Saturday, 28 June 2008

We don't give out guest's details

A couple of weeks ago the daughter of a friend of ours from Portrush, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland arrived in New Zealand. We sort of knew she was coming and were looking forward to seeing her. P knew her as a child and her father asked us to make contact when she got here.

We got this mad e-mail from the UK saying that she had finished her exams and had had a messy session in the pub and she was now packing her things while her travelling companion was dying his hair grey in the sitting-room. Must be a young fogey, I thought. No travel details and worryingly the mail was full of lolspeak

Two days later we got an e-mail from Christchurch, New Zealand announcing that she and her travelling companion were in a hostel with a phone but no mention of the phone number or the name of the hostel. She did include her mobile number and a suggestion that we should txt her.
P duly txted the child (a very recent law graduate, which is not readily apparent from her writing style ... lol) and then we waited and waited and waited ...

A day and a half later we get another mail saying she hadn't heard from us and she'd just topped up her phone logged in to her email account and seen a mail from us saying we hadn't heard anything since she txted us and she was now in Dunedin lol. She and her travelling companion (echoes of Graceland) were in a backpackers near the Octagon and she and he were of to the peninsula today with someone they met the night before who had a car and could we meet up later lol.

Not a bother we thought. But where was she staying? We still haven't had any direct communication with the lass. Anyway we sent her our phone number and address and waited and waited ...

Next day we sent her a mail saying we still hadn't heard from her and gave her directions to the market at the railway station. After market, P hadn't seen or recognised a small northern irish girl (people do change over ten years and I was no help because I'd never seen her) we thought rather than do nothing we would head up around the Octagon and check a few of the backpacker hostels.

The first one we went to said they didn't give out details of guests. Pardon us? Apparently the question 'Do you have a young friend from Ireland by the name of [name withheld] staying here?' may not be answered. Someone lurking in the background (the manager, as it turned out) who had perfected his shifty, drug dealer, pimp look came over to repeat 'We don't give out details of guests.'

We tried a couple more hostels - they answered the question without fear of breaching an, to us, unknown privacy protocol. We went home, but not before sitting beside Burns' statue and eating a lump of chocolate-y goodness from a well known stall in the Farmers Market.

Later that day we got an excited email from lol to say she had organised a party of other backpacker guests to search for us down in the market. They did this apparently by walking round and shouting out P's name. If you know what P's initial stands for you'd have thought someone had lost a parrot. Also the grey haired young fogey announced their whereabouts by having our names called out over the railway announcement system (I didn't know they still had one lol). But dear me we had gone back home by this time.

But back to the email. They had now left Dunedin and had gone to Queenstown and wouldn't be back this way. P mailed lol's father in Ireland and he said 'don't worry she's always like this' and included in his reply a mail from her explaining how she had forgotten to get the bank in the UK to lift her $50 a day cap and she had funds somewhere but they hadn't been transferred yet as far as she could see lol not that she could do internet banking yet lol and could he loan her the money that was missing in transfer somewhere in cyberspace just till she gets home to sort it out lol.

I'm sure lol and her grey haired fogey would have made entertaining guests for five minutes before I started calling the Old Fogey's Helpline lol.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Nivver again

Should I be bedridden from advanced tendonopathy I will nivver, nivver take anti-inflammatories gain. Nivver! Is that clear? Good. Now back to work.

Had my first trip downtown since falling ill which to me as a male person seems only marginally worse than falling pregnant.

She fell pregnant.
What happened?
Oh, you know. Didn't wash her hands or something. Yeugh. How do you think?

Where would we be if Enid Blyton, Richmal Crompton or Beatrix Potter had fell pregnant? Once they experienced maternity wear for themselves there's no telling what kind of writing would have flowed from those august, venerable and now dead bodies.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Writhing returns

So it goes. A short break from non-writhing to writhing. I've been writhing again and thinking of when ... (apologies to Jeff Beck).

P says to me on Saturday night: There seems to be a lot of traffic heading into town this evening.

Probably some sort of match on I tell her. I haven't actually heard any traffic over the noise of our stupid heat pump but she hears things that I don't.

On Sunday I discovered that Dunedin had its mid-winter festival the previous evening. And a good time was had by all I expect.

We got married in Greymouth on the 21st June 2002 - to have an easy date to remember as P puts it. We have a calendar for all the other dates of anniversaries of deaths, marriages and birthdays. I don't know where it hangs. I'm not really all that interested in marking events.

I don't remember when I gave up smoking for example. My reasoning being that I don't have to treat the ending of unhealthy habituation as another marker on the way to the tomb.

