Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Inspiration 6

In case you hadn't noticed I'm a football fan. This post was inevitable then - it is my tribute to the beautiful game. And right off the bat let me acknowledge two things - 1) that not many of you share my passion, even less are the Arsenal fans amongst you (just Keegan, Adam, Jade, Samantha and me I believe), at least one of you is a Spurs fan (well he's my dad so I have to still talk to him), Tina Ballerina is (it pains me to say it) a MUFC supporter, two of you are Liverpool fans (Tom and Lewis), and five of us are Rochdale devotees (Fran, Tom, Lewis, Christine and me). I think that's about it - if you want your affiliation listed on my blog you'll need to get in touch. The rest of you are either rugby minded (you can't escape it living in NZ) or don't care. And 2) I can't write about football like Nick Hornby (who can?). His blog is full of incredibly insightful things about football in general and Arsenal in particular and I want to be like that when I grow up.

My love affair with football began when I was four. I have no idea why. Maybe dad could fill in the details. Whatever the prompting - I stuffed a couple of pairs of socks into my boots and wandered off to Seymour Park in Royal Oak, Auckland. Eden FC was the club and I was a good player - I went through all the Auckland rep grades until it was time for Mt Albert Grammar to enjoy my cultured left and right foot. I was captain of the first eleven and played at that level for three years, ending up as a school-boy Under 19 Auckland rep. That sounds pretty impressive huh. I loved football and was a dedicated player but in truth if, by quirk of fate, I'd been playing in England I wouldn't have emerged on any scout's radar. After the University years I coached and played at New Plymouth Boys' High before going back to Eden FC where I played socially with some old friends (Grant and Graham King) for a few years. Since then it's been a steady decline as the knees took umbrage and the social football ended when I left England in 2007. I must say I really miss football injuries. That feeling late on Saturday and all day Sunday when shins or thighs or whatever ached is a delicious one.

Why Arsenal? In 1971 my grandfather (Harry Purdy) did a return to England tour with my grandmother (Christina). They stayed with relations - even met Christine and David and Irene I think - and in BnBs. One such in London was with an elderly Arsenal fan. 1970/1971 was, of course, the great Charlie George goal-against-Liverpool-lying-on-his-back-to-celebrate season. Harry brought me back oodles of football stuff but the one mystical artifact was a Daily Mail celebration magazine that contained that photo and...that was all it took. Actually that's not strictly true - the Arsenal name, the uniform, the Arsenal badge, the place - Highbury - sounded otherworldly, the pictures of George Graham and George Kennedy et al all combined to hook me and make me a gooner forever.

Why Brazil? Pretty much similar reasons really - the 1970 world cup put the seal on it. Football from another planet - Pele and his mates running rings around the world. They seemed to be, and were, so exotic. I remember watching a news report of Pele practising volleying the ball into the net. My memory is a tad shonky but I seem to recall that he never missed. The ball was being played through to him at about chest height - he'd volley it in the air while falling to the ground, get up, do it again and again. It was the most extraordinary thing! This clip is the closest I could find - the one I remember must be out there somewhere though.

Why Rochdale? I was always aware of our Rochdale roots. Harry, his brother, Eddie (Suzanne's g/dad), and father (William Nugent Purdy) emigrated to New Zealand when the two boys were young. They settled eventually in the house I knew in Mt Eden, Auckland - in Reimers Ave by Eden Park. At the front gate was a pergola type structure that had roses on it (and Ross and I when we visited). Etched into the plaster was the word 'Rochdene'. When I asked I found out the connection. Again when Harry/Christina returned from that UK tour in 1971 they brought back a name and address - Christine Purdy in Lancashire. I started writing to Christine - I think when she was still actually living in Rochdale (you can correct me Christine). And...she started writing back. The fact that Rochdale was always in the old 4th division and Arsenal always in the old 1st division helped and seemed right. I'd get my football magazines each week from grandma and follow their belated progress. NZ is always months behind the UK in things that matter - Mojo and football magazines (unless you buy the really expensive airfreighted versions) and Coronation St (we're over a year behind the UK) - so the news was always out of date but the pictures were great.

