Sunday, 28 February 2016

STRANGER THAN FICTION


SPLIT ENZ

We went to a wedding on Saturday.
It was an outstanding setting on the beautiful eastern coast. We drove there Saturday morning and stayed the night at a luxury B&B not far from the wedding venue.

Oh the complexities of foreign exchange. We booked the accommodation back in December while still in the UK so the 110 quid seemed a reasonable deal. It's only when you actually pay the bill here that the 240 dollars (NZ) makes your eyes water. Still, it was a great place to stay and the owners were pleasant (pleasantly happy banking our $240).



The wedding was scheduled for mid afternoon and planned to run to late - very late. Sometimes it's good being old buggers as we had an excuse to slip away early at about 8.30. We'd been there nearly six hours though. The Old Girl had the designated driver turn so I could get plastered. As it was we didn't drink that much and I could have driven as it was only about a km along a country road to 'home' but better safe than sorry.



The wedding was very good. The setting was outstanding - marquees outside an historic hall with views out across the Pacific ocean. Very nice catering with plenty of gourmet-class appetisers being brought around while people socialised with drinks before dinner. A great (simple) ceremony, under a separate marquee for the 150 guests. Separate dining and 'bar' marquee so people could mix and mingle. Very good speeches from all concerned. Excellent dinner food. Good wine.

So, why stranger than fiction?

The bride is the daughter of some very old friends of ours. We've known her from when she was about 6 years old. She's now in her early 30's.
Her parents despaired of her ever getting married. She's stunningly beautiful, intelligent and has a good job. The problem is that she played for the other side. The parents for years had a series of girlfriends and lovers coming to stay with their daughter and after a time resigned themselves to the fact that this was the way that it was going to be.


Out of the blue though, about 3 years ago the daughter hooked up with a guy, a musician and they had a child together - a beautiful girl. The relationship has worked and the marriage vows they swapped were lovely and I sincerely hope that it all works out well for the future. She is a lovely young woman and he seems OK (for a musician).




Strange?

Not yet.

The strangeness could come in the fact that amongst the wedding guests were some of the brides ex girlfriends/lovers. Now these women were pretty bloody stunning I'll tell you and recognisable. There was also a large contingent of the sisterhood - all tattoos and boots which I don't mind though.
See here:

VIVE LA DIFFERENCE


Strange?

Not yet. I've kept contact with all but one of my ex girlfriend/lovers and my partner The Old Girl condones my going out to dinner with them as occasions arise and has met a couple of them with one staying with us up north. Not strange.

What is strange is that one of the brides ex girlfriend/lovers, the one that is the 'significant' one where the relationship lasted over 10 years (they stayed with us one holiday period) was there and was seen to be 'looking daggers' during the wedding vows and wedding dance.

Apparently (gush gush) but I'm not allowed to gossip there were some serious goings-on at the 'hen's night' as a result of which the groom forbade the ex girlfriend/lover being the bridesmaid as was originally planned.

The Old Girl and I discussed this afterwards and we both recognised stalker behaviour from the ex who incidentally on learning that the bride had hooked up with a guy duly found one of her own and bullied him into making her pregnant too.

Watch this space.



Wednesday, 24 February 2016

JUMPING JACK FLASH ...


I finally decided to replace the old gas hob on top of our stove as vital bits were falling off it.
I'd replaced the oven before going overseas which was pretty easy even though it involved the services of an electrician so assumed that hob replacement would be the same.

Part one

First off I went to Harvey Normans after checking on the internet the availability of a hob to match the brand of the oven. Job done and HN's were having a sale so off we went.
We bought said hob for $495 down from the listed $699 so felt that we had a good deal. We paid our money only to discover that they didn't have one in stock apart from the display model which they needed for the duration of the sale.
"No problem" said the salesman, "we'll get one from central stores and call you when it's in.".

OK, no problem.

