It seems so long ago, but what our cricket-loving Governor General had to say in 1960 because he had noted the first signs of our material yearnings. In his New Year’s message he warned: It is the greatest mistake to imagine that mere material progress is getting us anywhere. On the contrary, the predominance of economic interests and motives in any civilisation is always the forerunner of moral decline and social disintegration”.  

What went wrong? We were conned by the same interests the GG referred to. But now, post COVID-19,  social change is not just wishful but in some societies a new reality.

 

A Christmas beer with a beard

Credit: BBC

Had a beer with a  beard  the other day  to celebrate the relentless commercial  onset of Christmas.   The beard was my old friend’s familiar trademark  and I told him once more  how much it suited him.

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In the secure ward

We sat on a wide verandah and looked out on a backyard. Backyard? This one was huge, park-like and  its green flowed  past crimson flowered jacarandas on both sides for more than an acre. Finally  it gave way to a to a lily-covered billabong under the shade of towering ghost gums.

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‘The next time you see it will be when you die…’

He boarded the outbound 737 from Auckland looking out of place and time.

He was a Buddhist monk, replete with flowing brown  robes, practical sandals and on his  left wrist, corded bangles. Not a sober sort, he joked with other  passengers  as he settled into his seat.  One asked him what religion he belonged to.  A pause.

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Bye Blossoms, G’day Geckos…

In South Auckland’s Ihumatao, a peaceful group of Maori activists continues the campaign it began in 2015. Their aim?  To stop Fletchers building 480 homes on what they believe is sacred land.

And a few miles away in the leafy suburb of Mt Albert early last month, middle-class Pakeha began their protest.

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60’s school reunions

Like many other New Zealanders of my age,  I was weaned on innumerable cinema and television versions of American high school experiences; films such as Grease, Fame, Mean Girls, Donnie Darko,  and TV programmes such as Freaks and Geeks, Happy Days, Beverly Hills 90210 and Room 222.  There is also a long-established sub-genre in the school reunion movie, with films like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Peggy Sue Got Married, Grosse Point Blank and Class Reunion spinning tales of rekindled lusts, long delayed revenge enacted, and various levels of disappointment.

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A nation of landlords…

We do not have a housing crisis. The housing market works perfectly for those it was designed to serve. Landlords are now protesting because the precarious position of renters has (finally)  been acknowledged.

But who knows how long it will it take before the talk ends and the watered down action begins? And even then if the result resembles the government’s affordable housing fiasco where do we go from there? But we are not alone.

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Kiwi TV as we once knew it… Part two

Credit: ‘New Zealand Television – the first 25 years’, by Robert Boyd-Bell

The early television days were staffed by competent, experienced staff with mainly radio experience coping with second hand BBC equipment in small make shift studios with tape, lighting and telecine (film) operators in cramped uncomfortable cupboards/offices. Staff like Barry Warner, Colin Harrison, Geoff Eady, Robyn Petrie, Ian Hill, Stuart Murray and Russ Lambert and Bob Smith. We owe them so much.

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Grandma and the goat

‘Have a beer’, said a friend recently. ‘No thanks, juice will be fine’, I replied. Remembering me as a keen beer drinker, he looked bemused. ‘I’ve become a bit of a wowser, these days. Grandma would be proud of me.’

On another recent occasion, I was offered a glass of wine by one of my quiz night teammates. All the other members were imbibing. ‘No thanks. lemon, lime and bitters, will be fine. I don’t touch the stuff these days. Grandma would be proud of me.’

‘What you mean – your grandma would be proud of you?’ one asked. And so began my tale.

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Musical mayhem…

Bob strolls to the new coffee house not far from his home. The sun’s out, shadowed now and then by fluffy white clouds. He’s on his way to meet his old friend John and despite the weather he wears his faded raincoat – because, as he always  tells everyone in summer and winter,  you just never know with Auckland weather.

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