Friday, 25 March 2016

IF THERE'S AN EASTER THEN WHY NOT A WESTER?



I was educated in Catholic schools - by nuns at primary, by Marist brothers at intermediate and by priests at secondary. As I've said before this didn't make me religious but it did instill in me some pretty good and enduring values.



It's Easter at present - Good Friday. I remember at school that Easter weekend was a big event in the church calendar. I was an altar boy and dressed up and officiated in mass, benediction and a few other arcane Catholic church ceremonies during the year.



As my family weren't overtly religious (dad had been brought up as a Methodist and mum a Catholic) we merely attended Easter Sunday mass and not the other ceremonies on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. Some kids at primary school, particularly the Dutch, Polish and Italian immigrants used to attend the whole lot, poor buggers while the rest of us enjoyed our holiday weekend.
Our parents didn't let the church interfere with our lives.



On the other hand we never made a big 'non religious' deal about Easter either. Sure we had hot cross buns and Easter eggs but didn't go in for Easter egg hunts, painted eggs and never got all silly about big chocolate rabbits and stuff.
Talking about Hot Cross buns, have you noticed that today's versions are not a patch on the ones we used to eat in the 1960's. These were only on sale a few days before Easter and were stacked with cinnamon, fruit peel and currants. They were fresh and delicious. The modern supermarket offerings are small, dry, lacking in spice and almost currant-free.

Enjoy your weekend.





Thursday, 24 March 2016

LET THE GOD TIMES ROLL .....

Easter 2016.

I guess Second Fiddle will be happy. He can get up even earlier and attend church to visit god who lives in the little box at the back of the altar. I wonder if god has friends in to stay (little friends) in his tabernacle?

Second will be able to go to church services (I won't say Mass unless he's moonlighting at other denominational establishments) on Saturday as well as Sunday without seeming like a freak. This is a big plus for the dedicated Christian which makes Easter weekend such a biggie for them.

We've got visitors arriving, a couple and a single. They arrive separately on Friday - the couple drive up from Auckland (good luck) and the single flies up from Wellington. They all go away on Tuesday morning.

With luck the weather will be OK. It certainly hasn't been over the last few days with hurricano-type winds battering us up here.
We live in a big and solid house but even so, with some of the gusts I was expecting a tree to come flying through a window. The house shook at times.

This morning I looked out at the vegetation, tree branches, letter boxes, rubbish bins etc that had been uplifted and dumped elsewhere. We have a heavy wooden (macrocarpa) table and chair set on the deck. One of the chairs which is very solid and heavy had been knocked over.




In the kitchen a watercolour painting which is pretty substantial had moved as if we'd had an earthquake.



The Old Girl flew from Auckland up here this morning so thank god (and his little friends) the winds had dropped by 6am and this afternoon the bay is very quiet with no wind at all.

Still grey with some showers but no wind.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

MUMBLE MUMBLE MUMBLE DA!



I watched Child 44 last night on DVD.



This is based on the first book in a series written by Tom Rob Smith which are very good.
The film has an excellent cast with Tom Hardy leading - I like him - and is pretty gripping.
The cast is mainly British and the actors speak English.
The problem is though that the director decided to make them adopt phony Russian accents as the film is set in Russia in 1953.
The result is incomprehension as the details in the complex plot are lost through the mumblings. If I hadn't read the book I would have been lost.

This is totally unnecessary nowadays. I'd rather that they spoke Russian and there were sub-titles. As it was the mumbling, fuzzy Russian accents in English needed sub-titles.

It was like David McCallum's mumblings as Ilya Kuryakin in that crappy 1960's TV Show The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

"Vis diz beeg veppon I yam dengeruss"



Tuesday, 22 March 2016

EACH TO HIS OWN

I don't think I'm a mean person.
I don't mind helping out and sharing when it's needed.
I try my best.
Really.

But ...... when it comes to dining in Indian, Thai, Chinese and other restaurants (tapas style) where a lot of small dishes are ordered I draw the line.

For far too long I used to go with the flow at these type of restaurants and order my one, two or three dishes while other people ordered theirs.
When the dishes arrived and put in the centre (or as far away from me as possible) of the table my fellow diners would help themselves to portions from all of the dishes.