But .....problem.
After nearly two weeks I hadn't heard from HN so went in to see them.
"Where's my hob?" I asked only to be told it hadn't arrived yet.
I said that this was a bit strange as it only had to come from Auckland didn't it only to get and "umm"
from the saleswoman.
"You mean it's on a boat somewhere yet to come in?" I asked escalating my tone up from the previous courteous query.
"Yes" she said to which I remonstrated that it just wasn't good enough as they took my money up front and didn't even have a unit in the country let alone in stock.
She said that she'd get the manager.

The manager came along and turned out to be the same guy who'd sold it to us 2 weeks before.
"This isn't good enough" I repeated to him "you took our money up front giving the impression that you'd get a unit from stores".
He apologised a lot but I repeated my dissatisfaction.

"Look" he said "I'll do you a good deal on another unit if you like".

We looked at some other units that were either too expensive (2 grand) or too large until he showed me one that would fit but had a sell price of $1100. After a lot of umming and ahhing and fiddling with a calculator he said that he had a great price for me but it would involve me paying a bit extra.
"How much extra" I asked suspiciously.
"100 dollars" he replied.
We'd spent $495 originally so now we'd be paying $595 for a product listed at $1100.
It seemed to me that by paying the $100 we'd be getting the product at cost which seemed OK so I agreed, paid the extra and happily tootled off with my purchase.
Sometimes it pays to make a fuss.

Part two

The guy from HN impressed on me that I would need to get a gas fitter to connect the unit so did an internet search on local ones and contacted a service. They wanted to know whether I had a gas certificate. I'd never heard of a gas certificate and told him that when we bought the house seven years ago one didn't come with the house papers.
I could hear him sucking in his breath.
"Where is the gas bottle at present" he asked.
"In the pantry behind the oven wall" I replied.



More sucking.
"Is it vented?" he asked.
"No, it's just a large cupboard" I replied.
Silence.
"We'd better get someone out there he said after asking me to email photos of the existing unit and its location.

I asked one of my neighbours who is a plumber but no longer has a gas fitting license what the story was.
He said that without a gas certificate, if there was a fire the insurance company would not pay out and that gas fittings had to be done by licensed gas fitters.
I chose that moment to describe the previous owners in choice detail.

The gas fitter duly arrived and did a great job of taking out the old unit and installing the new one.
He drilled a hole through an exterior wall out to the deck and ran a copper pipe out to where the gas bottle will now be located.




Job done.

Old hob destined for the tip

New hob ready to go



But ...

Part three

The gas cylinder is out on the deck exposed to the elements particularly the sun which I wasn't happy about.
I thought that a nice wooden box or cabinet would be the answer and suggested to the Old Girl that I'd build one.
After she finally stopped laughing she told me that she was very happy with my performance in most things but that D.I.Y wasn't one of them.
Bloody cheek!
Still, she's right so today I went in to town to try and buy a suitable box or cabinet.
I went to the warehouse, Mitre 10, Bunnings, Placemakers, furniture stores, demolition warehouse, second hand stores and even pet stores (looking at wooden kennels) but found nothing suitable. At Placemakers the woman I asked said that she was looking for exactly the same thing and would I let her know if I found one!

I eventually gave up on the cabinet idea and went back to the warehouse to look for a small BBQ cover.
I found one that fitted a small charcoal burner ($20) and headed towards the checkout counter. On the way I spied a big display of kitset outdoor wooden furniture including a 'cushion box'. This was a slatted wooden box about a metre and a half long, 600mm high and same deep with a lid. Normal price was $269. Special price $110. I bought one and easily (for me) assembled it. The gas bottle fits perfectly (or will once I drill a hole through the back for the gas pipe).




Job done ...at last.








Tuesday, 23 February 2016

LOOK WHO'S TALKING

I note that Second Fiddle is hearing the trees talking to him.

This is after an Abrahamesque revelation he had today where a burning tree caught his attention before telling him something (probably "don't look into the sun").

I wonder if he talked back like this guy:


TALK TO THE TREES


But then, these guys offer some good advice.


THE TREES DON'T NEED TO KNOW

Sunday, 21 February 2016

BLUE?

..... only the sky and the water in the bay.




We've had a great weekend up at the bay.
I was in Auckland during the week and the Old Girl and I drove up here on Friday afternoon.
We arrived in time for a glass of wine or two on the deck while the late sun was still out - Pinot gris for her and Chardonnay for me and I cooked snapper and chips. Delicious.

