Another month, another funeral of a close friend – and for our generation another loss - author, broadcaster and poet, Clive James. The ABC reports that before he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010, he was world-weary. “Those feelings vanished overnight as soon as I got sick… I just wanted to live” he said. He went on write eight books, columns and collections of poems. At our humble, but heartfelt remembrance, that sense of urgency was almost palpable. James had, as always, left us with a lesson.

Godzone – the way we want it?

 Media interests, particularly television, give us, or most of us, exactly what we want; the gossipy, exciting, human interest side of politics that requires no thinking. So much so that we tend to forget that Parliament exists to debate and determine the principles and policies that serve the public interest.

So I was pleased and pleasantly surprised when an editorial in the Otago Daily Times raised questions about policy: “What do we want our public health system to look like? Do we want it to be world class and free? Or a safety net with no-frills care for those unable to afford health insurance?” The answer to this question may not be as predictable as we think.

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Spring and Creativity

Outside there’s a colourful riot of flowers cherry and pink blossoms and  the joyful Springtime chorus of  our birds.   Out there drunk and disorderly,  cheeky Tuis dangle from Kowhais sucking the nectar   from the trees’  golden flowers.

I do love this long awaited time of the year especially this year when  dreary winter  lingered too  long.

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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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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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