I do feel a twinge of something at the turning of the world again towards the light. I love autumn and the approach of dark evenings. Something comforting about pulling the curtains early and snuggling up to a roaring heat pump with a bowl of winter broth. Not too much liquid though as the trip to the dunny (gosh, very posh) is unpleasantly cold. Not as cold as it was in the house before the last one. Outside toilet!!! Wow! Should have had it crated up and shipped over to the museum in Oamaru.

Where was I? Oh that's right - dark nights and early burrowings. Autumn, winter, gimme, gimme. Keep summer and the stupid fiddling with the clock. What effect does political interference have on climate change by introducing daylight saving?

Spring's OK. Snowdrops, do you see? They'll be here soon.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

What's wrong with me, what's wrong with ...?

I woke up this morning and wondered what was wrong with me. The writhing gut pains of yesterday had disappeared and I felt almost human again. My thanks to all of you who wrote in and expressed concern. I will be fully functional again in no time at all at this rate of going.

Market was cold this morning but once again the crowds have thinned and it is a pleasure to stroll unimpeded by the mobbe. One can always use elbows (sharp weapons!) or casually swing a stout hessian bag filled with potatoes at kneecap height - both methods are useful for making one's way through the common presse.

Its good to be home. We are moving soon. More on that later.

An acronym can be a a TLA, but a TLA is not always an acronym. ram and faq leap out as examples. ram is ram but faq is eff-ay-cue

Friday, 20 June 2008

Called back by doctor

Well that's never happened to me before. I've seen cases of it in soap operas and feelgood films about health providers but I've never actually heard of it in real life where you get blood taken at the blood taking shop and a day later your GP rings up and says could you call in tomorrow and see him about the results. P was worried by the call but I wasn't.

Recall, I've seen the shows, I've watched the movies, all will be well.

My GP who will have to remain nameless never sees you at the time of your appointment. I am convinced the longer I wait in his waiting room the longer the germs and viral nasties have to colonise (or whatever they do) so it was no surprise to me to learn I had a nasty unspecified infection which is leaving me tired even after a night's unbroken sleep. A night hardly passes, though, without our wretched cats pitching camp on one's feet, legs, stomach, or bottom. Hacking up furballs at three a.m. is a favourite trick as well.

The infection is entirely unrelated to my inflammation problem so I now have another lot of medication to take. Medication! Me! Old "nothing stronger than a Disprin, thanks" is now writhing from the effects of rather strong antibiotics on the fauna of the guts. Doctor did say the effects will pass before the course of treatment ends.

Last night we watched the film version of Perfume

Very tasty film. Reminded me of the old style Hammer Horror flicks, especially the ones in the seventies when they were allowed nudity but still cut away at the slice of a sickle before it opened a throat from ear to ear.

Whoa, insides writhing again.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Wot, no posts since sunday?

I've been to the doctor for my painful heel condition. He does not think it is the nasty walker's condition - plantar fasciitis.

I have just got the new firefox

I have been using it first of all in the beta stage and release candidate stage. At some point in the beta phase I realised that stability was not an issue and uninstalled firefox 2 (goodbye my friend) and let the new improved, memory leak plugged (plus other enhancements) application be the browser which which I trust not to fall over while loading yet another stupid flash heavy page. (note to website designers - just because a technology exists does not mean you have to use it.) Even with what we laughingly call broadband in Dunedin (xtra - I can't speak for other providers) it is still a pain in the arse.

Firefox 3 it is. Of course the add-ons are the best bit of Firefox. If you like confusion they are also called extensions. I must list (no, no, not another list - Ed) my choices. For example I use the ScribeFire extension to post to this blog. It is also set up to post to wordpress where I have an only-once-published-to account.


TBC, meaning: to be continued, is a TLA
A TLA is a three letter abbreviation

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Sunny Sunday

As I wrote the title of this post I had a horrid flash of a poem I once tried to write about or for or to the memory of a friend of mine who had died. I don't think I got past the first line which was this:

On a raining monday day

Try as I might I was unable to move beyond this point. First lines are important. Yes? Yes. I have learned these things now. I have some stored away on another hard drive. We aren't networked in this house or any other house for that matter. I transferred 4.7 GBs worth of data on to this cute little notebook a while back. I forgot about it and was about to reorganise my videos on the original PC and got that "where in yarbolg's name have I hidden them now?" moment. I hoiked out the rewritable DVD and discovered there was only one video on the disk. Where were all the others?

I eventually found them on the notebook which means that there was more than one transfer but I have no memory of doing it. I decided to transfer them back to the PC. Still with me?