Saturday was a mixed day of work and play:
Work - continuing to set up the house plus some employment correspondence by both of us.
Play - a decent 2 hour walk around the bays and a swim.

Sunday was more of the same but without the walk.

I drove the Old Girl into town to catch the 5.30 bus to Auckland and came back out to the house to finish the jobs she'd set for me and to prepare my dinner (chilli shrimps and fried rice. Yum.)

It was about 7.30 by the time I had it prepared and sat out on the deck to eat it with a big glass of Wooing Tree Pinot Noir. The sky was still blue but fading to pink at the Western edges (an auspicious sign for tomorrow) and an almost full moon popped up over Mount Manaia to the East.

I had put on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue on the iPod and turned it up loud so that the beautiful music drifted out to the deck (and maybe across the bay). Wonderful.



FLAMENCO SKETCHES

Note: No Italian language was harmed in the execution of this post.

Monday, 15 February 2016

AGED DISCOVERY

I drove back from Auckland and on the way thought about what I wanted for my dinner.
I knew that I'd arrive after 6PM so take-e-a-ways were an option. The more I thought about it though the less attractive they became. We don't have any decent burger bars up north - not like AK with Burger Wisconson, Burger Fuel, Murder Burgers etc. so I went to the supermarket to get staples and think about what I wanted.

Somewhere along the line my brain had picked up the fast food association and I remembered a great takeaway we used to get in Toronto. It was a spicy Hawaiian dish and I loved it. I remembered that it had cheese, pineapple, bacon and wasabi.

I collected cheese, prosciutto (instead of bacon), pineapple chunks, chili paste, wasabi paste and pizza bases and headed off home.
While preparing my pizza and drinking a glass of Church Road Chardonnay I thought that something was missing in my ingredients.
I rang the Old Girl who I'd left back in Auckland (she starts work again this week) and said:

Me: "You know that spicy Hawaiian takeaway I loved in Toronto at the place on the corner of our     street?"

Her: (cautiously) "Yes"

Me: " I've got the pineapple, cheese, chili, wasabi. prosciutto (instead of bacon) and the pizza base but I think there's something missing"

Her : (Silence).

Me: "are you there?"

Her: "That corner place was a burger bar. The missing ingredient was a beef burger!"




Me: "Oh"

Her: "Good luck with that. I'm glad I'm in Auckland".

Bummer!

I made my pizza anyway using a pre-sauced thin pizza base on which i sprinkled some cheese on top of which I layered some sliced jalapeno chilies and spiced capsicum. I then layered the prosciutto and positioned chunks of pineapple over it. I then spurted  wasabi (bloody hot) over everything with some hot chili sauce for extra effect and put the pizza on the stone base we have that was getting hot in the oven.


???


Bloody marvellous.

Hot?

Yes.

Wasabi?

Yes, that horseradish rush that clears your sinuses.



Will I do it again.

Absolutely.




Friday, 12 February 2016

OK LET'S GO

We've had a great week up north and tomorrow I'm driving the Old Girl down to Auckland because she starts work again on Monday. I'll stay the weekend and then head on back up here where I can work from home. I can also work from home in the Auckland apartment but prefer it up here.

Today we went into town to do some shopping.
Whangarei doesn't have a lot of traffic lights but what's there are doozies - those that have 4 or 5 sequences. These can cause a lot of people to get frustrated and you can see drivers seething and spouting steam while waiting.

I've gotten over that as, thanks to Murphy's Law I know the secret to making traffic lights change to green much faster:

1. Pull out a road map or any booklet where you need to find information of where to go to.
Open it and try to find a destination. Before you can establish that the lights will change. Guaranteed!






2. If it's warm decide to remove your coat or pullover. This means that you put the car in neutral, disengage the seat belt and then start to remove the garment. Half-way through the procedure - especially if it is a pullover and you are unsighted - the lights will change to green.





