Wednesday, 28 December 2016


It's been an interesting Christmas so far - no wine or any other form of alcohol


I'm taking Tramadol for the Shingles pain and alcohol is forbidden.

Our guests (who have just left) and The Old Girl made up for it though, scoffing bottle after bottle of the enticing delicious nasty stuff. I haven't had a drink for 3 weeks now. I don't crave it or miss it necessarily but I do like wine and like to try different (good) ones.

I might stop taking the Tramadol on Saturday and have some wine on New Years Eve (just to keep my palate up to par you understand).

Monday, 26 December 2016


I've been ill for the last three weeks - Shingles.

The rash part of it was relatively short lived but the nerve pain is the worst I've ever experienced.

Apparently this pain can last for weeks, months or, in the worst scenario, for years.
Getting on top of it quickly is the answer apparently and when I was first aware of it my sister who is a GP wrote me a prescription for an anti-viral medicine. This, if taken within the fist 72 hours can help offset the long-term nerve pain so hopefully it has worked.

The short-term pain though is a bugger. I've always been wary of using pain-killers and opioids scare hell out of me. My sister and my regular doctor however have impressed on me the need to use strong pain killers at the early stage of shingles. "No time to be stoic, you've got to hit the pain hard" they've both said.
As a result I've got Tramadol, some sort of opioid that after long term use would require going through withdrawal!

Hopefully these will do the trick. The problem is that I cannot drink wine while I'm taking them.
Yesterday at Christmas dinner with friends some outstanding wines were opened and all I could do was have a sip of each. It was like being a guest at Richard's place and being served up lemonade.


Saturday, 24 December 2016


It's too late to write these and send out now if you haven't already done so.

We didn't.

We never do.

We received the usual long one from some friends who have been sending them out for the last 30 years or more.  It usually sits in the easily recognisable envelope for a couple of weeks before The Old Girl summons up the energy to open and read it.

Christmas Letters have been around for a long time. I bet you don't know, although Robert might, that the original Christmas Letters were the Gospels written by the, um, gospellers I suppose.
Only a few of these survive today, the most commonly known ones are those written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but there were others that, over time have been quietly forgotten about if not deliberately eradicated.

The word Gospel is from the Old English god-spell which means "good news" or "glad tidings" and was used a bit by Paul (or Saul), you know, that joker who was always bothering the Corinthians and the Ephesians with letters - sort of like early version of SPAM.

Now as well as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the other most famous gospels were those written by Peter, Thomas and Judas. These were all quietly disappeared for obvious reasons (to those religion-savvy people out there) but in short Peter couldn't be relied upon because he wrote upside down; Thomas' veracity was in doubt and Judas - well you all know about Judas.

Matthew and Mark largely wrote for Jewish audiences and banged on a bit about the kingdom of god and stuff like that.

Luke wrote for Gentiles and sought out a different demographic - the Poor. A bit like Donald Trump appealing to all those disenfranchised red-necked and toothless mid-West crackers in the USA.

John, the youngest went for the 'dude' market lacing his writings with Hunter S Thompson and William Burroughs-like acid-trip and drug hallucination imagery.

Its a pity (in historical terms) that the Gospels of Nigel, Eric, Uncle Jeffery and Great-Aunt Ruby aren't still around.

Nigel was a bookkeeper (scroll gatherer really) and 'entertained' his audiences with endless recounts of the plusses and minuses in the temples accounts and would regale everyone with hilarious stories about how the books nearly didn't balance until he found that shekel that had rolled under the tabernacle. I think that the disappearance of Nigel's gospel isn't due political or religious misgivings, it's probably been screwed up and hidden up a chimney somewhere by someone who had just had enough.

Eric, also known as Eric the Odd wrote his gospel in a way that was pitched towards children - kind of like Enid Blyton but with more overt sexual innuendo. His references to the turgid member of god needing to be succored etc. finally got to be too much for the church police and so. like Jimmy Saville, old Eric has now been binned.

Uncle Jeffery initially wrote his gospels in a lively spirited manner talking of Christ's adventures performing miracles - sort of Boy's Own stuff. Eventually, with senility settling in he repeated himself a lot and kind of forgot about Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost completely and rambled aimlessly about shooting tigers in Bengal and chasing elephants in Africa. Sad really.

