Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life is good, with love it's better (Train)

We had a partial reunion of the clan this weekend just past. Samantha came up from Wellington, Jade from Palmerston North and Adam (with Ashley) from Auckland. Keegan has just started a new job at TV 3 and sadly couldn't complete the picture.

Fanfa is off to San Francisco for a few months next week to reunite with Jesse; Adam and Ashley head to Japan for a year next month, so it was a chance, when all the work schedules finally cleared, to catch up and say safe journeys to each other.

Adam, Jade, Fanfa, SWMBO and me

The news of Ali and Sully's new baby filtered through via Facebook. Congratulations to team O'Sullivan!!

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. Graham Nugent Purdy's birthday on the 26th. Jacky and I went to a place he would have loved for a lunch to remember him. It's a lovingly restored cafe in Otane. A Diana Krall CD was even playing as we had lunch. Only us and some passing trade. Felt kinda special.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

You better watch out there may be dogs about (Pink Floyd)

I wrote in the previous post that we recently welcomed Coronation Street back into our lives and that theme has continued with the return of Dookie from Fanfa's care in Wellington. She's off to the city by the bay in a few weeks time and Jade did the mission of mercy trip to bring the Dookster back to the farm.

The menagerie is back to full strength. Time for a round up of the whole crew.

Bazie and Dookie





and the sheep 

( plus the 2 rams who are cooling their heals in a different paddock as we await the lambs)

Speaking of expectant mothers...I think she's carrying a few.

Rest assured I will post pictures of the newbie lambs when they arrive (and survive - unfortunately I've had to bury a couple already).

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nothing's changed I still love you, oh, I still love you (The Smiths)

SWMBO and I were reacquainted with some old friends this week – the cast of Coronation Street.
It's been a while because while we were in the UAE we decided not to watch it – mainly because we'd come from NZ where the Street is about 2 years behind the new episodes shown in the UK and these were what they were showing on our TV in the sandpit. NZ is so far behind because it appears pretty much each night in the UK but only 3 times a week here. You do the mathematics!
We decided to wait until we got back to Nu Zild before re-establishing contact and then, once back, we forgot about TV…
…until last week. The train's derailment and subsequent destruction of the street episodes finally appeared on TV One's schedule. Now we're back on…um…track.
Last week I also enjoyed a TV special 50th year celebration thing of The Street. It was a viewers' choice type list of 50 favourite Corrie scenes. SWMBO went to bed – unbelievable but true. It was fantastic, I loved it as it brought back so many memories.
Corrie became part of the fabric of my life back in 1967. My mum watched it and loved it and I started to get involved in the serial as well, probably because it was on TV – not much to choose from on NZ sixties TV. My dad hated it. My brother was never committed to it either.
Anyway – I have stuck with it, although not constantly – there have been a few gaps over the years – but it's easy to pick up new characters along the way and there are always familiar regulars.
Albert Tatlock in the Rovers' Return
Apart from the fantastically funny scripts, the writers have consistently drawn some amazingly iconoclastic characters. Some of my favourites over the years have been Albert Tatlock, Annie and Jack Walker, Hilda Ogden of course, Reg Holdsworth, Blanche Hunt, and Elsie Tanner.  
Only Blanche is currently part of the cast (I think) which maybe goes some way to explain the lack of loyalty over the last couple of years.

Never mind – I'm back now. Two years behind the UK, and again looking forward to the next episode and that familiar theme tune whilst supping on a milk stout..  
Love/peace and tarrah chuck - Wozza

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oh oh, we've created a monster (Plus Special Guests)

Possible picture of Longinus who was
 also the patron saint of cricket umpires
 Having just finished three unrewarding books in a row I was reminded of some stuff by Longinus written a wee while ago - mid first century BC to be precise.

But first the books, all borrowed from Waipukurau's library last week: Joe Bennett Where Underpants Come From; Eric Clapton The Autobiography and some fiction, The Shadow In The River, by a Norwegian guy - Frode Grytten. I've provided the titles so that you can avoid them; I won't dignify them by providing a dust jacket image.

I read them quickly and in the process broke the habit of a lifetime: if I'm not hooked by page 15 forget it. This is similar to the golden rule for movies - the quality decision is by the 15 minute mark.