After setting up an image file I tried to burn it to the rewritable DVD but the software was having none of it. The program should have dealt with blanking the disk automatically but would not comply. Puzzle.

After a think I decided I would use a rewritable cd I had lying about and do the transferring in smaller chunks - they are small videos none of them more than 500 MBs. Then I remembered that the rewritable cd had died and I hadn't replaced it yet.

Eventually I realised that if my memory was so deficient I might have overlooked another matter. Very simple matter indeed. The question I asked myself was this: have you ever burned a DVD on the notebook? The answer I got was this: well yes, I think so.

I decided to check the spec of the cd/dvd drive in this machine. I found out that I could never have burned a DVD in this drive because it does not write to DVDs.

Happy, happy, sunny sunday.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Heels on fire

I decided after reading the current literature on painful heels that I had better see the doc post haste. I set off on my bicycle after lunch and fell off at the start of the cycleway from Ravensbourne to town. I gave myself about a minute for all the serious aches and pains to begin after the anaesthetising effect of shock before continuing on my way. None of them warranted much attention.

There's your irony again says I. Here you are on the way to the surgery and here you are compounding your injuries. When I got to the doctor's I couldn't get an appointment until Monday. I also discovered I hadn't brought the bike's security lock so I didn't want to hang around town although I would have liked to get a cup of coffee and a chocolate muffin to help recovery.

Now I'm home I find strained areas of my body and the cuts and bruises on my left hand make me look like a southpaw bareknuckle fighter.

Other than that it has been a lovely day. Very photographable if one had taken a camera out.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Heal my heel

Luckily I do not write with my heel, however I do like to walk with my feet. I try to walk everywhere and if that fails well I try to cycle everywhere. Now I believe I have inflamed my plantar fascia. Brilliant, eh? We walk to keep fit and end up with a flaming (inflamed) plantar condition caused by walking. Who says irony isn't part of this existence?

Part of the treatment is to rest. Nae wurries. I have no problem with that. There is no pain in bed. There are things I can do. Do all the stuff I should have done earlier in life or later or now: Read Coleridge's Biographia Literaria; Read Wittgenstein's Tractactus Logico-Philosophicus; Knit a jersey (cow or caramel); Write my acceptance speech for the Katherine Mansfield pot of money.

Bad time of year to see the doctor. I was in his surgery this time last year with very generously sick people who were happy to share their rhino virus with me.

Remember the wee rhyme from an earlier post?

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Last of the Potatoes

About an hour ago we dug up the last of the potatoes. There weren't enough to send the major root crop producers into a price war but we felt good that at least another month will go by without handing out cash for staples.

I'm pretty sure we can't grow rice on our section without major earthworks. I know if you see paddy fields in the moving picture shows - the seven samurai pops into my head as I write this - there is a deal of water involved, your rice plant being a tad more water dependent than other plants I could name like the umm ... like the ... water lily! I knew I'd think of one.

The deadline for the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards 2008 is looming - 30th June - and I stand ready to enter. Last year I had nothing to submit. Oh but this year, this year, I have a lump of writing. Last year something odd happened in the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards. Since I arrived here and came to know of the award all the major prize winners have been women and girls (there being a Young Writer's Award category). Last year three males won each category - premier, novice, young. That's good isn't it? Once there was a scarcity of women writers, disadvantaged by their sex apparently. Take the creative writing class I belonged to last year. Hands up who can tell me what the majority composition of the class was? 'sright, you at the front, women. You said it.

This year there were no men in the class. I know, I asked teacher.
It can't just be because the digital world has revolutionised us in the way it said it would - can it? I remember the basic promise made almost eleven maybe twelve years ago now. The digital revolution with the abilty to manipulate data will make us all artists, writers, composers, educators. If not educators at least teacher promised to be just another voice in the mix. I reckon the promise - exciting as it seemed to be back then when hardly anyone knew a bit from a byte - was based on wooly thinking. The democratising effect of society where every nitwit's opinion was to be given weight could be realised in the digital world - the world where nobody would even be expected to have work criticised or backed up with argument.

Oh dear my own argument has drifted a bit. Think, Hugh, think. Was it something to do with George Eliot, Acton, Currer and Ellis bell? Fine blokes all. That was it.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Election looming

There was recently a wailing and gnashing of teeth when it was discovered that a lot of New Zealanders were unaware that a general election would be taking place sometime this year.
I turned to my dear P, who shares my life with me, and announced that I was one of those ignorant creatures.

What, she asked me, what did I think all those opinion polls were showing Labour trailing way, way behind National?