Great-Aunty Ruby could have been the most famous gospeller. Unfortunately there were a couple of things against her. She was a woman (supposedly but no-one dared to check) and she smelled a bit funny - a combination of urine and musk that was a bit off putting when you got close to her. Since, in those days gospellers didn't have the benefit of social media platforms to broadcast from and, with no sound amplification equipment, listeners had to get up close, her gospelling days were numbered.
This was a shame as her anecdotes and tips from anything from cooking to dating would have been useful to young people today not unlike Richard (of RBB)'s pissy pithy sayings in Italian.

I hope that this has been useful and, if you want to inform everyone of your fabulous year, start preparing that letter earlier next year.

So long.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016


I used to get about with a few dollars folded up in my pocket and some change which was enough to go to the pub, the pictures or out to dinner.

Later on I bought a wallet, a slim leather one that held some paper money, my drivers licence and, eventually, a credit card.

A few years later I added a cash card and maybe some kind of club ID card like Air New Zealand Koru. Soon after came loyalty cards like Farmers, Fly Buys, One Card and a host of others.

Nowadays just about every retail shop you use, organisation you belong to or service provider has given us cards to ID, scan or purchase with. It's getting out of hand.
Yesterday I counted up the cards I had in my wallet (and not the ones that I'd taken out a while ago and put in a drawer). There were twenty one of the suckers. My wallet was groaning. I've got to do some more culling as I can't comfortably get my wallet in my pocket anymore.

The problem is though that Murphy's Law dictates that the card or cards you leave out will be needed at the next purchase, museum visit, rozzers pullover or as access ID.

Now ho metrosexuals like Richard and TSB no doubt carry 'man bags' to put all their stuff in, being organised schoolteachers.

Robert has probably built his own and keeps adding to it.

As for me, I hate those prissy 'man bags' and have to resort to carrying a small back pack wherever I go to carry (now) the wallet, cellphone, car keys, house keys and sundry other bits of essential rubbish.

And to think that I used to mock The Old Girl for her handbag contents.

Sunday, 11 December 2016



I've been in Auckland for a few days, driving down and back this time for a change instead of taking the bus.

I just arrived back up north, leaving Auckland in the early evening. It was a reasonably easy drive except for one incident.
On a long stretch with a passing lane I was tootling along at 100km in a line of traffic and I could see in my side mirror a car racing along at what must have been 140km/hr. There was a big gap behind me and the closest vehicle in my lane and the passing lane was running out. Rapidly. The moron could easily have slotted in behind me which wouldn't have been too much of  problem since there was a big line of cars and trucks in front of me. But, no, the idiot decided to get one more car ahead and passed me as as/after the passing lane ran out, forcing me on to the shoulder.

I gave him the universal sign of wanker.

I held it for a few seconds so that he could see it in his rearview mirror which he obviously had going by the animated conversation that he had with his front seat passenger (another guy) who was turning around looking back towards me.

At this point I should tell you that I was on my own as The Old Girl is in Adelaide for a couple of weeks. In the past when similar situations arise and I communicate with miscreants via a range of 'universal signals' ......

..... The Old Girl would tell me off saying "Stop that. You'll get punched in the nose one day."

"She don't like that kind of behaviour"

Well, today I thought about her advice as the speedster in front decided not to overtake any other cars and to keep just in front of me. When the next passing lane came up he slowed to about 80 km and when I moved out to overtake sped up rapidly to stop me doing so. His car was some sort of grunty Toyota. Mine is a Toyota but definitely not grunty - more like something that your grandmother or Richard would drive so had no pick up and I signalled left again and moved back into the inside lane at which the arsehole in front slowed down again.

"Great"  I thought, wishing I was driving my old Rover turbo or the VW Passats we had in the past.

We drove on for another 30kms or so with the passenger in front looking back and conversing with the driver. Now they didn't try and run me off the road or anything but they created a dangerous situation and even 20 or more minutes later were still obviously rankling that I had taken umbrage at their stupid and dangerous driving.