Why Zico and Paul Merson(both on the top left Inspirations column) and Denis Bergkamp? Pele was awe inspiring but I was too young in 1970 (age 12) to really appreciate his genius. Plus the TV didn't carry the games - this was still in the black and white early NZBC days of one channel that started at 5 pm and closed down in early evening. No way were they covering football from Brazil! So it wasn't until colour, two channels, more viewing time arrived and the 1982 world cup finals rolled around that I witnessed Falcao, Socrates (pictured) , Eder and Zico in action. Wow and double wow! Not just the names, not just the uniform, but the way they played with no concern for gravity, convention, respect was breathtaking. They even played New Zealand at those finals - we were in a group with Scotland and Brazil. I was living in Hastings during the winter term of '82, staying with a mad Scottish family while doing a teaching practice at Havelock North High School. It was the first world cup that I remember getting a huge amount of coverage. Paul Merson was the same kind of inspirational player to me - he'd hare off with the ball at his feet in very characteristic strides and there would usually be a flourish and total commitment to him that I loved. Thierry Henry was like that, Theo Walcott may be like that in years to come (please please please let him stay at Arsenal for a bit longer!). at the moment he's a genius in the cocoon stage.And finally Denis Bergkamp. Denis was just a joy - wouldn't it have been great to witness Cezanne and Monet doing their bit? Well Arsenal fans had Denis. Let me repeat - he was a joy!

Currently grooving to Evermore (a great song - The Light Surrounding You - is on high rotate). Okay - must dash - about 30 pages left of 'London' to read - bye fer now.

Love and peace - W

Friday, September 19, 2008

Update 32 and Inspiration 5

Hey everyone - it's been a funny old week (and a half) with not a lot of obvious highlights. But I suppose that's to be expected in a week where one of my teachers is arrested and charged with three counts of indecent assault on two of my students! I hope you weren't drinking a cup of coffee while reading that - it's probably all over the screen now! Why can I tell you that? Because he didn't get name suppression, nor did my school so if you google Stratford High School these days you'll get a news report I'm sure. This'll explain why the update's a tad delayed too - I've been otherwise preoccupied!

Anyway here I am finally...obviously it's been a testing week but there were highlights - Jacky and I visited Orewa last weekend and saw dad, Ross and the rest of the northern Purdys, as well as Adam and Keegan in Hamilton. Jade got some replacement cats for Ellie from the SPCA (names - Squeeze and Soda), fathers' day was the best ever - Jade gave me the boxed set of Seinfeld season 8, Samantha rang and the boys gave me CDs. Wahoo. Adam's two CDs were of him playing all the instruments and pretty snazzy it is too. Keegan's were of the Mats Morgan Band and Naked City. They were great too. Clearly both outfits are Zappa devotees of the Hot Rats era. Me too! In sport - Arsenal had a great win 4-0 at Blackburn then 3-1 away at Bolton; Manchester United (aka the scum) Spurs (aka old scum) both lost last weekend. Double wahey!! The All Blacks beat the aussies to take both the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations. I'm never that bothered with the tri-nations thing but I'd hate it if we lost the Bledisloe (for the puzzled - this is the annual competition between Australia and NZ). As for music - while in Auckland I visited Real Groovy and picked up some Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater CDs.

Nature watch: two more lambs born healthy yesterday but three lambs (triplets) didn't make it last week unfortunately. The weather is starting to get milder with less rain and the grass is shooting away. It's light now until after 6pm.

Inspiration time and boy did I need it this week. My inspiration for this post is ESCAPISM. Ever since I was young boy I played that silver ba...ahem...ever since I can remember I've escaped! For a start it was sport, books and comics, then TV and radio as well as sports, books and comics, then from about 1970 onwards increasingly it's been through film and music and yes I really am that shallow. At this stage of my life it's Seinfeld, Dream Theater, blogging and currently I'm reading Edward Rutherfurd's 'London'. 700 pages down and a hundred to go.

I've just had a think about things and realise that (duh) escapism isn't inspirational, it' While the above thoughts stand - Spiderman, Seinfeld etc don't exactly inspire me. I love them but I don't aspire to have spidey like powers or do stand-up. But music does continue to inspire me so instead I'll go with a picture of Lennon for the gallery on the left. The inspired bit comes from his example (of soul laid bare honesty, humanity, and coruscating talent). The luminous talent comes out obviously in his songs. Top 3 - 'Don't let me down' (as you know), 'Across the universe', and 'Yer blues'.

I'll also name check as inspirations my favourite writers - William Goldman (on the right) and Nick Hornby. I've still only ever written one fan letter in my life and it was some years ago and it was sent to William Goldman. His screenplays are great (Butch Cassidy, All the President's Men, Princess Bride and many more) but I love his novels and non-fiction books ever more. The amazing 'Adventures in the Screen Trade' and 'The Colour of Light' are worth seeking out. For Nick Hornby it was like finding my long lost twin brother- he was also born 1957, also is an Arsenal obsessive and also was an English teacher (okay that's where similarities end but you get the drift). He also writes like a dream. I read his stuff and instantly both get it and wish I'd written it. Give his blog (on the left) a try and you'll see what I mean. 'Fever Pitch' is in my top 5 all time and his 'About a Boy' was a great book and outrageously an even better film!!

