Putting and taking…

Posted on Feb 22, 2017 | 1 comment


I don’t know about you but I can feel every muscle and bone in my body relaxing after two fine days in a row. The garden is drinking it in and I might get some tomatoes actually ripen on the vine.

This morning a friend and I finally got my house into order. It didn’t take as long as thinking about it. I had to wait till I finished a job because that entailed ignoring the books lying everywhere and when I finished on Monday I simply couldn’t be bothered.

Besides I’d plonked a table leg on my right foot which has been blue and is now going black. It is not sore now.  Work is a great thing. I didn’t have time to think about it very much. Apart from registering that I couldn’t wear the strap sandals I like and having to settle for some large old shoes I use for gardening, I hardly noticed it – I was more interested in what I had to.

Now, after a couple of hours putting and taking, the house is settling. I won’t say its preening but all is in place. My workroom is unnaturally tidy but that’s okay – it won’t last long. The Oxford and the Roget’s are lying tidily together on my work table and the little red jar of pens stands eager for someone, anyone to take out one of the pens.

The piano arrived last Thursday and looks right at home. The tuner came on Friday. I looked up piano tuners – Kapiti – and there she was, almost on my doorstep. She was great. Got busy with her box of tricks and tuned it. It’s a Sames. I looked them up and Sames pianos were made in the UK (Scotland perhaps) from about 1890 to 1930 and are nearly all uprights. They are usually reliable and restore well, so the information said. It might not be up to a recital (my good luck) but it will do me fine.

I am not ambitious. I’ll be happy if I can play We shall not be moved, or, We shall overcome. These songs usually make me cry, especially at funerals, but hopefully will not do that if I ever get to play them on the piano. The sight of a a pianist sobbing her way through We will not be moved, would not be a great look.


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The Piano

Posted on Feb 15, 2017 | 1 comment

I think that title might have been used before but that was then, this is now.

I have been busy looking at pianos, put in bids on one, got to $53 and then was outbid. I put in a bid on another and in fifty cent leaps got up to $3.50 and then Chris and Zuzu told me about a piano which was being given away.  I would have to pay cartage but I was going to have to pay cartage anyway.  They had seen it and Zuzu rang up to see if it was still available.  It was but Sunday was the only day the guy had off so I said I’d be in touch Monday.

Then I realised that I still had the bid in on the $3.50 one and if no-one outbid me I would have two pianos.  Now one will call for some putting and taking in my little sitting room and although I’m fairly good at making furniture work I might have met my match if I had two pianos to place in it.

I checked my phone constantly.  Someone, anyone, put in a fifty cent bid. Please.  Like, fifty cents is not much to ask, is it?

Then, hallelujah someone outbid me,  it went up to $4 and I was able to breathe again.  I’d be no good in the Futures market, folks, I couldn’t stand the strain.

So on Monday Zuzu rang up, it’s all arranged, the piano arrives on Thursday.  Everyone I’ve told, except for three people, has said, ‘But, where will you put it?’

These three did variations on, ‘How wonderful,’  ‘You’ll love it’, ‘Great idea,’ and all thought I would have no trouble rearranging the sitting room to accommodate it.  A mere bagatelle.

So will I put the dining table back in the dining room which I’m using as a workroom?  I’ll still have to use it as a workroom but use the table as a workspace as well as for eating meals.  If I do that I’ll have to put the table I’m currently using as a desk into the spare room.  One friend wants me to simply move things about in the sitting room so I have everything there that’s in the room right now and still accommodate the piano.  But I like a bit of space showing.

What I’ll do for a start is stick the dining table in the middle of the room and live with it for a while.  By the time I’ve tripped over it a few times on my way to the toilet at night, I’ll have more of an idea where to put it.

We live in exciting times…


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No, don’t play Misty for me – I’ll play it for you…

Posted on Feb 8, 2017 | Comments Off on No, don’t play Misty for me – I’ll play it for you…

I had my first ever piano lesson this morning.  I feel like someone has opened a door and invited me into a room where I’ve always wanted to be.

Margarette, who plays the piano, offered me some lessons when I saw her at a party in December and told her I wanted to learn to read music in 2017 as one of my New Year resolutions.

