Thursday, 31 December 2009

Recalling minutes later

On Christmas day we entertained the waifs and strays, the left-behinds, and as Jill said: damn foreigners. In her e-mail she advised all attendees that: 'we were going for lunch to the house of a genuine Kiwi (Polly) and her damn foreigner husband (me)'

Billy and Jill brought Kai Moana - cockles from the Otago Peninsula. Jill brought bread - very tasty bread -Pete and Sinead brought deserts and forgot the brussels sprouts. Pete offered to go back to his house to get them and we agreed to let him go. How can you have Christmas din-dins without sprouts?

We supplied roast beef with stuffing. Not long after we got ripped into the desserts - next to Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate my sole reason for continuing to live is a fine dessert. Ice-creams, trifle, cream.

There was a warm front which sat on us all day moving me to wear shorts. There were no games or anything after lunch. We continued to pick at the desserts. We mostly sat around and talked as it was too hot to do anything else.

Next day it was freezing again.

Happy New Year from the damn foreigner husband.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Eaten out

At 11.00 a.m. on Christmas morning 2009, our neighbour who has been using our paddock to graze sheep decided to introduce himself. We have been in the current property for about six months and had asked the landlord to request the sheep graze to cease and desist letting his sheep into our field or paddock as they say in New Zealand. We entertained the sheep unwillingly for the last month. really the only way to get rid of them would have been to open the top gate and let them find their way out on to the road. I confess I thought about this for a whole three seconds before the whole drama of car crashes, human deaths, injuries and my already overburdened sense of guilt being multiplied and also the thought of being carted off to jail through not being canny enough to hire a lawyer to get me off with a fortnight's community service stayed my hand.

Anyway he dropped in to introduce himself and in the course of an unexpected interrogation on his part by wife while I sat dumb he revealed that he'd never been told by the landlord that his mob of sheep were no longer ovis non grata.

This was the first time in seven years we were having people - orphans
(hang on the cat's just been sick)

1st January 2010

Hello again and A HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all. I realise wishing you ALL a HAPPY NEW YEAR is pretty culturally insensitive on my part given that Maori, Chinese, Mayan Civilisations (uh, any of you folks left out there - 2 years to go, eh?) keep different dates for their Hogmanay celebrations. Still we pass this way but once as I am fond of repeating to the wife until she taps me, in a meaningful way, on the head with the poker - and with that profound realisation I see, along with the unexpected shooting stars in my vision, that we cannot pass this way without treading on somebody's toes.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY EASTER ... where's the harm? Is it because the shops are shut? What? While we're all at church on Christmas Day, are the Mayans, Chinese, Hindus et al wandering round Belfast or New York, to take these two as representatives of the many International cities of Christendom, wondering why all the shops are shut? Can't get a pint of milk anywhere. Darn.

I was going to tell you what we ate on CHRISTMAS DAY which in our case was for the following persons - one Christian, three atheists, one Jewish person and a Greek (or a Grecian if you follow the utterances of George dubya Bush) of indeterminate religious affiliation.

The cat by the way is better - thanks for asking.

We had piles of stuff to munch on as it happens. There was an unusual trifle made by my wife - I've hidden the poker - containing rhubarb. Surprisingly it was delicious and the Grecian came back for more. He denied all knowledge of trifle so we told him that rhubarb wouldn't be a usual ingredient. We have not heard that he passed away due to a surfeit of rhubarb so that was a success story in so far as it keeps down the litigation suits to manageable figures.

What else? See, there's that flaming journo's curse of memory decay again. If you don't note things down at the time they're stashed somewhere out of reach in the brain or discarded as not worthy of storage.

I might remember later.


