Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Sore fingertips

I have been practising for my latest career kick-start. Polly borrowed a guitar for me from a young lady I haven't met - thanks Amanda. I left my guitar in Donegal on moving here. We thought that it would not be long before it was replaced by a brand spanking new narrow necked Yamaha or somesuch - sorry I'm a bit vague about that sort of thing. All I know is I have small hands and can't really play wide necked guitars. I can just mange a barre on a narrow neck but even there it is uncomfortable.

Six years later and no guitar until last week my fingertips are having diffs in holding down the steel strings. One of the tricks I was given years ago to toughen fingertips was to tap them lightly on the range. However, that won't work in our present accomodation as the main heat source is a gas fire.

But I'm getting there. I applied in person for my Dunedin City busking permit yesterday and I am valid for a year of supplying outdoor entertainment. A bit more practice with my three chord trick and I'm off down to The New World entrance. See you there ...

blue moon of Kentucky won't you keep on shining ...

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Christchurch beckons

At long last I am leaving the valley for a couple of days. The cats are going to St Leonard's. They have stayed there before. The last time was when we moved house. They share a cell room next to an interesting breed of cat called Maine Coon. They are beautiful creatures, but hey, there's nothing like your own.

Be back in a couple of days.

Sunday, 21 September 2008


The ould clock is tickin'. It'll be here soon. get your typing fingers ready. Write a novel in a month!

This'll be my third year of entry. I haven't completed the course; crossed the finish line (whatever) but I am fascinated by what pours out in the early phases of this strange adventure. Free writing is a good way of getting rid of the writer censor perched on the shoulder - you can't do that; that's not how you spell 'mendacious'; and you call yourself a writer; hang yourself whydoncha?

Last year I saw criticism of people who freewrote for the entire month. The people who criticised freewriters said that the fifty thousand words and beyond should be plotted and coherent. That meant - to my mind - that these writers sat down every night on their honour and wrote coherently without previously plotting or laying out narrative structures and finished (I suppose) a 50K + novel. I worry about people that could do that.

I know that when Kerouac pumped out On the Road in three weeks Truman Capote said, "That's not writing. That's typing."

That is a smart, funny comment. But it seems to me that even if Kerouac was speeding and buzzing, whizzing, flying along on with his teletype roll keying out On the Road, he was left at the end of his run with a huge raw lump of material. Surely no one is suggesting that it all arrived in the bookshops without editing.

Now hang on, wasn't the unedited mind splurge of tijean to be released unedited this year or last year. (update - according to Amazon, Viking did publish the unexpurgated roll in 2007)

Here's nanowrimo to be getting on with. The site might be in lockdown mode at the moment but sure you can lok for yourself and bookmark the site. Remember you are on your honour not to have the whole novel laid out in your head or on your corkboard before you start in November.

Door frame attack

Got out of bed for pee.
No idea of time.
Decided not to scrabble blindly on bedside table for torch (I always knock it over).
Made it to door avoiding cats, shoes, end of bed (end of bed is tricky. a chap could get maimed).
Door frame launches unprovoked attack.
Hugh stunned.
Hugh still standing when Polly clicks on her light.
Blood on brow.
Door frame unharmed.

Friday, 19 September 2008

As we get older

Blinking flip! I was back at the doctor's again today.

Also, ominously, he dropped his voice at one stage and said, as he explained something to me, doubtless blindingly obvious to the great unwashed, "As we get older."

I use that line all the time, I thought until today, ironically.

Anyway, it is to do with the appearance of aches and pains leading me to believe that both hip joints were disintegrating on Wednesday night.

It may yet be the case. A dose of paracetamol and a daily Vitamin D tab for a week might reduce the aching joints.

Now class, what might we add to this starting phrase: As we get older ... ?

No prizes.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Trip away

Spent some time re-reading, re-engaging, re-writing a poem I am not happy with. My overnight mind worked on the problem and when I woke it said leave it alone for today. Think of something else.

I mentioned yesterday I had been to the barber's. I forgot to mention I got way too much off the top and sides and now resemble Dumbo. You see while one is still a living breathing mortal person and prey to all the ills of earthly diseases and terrors one's ears continue to grow. Outsized ears are concrete proof of personal growth.

Hey! We are taking a trip on Friday. I may have mentioned before that I hadn't been outside of Dunedin for some considerable time and was over the moon when a day trip to Oamaru and the sacred cottage of Janet Frame in Eden Street. I have proof with this picture of Janet's family linoleum and my scuffed shoes.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Lately I have been visiting barbers again. For years I avoided the barbershop due to the arrival in early 1960 of rebellious male hair growing. After I ceased reciting 'long hair good, short hair bad' there weren't all that many barbers left. But the same hairy revolution had spawned the unisex salon and it was possible to get a good cut that didn't resemble the cruel balding of the army recruit. One of the drawbacks of the unisex salon is that you have to make an appointment which we never had to do at the barber's.

Yesterday I was in Selwyn Graves where I have had my hair cut before. Selwyn's proud boast is that they have two chairs which means you don't have to make an appointment. They actually have three chairs now, it is just that the sign on the street outside the shop hasn't been updated yet. There was no one waiting on the bench but when I got right inside all three seats were occupied and it looked like all three customers had just begun their shearing.
I really, really hate waiting for anything - no matter how good or useful. I hate waiting at the doctors or the dentists. What was the point of making an appointment if the friggin' quack is late? Worse, I always, always, always arrive early out of courtesy. Oh maybe that part isn't true. Somebody told me once that if you arrive early and the next apointment hasn't arrived they let you go ahead. I don't know what parallel world that person lived in but I can assure you, dear reader, that no such reward ever followed my early arrival.