Today she gave me a book plus some advice on which little icons  mean what. Using the correct finger on the correct key is important because otherwise ‘you’ll run out of fingers.’

I haven’t got a piano yet – have been looking at keyboards but am more attracted to the real thing.  Am on the case so we’ll see what happens.

I have no ambition other than learning to read music and knowing what keys, fingers, I should be playing. So don’t expect a recital any day soon.

But – if I can learn to read music and play some simple tunes, I’ll be happy.

And – if you have a dream, no matter how out of sight or outrageous it might be, just tell everyone you meet you want to do it and someone will offer to help.

This is a short blog because I must go and do my practice.



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Happy times

Posted on Dec 21, 2016 | Comments Off on Happy times

Kia ora koutou, have a great time over Christmas and New Year.  Make your New Year Resolutions – and don’t worry if you can’t keep them exactly.  My resolutions are to learn to read music (about time) and to write a crime novel.   I have to get my memoir up to scratch by January 31 but I like that sort of job.  So happily (or otherwise) occupied.  Whenever I use the word otherwise I think of Jane Kenyon and her poem, Otherwise.  Look it up.

In the meantime, here’s my recipe for Anzac Biscuits – among all the cream and chocolate of Christmas these are a great down to earth bite.  This particular recipe was given to me by Ella McLeod who was in the same ward in Hutt Hospital when I came to from that first breast cancer op 18 years ago.  We became friends and  she discovered I taught  Your Life, Your Story workshops.  She wanted to write her memoir for family and frtiends and she did and it’s on my shelf.

I discovered she made absolutely delicious Anzac biscuits.  I had never quite got them right and now I never (or hardly ever) have a failure.  It’s the splash of boiling water that does it.  When I look through the pages of my stained and untidy recipe book there are so many recipes which have been given to me by friends and family members – a few I’ve copied from magazines but in the main this is a record of cooks and bakers who happened to be friends or a family member.  Stained, marked, looking just a little bit the worse for wear, filled with names of people I know, or knew, or never knew because they were dead when I was given their recipe, this book is the one I turn to at this time of the year.

Anzac Biscuits (Ella’s recipe)

Set oven to 180C
Prepare trays


115 grams butter melted with 2T Golden Syrup
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup coconut
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Baking Soda

When mixed add a splash of boiling water to make the mixture tacky.
Put teaspoonfuls on tray. Groove with fork if you like. Bake around 25-30 minutes until nicely browned. Put on rack until cool then store in airtight container.

Occasionally I add a cup of raisins to the mix which makes a slightly more chewier texture.

Have a great Christmas time and whether you’re in the company of friends and/or whanau, or sitting alone in a room or garden, may 2017 bring you everything your heart desires.  Or maybe three-quarters of it?

Ma te wa,


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Politics on Main Street

Posted on Dec 14, 2016 | Comments Off on Politics on Main Street

‘That’ll be ten dollars and twenty cents, Sir.’

‘But they’re on special.’

‘Only if you have your card, Sir.’

‘I don’t believe in cards.’

The checkout operator and I look at each other.  She’s about a hundred years younger than me but we are as one in our opinion of this comment.

‘Use mine,’ I pushed my card along the counter.

He frowned.  ‘Isn’t that cheating?’

I took my card back.  We waited. Then he sighed deeply..’Okay thanks.’

I was very tempted but in the interests of the queue I pushed the card back.  He said, ‘John Key’s not the first you know..since Gareth threw his hat in the ring they’re scattering like flies…Cunliffe, Shearer… and I hear McCully’s on the way.  There’ll be others.’

‘Who’s Gareth?’ said the checkout operator.

The guy frowned, shook his head, and walked off.

‘Don’t get mixed up with the Gareth who’s a greenie,’ I said, ‘or the Gareth who composes music, this is the one who’s got lots of money and rides a motor-bike.’

‘So like Key but rides a motor-bike?’

‘Well this Gareth thinks cats should be allowed to die out – I don’t know how John feels about them.’

‘So does he ride a Harley?  Which gang does he ride for? That’ll be forty-two dollars, sixty cents thanks. I’ll look him up. Have a nice day.’