Saturday, 12 December 2009

the road

Got a copy of The Road (Cormac McCarthy) and read it all in one day. Started it in the Uni Library and finished it when I got home. It is the first post-apocalypse book I have read that has almost everything in our world gone. As I read somewhere every descriptive adjective is the word gray (that's how it is spelled in the book). This is so. The sun rises but is a vague light through a gray sky. The world is burned. The trees are dead; the grass is dead; there are no birds. There aren't many people left either. I've read plenty post-apocalyptic books and seen plenty films on the same theme. This has to be the grayest of them all.

The man and the boy still teach each other things - as two people alone are apt to do - and therefore us about what it means to be human. The man has to teach the boy about evading the bad guys - small groups and sometimes larger groups (an army in tennis shoes) who have embraced rape and cannibalism. The man tell s the boy that when he, the man, is gone - he is dying - the boy will have to rely on his own skill to recognise the good guys. That is an echo of Lenny and George's exchanges when Lenny gets George to recite his 'guys like us' morale boosting speech in Of Mice and Men.

I came away with a feeling of wistfulness from the book rather than the 'jeez we'd better do something quick or we're all doomed' I was wistful because everything else was gone. It seemed to me that when the last people died - how could they continue with nothing replaceable? - there appeared to be nothing to fill the niche, nothing to make the opportunistic evolutionary leap, as it were.

Point of View (pov)

Third person.

There is a passage that begins: The dog that he remembers followed us for two days. I tried to coax it to come but ...

This is the only instance of an 'I' speaking. It seemed so strange when I saw it on the page and also heard it in my head, so much so that even though I kept on reading I had to turn back after a few pages and mark it. I can't find any other instance of an 'I' speaking so directly (to us? well who else?) in the narrative. The third person past tense holds good throughout the book. So what's that bit doing there? It seems so out of place almost as if it had slipped unnoticed past a proofreader cum editor.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Farmers market

There's another Saturday morning away by and I didn't go to the Farmers Market down in the car park next to the station in Dunedin. I don't enjoy it as much as I used to. I like crowds and people watching and you can meet people you know from time to time. Some Saturdays there isn't a being you would recognise. Maybe it's the time of day you go at. Even Polly who can meet folks she knows all the time comes home and hasn't spoken to anyone. She did meet people today but only briefly. And that's the other thing.

When it's
bunged to the gills with a slow crawling crowd you can't actually stop for a chat without causing a major blockage.

I stayed in bed with V.I. Warshawski this morning. The one that was made into a film wit
h Kathleen Turner. What a clumsy uninformative sentence. The Paretsky novel is called 'Deadlock'. The film, apparently unsuccessful at the box office, according to the only IMDB reviewer I read, was called 'V.I. Warshawski'.

I found the copy in St. Vincent de Paul the other day in the 50 cent clearance box. The paperback is in good nick and there is a handsome picture of Kathleen Turner flashing her shapely pins. This doubtless is a promotional picture from the film.

I reproduce it here with no credit. This is an abominable lossy jpeg image and doesn't deserve attribution. I didn't get reading for long as the cat came in to the bedroom and demanded to be let out. Good daddy got up.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Walla artist

Walla Artist

I wondered what this was last night while sitting through ten to fifteen minutes of scrolling end credits just to see where our last night's film was shot. We both had our own ideas and we were both wrong. But, says I, who's these blinking walla artists?

Things like that tend to jump out at you after a while. You know, like 'what is ADR?' and why did it have to be done in five different countries? I know now what ADR is and - possibly - why it had to be done all over the shop. ADR is a TLA (three letter abbreviation) for Automated Dialogue Replacement or Additional Dialogue Recording also known as dubbing. I surely shouldn't have to explain dubbing at this stage of the game.

Nor should I have to explain 'rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb' to the likes of us that came originally from the UK or nearby, like Ireland, Republic of, or Ireland, Northern.

The extras making up crowd scenes would go: 'rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb' to simulate background chatter.
A Walla Artist is I am reliably (wikipedia of course) informed, the North American version of rhubarb.