Back to the barber.I was able to plan my day all over again. Then I watched one by one the customers receiving the scissors and wondering who would soon be finished. Then I saw in the mirror facing me a static view of the barber to my left cutting a customer's head and also the back view of the girl assistant who had been sweeping the floor not two minutes ago. Of course I was looking at a highly realistic painting of the barber that I had not noticed before. I hadn't noticed the young lady sweeping the floor before either so that was two new things. No writer would say that was time wasted. It should have been three things but when I tried to see the signature of the painter I hurt my neck twisting round.

I ran out of a barber's in London where I had been sitting for over an hour waiting for a cut. As I hurried away I heard the shop's doorbell tinkling and a shout of anguish. I looked back and the barber was waving me back and pleading with me to return. I made up my mind to keep walking. He let out another pleading cry and I went back. What a performance.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

A Fantail runs through it

Yesterday I accompanied Polly on one her field trips to the Dunedin Botanic Gardens hunting for tree families (a weird lot the botanists). We were seated enjoying a picnic lunch when a small fantail landed on her head. She kept very still while it rummaged for insects in her thatch but failed to find any. It came back several times and repeated its efforts. I slipped off my hat - bought in a sale in Ballantyne's, when we still lived in Christchurch - but the tiny fantail ignored my barnet in favour of the wife's.
According to the native kiwi no fantail has ever landed on her head before. I'm glad she told me this as I would have thought it an everyday occurrence in this exotic land.

How I know New Zealand is exotic is that your apples are juicier. Whether this a result of buying them from the Farmer's Market in Dunedin every Saturday (while stocks last) and not the dry specimens from the supermarkets of old Ireland I cannot say. I am tempted to think that the apples we bought in Ireland no longer came from Co. Armagh but possibly were imported from some useless orchard in Europe thanks to the complicated European Union rules and regulations surrounding what used to be referred to as the Common Market. When I hear farmers in New Zealand lauding the EU subsidies and attitudes to agriculture I can only pray that it never happens.

Similar opinions surround the Celtic Tiger and how New Zealand might emulate such a runaway success. Short answer is, 'You can't.' We aren't comparing like with like. The Republic of Ireland embraced the European Union like no other nation. From a seriously dirt poor nation to a modern hi-tech country in a short time was a result in the first instance of lots and lots of lovely European money. Motorways were built, roads improved and slowly but surely standards of living got better and people's expectations of life were enhanced.

In the nineties during the white hot excitement of the digital revolution workers had to be imported into our island nation because the supply of any countries most valuable resource - trained and trainable humans - wasn't there. More money! Training the natives. Entice emigres back! Uh, is this sounding familiar? Good. Don't fall for it. It is an illusion.

Take my advice. Stop with the dairying already and bring back the sheep. Oh and one more thing - I will vote for the party who does not tinker with daylight saving. Smoke and mirrors, folks, smoke and mirrors.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Great news

The baker of the cake pictured in the previous post has offered to assemble another one for us in a couple of weeks.

Now isn't that something?

Monday, 8 September 2008


Today is our birthday. No, I'm not using the royal 'we'. Polly and I share the same birthday.

Here is a picture of last year's cake.

Nothing like this has appeared today.

We went to a turkish kebab shop on George St. There we had kebabs, coffee and baklava.

Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us und so wieder.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Another week goes by

I'm sitting here wondering why I have missed an entire week at the blog interface. [pauses for thought - gives up and moves on to the next item.]
I was reminded of my blog when I met Diane at the country market on Saturday. Apparently someone found my reference in an earlier post to the course I and eleven other disciples completed last year with sifu Diane guiding our way. Just think - twelve more scribes pushing on the door of New Zealand literature.
The more writers the merrier I say.
During part of last week I decided to experiment with direct cable connections. The idea is to make a simple home network without recourse to hubs, routers or switches. I had an category 5e cable already and after some reading I discovered I could connect the cable directly to the ethernet ports on the laptop and the Desktop PC. I also found to my joy that I would be able to configure my PC to connect via the laptop's network interface card (nic). My poor PC has been sitting down here in my writing cellar unable to access the world wide web through internet access as it does not have a wireless card. Only one thing prevented me from setting up the physical and logical configuration straightway! That's right. Full marks to the man at the back. For a direct cable ethernet connection one needs a crossover cable. I was downcast. Not to worry. I went down to my local store where I bought my 4GB usb memory stick. He didn't have any crossover cables but when I told him I already had a straight through cable he said all I needed was an adaptor. Sacred blue! I didn't see that in my readings. Ecstasy short lived. When he went to fetch one they had all been sold.
I hiked back up the hill a broken man with promises of one on order for next week. Next week? I'm not a youngster I might be dead by next week. Home again and back on the net. I find that crossover adaptors might be purchased in a number of stores in Dunedin. Oh, well I can wait until the next day, if the Lord spares me I'll do a trawl of the usual suspects and if the worst comes to the worst I will buy a crossover cable brand new.
The very next day I discovered that the usual suspects carry plenty of cables but no adaptors. I am weakening but decide after a quick trip into the New World for a fix of Mars Bar to pop over to the Office Warehouse to see what they've got. Plenty of cables. I decide to ask someone. This by the way is the first time I have been in the Office Warehouse that someone hasn't landed on my shoulders asking if they can help me with anything. The young man I spoke to took me back to the same display that I had just been browsing, agreed that the Warehouse was not carrying the product I required, then, wait for it, told me where I could buy it and gave me directions. Now there's a customer help service for you.

I went where he suggested and I got my crossover cable adaptor for cat 5e.

The actual configuration tale between Win XP and Win 2000 can wait to be told - very long process. It didn't need to be, but it was. Oh dear me, yes it was.

Monday, 1 September 2008

A whole week

Last week's getting well and a sick acer aspire notebook with sick internet connection has kept me from my diary.

So there.