‘Yes but Phil Goff rides a motor-bike,’ someone on the path leading to the library said as I came along.  ‘And he’s one of the ones that left,’ someone else pointed out.  Then she said, ‘Hey, what do you reckon?  Will he hold a referendum on legalising cannabis?’

“if he’s got any sense,’ someone else said.  ‘I’m told he’s into the environment, leafy green things, all that stuff.’

‘Yeah but motor-bikes and cannabis,’ said someone doubtfully.

There was a knot of people on the footpath outside the Post Office.  ‘Did you hear?’ A guy sitting on a mobility scooter said, ‘this chap called Gareth and Phil Goff are going to have a race and whoever wins gets to be PM.’

‘Really?’ said a woman buying a raffle ticket for a trailer-load of groceries, ‘I thought Gareth was against using petrol-driven vehicles?’

‘That’s a different Gareth,’ said the man on the mobility scooter, ‘this is the one who writes music.’

‘Nah,’ said a passing college kid, ‘it’s the one who wants to get rid of cats.’

‘Jesus,’ said the man on the mobility scooter, ‘he needn’t think he’s getting his hands on my Ginger.’

Down by the pub a man was writing on the notice board.  ‘Meeting here tonight to discuss this rooster called Gareth,’ he said to me.  ‘Apparently he’s going to legalise cannabis and feed it to cats.  Bit of a waste I reckon. You coming?’

‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘previous engagement.’

As I turned into my drive I heard someone over the fence at Nga PuraPura, ‘All I’m saying,’ he said, ‘is it’s beyond a coincidence.  That’s all.’  He waited a bit and as I disappeared round the corner of my house I heard him say, ‘Sam Lotu-Liga?  Has he?  Really?  One of my kids wants to learn to ride a motor-bike.  Maybe I better let him.’













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On the other hand…

Posted on Dec 7, 2016 | 1 comment

I was out in the garden when a giant black Hillux pulled up.  A woman got out  holding some scissors high in her hand much like the original Crusaders held the giant cross when they marched into Constantinople.

‘What are you doing?’  I said.  Ask a silly question why don’t you, Renée?

‘My mother died seventeen years ago,’ she said, ‘so every year on the anniversary of her death I put a vase of beautiful roses on her table.’

‘They’re my roses,’ I said.

‘Yes but you’ve got plenty.’

‘Did you think of asking?’ I said.

She looked astonished.  It was very well done.  Probably got A+ in Drama Class.  ‘But they’re hanging over the fence,’ she said.

‘Bugger off,’ I said.  ‘Next time ask.’

A bit rude.  And I didn’t believe her story about her mother – not at all.  It was all she could think up when I  challenged her.  She was probably going to take them to someone and say they were from her own garden.  Grump, grump, grump.

A little kid came and knocked on the door about a month ago and said could she please have a few flowers to make a bouquet for the teacher.  All the kids were bringing a few and they were going to make a big bunch and they’d all made cards.  ‘Five would be good,’ she said.

So I took her round and she chose the flowers and I cut them and after I’d wrapped them up in some tissue, she said, ‘Thank you very much, you’ve been very kind.’   I heard her mother’s voice in those words and probably her grandmother’s.

My garden in front of my little house is small and crammed with roses, irises, love-in-a-mist, candytuft, geums, borage, nasturtiums, sweet peas, swan plants and lots of others.  It is perhaps a little over-exuberant for such a small plot.  It takes work to keep it happy.  There’s a fence between it and the footpath but you can’t see the fence much at the moment because roses are all over it.  Nearly everyone who goes past says hello or Kia ora when they see me.  They stop and sniff my flowers, say what a nice day it is. Some take photos.  ‘Just to show my Mum,’ they’ll sing out, or ‘Want to show my partner the colour.’

There’s a blind woman who goes for a walk every day and if I’m out there I’ll call out so she knows I’m around. ‘Hello Renée,’ she says, ‘is David there?’  This is because she came past one day and said, ‘Who’s with you?’ And I said, “David, my son, David.’

So then they talked for a bit then another day Tim was just leaving and I said, ‘Hi, this is Tim, another son.’ So she talked to Tim for a while.’  And now she asks after him as well.  One day she heard a man’s voice in the garden and said, ‘Who’s that?  Is that you David?  Tim?’