Hi, does anybody remember the geese or ducks scene in a Hitchcock film which the blindfolded star mistook for the chatter of a cocktail party?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Burning man

Just back in nicely kippered from a big burn in the paddock below us. Our landlady asked us if we wouldn't mind clearing up the product of the loppers and the saw of herself and previous tenants over the years. We were happy to oblige. Because there is a strip of pines and also assorted farmland around us we applied for a permit.

On the day the person who permits these things was due to visit we got a call from the office saying he'd had to go to a big fire somewhere. Later listening to the Radio New Zealand National news we heard the reports of a huge fire in Central Otago. Three days later we were still hearing reports about it flaring up. I must digress here for a moment. None of our TV news watching friends had heard about this fire although it burned thousands of acres. One would have thought that might have made good TV. Radio still draws pictures in our heads.

When the man who permits things turned up a few weeks later we asked him had he been to the fire in Central Otago. He had and said that it was a near thing. It took the three reported days and more to get a handle on it. The fire started from a controlled, permitted burn off by a farmer (hey I'm a farmer I know what I'm doing). The Smoky Bears here are always warning Joe Public not to be lighting fires in dry conditions when they out camping but I don't think Joe and his missus and kiddiewinkies causes as much damage in fires as the responsible level headed farmer who knows what he's doing.

I innocently asked if the framer didn't listen to the weather forecast to make sure there were no gusts of wind due to carry the blaze far from its home. There was fierce muttering from the man who permits things which I took to mean the answer, in short, was 'No!'

Our fire is out now. I haveraked and levelled the ashes. I have dampened it down with two watering cans of H2O and will return shortly to the burning site to dampen some more.

If you hear of a big fire between Port Chalmers and Waitati it won't be because we were remiss. Somewhere a farmer is waiting for a dry windy day to get rid of an acre or so of highly flammable material.

Good luck now.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Interview with the memoirist

interviewer: What would you say is the main difference between a memoir and a novel?
me: A memoir is more fun to write.
interviewer: Fun?
me: (laughs) Yes, yes ... fun!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Geoff Dyer and me

I've been thinking what might have happened if the person who pointed me in the direction of Geoff Dyer had sent him my piece on Bruce Lee. Would Geoff now be reading me and thinking of the strange resemblances between two writers of different ages and islands.

Not every earthquake produces a Tsunami but alas yesterday's shake did. Our thoughts are, as always, with the victims of sudden tragedy.

Who I'm reading this week ...

... while not writing: Geoff Dyer, that's who.

Once I wrote a piece which had a similarity of style to Geoff's But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz

I'd never heard of Dyer but someone who read my piece about Bruce Lee gave me an excerpt of But Beautiful and that was me hooked.

His current release is Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

That's all folks.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Fly me to the ...

better not quote more for fear of litigation.

Just sitting here reading about Nabokov's last and unfinished novel when I turned my head to speak to Polly and noticed what I thought was a spider on Polly's shoulder. Closer inspection proved it to be a fly - a pale fly, an anaemic looking thing. Polly said she had seen a couple more today (she'd kept that quiet) and that they might be a recent hatching from a dead rodent in our loft space - heard, poisoned but not seen. As she said this another pale drifter emerged from a crack in the ceiling. The glory hole is too high to reach without a ladder I am happy to say as I did not want to stick my head up into unknown territory and perhaps be attacked by flies desperate to escape.

I stood on a chair and sprayed some dreadful insecticide along the ceiling crack. We trust this will work.