I was flummoxed. Had they not been announcing polls every week since we arrived all those years ago in New Zealand? Yes they had. But apparently this year that sort of information is critical as we have the opportunity to change our government democratically - a task we will carry out and change the government not because of policy or anything crass like a poll with an error something or other of plus or minus something or other (this is to make polls sound scientific.) When National becomes this year's Government (or gets the most votes to attract smaller party's support) it will be because it is their turn. Pure and simple. Now there's science for you. It is somebody else's turn.

There probably will be people who think critically and will vote for the party with the best policies. These critical thinkers will be outvoted and the National Party will win this year's election. It is Buggin's turn, as the great Bernard Levin once wrote in The Times, before the landslide victory of New Labour and the long prime ministership of Tony Blair only lately ended. People had had enough of the Conservative Party and it was quite simply someone else's turn. The same will happen up there. UK voters will most likely vote overwhelmingly for the Conservatives.

P wants to escape a National Government but I would rather stay here than live under a Conservative Government in the UK. I have no great love for New Labour or Old Labour for that matter.

I am socialist by inclination, conservative by nature and an anarchist by education. Where I grew up, Northern Ireland, none of the major parties campaigned or organised. For a long time the Tory party was the Conservative and Unionist party of great Britain. Socialist parties were viewed with suspicion and I think when I came of age I was able to cast one vote for the Northern Ireland Labour Party before our Troubles began and then all voting became most assuredly sectarian. Me? After a period I abstained.

I have voted twice here. A sure sign of ageing.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

What snow?

Yesterday's visit to The Oatago Farmers' Market in Dundedin was a test of endurance. I had to eat a triple fudge brownie from one of the stalls before I was right. There were few people which is good. It was cloudy, this is also good. When it is cloudy you can walk from one end of the market to the other without being blinded by the winter sun. It was perishing cold. Great storms were forecast by Metservice and we were anxious to be home. Snow was forecast as well - I was quite looking forward with pleasure to a dumping of snow.

We had arranged to look at a new flat in the afternoon and were fearful of driving in the high winds and predicted dumping of snow. I fall for it every time. I think, or I am being slowly persuaded, that there is an alternative Dunedin and Otago peninsula in Metservice New Zealand's Weather Charts. The quickest and most reliable way to find out what to wear is stand outside for a minute or so. But no I still listen mesmerised by the Metservice's short work of fiction and often arrive at a destination fainting from heat exhaustion when dressed for forty below or whatever nonsensical figure that pops into their heads during the forecasts. Now how you going to tell me that climate change, global warming effects et al can be so reliably predicted when the forecast can barely get close to the next twenty four hours? Governments treat all such predictions as genuine science - egged on by a completely science illiterate population trained over the last twenty-five years or so by ecology students and greens. Once these people pooh-poohed science and now they are quick to rope in the nearest 'scientist' to firm up their claims.

The sole form of heating in our house provided by the owner is a heat pump. Now whatever background a heat pump has as a technological marvel - as in 'the manufacturer speaks very highly of it' it is not at providing comfortable warmth at an affordable price. Neither P and I can stand the dry warm air wafting at us. We had a Swiss girl board with us for a week. By the end of the week she had found herself other accommodation with a heat source that produced heat - to wit, a woodburning stove. We are about to follow suit.

I come from a very cold place (Northern Ireland) - I also was taught that I lived in a temperate climate (see post below) - and as a result suffer from cold related symptoms that have cropped up as the years went by. That was my warning to young people below - you will suffer later in life, just as life gets interesting in middle age you have to work harder to enjoy it through the gritted teeth of arthritic pains and the gasping of a severely compromised cardio-pulmonary system.

No more to be said. Trust your common sense. Cold weather equals warm clothing. Tee shirts, shorts and jandals equal idiocy and death.

And before the Greens and environment watchers destroy us completely with unmitigated propaganda - please, pretty please could you, would you, learn to think like a scientist?

I'll post some helpful hints tomorrow.

My winter hands are frozen.

No snow to play in. Bah, humbug!

Friday, 6 June 2008

Spoonbills come back

I am convinced by the evidence that the spoonbills have gone. When the tide has gone out and exposed the crescent of sand those whiter than white (the adverts worked Messrs Persil, Tide, Fab et al.) birds are absent. If there was such a thing as a soul washed clean from sin then the plumage of those birds would surely be the example in this world. Pity about the beaks, but then an indifferent agency with no reference to sin, salvation or redemption grew that subtle design.

I miss them. One evening in summer we counted fourteen in our tiny inlet. We counted them gliding in, feeding and flying away. I'm told they don't go far away from where we are in winter but it is too far for us.

