One way to blank out the world is to de-clutter, and downstairs, 25 years of papers awaited the shredder.  Up first, old letters,  some humbling, others hateful. I’d written a column for the Listener which upset those who, to put it mildly, disliked Jews - and the  confluence of  dog-eared hate mail along with the slaughter in  a Pittsburgh synagogue  was disturbing. Worse was to come.  The Otago Daily Times reported  a racist  taunt  aimed at  a Southland Philipino family visiting  Wellington.  A woman greeted them by saying:  ‘This country is for white people only…"  So 1950s, but then racism, like rust, never sleeps.

 

Words and consequences

As a presidential  candidate Trump dissed reporters  as being ‘slime, ‘dishonest slime’, unfair’, ‘not good people’ – and much more.  In the land where free speech is a constitutional guarantee, he  threatened to  open up libel laws and added: “…we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”  Much of this  must have been shrugged off by reporters covering his campaign as  Trump’s  bog standard rhetoric.

But then  the Candidate became the President and over his 18 months in office, intensified  his attacks on the media.

Continue reading

It’s a hacienda – sort of

Is it a house? Only just by the look of it.  Are those really gates? Are they ever! Contributor Chris Horan snapped the  Spanish hacienda of sorts when he stayed there,  discovering that it would be unthinkable in  the country  to put a house on the market without such daunting  security. He  found it a  an accepted  characteristic of many Spanish homes and apartments in Calypso.

‘What a way to live!’ he wrote.

Continue reading

Why do boomers do it?

Fairy tales can  come true, it can happen to you, if you’re young at heart, sang the late great Frank Sinatra.  But sometimes being  young  at heart isn’t always the fairy tale  you want, or need.  At a certain age you forget the boomer body you’ve inherited over the years. You  flip back multiple decades to those never-ending summers of youth, when anything  was possible.  It’s then that the less cautious resort to daredevilry, attempt things the boomer body would never allow except that… the teen brain has briefly taken charge. 

Continue reading

Bullies please apply…

Bully wanted: Preferably a person who has a superior grasp of the basic skills and also the personality to communicate in a way that ensures success. The ability to instil fear of failure, to intimidate, to ridicule poor effort, to generate toughness and to inspire by constantly demanding high standards.

Continue reading

Not the Swinging Sixties

In the big picture New Zealand prospered in the 1960s. Materialism boomed, the economy flourished, brand-new houses dotted the suburbs and pop music and miniskirts and thumbing noses at conventions, gave spice to the day.

But on the edge of the lupins and the sand hills east of Christchurch, Cheryl Nicol’s childhood memory of 60s life, was one of make-do. In her memoir, A Parallel Universe, as the title suggests, a different world existed.  Life was hard. The picture, is grim.

Continue reading

Life, love and happiness

Oh for inspiration, for vision, for boldness and for a political party that has not only counted the pennies but has done the preparation and is ready to fly once it has the power. The steady-as-she-goes budget was hardly inspiring, it could have been devised by Bill English.

Continue reading

Fair Go…

The Coalition was just five months old when commentators began their refrain: Stop whingeing about the defects of the last Government they said, as if these were minor failings. They most certainly are not and the licence given by them to Sir John Key to lambast Labour was very liberal –  he was still at it in his third term as prime minister.

Continue reading

Superstitions and why we have them

Drunkenness

Over time a number of preventions and cures have accumulated to deal with this common problem.  However there is sparse information about their effectiveness. Consider the following:

In the absence of any available pigs, slip an owl’s egg into the drink of someone who is already drunk.

Continue reading