When we lived in Donegal this happened to us: our boy cat, the late Master Samuel Beckett, must have allowed a mouse to escape, which crawled injured into a crack in our stone floor behind a potato crock. One day we were treated to a horde of dozy flies emerging  as if by magic from a dark corner. Ain't nature wunnerful?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Risin' early

Rubbish collection day is here again. Yippee! A great start to the week I feel. Getting up, rain or shine, to cram the miscellaneous bits of rubbish into the black bag, then ambulating fluidly down the hill to the communal collection point. Why can't I leave the rubbish outside my house? I don't know why. Probably for the same reason that our mail is not delivered to the house but to a mailbox at the end of a side road. We live on the main road. There is something not right here. I think we have inherited a set up from previous tenants of the property. Ask an anthropologist. They'll tell you. A set of circumstances pertains to a particular time and with usage, even when the circumstances have changed, there is a reluctance towards modification.
I thought after the first week that I would test the system by leaving our blue recycle bin outside our front gate as per instructions from Dunedin City Council's own website. The worst that could happen I reasoned was that the bin-men would drive on by. No big deal then, just carry the bin down the hill the following week. Have I been able to do this? No. I feel like the Master in his mystical prison under Sunnydale Library. I am confounded by the advice I was given by the landlord. I am unable to advance beyond this advice and put it to the test to see if it is valid.
I'm made of sterner stuff - I'll try again next week, eh?

Friday, 28 August 2009

Femme Fatale

Last night we settled down to the evening's trip to the cinema courtesy of VideoEzy (shameless plug). I had spotted Pizza bases in the cheapo bin at New World and we were chomping on our slices of anchovy pizza - Polly made them up and cooked them, after a shouting match at the electric oven which neither of us had used before, preferring our portable gas hob. Most, if not all, modern appliances need a manual (which reminds me I started a post about reading manuals and scrapped it for a later date) and there was none available for this model in our rented house. Amazingly I cracked it in about five minutes. I realised in this machine that the dials for the timer mechanism had been replaced by LEDs but the process was much the same - easier to my mind once I spotted the trick.
I already had the DVD fired up and the viewing software poised on the brink of the first scene ...
What the flip? I don't remember Bridget Fonda having lesbian sex with a barely clothed model wearing a few diamonds in strategic locations. Almost choking on anchovy I had another look at the box. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ... not what I thought I had picked. This is how it came about. We had seen a film Kiss of the Dragon the week before written - not directed - by Luc Besson - and I had thought I might like to refresh my memory of my one and only viewing of La Femme Nikita not to be confused with the remake with Bridget Fonda called Point of no Return or Assassin in some countries.
Now this is where I got seriously confused. In the DVD store I thought I was looking at a cover picture of Bridget Fonda, who was also in Kiss of the Dragon mentioned above. It seemed as if a plan was coming together and I had found almost immediately that which I had been looking for (up yours Bono). Ah now.
We suffered the film anyway, well it did have an attractive leading lady, none other than Rebecca Romjin. Most of us with good memories (and slowly fading palpitations of the heart) will recall her delightful appearance (subtle) in X-Men as Mystique.
Unfortunately last night's film also had Antonio Banderas in it which for me is a no no. He's really much better when he is not speaking save when he is the voice of Puss in Boots in Shrek.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Important dates

Master Samuel Beckett and Miss Peggy-Sue - 3rd June, 2009

We moved - 20th July, 2009

Today:now know about Mayhem Parva

Friday, 14 August 2009

Le Nautilus and the Nursery

Years ago I read an article in a magazine written by semiotician Roland Barthes. It mentioned the author's little known admiration for the British Carry On films. I thought the article was wonderful and so representative of Barthes work in cultural signification. Then my world fell in. Not long after I discovered the article was a hoax. An April Fool's joke, Un Poisson D'Avril if you will. French cultural reference. I did not know who wrote the article until the other day.

Now I can reveal all. It was written by Gilbert Adair and appeared in an issue of Sight and Sound. Memory played tricks on me in this regard, as memory does - frequently. I had thought the article I read The Nautilus and the Nursery appeared in Cahiers du Cinéma, mais non. It ought to have, I suppose.

Anyway, once I read Adair's (Red Adair - geddit?) biography how could I not like someone who wrote a book called The Postmodernist Always Rings Twice?