Okay - it's Monday - another day in paradise. Have a good 'un, we have two weeks holiday coming after this week - that should fire me up!

Love and peace out - W

Monday, September 8, 2008

Update 31 + Inspiration 4

As chance would have it I’ve been stumbling over Henry David Thoreau this week (not literally!!). My calendar at home has a favourite quote for September from the great man – “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined”; and I happened by chance upon his weblog!! Thoreau is a source of inspiration for me and untold others via his book ‘Walden or, Life in the Woods’. And isn't that a great picture of the young man.

[Quick update for anyone confused – on July 4 1845 Thoreau, aged 28, picked up his axe and walked off into the woods around Walden Pond (near Concord, Massachusetts) and spent two years experiencing the simple life. The book is his recollection of the first year there when he built his cabin, grew crops to sustain himself, lived in the cabin, wandered around and er..pondered (ha ha!).]

The weblog is great (link is now on the left with Dilbert keeping him company) as it’s his journal. Every couple of days you get a new entry. It’s not like Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal which has its own charm but Thoreau’s tends to be shorter and more varied.

I loved Walden when I read it at University, like Wordsworth (and Bly, Whitman and Coleridge), Thoreau has a powerful impact on my imagination. Entering the wilderness, hacking out a simple existence, solitude, pondering, then re-entering society a changed being is a recurring theme. Buddha, Kung Fu’s Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) and Luke Skywalker’s training with Yoda on Dagobah all conform to the same pattern. Interesting!! When I was much younger I loved the Arthur Ransome 'Swallows and Amazons' books - a group of children having Huck Finn like adventures sounded pretty peachy keen to my mind.

The 'dreams' quote, of course, is brill. I love the imperatives 'Go' and 'live' - it's positive and forward moving, and order! And 'confidently' nails it! You've got to back yourself!! And 'imagination' - well John and Yoko didn't invent the concept. The quote formed part of the fabric of our decision in 2004 to Go! and Live! in England. It's forever a relevant challenge to us all right! Live the life you've imagined. Don't settle for anything less or as Joni Mitchell would have it - no regrets Coyote.

Other bits and pieces - This week we've had exams at school so it's back to marking for me - I've done the Board of Trustee scholarship exam marking and now hard at my Year 13. Exams eh - little tests that we sweat through or over that give us...what? Character? I'll never forget how physically sick I was before my school certificate exams (age 15). I failed them. Who knows what's good or bad.

The photos from the ball that were taken by our official photographer are in. She who must be obeyed scrubbs up pretty well huh!

Currently grooving to: a collection of Lennon covers put out recently by Amnesty International and Yoko (I guess) to support Darfur. Actually the cover says 'Make some noise, Save Darfur'. The connotation here of noise is music I presume. If only life (and death) was that simple, but the 2CD package is actually pretty good. Usual mixed bag, especially over 2 CD's, but the highlights are many - one is an amazing version of 'Mother' by wait for it...Christina Aguilera!!! I know!!! I'd put the CD on and a few tracks went by pleasantly enough (U2 and REM), then on comes this great great voice. It was so impressive I had to check out the track listing and nearly died of fright. Christina!! She really howls out the 'Mother - I had you, but you never had me' lines. Very, very impressive. Other standouts are The Cure's version of 'Love', Jackson Browne's 'oh My Love', The Raveonettes, 'One day at a time'... and by this time I'm revising my opinion of these cover version projects. A quick check of my collection - I'm be right back... - reveals that I own eleven complete CD's of either Lennon or Beatle covers compilations (apart from 'Save Darfur'). They are as follows: Lennon Covered (in 2 volumes); A Tribute to John Lennon; A tribute to John Lennon/ Working Class Hero; Why Don't We Do It In the Road (Beatles); Beatlemania (in 2 volumes) and four run throughs of complete albums (Revolver once, Abbey Rd once and Sgt Peppers twice). Mostly they contain one ot two okay versions and the horrors of yer Toad The Wet Sprockets or Generation Xs. But check out the Darfur package (hitting the bargain bins at a store near you as I type) and especially Christina.

Nature watch is taking a break this update - no more Daffodil updates coz they've peaked and now it's a slow decline. We had a fantastically sunny and warm weekend (the boys' football team won their last game and finished third in their league) which meant Jacky and I did a lot of yard work - moving lawns, chopping trees, picking up storm damage branches - that sort of thing. Jacky said 'enough already with the mountain pictures' so I think I've covered that too.

