Our Chief Reporter at The Auckland Star  never stopped reminding cadet reporters how important weather news was to readers. We sighed - there seemed to be more important things happening. But we dutifully drove to the Met Office and returned with the Weather Forecast. Later we sidled self-consciously down to Queen Street with an embarrassment in our hands: a foot-long barometer. Then we scurried back to the office to write the noon temperature. How things have changed.  When Australian bushfires can create sepia skies over Auckland, it’s tangible evidence of climate change - and interest in this phenomenon intensifies. Our insistent Chief Reporter was right after all.

A tropical flower in Spring

Winter lingered like an unwelcome visitor, but finally Spring arrived – one little step after another.

Jasmine scented the air on crisp mornings in the lull between seasons; daffodils thrust dreary winter aside, lambs gambolled in Auckland’s Cornwall Park and  in the burbs,  pink cherry  blossom brightened the streets – on days when it wasn’t raining!

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Grandma lost her purse…

Grandma has lost her purse. She’s hurrying from one room to another and back again, opening cupboards and lifting cushions. Wispy white hair works loose from the floppy bun at the back of her neck, her hands twist together, her faded blue-grey eyes dart.

“I know I had it yesterday, where can it be, oh dear, oh dear, I know I had it yesterday.” Her litany of distress is on repeat and winding up.

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Pressure is starving children and much worse…

Pressure, according to Sonny Bill Williams, told The Listener, is not about being an All Black.  Pressure is starving children, a single mother raising three kids, atrocities faced by refugees, and racism. The sneering response from three media worthies, Mark Richardson, Duncan Garner and an unnamed Herald columnist, was telling. Richardson and Garner are famous for making rational people change their minds if they find themselves agreeing with anything they say.  But pressure was evident in the week between the Bledisloe Cup games between the Wallabies and the All Blacks.

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Among his souvenirs.. new shoes

To say he had a beard would be an understatement- his whole face bristled with pepper and salt whiskers so thick they looked like an uncut hedge. In one of Auckland’s coldest winter spells, he wore a coat which had seen too many winters and was at least two sizes too big for him. And then there were his shoes, or perhaps one of  them. It  remained  staunchly unflappable while  the other had  clearly given up the pretense of being a shoe,  and its uppers flopped open with every step he took.

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Democracies in retreat…

Last year Freedom House, the much respected freedom watchdog issued one of its most compelling reports:  Democracy in Crisis. The global report warned that democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades.

So what was its call to arms this year?  Democracy in Retreat.

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Two men, two wives, six daughters and…

Two men, two wives, six daughters between them.   So in their conversation, a liberal  sprinkling of domestic chit-chat –  the kind you’d also  imagine women having over a cuppa. Except  that these were two  old blokes  who’d notched up a  century of marriage between them.

And blokes  talk about sport, who should have won the one day cricket final at Lords,  politics –  and of course the good old days. There’s a pause between  all this chaff and then this:

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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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