I discovered also that he wrote three humorous detective novels with the central character, writer Evadne Mount, being a parody of Miss Marple or perhaps Agatha Christie herself.

I am reading the first one in the series now: The Act of Roger Murgatroyd

Thursday, 25 June 2009


Renny. Sure, her name sounds like a remedy for indigestion (Rennie's - geddit?) but this chick is special. She came to live with us on Sunday 21st June. This ia handy date to remember being the winter solstice. As you get older it helps to have important dates coincide with something else. Both our birthdays (me plus wife) are on the same day; we arrived in New Zealand on the 1st of January - not planned, I must admit, but easy to recall.

She's special because she is a Manx kitten. She's got this little stumpy tail. She's also got blue eyes due probably to being a kitten. We are fitting in around one another. She watches our feet and moves when we move.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Literary device

Is it possible that we are all literary constructs? It has been said [reference needed here] that we are beings of language. I expect this is deliciously ambiguous.

I want to be a literary construct. There, I've said it. All done. All out in the open now.

Last night I dreamed ... last night I dreamed that I met two men who were instructed by the head of their order to tell me everything they knew of the life of my father.

Later that morning ... later that morning Polly told me that parsley seeds are hallucinogenic.


Saturday, 25 April 2009

ANZAC Day - Northern Ireland

From the BBC and as such is copyright:

Ballance House, the birthplace of one of New Zealand's premiers, John Ballance, near Glenavy, was the location of an Anzac Day service.

On 25 April 1915, troops began the bloody fight for the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.

More than 100,000 soldiers died - about 11,000 were Anzacs, but Irish and other troops also took part.

Many men from the Royal Irish Fusiliers - now the Royal Irish Regiment - were wounded or died during the unsuccessful attempt to open a second front in the Mediterranean.

About 200 people were expected to attend the remembrance event, organised by the Ulster-New Zealand Trust.

In Dublin, the Australian Embassy,held an Anzac Dawn Service at 0630 on Saturday at Grangegorman Military Cemetery.

Here is the link to the original article:


Cutting the grass

Wednesday 22nd April.

Here I am in the present tense. It is Wednesday, I am cutting the grass. I believe, hopelessly, that this will be the last cut before Spring. Of course it doesn't work that way here. The grass grows long all year long. Not like the land of my birth: Northern Ireland where everything goes to sleep in the winter and then bursts forth in multiplication with a colourful Spring display of Daffodils and crocus (plural of crocus required here). Oh, how interesting! Crocuses or croci. Oh, more interesting it can be crocus as both singular and plural like deer. Now I'm wondering if crocus is a zeromorph: deer not deers; sheep not sheeps (and yes I know 'the sheep's in the meadow').

So. I am not thinking of zeromorphs. As I finish the 'last cut' I feel a strange sensation deep within my lower lip. At first I think it is the warning tingle of the imminent arrival of the dreaded cold sore. But no. This is not a tingle it is more like an electric shock. I continue with my trimming.

Next morning I lie there with something that feels like a brick hanging off the side of my mouth. Arrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh. It is a cold sore. A biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig one. I have never had one so large. That is why I did not recognise the warning in the lip. Could this be a super simplex of the herpes kind? Is it possible that my little herpes simplex lying dormant since last year has mutated due to global warming or climate change or whatever they are calling Nature these days. I know that out here in Warrington we are advised not to drink the water. Indeed we do not. We drink the water only in hot drinks. For refreshing drinks of water we drive into Dunedin and get a big cannister of water from Speight's Brewery. But when you shower or brush your teeth there is always the chance that water droplets from Warrington's toxic supply could be accidentally ingested. Yeuch.

Anyway that got me out of a trip to the dentist on Friday. No sense in exposing my dentist to vile viruses. A shame really as it took two years waiting for an appointment for Oral Rehabilitation as it is called now. Now before anyone thinks that there is a scarcity of dentists in Dunedin I'd better confess that I am a patient at the Otago Dental School. This is where I first went for emergency treatment on moving to Dunedin and this is where I stayed. I have been several times now for replacement fillings and on all occasions I have been treated well. The only difficulty is with the waiting time. There is a discrepancy between what they tell you at reception and what actually happens with with patients upstairs. I knew I needed more treatment and that is now about to happen.

