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.

Loneliness in Godzone

Picture this: An 80-year-old grandfather of four children – three boys and one girl – is picked up from his central city flat by his only son every Sunday. He drives him through suburban streets which he can now barely recognise. The once lush avenues of bungalows and villas seem gap-toothed here and there. Or they sport towering new townhouses which block sunlight from their neighbours.

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When was the first time you felt old?

When was the first time you felt, umm… elderly? Well okay – old? It’s not as if it’s something that  happens often because we live in a self-made reality, now and in the past.

But it’s right there if we bother to look: on the car radio Magic FM specialises in music for the ‘oldies’ – that same music which revolutionised the music world when we were in the Swinging Sixties, is now a commercially viable lullaby for early baby boomers.

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A hero at 14…

(Part two of John’s adolescent dilemma)

In the first episode which we ran in June, 13-year-old John Anderson is acclaimed for his heroism – rescuing his 18-month-old brother from a charging bull in post- war Britain. He makes the front pages of national newspapers is feted in London along with other young heroes – and dies just a little bit each time…. Here’s the sequel to his dip into the waters of celebrity…

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Rangitoto’s ‘blood-red skies’

It’s there.

It’s always been there.

And I, like so many other Aucklanders looked on it as an iconic sight, simultaneously  everyday – and spectacular.  Like Mt Eden where we  could climb any time for  360 degree views of  Auckland. Or  humble Mt Roskill where  as kids  we  hurtled over sheep ruts in  wooden sledges.  Or  gracious  Cornwall Park and  One Tree Hill,  (now better known as None Tree Hill).

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Gangland

Sign on the Cook Strait Ferry Arahura prohibiting the display of gang patches

Sign on the Cook Strait ferry Arahura prohibiting the display of gang patches.

We have within our society groups of people who prefer to live in a primitive tribal community framework. Primitive in that they have their own laws and anyone not in their tribe is either not to be trusted or an enemy. They call themselves clubs, motor cycle clubs mainly. They are commonly known as gangs. The police use more accurate terminology; criminal organisations.

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A loose bullock – and a reluctant child celebrity…

Part one of John’s adolescent dilemma

Despite the progress women have made in the last generation and a half , some things are and have always been easier for girls. At 13 years old they are blessed with greater confidence, greater maturity, greater common sense and most importantly are not faced at every turn by the constant threat of embarrassment. True! Here’s a story I kept to myself until my children found out about it when they were in their teens.

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Greed Addiction

I don’t believe the love of money is the root of all evil but it has a lot to answer for. Love of money, and its inevitable bed-fellow, corruption, is rife among the leaders of nations. It seems incredible that people who have literally sacks full of money, billions more than they can ever spend, steal still more, often from the world’s poorest people.

Greed has always been with us. Is it increasing or are we simply better informed by all manner of media?

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Once upon a war…

Who says  the elderly aren’t  worth listening to?  Just think of some of the gems they  can casually reveal in conversations about what it was like when they were schoolkids.  Here’s one:

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A worthy career…

So you’re an idealist and you want to make a difference by reducing suffering and making the world a better place.

Social work seems like a good place to start. You invest your time, hopes and a significant portion of your financial security in study and training. Along the way you decide which branch of social work would suit you.

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