He said, ‘Not it’s the young spunky chap from the Hardware shop,’ and he laughed to show it was a joke and she laughed too.

Sometimes people come to the fence and say, ‘You’re Renée aren’t you.’  I never know whether to say yes or say, ‘No I’m her sister, Renée’s in Dubrovnik at the moment. Can I take a message?’  Usually I say yes.  And then they remind me of something I’ve written that spoke to them and then, then, they  tell me their story and I listen and think what arses we humans are to each other at times.  How much does it take to be kind?

I’m a fine one to talk.  I refused to give that woman some roses.  Would it have hurt me?  Even though she lied?  No.  The truth is I got snotty because she didn’t ask properly.  Also coming prepared with the scissors was a little bit off.  Or a hell of a lot off.

I thought of that fourteen-year-old boy, just last week, who came along, looked around, didn’t see me working at the kitchen bench which has windows that face the road.  What’s he up to?  I watched him search gently through the  Blackberry Nip buds, choose one, gave a quick snip with his fingers, turn away and as a girl around his age came along he handed her the rose.  She held it to her nose, smiled at him and they walked off together.  Instead of rushing out and demanding to know why he stole my rose, I just  stood by the bench and hoped like hell life went well for them and that this first tentative romantic gesture would be a lovely memory as they went their separate ways.

I think, all appearances to the contrary, I must be a romantic at heart.  Probably superficial and shallow too – I mean I like reading books that make me laugh?  Whatever the genre?  And – I’ve used the same cheap shampoo for ten years because it’s called Drama Clean?

And because it was the scissors, darlings, it was the scissors




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Seething with apocalyptic intent…

Posted on Dec 3, 2016 | Comments Off on Seething with apocalyptic intent…

The other day a guy leaned over the fence and said to me, ‘Wanna go to a dance?’
‘I don’t bat for your team,’ I said and continued digging.
‘I’m not looking for a night of hot sex,’ he said, ‘I just want to dance with someone who knows how to dance.’
I laughed so much I had to hold onto the spade so I wouldn’t fall over.

I fell over on the path about three months ago. There was nothing on the path I could have tripped on, I just fell. I landed heavily. Then realised there was no-one around. All the adults, schoolchildren, posties, couriers, who usually pass by in droves had gone to ground. There were no neighbours in sight. If I was going to get up I would have to do it by myself. I felt like I’d broken something but the only way to find that out for sure was to get up. I slid a little further down the path where there was a stake in the garden propping up a bush rose called Iceberg Burgundy.

Lots of fucks and shits later I was on my knees and then with a giant haul that made me yell Jesus Shit, I was up. I stood hanging onto the stake until I started breathing again then very slowly hobbled inside. So now I don’t garden unless I have the spade which is a good supporter and has the benefit of a handle I can grab if I think I’m going to fall when overcome by laughter. Or any other time.

According to The Spinoff, the Guardian called Margaret Drabble’s Dark Flood Rises, a ‘quiet meditation on old age’ and goes on to say that it ‘seethes with apocalyptic intent’.

I’m not sure what ‘apocalyptic intent’ means but it sounds just like the kind of book that will send the literary community into a frenzy, possibly of apocalyptic intent, probably because they will pretend they understand what it means – they won’t read the book of course – why would they they read the book?  They’ve read The Spinoff’’s quote of what the Guardian said.  The Spinoff will probably join in this frenzy of apocalyptic intent and call it The Spinoff Best Book of their Best Books of 2016.   Or maybe they’ll just seethe etc etc…

I think Margaret Drabble’s bloody lucky to have time for quiet meditations about anything let alone old age. Old age is shit and anyone who tells you different is lying.

Old age is shit because everyone moans about me. They blame me for using up all the Health dollars, they blame me for getting the pension, or if you’re a National Party voter, Government Superannuation. Everyone blames me for having the temerity to think I earned it and when I say I still pay tax and I still pay ACC because I’m still Self-Employed’ they say anyone at my age shouldn’t be working and taking a job away from a younger more deserving person. This is probably when I have a wee seethe with murderous intent instead of apocalyptic.