My appointment has been remade for next Friday. If my Zovirax does its work - and there is no reason other than the extraordinary size of this cold sore to suspect it won't - I will be measured up for a new suit of teeth next week.

More later.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Before I forget

Last Sunday we went to Hampden to an Apple Day event. I saw a few people there I hadn't seen in a while. We had to remind one another of our names. We knew who we were - you dig? - just missing the names. (you're digressing earlier than usual - Ed)

Let us say, for the sake of argument, let us say that I had no idea what an apple day might consist of other than a fanciful notion that there might be piles of wonderful apple related produce like apple pies, dumplings, jars of jellies and mountains of apples to sort into bags and take away for a gold coin donation or suchlike.

Our hostess hadn't been before and I noticed she seemed disappointed. Good, that means it was OK for me to be disappointed as well.

That cheered us up no end and we all had some soup - no, no, no, not apple soup you silly reader you - it was pumpkin, vegetable and something else. The journalist without a note book's nightmare. What was that third soup. I can see it now, there, look, just floating in front of me out of reach ... scotch broth? ... chicken? ... tomato? .. sump oil? Ah, fuggit. I give up.

Advice to Hampden Apple Day organisers for next year (if there is one): try to do something interesting with apples or else call the day something else, like Apache Massacre Reenactment Day for that will have as much to do with apples as did last week's offering.

Curmudgeon signing off now.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Why I write

From an Interview with William Burroughs:

I met Alex [Alexander Trocchi] on a plane, going to the literary conference in Edinburgh in 1962. That was a conference organised by John Calder, who came over to Paris and persuaded me to go. We both got there and they handed us some money, you know, sort of spending money.

They handed us some money. Says it all really. And this, my friends, my chums, mes semblables, is what its all about. This is why we destroy our health breathing cold air in damp houses, develop hunches from bad postures over typewriters, keyboards, notebooks on knees in the low overhead light glow of aircraft passing over your house while you sleep well. For: ' ... you know, sort of spending money.'

I want the fame. I want to see the friend nudging her companion from the corner of my eye .. Isn't that? Yes, yes it is. And I'm gone. You saw me but you didn't get the autograph, you weren't quick enough.

But I will visit the sick, read passages to the halt, the lame and the demented. No charge. Speak inspirationally to young writers: My advice? Throw away your Strunk. (polite laughter)

But every now and again I wouldn't mind some spending money.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Hitchhiking in rural settings

Warrington, Otago

Yesterday, I did something I used to enjoy on a more regular basis - stick my thumb out. I last hitched three years ago and ended up catching a bus. I set off yesterday with no conscious memory of catching that bus. It only came to me just now as I began to compose.
I left my house. I began walking from my house to the main highway - I think it took fifteen minutes but I can't be sure. I never like hitching if there is any hint of ambiguity. By that I mean before you get to the main highway people don't know which way you're going so people don't stop. I decided because of the timing involved (I was already late) that I would exercise my thumb. I noticed that both my hands were purple. I think I'd better get my circulation checked. Anyway I smiled politely at a few cars that passed but no-one made any obliging stops to see where I was going.

I therefore ended up at the main south highway where the cars and lorries flash by at 100 kilometres per hour and greater (Surely not - we're a law abiding society - Ed).
Really, really late now and with nothing else to do but turn my head away from the violent winds generated by the vehicle type domestic and heavy industrial, I did a little dance and sang snatches of revivalist meeting songs - favoured by me, as indeed is a well written story-telling country and western song.
There I was singing 'fifty miles of elbow room' when a car stopped. The driver was only going to Waitati and in a fit of desperation I agreed to accept the lift. Given the time constraints I would argue for thanking the driver politely and wait for a lift that is actually going straight to the destination. The great City of Dunedin beckoned, waiting anxiously for my safe arrival. The driver was surprised when I told him I lived in Warrington. He'd never seen me before which would be unusual in a village this size. However he relaxed when I told him my address and a couple of people I knew there.