3. Change a CD in your player or decide to change the radio station. In the middle of making your choice the lights will change. This never fails, or,

4. Take out your cell phone and check whether you have e-mails or what that text message beep was about. The lights will stay red right up until you get your password in and then just as the message flashes up they will go to green.

4. This is my personal favourite. Take the hot mince and cheese pie that you just bought out of the packet and bite into it. The scalding hot filling will dribble down your chin and neck just as the lights go to green. Foolproof!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

NIGHTSWIMMING ....

  ........  deserves a quiet night.




... 


It was a quiet night tonight so after dinner we went for a swim.
It was after 9PM. There was no breeze and the water was totally still. It was getting dark but the water was 'warm' once you were in.

I have to admit though that my getting in takes a lot longer than the Old Girl's.
By the time she had swum 2 or 300 meteres and was heading back to shore I was about up to my waist.

"You big wuss" she said unkindly but at least didn't splash me or anything like that.

Eventually I submerged and did a sort of breast stroke/doggyy paddle/freestyle thing that to me was swimming. Once in the water did in fact seem warm.

I wonder though why there are warm patches and cold patches. What's that about? There were no kids about to blame them peeing in the water. Maybe a marine expert could enlighten me. Second Fiddle seems obsessed with The ancient Mariner, maybe he could shed some light.

As I was watching the Old Girl swimming a long way out, in the dark I was reminded of that opening sequence in Jaws.

JAWS

This is the Strauss music version so it won't scare you too much.

Monday, 8 February 2016

THE UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES OF GROWING OLD # 2



I'm not silly, well not yet anyway and apart from a period of believing that I was immortal in my late teens I've always accepted that I'd grow old.

Well I have and it doesn't really worry me.

The problem with growing old though that I hadn't counted on is that other people who I know have also grown old and some are not in as good nick as I am.

Some have died (including my and the Old Girl's parents) and others have struggled with various complaints and illnesses.




Some have changed and are no longer the carefree, happy go lucky souls that they were at university and have become quite grumpy.




Others have gone a little mad which doesn't bode well for the future.


What they didn't tell us when we were younger is that old age has the potential to be quite a lonely time. Friends that we have known, if they haven't popped their clogs, have so many life commitments that they aren't as flexible as they were when they were young. Arranging get-togethers isn't like the old 'party at my place' invitations of yesteryear.

Saying that though, a couple of weeks ago two old friends came to visit and stayed the night. We had a great meal together, played snooker, drank too much wine, played golf, went swimming and had a great catch-up. No matter that we hadn't seen each other for over half a year. Good friendship is like that.


Long may this continue.


Sunday, 7 February 2016

CONNECTIONS # 2



Most forms of art borrow from what's gone before so this is no big deal. Painting, literature, poetry and cinema all exist as a progression from what has gone before. Sure, some are absolute plagiarisations but others exist as homage to the originals and are better for it e.g. T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land.

Some examples of cinematic homage are Woody Allen films, Star Wars, and horror films.

In the news recently due to the release of his 'new' film and visit to New Zealand (and boy what a sycophantic media fest that was) is Quentin Tarantino, master of the 'homage' himself.

He is a talented director and film-maker and I do like two of his films - Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction but the heavy handed rip-offs he undertakes have less to do with homage and more to do with outright lazy copying.




TARANTINO'S RIPOFFS - SORRY BUT THIS BLOODY LINK WON'T WORK.

GOOGLE 'TARANTINO STEALING' AND GO TO BUSINESSINSIDER.COM/QUENTIN-TARANTINO-STOLEN-MOVIE-SCENES-2015-6
It's worth the effort to see how exact the copies are. I draw your attention to the dance scene in Pulp Fiction vs the same in Fellini's 8 and a half.



It annoys me that people younger than myself (much younger) rave on about how wonderful this guy is without having seen or having any idea of the films that he plagiarises. Homage done right treats the original work with respect and retains some of the original intention and sentiment. Tarantino 'borrows', frame for frame in some instances, from earlier films and doesn't give a toss about that films plot or theme but uses the images for stylistic effect.

The sooner that cinema-goers see through this the better - but, that's never going to happen.

(Oh, by the way I do recognise the irony in borrowing the image and the link in this Post.)