As we were coming up to the turn-off for Whangarei Heads which splits off from the road to Whangarei, I moved to the right lane but the car in front, seeing this decided to move right at the last minute. The traffic lights were red but I could see (by the cross traffic lights) that they were about to change and so quickly moved left again and went straight through leaving them stuck in the right turning lane hemmed in by other cars. I continued on through Whangarei and took the slightly longer route to the Heads.

Now I may have been a bit paranoid but I had The Old Girl's warning in my mind and didn't want to be driving on the round the bays road to the Heads with a possibly 'P' influenced driver playing some sort of tag game. I didn't sight the car again and arrived home safely.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016


I played tennis again today. The local tennis club meets on Tuesday mornings and last week Rod and I went along and signed up.
We bashed balls around for a couple of hours before deciding that we could do this.
I must admit that the old joints were a bit stiff afterwards and I had to soak in the bath afterwards.

Today my play was a bit better but I managed to hurt my wrist. It's bloody sore and I had to get a wrist band and voltaren tablets from the chemist.

Looking up the internet I discovered that there is such a thing as Tennis Wrist. I'd heard of Tennis Elbow before but not this. It's a sort of tendonitis at the lower ulna area and even the great tennis players get it so I'm in good company.

It was really hot today - a scorcher. We play between 9AM and 11.30 at which time it is just too hot to play. I went home and then straight in for a swim as it was nearly high tide. The water was beautiful - very refreshing.

I hope the wrist comes right by next week.

Monday, 5 December 2016


Welcome to the Prime Minister Selection Panel where candidates must pass the mandatory pronunciation stage before progressing to the next level.

As you know Shonkey the outgoing Prime Minister could never properly pronounce New Zealand which has led to embarrassment around the word and given comedians like John Oliver fuel for mockery.

We have of course thousands of applicants and will process these in small batches.
The first batch will be led off by Shonkey himself.

Shonkey:  "Nyoo Sillund"

Bill English: "Nyu Zullind"

Pam Corkery: "New Fuckin Zeeland"

Paula Bennett: "Newzland"

Amy Adams: "New Zeelind"

Don Brash" "Singapore"

Gerry Brownlee: "Nah Zullin"

Judith Collins: "Neeow Zeland"

Gareth Morgan: "My Zealand"

Roshan Nauhria: "New Zealand"

And the winner of the first round is .........

Sunday, 4 December 2016


When I was a kid I used to do a paper round in Wellington.

People of my generation (born in 1952) will remember this as 'paper boys' were a usual sight around the suburbs between 4 and 6pm Monday to Saturday.

In Wellington we delivered The Evening Post which was a decent regional daily now a casualty of media enterprise rationalisation and printed media decline at the hands of the new 'social' media.

When I came home from school I would get my 'paper bag' - a canvas satchel that could hold up to 40 or 50 newspapers. This had a shoulder strap that could accommodate most weights except for those very heavy Thursday and  Saturday papers which were expanded with sports and racing news. I would, at about 4pm wait at the nearby bus stop for the newspaper delivery van to drop off my delivery items. These were pre-sorted by the individual route - a horrendously expensive and (commercially speaking) inefficient delivery system by todays standards but, at the time worked.
I would load up and set off. My route was a few streets in my neighbourhood, delivering The Evening Post to subscribers. It was a pretty easy job made only difficult by winter weather (rain, cold and thunderstorms) and by the 'gangs' from neighbourhoods at a distance from where I lived.

The 'gangs' at this stage weren't the GANGS that we have heard about from the 1970s onwards.

The neighbourhood 'gangs' were clusters of kids of all ages that lived in the same street or couple of streets near to where they lived. Generally the were quite inoffensive but were a bit territorial as indeed I, my brother and friends were.



On my paper delivery route, which was about three or four streets away from where I lived was Mana Street which had a group of feral kids known (not surprisingly) as the Mana Street Gang.
I was at this time about 10 or 11 - grown up and street-wise. I used to plan my deliveries with a leisurely run through the 'safe' streets and then a quick dash down Mana Street which had a dangerous, curving walkway in the middle. This walkway was downhill for  me and surrounded by bush.  On many occasions I was ambushed by the Mana Street Gang who would challenge me and try to beat me with sticks and throw rocks at me. There were always three of four of them - enough to make it threatening. Now this didn't happen every day but it did happen enough times for it to be of concern to me. At one stage I took to wearing a shoulder protection harness that I got from some neighbours who were American football fans This obviously was far too large for me and looked ridiculous but it gave me a measure of security and, when carrying those heavy Thursday and Saturday papers, stopped that satchel strap digging into me.