Have a groovy week.

Love and peace - W

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Update 30

Just got off the phone to dad and he asked where this week's update was! So here it is - it's been one of those weeks where days went by and when I look back not a lot was achieved, plus tragedy struck as our little cat 'Ellie' was killed up on the road outside our neighbour's house. She was a lovely little thing - Jade's cat really and we miss her a lot. She wasn't damaged externally when she died so that was a small mercy. Sallie was staying for the weekend to check out her horse and was invaluable when Ellie was discovered by our neighbour. Thanks Sallie.

Other noteworthy events - 1) I have had to swap the class that I teach at school. One of our staff has not returned from ACC leave and so I've taken over her Year 13 English class (A2 in the UK)and another staff member has taken my Year 11 class. This has meant a fast refamiliarity with King Lear! I had been doing a blog for my Year 11 Unit Standard class (GCSE in the UK) that was doing all internal standards (no exams). Now I've gone into rapid exam mode with the Y13s. Take a look at for details if you'd like. This preparation has taken a lot of my time as you can imagine, but the buzz with taking an exam class again is palpable. I'm full of palp!

2)The facebook thing continues to grow - more people added by the day. Many colleagues from King John School are getting in touch and this is magic. 3) The other exciting news of the week was Tom's email about the Silent Alliance vinyl single. How cool is that! Vinyl!! God bless you Tom. You (yes you - dust off the turntable) can order this via the link in the left column (listed as Silent Alliance web page). The Silent Alliance album is coming in November. Yay!!! 4) John McCain picked a much younger and way more photogenic politician as his running mate for the US presidential elections. I think I like Obama (or what he could be) and don't like McCain - but my feeling's a bit irrational. McCain's comparatively old, and in the mold (mould) of George dubya Bush. That makes his running mate (Sarah Palin) a heart beat away and that's a scary thing given she appears very inexperienced (but so's Obama). I do like the comparatively youthful JFK/Camelot inspired (I hope) Obama but like I say it's an irrational feeling. The whole US election is always surreal but having a candidate named Palin makes it even more Monty Pythonesque.

On facebook I joined a group of former Wakefield residents and that lead me to remember some great sunsets. So that's my inspiration for this week. The Wakefield scenes reminded me all about Lake Taupo generally and specifically one special sunset in particular. It featured in a poem I wrote (oh yeah you know it) in 1993 in Wakefield, NZ> Here it is:

File under 'Wonder'

The fat ol' winter sun
wasted no time
chasing down the pines
on the ridge above the house

The weak blue glow
lingered a while,
trying hard to poke some daylight
into the day.

But it couldn't compete
with the giant round Caltex sign,
opposite us,
which lit our front room
too harshly for our liking.

The pines on the ridge
took a while to give up mother sun,
but eventually they couldn't avoid
heaving the deep starry blueness
into their branches.

I watched for a while,
thinking about the far ago,
when I was glad of the sun's radiance
on a journey to Taupo, from Havelock North.

Driving towards a holiday weekend
at Te Rangiita, the car crested a hill
on the central plateau.
My mini and I heaved ourselves heavenward
at the wonderment
of the red streaked sky which
spilled out
in all directions
before us.

On the road into Taupo
this scene of kaliedescopic scarlet
pressed into my imagination
and stored itself in the
file labelled 'wonder'.

Lodged there until accessed tonight
when layer upon layer
of blue between the pine trees
decoded again that password.

Another time for regretting
the sun's exit lines,
and revelling in the starry deep blueness
above the Caltex sign.

At crucial times the wonders of my world
rip the breath right out of the body,
leave me gasping, oxygen deprived, cast,
then fill me again with the joy of living,

of horizons.

Rereading this I can hear again the echoes of Wordsworth, Honi Tuwhare, Bruce Springsteen (the Caltex sign) and Pink Floyd's Fat Ol' Sun. I like the poem tho and it does remind me of Wakefield and Taupo - a place of regeneration and inspiration. I love that drive around the lake with all the twisty corners, beaches, rocks and vast blue water below and beyond. A magic place!

I thought I'd add a portfolio of our mountain views to get you all inspired.

Daffodil watch - they have come into bloom really well in the last week (dry too amazingly). We're still having fires during the night but it's definitely getting warmer. Enjoy the week ahead wherever you are.

Currently grooving to Paris St Germain's 'Tourist' - the megaseller, and REM 'Reckoning' - the most perfect spring album ever. When Keegan was born we lived in the pink house in List St (New Plymouth) and I thrashed this album during the spring of '85 - especially the first song - Harborcoat. keegan was about a year old and loved this song!

Love and peace - w