The radio broadcasts warnings: leave home early, traffic will be heavy. Perhaps even think of leaving on Thursday. But on Good Friday, in a small bay deep in the Marlborough Sounds only bellbirds and tui and fantails in the beech trees, fill the airwaves.
I am embarrassed to admit that I am hooked on jigsaws. I have always thought them ridiculous. A picture is cut into small pieces that are then laboriously put together, briefly admired then broken up and returned to the box. (No wonder, after all that effort, that people sometimes frame them). This seems to be the occupation of lonely, bored, unimaginative, and rather odd people.
It’s 2 o’clock on a day so sunny that it confounds Aucklanders accustomed to their city’s moodiness. There’s not a cloud to be seen and on the Waterfront Viaduct, families stroll, gorge on takeaways or just sit and, over a drink, watch the passing parade. Not far away something much darker is on show in the stunning ASB Theatre. It holds 680 – and is close to capacity.
Crass materialism leapt brazenly out of the closet in New Zealand the 80s. Money-making was elevated to high social status beyond public service. An American import, the dominance of the mighty dollar had already taken root in other countries. Business finally reached the pinnacle of prestige. Business books proliferated: business management, business leadership, how to succeed in business and, of course, business-speak.
Alcohol is a neurotoxin which means it kills nerve cells. Some of these cells are in our brain, and so alcohol kills these too. This is not good news once we already have dementia – we want to preserve as many brain cells as possible. Even without a dementia diagnosis, excessive alcohol has a range of effects on cognition, from mild to severe.
First an editorial confession. We’ve been in Oz, but no, there’s no ball tampering copy here, just this:
Condom machine graffiti: ‘ For refund, insert baby here’.
Aussies are not so much a weird as a witty mob at times. Where some residents with dogs might put up a sign saying ‘Beware of dog’, others choose to let passers-by know with much more precision. Take this for example: ‘My dog can make it to the fence in 2.8 seconds. Can you?’
Laurel Hubbard, the transgender weightlifter who will represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, appears to be determined to compete yet thoughtful about the concerns expressed by her detractors. She asks them to ‘look at the bigger picture,’ yet seems unsure if the current laws on transgender participation will remain or evolve, perhaps more in line with the perceptions of athletes who look upon her participation as cheating.
Bernard Breslau’s 1959 hit song assured everyone that we need feet – ‘to keep your sox on, and stop your legs from fraying at the ends’. But we are assured from other quarters that we need them for additional things, and there are superstitions to tell us:
A dreaded religious fervour that inspired Maori warriors opposed to British settlement during the wars in Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and Poverty Bay. Initially the followers believed themselves invincible to bullets. The Upraised Hand, a hand held above the head with the palm forward, accompanied by a barking sound ‘Hau Hau’ was supposed to deflect bullets.
It may be that President Trump’s plan for keeping American students safe from gunmen is the right one, or at least the only immediately realistic one. Armed teachers and armed guards in schools is a scary thought from this distance but has anyone else got a better answer?