tickets to Eugene Onegin. After dinner (Take-A-Way) we headed back up to the opera at about 7PM and got snowed on. It was great approaching the beautiful Met building all lit up with snowflakes swirling about. Magic.

The performance was outstanding. We'd wanted to go to the Met for quite some time and we weren't disappointed.

On Sunday afternoon we went to Barrymore theatre to see Betrayal a Harold Pinter play with Daniel Craig, Rachel Weiss and Rafe Spall. Great actors and a powerful performance.

It was freezing in New York with an unseasonal weather drop and we had to buy hats which, worn with scarves wrapped around our faces and our leather jackets and gloves just about kept the cold out as we wandered about. We went back to our favourite wine bar on the corner of 47th and Broadway, sat at a window table out of the cold and people-watched.

On Sunday evening we went to Birdland on 43rd street. We got there at 8pm and there was a 9pm concert due. Luckily there was a cancellation of a reserved table for two on an elevated area near the centre stage. We took that and shared a bottle of Chianti before the set. Artulio O’farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra played a 2 ½ hour set of great jazz. The line-up was O’farrill at piano, three percussionists, back row of four trumpeters, middle row of four trombonists and front row of four saxophonists with flutes. Oh, there was also a double bassist who they hid behind the piano. I had to laugh when the trombonists played their extended solos as the slides just scraped over the heads of the saxophonists in front.

Everything was within easy walking distance. The grid system of streets in Manhattan is a blessing for out-of-towners. We had no problems.

On Monday midday we took the train to Newark and flew back to Toronto.

What a great weekend.

Friday, 22 November 2013


Toronto, like Auckland, has a mayor who's hitting the headlines.

I don't think he's been sleeping with a much younger woman like Brown was caught out doing but he has been involved in some pretty bad behaviour. To name some:

  • Allegation of inappropriately touching a female mayoral candidate
  • Threatening reporters on public land when they were investigating his property purchases
  • Charged with failing to provide a breathalyzer sample while visiting Florida with his then-fiancĂ©e in 1999. A police affidavit reveals he was actually charged with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. He pleaded no-contest to the first and the second charge was dropped.
  • In a televised mayoral debate said that in a “perfect world” Toronto wouldn’t take any more immigrants.
  • March 2008: Ford’s wife, Renata, calls police to their home. Ford is arrested and charged with assaulting her and uttering a death threat. A month later, prosecutors drop the charges, because of inconsistencies in the accounts.
  •  During a council debate over holiday shopping, Ford is criticised for remarking that, “Those Oriental people work like dogs. … They’re slowly taking over.”
  • A drunk and belligerent Ford is removed from a Maple Leafs game after shouting at an out-of-town couple who said he was being too loud.
  • Ford calls fellow Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby “a joke” during a council debate over a pothole. “She’s a waste of time. A waste of skin.”
  • Admitted to using crack cocaine while in office
  • Is filmed in a drunken rant threatening to kill a fellow councillor
  • While drunk and being escorted off the council premises says he will 'eat out' a security guards pussy.
  • When this accusation is made public he says that he is married and 'get's plenty to eat at home'
  • etc.etc.

No wonder that the Toronto town hall is in uproar.

Now all this seems somehow familiar. I'm reminded of another 'public' figure who was the self-proclaimed king of The White Sport Coat and Pink Carnation Society at Victoria University in the 1970's. This joker's out of control antics led not only to his impeachment but to the disbanding of the entire society.

History repeats I guess.


The Old Girl, is usually referred to by me as "sweetheart", "sweetie", "matey" or, on some occasions "hoss".

Her endearments are usually along the same lines normally addressing me as "darling" or "sweetheart". When she calls me "matey" I generally know that there will be a lecture at the end of it. The worst though, and when I know that I need to head for the hills is when she calls me "Peter".

My dad used to call my mother "Jimmy". What was that about?

