Category archive: Encounters

Great auditions – act two

 Auditioning acts for Television had a success rate of about 300 to 1. Not every session could produce a Shona Laing or Bulldogs All Star Goodtime Band, and although my musical director and I treated everyone with courtesy, our patience was pretty stretched  by day’s or week’s end!

However, occasionally an act walked through the door, and though  unsuccessful as television talent, was never forgotten.

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An Englishman Abroad…

Thinking again of the delightful Alan Bennett’s wonderful play, ‘An Englishman Abroad’ brings much to mind if one is an Englishman abroad.  Bennett wrote of the Soviets, that while the comrades were very good they could not do this that or the other.

An Englishman living in New Zealand often has similar thoughts.  The Kiwis have an abundance of strengths.  Most notable is the ability to use cows to turn grass into a very profitable endeavour and of course, the ability to play rugby union. How  and what then are my Kiwi friends lacking?

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Sins of the fathers…

Labour wants it, sort of. Aucklanders deserve it.  New Zealand First at this stage at least, has blocked it.  As a result, Auckland’s roads are quite simply,  constipated. It could be the increase in  car commuting  but also rapid population growth.

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Be kind she said…

At first  they nodded and smiled as usual on our daily walks. Nothing unusual there, it’s our neighbourhood.

But then the pandemic arrived and didn’t  leave.  For a few days  we were confused and offered the same  greetings, though we all knew nothing would  ever be the same.

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In the secure ward

We sat on a wide verandah and looked out on a backyard. Backyard? This one was huge, park-like and  its green flowed  past crimson flowered jacarandas on both sides for more than an acre. Finally  it gave way to a to a lily-covered billabong under the shade of towering ghost gums.

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‘The next time you see it will be when you die…’

He boarded the outbound 737 from Auckland looking out of place and time.

He was a Buddhist monk, replete with flowing brown  robes, practical sandals and on his  left wrist, corded bangles. Not a sober sort, he joked with other  passengers  as he settled into his seat.  One asked him what religion he belonged to.  A pause.

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60’s school reunions

Like many other New Zealanders of my age,  I was weaned on innumerable cinema and television versions of American high school experiences; films such as Grease, Fame, Mean Girls, Donnie Darko,  and TV programmes such as Freaks and Geeks, Happy Days, Beverly Hills 90210 and Room 222.  There is also a long-established sub-genre in the school reunion movie, with films like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Peggy Sue Got Married, Grosse Point Blank and Class Reunion spinning tales of rekindled lusts, long delayed revenge enacted, and various levels of disappointment.

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Musical mayhem…

Bob strolls to the new coffee house not far from his home. The sun’s out, shadowed now and then by fluffy white clouds. He’s on his way to meet his old friend John and despite the weather he wears his faded raincoat – because, as he always  tells everyone in summer and winter,  you just never know with Auckland weather.

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Christchurch today – wreckage, and renewal

Standing on the fourth-floor balcony of Tūranga, Christchurch’s recently opened library sited on Cathedral Square, I gazed down onto the sagging ruin that is the post-earthquake Christchurch Cathedral. From this angle the decision to restore makes even less sense than it did three years ago when I viewed the wreckage from behind a ground level wire-mesh safety fence.

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