Come back Spoonbills.

Watched Pierrepoint yesterday evening. No review. Just enjoy Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson.

Big gales a coming, bah. It has been a stunning 14.9 Celsius here this morning. Almost put my shorts on.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Shopping day

Thursday is shopping day. We go shopping on Thursday.
Today we went to town by bus.
It is cold.
I am cold.
He is cold.
She is cold.
All are cold.
Where are the quick?

I still see the baffled and oblivious wearing their shorts and jandals. Something seriously wrong with the educational system here in Dunedin, perhaps all of New Zealand. It is just not turning out thinkers. People who are able to listen to the weather forecast, read a thermometer or even pick up clues from the dress sense of others.

Dear children,
You do not live in a temperate climate. Whatever Miss Merboyles or Mr Chips told you, you do not live in a temperate climate. Outside of your family home, outside of the family car is a bizarre world of temperature fluctuations. If it is cold - that's when you shiver, blow your nail and have a drip from your nose - put on some warm clothes! OK? You'll thank me for it. You will.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Spiderman 3

Ah now, there's nothing like a super hero film in the middle of the week in the comfort of one's own home.

I have no intention of reviewing it.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Western

Westerns* on TV when this chap was younger so much younger than today. The following are in no particular order. If I remember a snatch of the theme tune it is to the right of the dash

The Tenderfoot - Easy lopin', cattle ropin' sugarfoot
Cheyenne - Cheyenne, Cheyenne, lonely man, Cheyenne
Bronco - Bronco, Bronco Layne
Wagon Train
Rawhide - long song, very famous (not a lyric)
The Virginian
Davy Crockett - Daveee, Daveee Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier
Have Gun Will Travel
Lone Ranger - William Tell overture with, presumably, the Lone Ranger yelling 'Hi yo Silver away'

I did a search for Television Westerns and I am happy to report that there were many shows I did not see. Gunsmoke, for example, is one of the famous shows I have never seen. Not so misspent a youth as I suspected.

Transmission times are crucial. Afternoons after school I escaped from homework and TV to the golf links and sandhills. I never developed the couch potato habit.

My late auntie and I had disagreed over the Virginian. She was furious when it came on. "How do they get away with it?" she would say. "Same thing every week."

I pointed out that the same criticism could be applied to Coronation Street (twice a week in the previous century), but she would have none of it. If I wanted one of her Benson and Hedges I'd need to watch what I was saying.

Last night P and I watched The Claim (2000). When it got to the bit where Mr Dillon has a flashback and remembers selling his wife and child while drunk, I struck the arm of my chair and said, "The Mayor of Casterbridge."

It is comforting to know that one can still impress one's nearest and dearest after all these years. Picture my humble acceptance of her congratulations as the final credits rolled and there appeared an acknowledgement that the film was based on the novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy.

*the ones that made it to Ulster Television (UTV) and the BBC

Monday, 2 June 2008

Old telly adverts du temps perdu

for mash get smash

everyone's a fruit and nut case

wagon wheels are the treat for me
they're the biggest biscuit you ever did see.

kimberley, mikado and coconut creams
someone you love
will love some one

a mars a day helps you work rest and play

drinka pinta milka day

go to work on an egg

now hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face
with mild green fairy liquid

when your family come home at the end of the day
have a warm welcome waiting
a warm welcome waiting
for the look in their eye
tells you that they rely
on that warm welcome waiting
that warm welcome waiting

Tomorrow I might list some TV themes - more music see? All the ads above with the exception of 'go to work on an egg' and 'drinka pinta milka day' are sung - which makes them jingles and the odd egg and milk out slogans.
They are also earworms.

Note to self for tomorrow's post: sugar foot, sugar foot, easy lopin' ...

Sunday, 1 June 2008

June mug

This one of the adverts on UTV (Ulster Television) during the 1960s

Old Harry says it's great stuff for an Ulsterman's thirst - an advert speaking of Thwaite's Star Keg

By the time I was old enough to buy a drink Thwaites Star keg had gone. I was fascinated by the glass old Harry was using to drink his beer from. Known as a pint tankard it had a handle and dimples. On my first visit to a Public Bar the glasses had no handles or dimples. Beer pun alert: a bitter disappointment.

Now I no longer care about pint tankards, I drink coffee from my Warner Bros. (made in Thailand) mug bought from a shop in Dublin. It features Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester, Bugs Bunny, Pepé le Pew, Yosemite Sam and Tweety.

This is my favourite mug. When I go it goes with me.