I remember on one of the Saturday deliveries, with a heavy load of papers,I was unable to quickly navigate the 'ambush gully' and the Mana street Gang who were hiding in the bushes jumped out on me. They were brandishing wooden swords which at the time were the aggressive toys of the day and which we all made.

These ones were pretty good and the leader of the Mana street Gang had a pretty impressive one. It had silver studs along the 'blade' and across the cross-piece which made it look a bit more imposing than it really was. When they jumped on me and rained blows, as we were all pretty close I was able to bash into them using my heavy paper  bag as a weapon and winded a couple of them. The cumbersome shoulder harness worked out pretty well as the guy with the fancy sword was shaken by the fact that he failed to deter me and I was able to wrestle it away from him and make my escape.

The next day, Sunday, I decided to modify the captured sword. My dad had a great garage that was chock-a-block with tools and work benches. I added to the silver studs with cut-off lead headed roofing nails that were both bigger and heavier. The result was a wooden sword cross knuckle duster.

On my next delivery day, Monday, I was ready in case those Mana Street jokers came at me. I had practiced my routine with some fancy swings, jabs, parries and feints which were made all the more difficult because of the weight of the sword. I had it hidden in the satchel ready to draw. I raced through my other streets delivery and was all hyped up for a confrontation. My heart was racing and I must admit that I was a bit shaky.

As I approached the pathway where the previous confrontations had happened I grabbed the handle of my sword ready for the inevitable ambush. Nothing happened.  When I approached the driveway of the next house a woman stepped out and she gave me a bit of a fright. I jumped. She put out a reassuring hand and said that she had witnessed the Saturday encounter and wanted to apologise for her son's and his friends behavior. She called to them to come out and apologise and, duly, four of these little bastards scrotes penitents emerged and mumbled sorry to me. I left (keeping the sword) and never had a problem again. Soon after I was 'promoted' with a paper stand job on Saturdays on the corner of Grey street and Customhouse Quay making more money in one 2 hour shift (from tips) than the 6 day paper round job.

I must admit though that I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get a chance to scone those bastards with my modified sword. From my point of view they deserved a 'skelping'.

Saturday, 3 December 2016



I got back into the garden today.
I finished off the fern and flax tidy-up along the side of the house. I can actually see the pathway again.



The Old Girl isn't up here this weekend as she has some work things to do in Auckland before going to Adelaide again for a couple of weeks but if she was here she would no doubt give me a C plus for the job. I can live with that as it is after all a pass.

Inspired by this I then proceeded to do other gardening things.

  • Weeded the backyard garden.
  • Sprayed weeds invading the gravel parking area.
  • Mowed the lawns.
I had some trouble with the mower which is usually so reliable. Once I got it to start it would go for a bit before conking out. I cleaned the spark plug and fiddled with the fuel system managing to burn my thumb on the exhaust mechanism in the process. Bummer. Eventually the motor ran sufficiently to cut the lawns (to a C minus standard).

All good and finished. Some friends are coming around this afternoon to play snooker. I've had ice on the burned thumb so hopefully it'll be OK.

Thursday, 1 December 2016


I've been re-watching Rab C. Nesbitt on Lightbox and You Tube over the last few months.
There are many series but all are about life in Goven, a Glasgow urban suburb made up of unemployed and disaffected lower socio-economic people. I think you can imagine an equivalent in New Zealand.
I've never been to Goven but have been to Motherwell in Glasgow which is quite similar. Dire, impoverished with an undercurrent of violence. Going into pubs is a lottery. You certainly wouldn't ask for a Rose or a Chardonnay Richard in a couple of the ones I've been in.

Anyway, this episode here from series 2 - episode 6 is well worth a watch. This episode has religion as a theme and I thought that it might appeal to Robert.
Episodes are just over a half hour but well worth the time spent viewing. Pathos and pain underneath the humour. Enjoy!


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...