So what was wrong with them?

Eric's attempt at his life story is just plain boring. I have a lot of Cream, Blind Faith, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, and solo Clapton music on my shelves and he's a very talented guitarist (in my top 20 I'd think) and an okay singer given the right material, so I have nothing against him as such.

The early chapters are the best but we are soon in the booze and drugs and who I slept with chapters and it's all so ho hum and endless as one tour to somewhere replaces another to somewhere else. One chapter is even called 'Lost Years'. Really?

Here's a bit plucked at random:
By the time we got to the hotel in New York, the drugs were starting to wear off. As promised, however, there was a good supply of stuff waiting in my room.

Eric's speaking voice in interviews is boring usually and that voice is consistently delivered through three and a half hundred pages. Not that I could swear on a bible that I read them all. My life is precious to me.What the hell the divine Pattie Harrison saw in him is beyond me.

All in all he comes across as a shallow man who has drifted through a life. I can't help contrast the book with Keef Richard's Life. Unlike Eric and Ronnie Woods' autobiographies Keef had me glued to every page. I didn't want the story to end! The guy's indestructable; I'm sure he'll be around for a while yet so hopefully he comes up with Life Part 2.

Then the bleedin' obvious dawned on me - the difference is the quality of writing NOT the quality of life lived.

And so to a Greek author - Longinus - who provided a treatise (a 'rant' in other words) called On The Sublime. It's pretty cool too.

According to him sublimity in written expression occurs when 'inventive skill and the proper order and disposition of material are not manifested in a good touch here and there, but reveal themselves by slow degrees as they run through the whole texture of the compsoition'.

Then, 'by some innate power the true sublime uplifts our souls; we are filled with a proud exaltation and a sense of vaunting joy'.

Suffice to say that EC The Autobiography did not uplift my soul and my joy remained unvaunted..

Nor did the other two titles satisfy this criteria but for a different reason.

Try this from Joe first:
Traffic is already dense. The city's bicycle herd is up and whirring, peddling round, through and against the cars, helmetless, vulnerable, the hugely numerous antelope on the predatory vehicular plain.
Oh dear (and it's like that A LOT). 'How clever I am', it screams on every page. How about this bit from Frode:

But there was something different about the town today. Rumours clung to the rooftops and the walls. Gossip spattered, chatter was spread around. Soon all the words would enter and fill the rooms of this town.
 Longinus points to three defects that mitigate against sublimity. In other words - writers should AVOID AT ALL COSTS the following:
  1. Tumidity (all those who aim at grandeur in the hope of escaping the charge of feebleness and aridity).
  2. Puerility (a thought which is pedantically elaborated until it tails off into frigidity. Writers slip into this kind of fault when they strive for unusual and well-wrought effects, and above all for attractiveness, and instead flounder into tawdriness and affectation).
  3. False sentiment (misplaced , hollow emotionalism where emotion is not called for).
I think you can see why I found my thoughts returning to Longinus when I read these books (both ticked all three boxes). But read them I did and it was, all up, a deeply unfulfilling experience.

Time to hunt out another Lee Child/ Jack Reacher novel I do believe. Problem is they were all out!

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

These vagabond shoes they are longing to stray (Frank Sinatra)

Many of my Cognition Education friends in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi have come to the end of the contract line and will be winging their way to new locations in the next week. Some are returning to Nu Zild and others are on holidays or making their way to new jobs in new countries.

Io commemorate/celebrate my time working with them I thought I'd head into the archives for this post and dust off some snaps of some happy times in the sandpit. You may wish to check out more of this celebration on a companion post on http://www.baggytrewsers.blogspot.com/
Margie, SWMBO and Louise

Nola with Wozza

Graysy and me at a prefects' meeting

Brain (Minister of Defence) joins me and
Mohammed the librarian at a school BBQ

My 'son' Hamad

Khamis, Hishy, Hassan and Samir

Jan shares a joke

and shows off her jewellery

With my buddy Abdulla 
Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

America calls, I must go (Porcupine Tree)

Turned over from the Wimbledon tennis coverage yesterday morning to hear the TV One newsreader (Peter Williams) announce that Andy Griffith had passed away at age 86.