What they ate



All too often the dishes I had ordered were all consumed before I got a look in leaving me with all sorts of diabolical shit that I'd never in a month of Sundays consider ordering. Things like:

What was left for me

  • Deep fried sea slug
  • Anything with mushrooms
  • Anything with offal
  • Any shellfish (except prawns and tempura oysters)
  • Any pork dish
  • Animals' dongs and testicles
  • etc.

Obviously, on many occasions I went hungry, eating only the rice and drinking too much wine (one way of getting my share) while still sharing the bill.

A few years ago I decided that enough was enough.
My friends now know that when we go to Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Spanish etc restaurants or any tapas bars that I will order my own food and I will eat my food.
Sure they think I'm mean.
Sure I feel mean.
But I get to eat what I've ordered, enjoy it and don't have to wonder "what the fuck that chewy thing is in my mouth".

We went to a Japanese restaurant last night with some friends.
The food was outstanding (the Old Girl was paying the bill so I didn't see it so didn't faint).

The Old Girl explained to the friends my ordering method which I stuck to.

The problem was that at this restaurant there weren't any deep fried sea slugs, bulls testicles, monkey brains et al so the others ordered and shared some delectable dishes which I coveted but refused to share in myself even when prompted.

Sometimes principles can be a bastard.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

MAGIC TIME

It's mid to late afternoon.
It's still sunny and warm but the burn has gone.
It's a magic moment knowing that soon it will grow darker and cooler but now........


It could be  Spring or Winter but this season, Autumn is best.

The essentials:


  • Sparkling wine (Deutz NV)
  • Smoked salmon (New Zealand cracked pepper flavoured)
  • Crackers (Huntley and Palmers baked flatbread 
  • Music (looped CD's of Miles Davis, Satchmo, Diana Kraal, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone)
  • Reading (John Le Carre The Honourable Schoolboy)
OK, did I miss anything?
Well, company for a start but I was on my own and decided that ...'when in Rome...'






The experience took me back to my salad days' at University when I was living in Upland Road, Kelburn. I used to spend a day at uni (well, to be honest maybe half a day as the courses I was doing weren't riveting), walk home past the shops where I'd buy some nice things for dinner and when at home pour a nice glass of wine (good German Rheingau or French white Burgundy) and sit out on the lawn which overlooked Glenmore Road and Northland. I would put some 'nice' music on the turntable which in those days wasn't the exquisite jazz and blues I'm listening to now but was likely to have been Supertramp, Jethro Tull, Roxy Music, Rolling Stones etc. I would be planning my dinner - Wiener Schnitzel, coleslaw with a roast potato probably and enjoying the moment while I could.

As the sun disappeared behind the Northland/Karori hills I knew that the magic moment was going to disappear also.

Flatmate Noel would soon arrive home, pissed and with a sack of fish and chips under his arm.



Friday, 11 March 2016

NEVER STOP (NEVER STOP)

ROLLING STONES - START ME UP

I decided to trim the bushes that were encroaching on the power and telephone lines at the corner of the deck today.

The trouble with trimming trees is not knowing when to stop.
I kept cutting and sawing and it was only the fact that the old tools I was using started to fail - the shears broke in half and the saw kept jamming because it was blunt - that I stopped.



I'd made quite a bit of mess but at least the wires were now safe.



As for me, I was cut and scratched and severely dehydrated having decided to undertake this in the early afternoon.

I haven't got a trailer and anyway don't have a tow bar on the little Toyota IST I drive but the car is a hatchback so I folded down the seats and jammed as much vegetation in as I could. Even the passenger seat was chock-a-block with cuttings. I drove off to the tip barely able to see where I was going.

Some things make us obsessive like taking out a punnet of hokey pokey ice cream from the fridge and telling yourself that you are only going to have a couple of spoonfuls. Yeah right.
Or opening that delicious chardonnay and saying that a glass or two will do. Really.
Or, in the case of Richard (of RBB) going on about his past wanking. God knows (Second can help here) why he has to tell us this maybe he's reliving old glories. See Here:

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT

Talking of Second he's obsessed with the bible at present (anythings better than that bloody awful Ancient Mariner poem though) and is even putting a religious connotation to Richard's wanking.

Mind you though one of Seconds old biblical mates was Onan so I guess it's fair.






Wednesday, 9 March 2016

"GO BACK JACK....."

"...wheels turning round and round.
Go back Jack and do it again..."

