Economy  is  a tight spot in airlines. You board with  a middle seat pass and realise that an enormous, bearded man  is in the more coveted aisle seat next to you.  My other flight mate was a pakeha banker. The Fearsome One  didn’t talk until landing cards were handed out. I lamented to  nobody in particular that I  didn’t have a pen.  The banker was watching Dunkirk, but the man from New Guinea’s highlands  began to search  every pocket  unsuccessfully  for a pen. Finally he asked a  stewardess, for one, insisted I use it first, and then as I stowed away  some stereotypes, he said he was a trainee pilot. Even cramped travel  broadens  the mind.

Pushing the envelope, outside the square…

I don’t know what other boomers expected from this election but here’s what one, not a million miles from this keyboard hopes for:

Hope.  In the arid landscape of ideology over the past 30 odd years it was as precious as water – but there’s an oasis ahead and room for hope. Just look at what’s happened abroad, as Martin Jacques wrote in the Guardian recently:

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Suicide and older men – Part two

Our understanding of suicide is at best fragmentary. It’s complicated by our attitudes, religious beliefs, whether the deceased was a close friend or family member. The most acceptable position to settle on when someone close has committed suicide is to say,   ‘the balance of his mind was disturbed’. It offers more satisfaction than living with a lifelong unresolved quest for answers. Mental disturbance has the advantage of absolving both the subject and survivors of moral examination and uncertainty. Nevertheless, a degree of uncertainty is inevitable.

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Trees for our health…

It’s not easy being green…  and especially not in Auckland. The most common  suburban sounds here for the past five years has been the angry buzz of chainsaws. To hear them is bad enough because you know that another beautiful tree is about to  fall because, well it’s in the way of sunlight/developers/over-sized houses.  One third  of the city’s residential trees have been felled in the past five years according to the Tree Council.

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But we won…didn’t we?

The results  are in.  The swearing-inners have sworn. The dust has settled – but the whining,the utter incomprehension of the bewildered born-to-rule shows no sign of abating. Judging by the first week after confirmation that a coalition of Labour, NZ First and the Greens would be the Government, the first of the moans is the least accurate, but makes a good slogan for the newly dispossessed and it goes – and will go –  like this:

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No Goodbyes (Part One)

(Part One)

Such are the ripples of lifelong hurt, it is unwise to start a conversation about suicide with people you don’t know very well. Nevertheless, the subject is bursting to be talked about.

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Compassion over competition?

It’s over… sort of. Yet something seems missing, something so boring it wouldn’t make it to the debates about the pressing issues of homeless, inequality and the other depressing social indicators.

It’s not so much a policy as a theory which has guided this and other Government’s policy since the Reagan-Thatcher years. A time so brainless it ran on the empty slogan of ‘there is no alternative’.

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Walking Man

Man  starts to shave. Sees his reading  glasses  on the basin shelf. Wonders why. Wife  tells  him breakfast is  getting cold.   Hurries to the table.  Spoons down porridge.  She gives him a peck on the cheek (when  did they stop kissing  the way they used to? ) and  rushes off to work the way he  once did.

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Out of the gloom and into the light

I woke up to a gloomy, wet weekend morning in Auckland.  It had been  a busier than usual week when extra attention and output was required.   Just as I was mulling that I needed to chill this day before attending to the many ‘must do’s’, I stumbled on this  piece.

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Taken by the State

The Newsroom article, Taken By The State, republished by Stuff along with two videos of distressed children being forcibly removed from home by police officers, is harrowing viewing.

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Curious words – (Out for a) duck

From Max Cryer’s  CURIOUS English words and phrases – the truth behind the expressions we use:

(Out for a) duck

 Cricket usually has a visual scoreboard and if a player leaves the field having made no runs,  a great big zero stands next to his or her name on the scoreboard.  A practice arose many years ago of referring to this  zero – because of its shape- as a duck’s egg, and this was shortened to just a duck. So if he or she was out for a duck, it means there was no score.

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