There are lots of experts who know everything about being old even though they’re not. They get interviewed on RNZ. I’ve learned to turn the damn thing off when they start because I don’t want to have a high blood pressure event. This is what it was called when I went to Hospital a few years ago with blood pressure 212 over something because the tablets didn’t suit me. Never mind. We’ll try some other tablets.  We don’t want you to have another event do we?

I’d like to still walk properly and not get aches and pains, not have had cancer and not have to take even more tablets and be a Drain on the Health System but I didn’t get asked, OK?

Now I looked at the guy over the fence, thought of us both falling over on the floor at the RSA and shook my head. He shrugged philosophically. “Love your garden,’ he said, and walked on.

Whoever said Old Age is not for Sissies didn’t add that it’s not for Brave people either. Old age is not a choice anyone would make – it just happens because you don’t die yet.





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December 1 and no wind – hallelujah…

Posted on Dec 2, 2016 | Comments Off on December 1 and no wind – hallelujah…

November had ended for this year.  And so have the patches.  I think my memoir is ready to be edited/bits added/some deleted/additions/who knows.  For the moment they are not available to be read.

It is the month of the year when annoying things happen.  Equinoctial gales, aches and pains, all happen in November.  Today December 1 has been a beautiful sunny day, no wind, and Miriam came and sorted out some things on the blog (and the computer), and we’ve organised a new look which will happen at some stage soon.

The garden is a little over-exuberant for this small space but I will get out tomorrow morning and see what needs to be done.  I am very pleased with the tomatoes this season.  Unlike last year, when they all languished and drooped and finally gave up the ghost (is this from Hamlet or Macbeth?), this year they are hardy and luxuriant and although the ones in pots had to be moved out of the wind to stand crouched against the house, they look good.  My back’s not so resilient.  But I love going to bed early and reading so all good.

I’ve had 9 strawberries so far and more to come.  The celery has decided to be lively, and the roses and irises are out in force.  There are so many Monarchs this year because last year lots of swan plant seeds got thrown in and have kept  growing and now every day there are at least two monarchs flirting around the Granny’s Bonnets or the Borage.

A beautiful evening and very quiet here in Otaki.  I think everyone (well nearly) is sitting rejoicing that November is over – the winds have gone – let the fun begin.


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Time out

Posted on Jul 22, 2015 | Comments Off on Time out

Kia ora everyone, I’m taking a couple of weeks off, so will be with you again in August, Renée

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Bring on the baking soda

Posted on Jul 15, 2015 | Comments Off on Bring on the baking soda

There’s a lot of repeating going on.  The Labour Party is copying NZ First which copied the attitudes of 19th century White New Zealanders to Chinese goldminers.  

Then they were called The Yellow Peril, now they’re called Overseas buyers.  

Easier to blame the ones with Chinese names for Auckland’s over-heated housing market.   Beats blaming the Auckland City Council’s housing strategy.  

And Chinese are easier to spot.  Who cares if their great-great grandparents settled here and successive generations have lived here, paid taxes, have done so for generations, and that they buy houses too?  

If overseas buyers who happen to be Chinese are buying up large in the housing market, is it right that because of their actions, small kids who were born here, just like their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are subjected to the kind of bullying that their great-grandparents, grandparents, parents were subjected to?  

If I asked anyone they would say no of course it’s not right and of course they wouldn’t do anything that would lead to that kind of behaviour.  But I’ve never met anyone who says they voted for John Key either. 






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That’s a good question

Posted on Jul 8, 2015 | Comments Off on That’s a good question

Turn on the radio, go online, watch (if you have the stamina) TV, and count how many times someone being interviewed says, ‘That’s a good question.’  

Which means, ‘thank god, I can answer this and show off my erudite knowledge of the market, farming, or reproductive  advances in flies.   Or I might not even answer it all especially if it’s about housing or Christchurch.  

It’s become a matter of honour to say it at least once in every interview.  Along with starting nearly every sentence with So.

‘So all I said was take your bloody hand off my bloody gate in the nicest possible way and he took offence.  Now I’m a peaceable man…’

‘So why then did you grab your shovel and hit him with it?’