Memory and nostalgia.
To some people it can be a bad thing. To me it's good and comforting.
I know that Richard (of RBB) only lives in the 'now' but maybe that's because he wanked a bit too much in his previous life and feels a bit guilty (Catholic guilt which is the worst) about that.
I remember sitting outside on summer nights in Wellington listening to music when I was young.
Through some odd circumstances my brother and I, when we were in our late teens, lived in the family house in Vogeltown while our parents and younger sisters lived in an apartment downtown. Dad had taken over the caretaking job of a Catholic church owned property in Taranaki Street that came with a 3 bedroom apartment on the top floor. He still was able to run his business from there but it required living on-site. I was still in the 6th form at St Pat's and my older brother worked as a printer in Thorndon. It was like an early form of flatting except it was with my brother and may parents were the 'landlords'.

With the freedom from parental overseeing in my 6th and 7th form at school I was able to indulge in music that would otherwise have been frowned on because it was either loud or annoying. I remember playing Family's 'The Weaver's Answer' real loud on Saturday nights while sitting outside on the steps. God knows what the neighbours thought.

Tonight while eating my dinner (on the deck on a pleasant late-summer evening) I put on some 'nostalgia music'.

I chose these two tracks and looped them to play on repeat over and again (for the duration of my meal and the couple of glasses of Pinot Noir I was drinking.

CAN'T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING?



DO IT AGAIN


They took me right back ..... to 1978.
I was living in Owhiro Bay Road and, in the late summer, on a Saturday night there was some sort of party going on over the road. It was unusual as it had started late and there didn't seem to be a lot of people there. My girlfriend of about that time (we hooked up soon after this) was living in the house and unknown to me was watching the comings and goings on the street and told me afterwards that there were only about 4 or 5 guys who went to the 'party' and the host was the woman who lived opposite. At about 11pm there were only two songs being played, back to back as if on a loop but the technology at that time precluded that so someone was playing each track from albums or singles. Whatever. It was inspired. The beautiful sound from each track travelled out from the house across the road to ours and up and down the valley.

Magic! And I still love the combination of these songs.




Monday, 7 March 2016

LOOK, I'VE BEEN BUSY - OK?

Just thought I'd get in before that old nag Richard (of RBB) starts hassling me about posting frequency.

Over the last week and a bit I've done some damn fine work on the consultancy I do. Not my best work ever - that was when I was being paid well to stretch the old brain box, but still it was OK.

I work 20 hours a week. That is I get paid for 20 hours ( at a per hour rate way lower than I earned 10 years ago) but it helps to pay the bills (mainly the mortgage we took on with the Auckland apartment). I try to block out 4 hours a day, mornings usually - 8 to 12, 5 days a week to cover this. Sometimes there is bugger all to do so I don't feel bad when I end up doing stuff at midnight or late afternoon (the vagaries of international markets).
This last week has seen a flurry of activity with some overseas orders and preparing a strategic export plan. I like doing this. I actually like being busy (within the parameters of working part-time).

Looking back on the week though I see that I still had time to:


  • re-join the local golf club and play 4 days (not full rounds or even 9 holes but just 5 or 6 holes each time).
  • Do a bit of handi-work about the house and property ( I won't use the word 'handyman' as the Old Girl says that I'm bloody hopeless at D.I.Y and always says 'get a man in' to do fix-it jobs. Just as well I have a healthy ego).
  • Go shopping 
  • Sort out the stuff in the house
  • Take excess stuff to the Salvation army
  • Build a bookcase and reposition the others and stack the bloody library we have.
  • Go swimming each day. ('Swimming' I call it. 'Wallowing the Old girl calls it. She's that type that puts goggles on and powers up and down the bay. Me? I just (gradually) get out to neck level and float around a bit.
  • Re-join the local club. While not being near the standard of the Auckland Club I was a member of years ago it's still a standard or two above RSAs and Cosi Clubs.
  • Go for walks around the bays at least every second day.
  • Watch some damn good DVD series (we don't have TV) and DVD movies.
  • Last night sit out on the deck at 11pm and look at the night sky. Bloody marvelous. Clear with no city lights buggering up the view. A cloudless sky showed all of the constellations which simply over-awed me. ("When you see the Southern Cross for the first time - you understand why you came this way ..")

I'll post properly when I have more time. Ok?




"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...