I know that it's going to sound weird but it felt a bit like my second dad had died. My own dad was about the same age as Andy Griffith and also passed away in his eighties a few years ago. They were both fantastic role models - wise, patient, generous gentlemen who oozed integrity, except one was real and the other was a creative piece of American fiction.

To people of my generation, now aged in the mid fifties (Peter Williams is also of that age), The Andy Griffith Show was about people we knew and could identify with, in a place that we also knew well.

To summarise for those not of my generation:
The Andy Griffith Show was an American sitcom first televised by CBS between October 3, 1960, and April 1, 1968. Andy Griffith portrays a widowed sheriff called Andy Taylor in the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. His life is complicated by an inept, but well-meaning deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), a spinster aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), and a young son, Opie (Ronny Howard). Local ne'er-do-wells, bumbling pals, and temperamental girlfriends further complicate his life.

Mayberry and Royal Oak in Auckland, NZ, felt the same to me. Small and safe and cosy and affectionate places to grow up.

Aunt Bee was like my own Ma (my mum's mum), and really - I was Opie. I like Ron Howard as a character and there were aspects of Opie that I could see in myself. Ron's only three years older than me and was only 7 when he first started on the show. When the show ended I was 11 and he was 14.

There were plenty of examples of a Gomer Pyle and a Barney Fife around me as well.

Never once did it occur to me that there were other little boys and girls watching The Andy Griffith Show and feeling the same things I did in the mid sixties. I still have that naive egoism as part of my character when it comes to popular culture. But age 11? Forget about it. The show was made for me and I was the only one loving it, absorbing it. It existed only in my head. It always comes as a mild shock when someone like Peter Williams expresses an emotional link to something I've regarded as mine and mine alone. 

A lot of the interweb talk surrounding Andy Griffith's death has been about the passing of a TV generation from history and I guess that's true to a point but there is always an inexorable move or shift going on, from what was once and what is now. A show like that could not get on the air now but it did once upon a time and I loved Andy Taylor as played by Andy Griffith.

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Take only what you need and be on your way (Pendragon)

A return to Wafi tales for this post.

You will remember that we left our young hero exploring the inner workings of the clothes dryer just a few short posts ago.

Wafi has since learnt all about the soft furry little field mice that have been unearthed in the paddocks thanks to the short grass (no growth and the munchings of sheep and horses have finally got on top of things) and the cold weather.

Some of the mice have opted for warmer climes. They have tried holiday locations like the three bay shed or Habibi Stables. This is a foolish choice as SWMBO has set lethal bait stations in Habibi so that her saddlery remains untouched by rodents and I've set mousetraps in the three bay.

So they've reluctantly returned to the paddocks where Wafi does the nightly rounds. The daytime shift? Don't be silly - that's the time for sleeping inside the back door hallway where he can keep an eye on comings and goings from the house. A 'going' means that he then tags along.

I'm not kidding. Do we need to move the sheep? Wafi tags along. How about set fire to big bonfires of tree branches and old hay? Wafi's there too. Vet is here to operate on the horse's teeth? Wafi supervises from close quarters. He is more like a puppy dog than a cat.

Wafi doesn't dismember the mouse - more like he plays with it until the little thing gets tired of living. There are never any puncture marks on the little presents Wafi leaves on the back step for us to find in the mornings. 

The reason I'm dribbling on about Wafi and small furry objects is because of this morning's incident.

After breakfast my routine is to get rugged up to go and let Bazil off his leash and then feed him.

I watched this morning's final of Euro 2012 (congratulations Spain - justified winners) and after Iker Casillas lifted the trophy I went outside to do the above chore.

It was raining slightly so I donned a rain jacket and then I went to put my gumboots on. 

I was thinking about a miraculous ball that Iniesta had threaded through the Italian defence with my brain only semi clued into what I was doing vis-a-vis the gumboots. I put the left gumboot on and glanced at my right gumboot, still thinking about Iniesta's talented through ball. A fleeting thought that a large leaf was in the gumboot was abruptly interrupted as my foot nestled onto something round and furry.

My foot shot out as my brain cleared and I gazed at Wafi's present sitting in the bottom of my gumboot - a very dead soft furry field mouse.
Love and peace - Wozza