It wasn’t quite Sunday in the park, that dawdling day it used to be. No, this was the last gasp of the working week - yet thousands poured into Cornwall Park making for the pink blossoms  shimmering above them in the park’s Cherry tree grove. Some came with bamboo parasols splashed with the colours of Spring, others arrived in national costumes – but they all came to celebrate this seasonal rebirth.  

“Spot any Pakeha?” a local remarked wistfully. No, but we did see a joyful gathering of new Kiwis.

 

The Trials of Tandem Travelling

“Where is that little fecking orange pill?  You repacked – where did you put it?”

Picture this scenario: You’re at a large Asian Airport after a difficult flight from Auckland. The plane was packed to the gunnels, dominated by groups travelling in packs and a child kicked your back consistently through the 10-hour trip from hell. Now you are searching through your luggage with a panicked urgency.

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Fonda memories

Not long ago Jane Fonda visited New Zealand for a special one night appearance where she was interviewed about her life on stage in front of a full house. I was there. Way up in the back row applauding wildly. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. At 71, I’m a bit embarrassed to confess that I am a “fan”. But I am.

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Going back

Six years had passed and in that time another member of the family had died. It was time to pretend the gruelling flight to England would be better this time. It wasn’t. And nor was saying goodbye again, wondering if it would be the last time. But in-between was lots of fun which included tramping over Yorkshire moors and staying in villages and market towns, endless  reminiscences and just enjoying one another’s company. 

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Kiwiosities: Chinatowns

Chinese goldminers, mainly from Kwantung Province in southern China, were encouraged by the Otago Government when the European miners left for the Westland fields in 1866. The Chinese were recruited from the Victorian goldfields in Australia and by 1866, there were 1200 of them in Otago.

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Max’s Dogs – that doggy smell…

Dog Jacket Dogs ‘sweat’ all over their bodies, though not so much for heat regulation as is the case with humans. Their body sweat is tuned to give out secretions which identify them to other dogs.  Humans tend to recognise what could be called a general ‘doggy smell’, but to a dog, every member of the species has a different smell.

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Left field thinking

If you’re ever short of a laugh or two – try this Listener brain teaser on your friends:

‘You have a wolf, a goat and a cabbage and you need to get all three across a river in one piece. You have a boat, but it’s so small that it can fit only you and one of the items and you can’t leave the wolf and the goat, or the goat and the cabbage alone together. How do you get them all across?’

Most of us failed – though we got past the first stage. Our friends did the same, but succeeded with repeated and hilarious solutions as they grappled with the question:

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The not-so-unstable Coalition

What is it about coalition politics of the Left which so upsets the Nats and the Party’s media partisans. Can’t be disappointment at the electoral loss surely – that’s just peevishness.  Could it be envy that the upstarts are in power? But that can’t be true, for the Coalition has the Greens.  Or is it simply because of the power of fresh ideas when National had very few.

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Miscellany – October

Doesn’t seem to matter where you are in the world, there’s often another Kiwi close at hand. Even in the ‘60s long before mass travel a friend arrived in London and, walking down Earl’s Court Road one day, bumped into the last person he expected to see – a high school classmate.

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On being curious

The worst part of being curious about the world around us is wishing you weren’t so nosey. Take ‘world leaders,’ for instance. Trump and Putin come to mind immediately, but let’s not be too exclusive. Erdogan, Netanyahu, Duterte and Kim Jong-Un are screaming to be let in to the upper echelons of the international Mongrel Mob. And there are countless other certifiable leaders begging to be awarded their patches.

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