‘So that’s a good question.’

‘So do you have an answer?’

‘That’s a good question. Did I know he was from IRD?’

‘That’s a good question.  Did you?’

‘So he shoved a card at me which said IRD but anyone can do that, can’t they?’

‘Good question.  So what is the outcome?  Technically this was assault wasn’t it?’

‘Now that’s a very good question.’






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A new political party

Posted on Jun 30, 2015 | Comments Off on A new political party

Hello, my name is Colin, I want to start a new political party and I thought I’d run my ideas past you in case you’d like to join.

I have plenty of money and I have a track record so I will be the one who stands for parliament and chairs the board.  I didn’t see why I should have a board, more trouble than they’re worth I thought, but my legal advisers, to whom I pay heaps as well as sending them a blog and a new photo of me every day for a treat,  advised me that having a board is a good look.  ‘A good look, Colin,’ they said.

I will call my political party, Fresh Ultra-Konservative party, or FUK, for short.  I think this will attract the younger voters.

I am expecting that a lot of you will want to join FUK but warn you that I will be running a few tests on prospective FUKers.

You will have to swear that you are pure of heart and pure-minded, that you are good, that you will never have sex with your Manager and that if by chance, in a moment of inattention you do, you will pay said Manager a goodly sum on the understanding they will never say a word.  If you have never ever had sex in your life that would count in your favour.  You would be inducted as a Board member by me  but you will have to sign a vow of silence.

All FUKers must enjoy wearing suits and rolling round in the grass, especially in the spring when the daffodils are out and the dear little calves and sheep are frisking and shitting everywhere.  We can discuss important issues about whether the earth is round or flat and what the FUK it matters because I’ve got lots of money and if you get a load of shit all over your good suit when we’re discussing these weighty matters, I will pay for the dry cleaning.  The side effect will be that you will get used to rolling in shit when you’re with me but of course you will have to sign a piece of paper promising never to talk about this.

The FUK party will uphold values, I haven’t exactly decided what they are yet except for one important one.  All FUKers must swear to support their leader, Me.  There will be no drinking or sex or anything, we are not that kind of party.  Yes of course I can do it because I formed this party, so what I say goes.  And if anyone disagrees I will just give them a few thou and ask them to sign a vow of silence.

I don’t have to swear to uphold anything because I formed the  Party and I have a lot of money, so it’s only fair. 

I have to warn you that at the moment I don’t have any office staff or indeed an office, because I have paid everyone off and they have signed a vow of silence.  

But if you think you’d like to be a FUKer, that this party is for you then write to me at the Fresh Ultra Conservative (FUK), PO Box, Colin Rules, and we can start the process.

Yours, (see you in the Sauna),




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That old magic…

Posted on Jun 24, 2015 | Comments Off on That old magic…

Kia ora koutou,

This last weekend of heavy rain, wind, power outages, flooding, made me remember all over again what a great pleasurable yummy thing reading is.  

Outside was vile, I didn’t know if the power would go out or not.  The first month I lived here there was a similar storm and the power was off for two and a half days.  This time I didn’t have to wrap myself up in rugs, light the candles, but I turned to the same source of comfort.  

Immediately the darkness, the cold, the howl of the wind, gave way to some very old friends which I have on my iPad library.   Me and AS Byatt (see her eulogy for Georgette Heyer) and thousands and thousands of others have read away their daily problems, their heartaches and sorrows,  their pains and tribulations, by losing themselves between once the covers of one of her Regency novels.  One suspends disbelief and simply sinks into the story and admires the humour in the writing.  When the gale is singing opera,  when thunder and lightning are rock and rolling,  I don’t want to read about the problems of the world.   I know about the problems of the world.  When I’m worried that the lights and power are going to go out I want to go into a world that is definitely not founded in reality, a world which makes me laugh, makes me read on, and where I know, unlike real life, is sure to give me a happy ending where the lights, albeit lamps and lanterns, go on when they’re lit.  

I dipped into Harvey McQueen’s This Piece of Earth for the 50th time.  I read parts of Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, for the 1000th time, I read some poems in Janis Freegard’s Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus that I particularly like, I read Antigone  and Macbeth (the weather was a perfect backdrop), and on and on I went, dipping and reading, reading and dipping, that old magic cast its spell. 

