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…

Left field thinking

If you’re ever short of a laugh or two – try this Listener brain teaser on your friends:

‘You have a wolf, a goat and a cabbage and you need to get all three across a river in one piece. You have a boat, but it’s so small that it can fit only you and one of the items and you can’t leave the wolf and the goat, or the goat and the cabbage alone together. How do you get them all across?’

Most of us failed – though we got past the first stage. Our friends did the same, but succeeded with repeated and hilarious solutions as they grappled with the question:

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The not-so-unstable Coalition

What is it about coalition politics of the Left which so upsets the Nats and the Party’s media partisans. Can’t be disappointment at the electoral loss surely – that’s just peevishness.  Could it be envy that the upstarts are in power? But that can’t be true, for the Coalition has the Greens.  Or is it simply because of the power of fresh ideas when National had very few.

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Miscellany – October

Doesn’t seem to matter where you are in the world, there’s often another Kiwi close at hand. Even in the ‘60s long before mass travel a friend arrived in London and, walking down Earl’s Court Road one day, bumped into the last person he expected to see – a high school classmate.

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On being curious

The worst part of being curious about the world around us is wishing you weren’t so nosey. Take ‘world leaders,’ for instance. Trump and Putin come to mind immediately, but let’s not be too exclusive. Erdogan, Netanyahu, Duterte and Kim Jong-Un are screaming to be let in to the upper echelons of the international Mongrel Mob. And there are countless other certifiable leaders begging to be awarded their patches.

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At last – liberation!

One of the advantages of skirting sixty is arriving at a vast fashion plateau, where peer pressures recede into the misty distance of the 1950s, when our mothers dreaded a hole in our socks.

What a relief it is to window shop today and see tortured blue jeans with unmatched patches, or with gaping holes without patches, and jackets turned inside out with threads hanging off artfully fraying seams!  What a joy, to go home and rip apart an old coat taking the scissors to its sleeves, tearing out the shoulder pads and pinning a 1950s rhinestone brooch on its sagging lapel above our heart.

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Miscellany – September

Spotted: Not  the sort of thing you’d expect in a suburban Street.    Certainly not in a nobby Epsom avenue.  But things   change.    After  another day’s  downpour in this waterlogged Spring,  a Gypsy woman  emerged from one of the  street’s impeccable   gardens.  

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“Keep looking up…”

She’s already been humbled and now, as a new homeless person, she’s about to  be humiliated. Living in the streets she has no money and so tries her luck at the nearest shop.

“I’m homeless today – can you give me a dollar for a coffee?”

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