This month Chris Horan explores the ravages of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Geoff Lealand offers his view of this year’s Academy Awards, and beautiful Nelson features with stories of its worst fires in 60 years. Max Cryer tells us in his book on superstitions, why witches don’t like…  onions. And there’s a surprise find – a 1989 Metro Poll of its readers which among other things, shows how far to the Right we swung in the 1980s and how much we lost…

Another day in Auckland…

Another day in Auckland and another tree falls. No, not just one but three – all native Puriri.

“Where will the wood pigeons go now?” an anguished neighbour asks as the chain saws roar and a wood chipper finishes the job, grinding once proud trees into garden fill.

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Shattered….

‘Christel is at shattering point’ the back-cover blurb says of Kirsten Warner’s The Sound of Breaking Glass. Shattering.

But I’m still feeling shattered.  And I’m already three days out from finishing the novel.

There’s a lot going on in this book.

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Partisanship on the rise…

Decades after the damage was done, it has finally become acceptable for economists to admit that neo-liberal economics is a politically manipulated means of ensuring that the rich and powerful become more rich and powerful. But with that madness in decline, another has sprung up.

This one is harder to define,  but  people are angry. Intolerance, and partisanship are on the rise. Hard-won laws of justice are threatened. I believe the New Zealand media’s response to US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, is our small contribution to a growing hysteria.

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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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