Friday, 5 February 2016

CONNECTIONS # 1

I was watching Hancock's Half Hour the other day (DVD as we don't have TV connected).
One of the programmes was 'Sid in Love'. This was Sid James who in the early Hancock series was Tony Hancock's flatmate. This was recorded in the early 1960's.

The plot line was Sid falling in love (from a distance) with a clippie on one of the double decker buses that passed each morning as he was hanging out his socks and underwear on the balcony. A 'clippie' for younger readers (as if there would be any) was a conductress on buses, trams and trains.

The story was about Hancock and James going around trying to find this conductress because 'she was a honey'.
Good story, excellent programme and part of a great series of unsurpassed BBC comedy that leaves just about everything recent for dead.

Now in late 1979 I bought Dire Straits album and was smitten by both the quality of musicianship and song-writing. Every song on this album was a winner and amongst them was 'Wild West End'.

I've loved this song for years and have often thought about it when visting London's West End many times over the last 30 years. The sense of excitement and anticipation is captured well and the romantic fantasy over the bus conductress resonates with me and I'm sure every man on the planet.

"And my conductress on the number nineteenShe was a honeyPink toenails and hands all dirty with moneyGreasy hair easy smileMade me feel nineteen (lion tamer?) for a while"
When I watched 'Sid in Love' written by Galton and Simpson it occurred to me that Mark Knoffler had (maybe) also watched this and it resonated with him and maybe then inspired his lyrics.




Monday, 1 February 2016

THE UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES OF GROWING OLD # 1

OK I'm not a parent  - came close but no cigar - but I'm aware of many of the issues that arise when bringing up children, particularly when they become teens and near adulthood.

I was listening to that excellent Patti Smith album Twelve today and in particular the Nirvana song Smells like Teen Spirit.

Now this song has been touted as an anthem for a generation of disaffected youth (1990's Millennials) and I must admit that I've always liked it - both the Nirvana version and Smith's who has absolutely cracked it but.........

...... What the fuck is it all about?

I'm sure that there are lists of songs that no-one knows what the meaning is (Macarthur's Park,
My Gentle Giant, (just kidding it doesn't have lyrics - Hey! Maybe Robert could wrote sum), anything by Paul McCartney when he had the Wings group, All of Rihanna's songs, The Ying Tong Song etc.)

What came to mind when listening to this was:
 "what does the woman, who was say 18 when this song was released (1991) and saw herself as  the new generation rebelling against the old fogeys who went before, say to her children now who are perhaps between 15 and 20?"

If they ask her:
"Mum, what's that all about - that song that you liked and that history says is the anthem of youth?"
What the hell is she going to say?

"It wasn't me"


You work it out.


"Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Load up on guns, bring your friendsIt's fun to lose and to pretendShe's over bored and self assuredOh no, I know a dirty word
Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]Hello, hello, hello!
With the lights out, it's less dangerousHere we are now, entertain usI feel stupid and contagiousHere we are now, entertain usA mulattoAn albinoA mosquitoMy libidoYeah, hey, yay
I'm worse at what I do bestAnd for this gift I feel blessedOur little group has always beenAnd always will until the end
Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]Hello, hello, hello!
With the lights out, it's less dangerousHere we are now, entertain usI feel stupid and contagiousHere we are now, entertain usA mulattoAn albinoA mosquitoMy libidoYeah, hey, yay
And I forget just why I tasteOh yeah, I guess it makes me smileI found it hard, it's hard to findOh well, whatever, never mind
Hello, hello, hello, how low? [x3]Hello, hello, hello!
With the lights out, it's less dangerousHere we are now, entertain usI feel stupid and contagiousHere we are now, entertain usA mulattoAn albinoA mosquitoMy libido






I just had a thought - Kurt Curbain, writer of the song and lead guy in Nirvana was in his early years a caretaker/cleaner at a high scholl (hence the cleaner sequences in the video). Maybe Second Fiddle could shed some light on these lyrics.

BOTHERHOOD

Well Richard seemed to like my music suggestion in my previous post. I guess that means that he's open to suggestions and recomendations...