Saturday, 9 November 2013


I haven't turned up a job yet so when The Old Girl goes off to work during the week it's just me here in the apartment.  That hasn't posed a problem over the last two months as every new day was an adventure of some sort and I was out and about exploring the city.
Now that I've kind of seen the sights or at least as many as I want to on my own I'm not in such a hurry to get out each day. Also, as it is late Autumn the days are definitely getting cooler so I'm not as enthusiastic as before to go out walking each day.

It's interesting living in a high rise apartment building in that even though there are hundreds of people above and below us (we're on the 16th floor) you don't hear or see them. When going down in one of the three lifts to the ground floor often the only person I meet is the concierge at the front desk.

This week, as the weather has been a bit wet and very cold and as I've had a head cold I've largely stayed indoors. If I don't look out the window to the streets below then it's quite possible to feel that you are the only person left on earth.


This week has been a bit of a nothing. I've had a bloody cold all week. Bastard! I try to keep fit (lots of walking and there's a gym in the building which I use 5 or 6 days a week) but here, when it gets cold the buildings are all overheated so when you go out you go from freezing to boiling to freezing when you enter and exit a building, shop or metro station. I think that' s why I got another cold.

Anyway, I dosed up on a strange version of lemsip, had some whiskies and watched a lot of DVD's I got from the library. We have a TV but haven't bothered getting it connected to cable so just use it for DVD watching. The libraries here (I use about four of them that are close to subway stations) have good selections that are free for 7 days. Great. Last night watched a  French film set in Iran named Poulet et Prunes (Chicken with Plums). It's about a violinist. Richard and Robert would like it. He's depressed and dies.

The cold has gone (hopefully) so when The Old Girl gets back from work we'll go out to a wine bar or something.

Hey Ho. Busy, busy, busy...

Sunday, 3 November 2013


The old girl just gave me a verbal report for my performance. In summary it was:

"Inattention to detail, no perseverance with a tendency to laziness"

Well, she's an ex- schoolteacher after all.

Friday, 1 November 2013


Reacher was on his back. On a table. The table was exactly 30 inches high and 30 inches wide. It was 80 inches long. Long enough, just.
There was a light fixture above him. It was long, about forty inches with six high wattage  bulbs angled differently to cover the table below kind of like they have in pool parlours. This wasn't a pool parlour.

Reacher's arm hurt and he looked down at his left bicep. It was bruised and there were two puncture marks. A small piece of gauze attached to a piece of sticking plaster was lying on the table beside him. It had a smear of blood on it so must have been used to cover the puncture marks before it had become detached. The table was covered in white linen stretched tightly. It was kind of like an operating table. It was an operating table.

Reacher's memory stirred now that his mind was becoming free of whatever drug had been administered. He recalled a struggle. Four guys had tried to hold him down. Four guys had ended up in crumpled heaps around a room. A white room. Reacher looked about. There were no guys on the floor but he could see some scattered objects; several balls of cotton fibre; some stainless steel scissors; a metal bowl; a patch of blood. What had gone on here?

Reacher shrugged his shoulders and as he did so felt a pain down below. Well, not a pain actually, more of a discomfort. He concentrated on this. Yes, there it was. It was in his arse. Deep in his arse. What had happened here?

The curtain that screened off the table from the rest of the room was pulled apart. A man stepped in. He was tall. Cadaverous. He was wearing a white smock that was smeared here and there with some indeterminate stains. He had a grim look on his face.

"Assman" he said "Joel Assman, Proctologist. You OK now?"

"Proctologist" Reacher echoed....then.."

"Yes" said Assman "the colonoscopy you scheduled. You went berserk when we tried to insert the scope up your rectum. It took four attendants and a strong sedative to calm you down. Sorry, but we might have been a bit rough going in. You'll feel a bit sensitive down there for a while".

Reacher remembered. He'd had stomach pains for a while and a barmaid friend of his had talked him into getting the colonoscopy. He should have read up on the procedure before committing to it. The indignity of it!. "OK doc, sorry about that. How'd I do?"

The Proctologist looked at the clipboard in his hand and shook his head. "You really should have eaten your vegetables. That diet of black coffee and steak and hamburgers of yours has, well, come up to bite you on the ass. So to speak."


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...