The power didn’t go off at my place this time but what the storm did was remind me yet again of the rush of pleasure, the awe, the happiness that was like nothing else I knew when I realised for the first time ever that stories could go on for the whole length of a book.  I was eight or nine.  Up till then I’d only read short stories.   Yes, I dipped into Emily of New Moon this weekend too.


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Outside the square…

Posted on Jun 17, 2015 | Comments Off on Outside the square…


I’ve always found that the simple approach is best so I’ve got a couple of ideas  you might be interested in.  

I’d like to share them with you. 

So the government is planning to try something called Social Bonds with people who suffer from mental illness?  Of course you can go through the motions and ask them if they consent but don’t be too worried if they say no.  They probably don’t understand, given their condition,  that this is a trial, hadn’t been done before, no-one knows whether it will work or not, so they should seize the opportunity with both hands.  And look at it this way – they’ll be heroes because this is one experiment that doesn’t involve four-legged animals.  It’s a act of mercy really.  Someone just needs to sit down and talk to them, man to man.  ‘Look we’ve got this idea, not sure it’ll work, but y’know, that old Number 8 mentality?  Well, might as well give it a go.  What do you reckon, mate? You on?’

Another thing – people are bleating on and on about the housing problem but there’s no problem.  Plenty of room for everyone.  There are hundreds of garages sitting idle that could be utilised.  You could get the Resource Consent wallahs on your side, cut the land around the garage away from the rest of the section, so there’s a bit of grass around the edges for the kids and if you want to look at trees and gardens you can just about see mine over the high fence I’ve put in for privacy.  

Think about it – you could pour a path with some quick set cement, stick a couple of power points in the garage, get a hose and run it from the outside tap of the house on the rest of the section to the garage, divide the garage into rooms, say two bedrooms and a sitting/dining/kitchen area, stick a little lean-to on the side for the washing machine and the shower, and Bob’s your uncle. They could be sold for a hundred and fifty thou, or even two hundred and fifty if there’s a window with a view of the sea.  Think of the empty garages up and down this country just begging to be used.  Problem solved.

 Just need to think outside the square.









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What fresh hell is this?

Posted on May 27, 2015 | Comments Off on What fresh hell is this?

Storm Leaves

She met someone else
Tried to fight it

Last night, she’s so sorry,
They went too far.
She’s very upset
She loves me really

She had to tell me
We agreed we’d be honest

I don’t say don’t go
I don’t say let’s discuss this
I don’t say please
I’m a block of pounamu
In very deep water
Just go, I say. Now.


I put the sheets
crazy patchwork quilt
track shoe
dirty socks
in the old drum
pour petrol
chuck a match

I find the Allen key
break up the bed
lug the remains
to the drum

the room is empty of her.

my mother
on my shoulder
I polish
scrub wipe
rub sweep
her out of here

I stand in the shower
for an hour
fuck the environment
new clothes
new shoes
new bottle
I’m clean.

I’m okay.
I’m okay
I’m okay

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The plot thickens…

Posted on May 20, 2015 | Comments Off on The plot thickens…


Maine Coon Cats are (allegedly) cuddly
but Gabriel missed that gene. He’s a
medium –size tiger in a cat’s body, sly,
cunning, thinks he’s smarter than me.
He’s right.

How he got to Levin is his secret
but while I’m sniffing that teal shirt
he ducks out from behind a shop
door and wiggles his ears in a way
that says, Gotcha.

I shout, ‘There’s a Maine Coon Cat
called Gabriel in your shop’. I charge
over to the window but – you’ve guessed it –
big shit Gabriel has scarpered. The woman says
now she’s heard everything.

‘Get back home Gabe,’ I yell.  I feel a fool
Not unusual. To hell with him.  I only look
for Gabe in the mornings. Clint is afternoons.
Gabe’s owner has offered a large reward
plus a good retainer. I’m broke.

Maine Coot Cats are large and friendly
the online site says but there’s a comment
from someone who says my Coon Cat
Caesar is snarly, bit my hand and ate my
canary. I showed him the door.