Waitati was a perfect hitching place. For a start you can only walk so far from the town limits, which means you don't end up strolling the entire distance to journey's end as one often does when one is a beginning hitcher. It is good when decisions are made for you like that. One glorious and only time in France I was a hitchhiker and regularly walked down motorways as I did not know what 'interdit' meant. Schoolboy French is useless in real world situations:

me: Bonjour. Une coca-cola s'il vous plait.
roadside vendor: Eh?
me: Une coca-cola s'il vous plait.
roadside vendor: Eh? (accompanied by a real Gallic shrug - talk about stereotypes)
me: Umm, une bouteille de coca-cola (point at commodity with Irish digit)
roadside vendor: Ah, oui - une cock (well that's what it sounded like)

Where was I? Oh yes, Waitati. I got a lift from Waitati straight to Dunedin. That is to say the driver wasn't just going 2K down the road to see his auntie. He was going right into Dunedin and that saved my slice of dead pig. A nice young chap he was, and Australian to boot who had nothing but good things to say about New Zealand.

The point of all this? Hitching can be fun and great exercise for the elderly.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Back to school

Never happier than when I'm studying formally. I have a good workload. Every Wednesday I will be at the Dunedin campus of Aoraki Polytech. We're up on the sixth (6th) floor of Radio House. Twelve neophytes hammering on the doors of New Zealand literature demanding entry:

Open up!

Friday, 27 February 2009

Joining Hal Spacejock's crew

I joined Hal Spacejock's Support Crew

I didn't pay anything,

I didn't sign anything,

and I didn't read the fine print.

Just like Hal!

No space pilot can exist in a vacuum (hah!), and behind every successful pilot there's a talented and dedicated support crew.

Hal Spacejock is one of the least successful space pilots in the history of the galaxy, and a worldwide support crew is needed just to get him off the ground.

What's in it for you?

| Join the team | - - - - - - - - - | Hal who? |

Hal Spacejock ... Après moi le wreckage

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Bowled over cockling

Yesterday we went cockling in Blueskin Bay with four young friends. None of us had cockled before and although Polly and I have seen people in the bay at low water we haven't really been close enough to see the technique.

When we walked down to the bay from our house we were nearly blown over by the southerly. True adventurer that I am I was ready to head back to the house and do some useful computer maintenance (note to self here - when we did get back home the computer was cheerfully rebooting itself. Second time this week. Charitably and hopefully I am putting it down to a sudden loss of power due to the strong wind. It doesn't take much to knock a Desktop over. It might also be an evil w*o*r*m - but I'm way too cool to get one of them.)

We poked around in the mud with bare toes and bare hands for a while finding tiny little representatives of the vast amounts of cockles apparently available to all and sundry. Group one - Polly, Jane and Billy headed off to where we usually see the infrequent gatherers - while Tom Heather and me hung around near where we had entered the bay. Heather wandered farther out and struck a vein of cockles. A whole council estate of them, tower blocks of the critters. A rapid visual comparison with what we had already gathered showed we had been grubbing in the nursery.

In no time at all we had the equivalent of one person's daily allowance. Cockle gathering here is restricted to 150 of the animals per person.

I'm from Ireland, Tom is from England - we both kept going 'wow' and making other noises of disbelief at the wealth of shellfish lolling about in the shallows. I think we'd be hard pressed to think of an equivalent site in the British Isles.

We took them home post haste and I can report that they were tasty eats. The last time I had cockles was from a company in Mersyside and they were pickled in a glass jar.

The wind has died down today.