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.

Rugby rules…

TVOne News led with it. At first glance The New Zealand Herald  looks like it did too. Last  month, the newspaper had just  two words on its front page: IT’S ON! Which we already knew so it hardly  qualified as news.

Both media  outlets were covering the same  story, the Rugby World Cup. Thing is the Herald wasn’t – well, not exactly. The front page,usually the pride of newspapers, was a wrap-around.  At its bottom was a line which proudly proclaimed that this was an ad for the chain store  Harvey Norman… The real Granny Herald  hid inside,  shamed perhaps by its commercial  needs.

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October miscellany

Our Kiwi friend loves her new home in Australia’s Sunshine Coast except that… one morning when she opened the doors to another glorious day, she saw  this on her back deck… a python. It basked on the desk railing, all 3-4 metres of it, and sent our friend scurrying back inside.

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‘NO JUNK MAIL!’

Apart from people, letterboxes are the most pedestrian sights on any street.  Without a  second glance we walk past  every one except our own, which is perhaps the way things should be.  But like everything else  post-digital, letter boxes are no longer the proud receptacles of mail – handwritten letters, invitations, birthday  cards and their  more sombre messages of condolence.

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A tropical flower in Spring

Winter lingered like an unwelcome visitor, but finally Spring arrived – one little step after another.

Jasmine scented the air on crisp mornings in the lull between seasons; daffodils thrust dreary winter aside, lambs gambolled in Auckland’s Cornwall Park and  in the burbs,  pink cherry  blossom brightened the streets – on days when it wasn’t raining!

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Grandma lost her purse…

Grandma has lost her purse. She’s hurrying from one room to another and back again, opening cupboards and lifting cushions. Wispy white hair works loose from the floppy bun at the back of her neck, her hands twist together, her faded blue-grey eyes dart.

“I know I had it yesterday, where can it be, oh dear, oh dear, I know I had it yesterday.” Her litany of distress is on repeat and winding up.

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Pressure is starving children and much worse…

Pressure, according to Sonny Bill Williams, told The Listener, is not about being an All Black.  Pressure is starving children, a single mother raising three kids, atrocities faced by refugees, and racism. The sneering response from three media worthies, Mark Richardson, Duncan Garner and an unnamed Herald columnist, was telling. Richardson and Garner are famous for making rational people change their minds if they find themselves agreeing with anything they say.  But pressure was evident in the week between the Bledisloe Cup games between the Wallabies and the All Blacks.

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Among his souvenirs.. new shoes

To say he had a beard would be an understatement- his whole face bristled with pepper and salt whiskers so thick they looked like an uncut hedge. In one of Auckland’s coldest winter spells, he wore a coat which had seen too many winters and was at least two sizes too big for him. And then there were his shoes, or perhaps one of  them. It  remained  staunchly unflappable while  the other had  clearly given up the pretense of being a shoe,  and its uppers flopped open with every step he took.

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Democracies in retreat…

Last year Freedom House, the much respected freedom watchdog issued one of its most compelling reports:  Democracy in Crisis. The global report warned that democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades.

So what was its call to arms this year?  Democracy in Retreat.

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Two men, two wives, six daughters and…

Two men, two wives, six daughters between them.   So in their conversation, a liberal  sprinkling of domestic chit-chat –  the kind you’d also  imagine women having over a cuppa. Except  that these were two  old blokes  who’d notched up a  century of marriage between them.

And blokes  talk about sport, who should have won the one day cricket final at Lords,  politics –  and of course the good old days. There’s a pause between  all this chaff and then this:

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