Enough.  Bugger Caesar. Bugger Gabe. 
Think of Clint. Where do you hide a body?
A river? The sea? Why does the shirt
smell of Little Sister’s perfume? Why
was it in the opshop?

Little Sister likes opshops. She likes
The opshops along the Coast. She never
buys new. She buys a dress or shirt
wears them for a few months then
recycles them.

Has she recycled Clint? Or simply
his shirt? Where the hell is Gabe? I need
the money. His owner says he can’t live
without Gabe.  Gabe’s his life. Jaysus.
But beggars can’t be choosers.

Then –
something moves on the back seat…


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He has to be somewhere…

Posted on May 13, 2015 | Comments Off on He has to be somewhere…

‘Man’s shirt?  Over here, dear.’

It’s teal, button-up, long sleeves
he probably rolled up in the heat.
Hangs on a black coat hanger. 
Three dollars, fifty.

Been to every opshop on the coast
today went a little bit north
and there it is. Like that Old
Wife said, If at first etc etc

‘Nice cotton,’ the woman says.
I nod. ‘Good in the hot weather.’
Not good for Clint though –
but I don’t say that.

She says, ’Have a nice day.’
In the car I open the plastic bag
and sniff. Just to be sure.  Old Spice?
I sniff again. Trouble all right.

Little Sister trouble? 


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Posted on May 13, 2015 | Comments Off on Focus

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The beginning of something (continued)…

Posted on May 6, 2015 | Comments Off on The beginning of something (continued)…


He’s tall and he loves himself
He’s Junior Whip for the Domino Party
He’s the coming man, he’s on the way up
Wherever up is only he knows

He’s popular, he smiles a lot, runs.
Worked for others, it’ll work for him.
He’s put a few noses out of joint –
he’s married but not to my sister

It’s only a matter of time, he says.
His wife doesn’t understand him.
He and my sister are soul mates.
They are meant for each other.

The only time we met he said,
Hey, you’re the lesbian sister, right?
Your sister says you do plumbing.
He smiled like it was really funny.

I’d like to do something drastic to his
U-bend but he knows he’s safe, my
sister has swallowed him, hook, line
and sinker. My destiny, she says.

Now she sobs on my shoulder,
something’s wrong, he promised me 
he promised – our anniversary – please –
you find things so you find him – now.

Um, I say, I find missing cats, dogs
the occasional parrot who’s gone fly-bys.
Men, I say, are so not my area of expertise.
You’re my sister, she says, you have to.

I look around inside, outside, in her garage.
She’s furious – what the hell am I doing?
First rule, I say, a cat or dog goes missing?
Look for clues or for a body close to home.

He’s not at his other home, he’s not at work,
his Honda’s still parked in the work carpark,
his secretary has not seen him since Monday.
It’s now Wednesday. Odd for a Junior Whip.

You have to find him, my sister’s in tears, please
please, you’re my sister, you have to find him.
I found your red tractor. Hello? I was five? Hated
red tractors. Lost it on purpose. Wanted Yellow.

Mornings I’m looking for Gabriel, big dog-size
Maine Coon Cat, missing from Otaki. Paying job.
Look for Clint afternoons, OK? Angel, she says.
Big sister wrong again.


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The beginning of something…

Posted on Apr 29, 2015 | Comments Off on The beginning of something…

Last Wednesday


She nags, what I should read

what I should wear, eat, do

but when she wants something

she cries on the phone – ‘He’s

gone – help me help me.’


‘OK – we’ll sort it – 30 minutes.’

Big sister, little sister, OK?

She hates my car because

it’s purple, she hates my ‘lifestyle’

it’s purple too.


Today she won’t mind. 

Today I’m her big sister.

Today she’ll cry on my shoulder

she won’t mention my hair, my pink

lamé top, ‘those damn jeans’.


She won’t say ‘For Christ’s

sake – haven’t you got

anything else to wear?’

and ‘that glittery lipstick

went out with Punk.’


I never told her Punk had

not gone out.  Punk was alive

and well and living at my place. 

I won’t say, ‘That guy’s trouble, 

smell it a mile away.’


I won’t say it today

because I already said it. 

I won’t say that either.


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